First up, a UK judge has spoken out to say children should
be allowed to take knives to school. Not all children mind you, just Sikh children. Justice Mota Singh, a Sikh himself, is talking about the kirpan, a ceremonial three-inch knife worn as a show of faith by devout Sikhs, the wearing of which by one boy was banned by a North London school earlier this year. Singh later supported the boy's family's decision to withdraw him rather than accept their compromise offer that he carry a 'disabled' equivalent claiming the school's refusal was discriminatory (BBC News
Meanwhile another UK court last week ruled that particularly pious Hindu Davender Kumar Ghai can
have the open-air cremation he fervently desires. It's been a long battle for Ghai, who found his proposal to site traditional funeral pyres on land outside Newcastle blocked by the city council in a decision later upheld by England's High Court. Now the UK Court of Appeal has said that the open-air ceremonies can go ahead, and that the requirement that all cremations occur 'within a building' could be met by any reasonable structure and did not dictate that structure have walls or a roof. Davenda Kumar Ghai, who is 76 and in poor health, can now go ahead and build his roofless crematorium, once he gets planning permission to do so, from Newcastle City Council (Times
And in yet another landmark decision, the councillors in Reading, England have given the local Muslim community permission to carry out their own burials in the borough's cemeteries at weekends, which council gravediggers do not work. Many Islamic traditions favour burial very soon after death, and the delays caused by the weekend closures was cited as a significant cause of stress for relatives. In response, the council have agreed to dig some graves beforehand for later use in a pilot scheme expected to last one year, or until the first Saturday night drunk falls in one and sues (GetReading
Mind you, even once you're in the ground you're not always safe. A row over the siting of a new museum on a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalen has boiled over this week with families who claim to have relatives buried there petitioning the UN. The cemetery, which dates back several hundred years, is due to be excavated to make was for a new “Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance” being built by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who dispute the families' claims. “The Museum of Tolerance project is not being built on the Mamilla Cemetery. It is being built on Jerusalem’s former municipal car park, where every day for nearly half a century, thousands of Muslims, Christians and Jews parked their cars without any protest whatsoever from the Muslim community,” said founder Rabbi Marvin Hier (Telegraph
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Christmas is nearly upon us, so the time is at hand where every mall has a Santa in residence, waiting for America’s boys and girls to sit on his knee and make their demands known. But while our own little angels are of course clean and fragrant, who knows what those grubby urchins in front of you are spreading! So this year several professional Santa associations are calling for hand-sanitizer to be installed at grotto entrances and have asked congress to put “Santa” on the priority list for H1N1 vaccinations. After all, you have to look after your elf (Telegraph
Not requiring a flu jab, but in need of a facelift, was the 66’ fibreglass Santa that has been the centrepiece of Auckland, New Zealand’s Christmas pageant for nearly 50 years. With a droopy winking eye and a gesturing mechanical finger, the jolly red giant was beginning, in the words of one local, to “look a little creepy.” But not anymore, as NZ$100,000 have been spent refurbishing the big guy ahead of this Sunday’s grand unveiling (Reuters
Someone definitely not in need of a facelift is the recently announced “Hunky Santa of 2009.” Los Angeles mall the Beverley Center first introduced their hunky Santas nine years ago, swapping abs and pecs for the beard and britches. This year north-pole toting poseur is James Ellis, who hopes to encourage people to live more healthily and wants to be a role model for kids by parading his festive physique in a fur-trimmed red vest (LA Times
All of which is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see during Raleigh, North Carolina’s Christmas parade. So worried are parade organisers that the little ones might be confused by two
people dressed in red that they have banned “Mrs. Claus” from participating in costume. They have even asked attendees not to wear Santa-hats in case it distracts attention from the “real” St. Nick (WXII12
And further killjoyery (?) this week from the Employers Forum on Belief, which has advised company bosses that to close their office over Christmas might be construed as discriminatory, since non-Christian employees must use annual leave for their religious holidays. Instead of emphasising the holiday’s religious nature, say the EFB, management should focus on the cost-effectiveness of the closure as a majority of staff would be absent anyway (ILM
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Brazilian TV presenter, Wallace Souza, has brought a whole new meaning to the term "hit show", by allegedly arranging the deaths of at least four people to boost the ratings of his mid-day real crime show. Souza, a former policeman and prominent politician, is accused of being behind a criminal drug network with an estimated turnover of $25m a month, while the murder victims were all either partners who had fallen from favour or from rival outfits. Once the hit had been set up, it is claimed Souza would receive a tip-off so that camera crews for his program could reach the scene before even the police (Guardian
Someone else who may be meeting with an "accident" pretty soon is Ginger the kune-kune pig, who is not in pensioner Anne Moon's best books after swallowing her $2500 dollar diamond engagement ring right off her hand. Mrs. Moon, who had gone to pet the pig just prior to the impromptu a-la-main
meal, immediately alerted the pig's owner, farmer Paul Caygill, and hopes to be reunited with the ring given to her 30 years ago once nature takes its course (Fox News
And while Anne Moon is left hanging around dumb animals, in the Norwegian town of Helgoysund, it is the dumb animals that are hanging around. For it is there that a ram managed to get its horns entangled in one of the town's overhead electric cables, before losing its footing, astonishing onlookers as it subsequently abseiled down the hill towards the next pole. Locals suspect that this may have been caused by an over rambitious attempt to reach the ewes in a lower field, and after the ram was eventually towed back to higher ground and released unharmed, he was allowed access by way of compensation for his ordeal (Daily Mail
Still on the subject of dumb animals, that is presumably what one Parisian store is hoping to attract with its latest creation, a fusball table populated entirely by Barbies. The "Barbie Foot", by French "concept-store" Colette, uses 22 of the ubiquitous dolls, in contrasting uniforms of pink and white in its limited edition table football game, which it hopes to sell for 10,000 euros, that is $14,000, each (Guardian
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The Town of Inglis
is famous for 2 things: It was the filming location for the Elvis movie Follow That Dream
, and in 2001 the Mayor officially banned Satan.
(Chuck may have covered this already, I haven't had time to look through his archives)
Time to point our telescopes of weirdness at "the old country", methinks.
Speaking of old, recent research carried out by the University of Michigan has revealed that US seniors are smarter than their UK counterparts. The study, lead in the US by Kenneth Langa, measured the recall abilities of over 8000 elderly Americans and over 5000 elderly Brits, and found that the yanks scored 1.4 more on the memory tests, out of a possible 24. Langa suggests that part of the difference was due to higher average levels of education and income in the US group, and higher levels of depression in the UK sample, but points out that nothing is certain at the moment. "It's like a view from 30,000 feet" said Langa (New Scientist
And it's not just British brains that are shrinking, the UK's sheep are getting smaller as well. Because of a trend towards milder weather believed to be due to climate change, Sheep on the Outer Hebridean island of Soay are getting smaller at the rate of 100g/year, say researchers from Imperial College, London. Though it might seem that warmer winters and a greater abundance of food might make for bigger sheep, Tim Coulson, the professor leading the study, points out that fewer weaker and smaller lambs will die over winter, bringing down the average size (Telegraph
Now, in some good news, UK campaigners have won a second victory in a three-year battle... to bring back a chocolate bar. The "Wispa Bar", made by European confectioners Cadbury, was introduced in 1995 along with a caramel laced version called the "Wispa Gold", only for both to be discontinued in 2003. This prompted some die-hard fans of the bubbly chocolate bar to start a petition to have it go into production again, resulting in a "limited edition" run of the original Wispa last year. When the 40 million bars produced sold out in just 18 weeks, Cadbury decided to relaunch the brand. Not satisfied with just one bar, campaigners have kept up the pressure, causing Cadbury to start producing Wispa Golds "for a limited period," as before. However to some commentators, this latest move looks more like slick PR than grassroots victory (Sky News
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New research out this week says that women's handbags are getting bigger, and so are providing bigger rewards for criminals. Most worryingly, according to ID fraud experts CPP, these larger bags are encouraging women to carry around personal documents such as their passport, bank statements or payslips that are indispensable to an identity thief, leading to an increase in cases of bag theft. And it's not just women at risk, the same research also reveals that 1-in-10 men now tote a "man-bag", most with personal documents inside (Telegraph
Unfortunately, the advice to keep an eye on your handbag came too late for one member of the UK's "Serious Organised Crime Agency" (a sort of British FBI). On arriving at the main airport in Bogota, Colombia, to gather information on the drug cartels there, the unnamed agent managed to lose her handbag, and with it the memory-stick she was carrying containing the names and addresses of dozens of SOCA's informants and operatives. According to sources the agent is "a lovely girl but a bit daft and scatterbrained", just the sort of person to be transporting information vital to your country's war on drugs then (The Australian
Of course, it's not always what's taken out
of your handbag that can get you into trouble. A Melbourne woman faces five years in a Thailand jail for stealing a beermat, even though two people have come forward and testified that she is innocent and they
hid the mat in her handbag. The woman's lawyer has appealed to the Prime Minister of Thailand to intervene in the case (ABC News
Somehow I don't think the same excuse would work for Teresa Tambunting though. Tambunting, who worked for Jacmel Jewelry in New York, is alleged to have fashioned a hidden pocket in the lining of her handbag and smuggled out over $12 million in gold over the course of 5 years. Surprisingly, money doesn't seem to have been the motive, and soon after the company began an investigation into the higher than expected "manufacturing losses", Tambunting returned a suitcase containing 66lbs of gold pellets. Police later recovered another 447lbs from her Scarsdale home (The Times
But even loaded with gold, Mrs Tambunting's handbags would fare a poor second in value to those of a certain Mrs Beckham. Victoria "Posh" Beckham, perhaps in a bid to be to handbags what Imelda Marcos was to shoes, has amassed an incredible collection of over 100 designer handbags. Specifically, they are all by one
designer, Hermès, and all of one design, his extremely desirable (apparently) "Birkin" model, named for actress Jane Birkin, which start from around $7000 a piece. Beckham's entire collection, which she refers to as "an investment", is worth an estimated $2.3 million (Female First
The justice system in Lancashire UK have struck a blow for the consumer by jailing a prolific eBay scammer and fining him over £100,000, but just one
thousand of this will be used to pay back his victims. Jonathan Hartley was jailed for 18 months after a Police investigation looked into complaints going back over six years. In court Hartley pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud (and one of money laundering), which are believed to have netted him over £140,000.
Taking into account the money he has already spent, Lancashire Crown Court have ordered he raise the £102,000 fine by August or face another 12 months on his sentence and
the £102k fine (plus interest). Because only 34 victims have been positively identified, less than a thousand of this 'restitution' will be paid out in compensation. The rest will be split equally between the prosecutors (government), the courts and the police (Pendle Today
Out of Work Teachers Sell Meth;
South Bend, Ind: Twin sisters and out of work school teachers, Maria and Michelle Stancati, have plead guilty to dealing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Indy Star
Ex-Public Defender Busted in Child Sex Internet Sting;
Marion County, Ind: Ryan W. Snyder, former Marion County Public Defender, was caught in an internet sex sting in February 2008. He has been sentenced to two years in prison. Indy Star
Three Arrested in BB Gun Home Invasion;
Wauwatosa, Wisc: Three high school students were arrested in a home invasion after demanding $1,200 at gunpoint. The suspect with the weapon brandished what looked like a handgun, but was really a BB gun. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Teen Declines Sex for Money, Utilities Shut Off;
Chicago, Ill: A West Side teen was solicited for sex for money by her landlord. When she turned him down, he shut off the gas and electric. He now faces charges for interfering with a public utility. Chicago Breaking News
Driver Painting Nails Kills Motorcyclist;
Lake Zurich, Ill: According the
Sun Times News Group, Laura Hunt of Morris IL, “told police that she was painting her fingernails and did not notice the light was red.” According to one Officer her vehicle knocked the victim "a couple hundred feet." Sun Times News Group
What image could possibly be great enough for our milestone fiftieth installment? Only this one!
At one time, during either the seventies or the eighties, I believe, this campaign was ubiquitous. I would run across OJ and his boots in every issue of Playboy
I intended to cut up for collages, whereupon I would promptly rip out the page intact and mail it to a friend. That's why I had to find a scan on eBay, for this post, and can't tell you the exact provenance of the advertisement.
Of course, today we laugh because of OJ's appearance. "So that's how he was able to escape so fast after the murders! He deployed his third leg!"
But consider the campaign even without OJ.
First you get the off-color allusion to "third leg = penis." Then you get the Addams-Family-style associations of "Our boots are worn by mutants and freaks."