NewsQuirks 368

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC Religious leaders in South Africa's Northern Province scheduled a conference on witchcraft to educate rural people on the subject. More than 100 suspected witches were stoned, beaten or bludgeoned to death in the province last year, and hundreds more fled to refugee camps.Special precautions were taken at Cairo International Airport for two men being extradited to Qatar. The suspects, Siddiq Adam el Haji, 52, and Ahmed Adam Ali, 48, were accused of being master sorcerers who used black magic to obtain $30 million from Qatari businessmen. Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported Qatari security men insisted the suspects be blindfolded before boarding the flight because they feared the pair would "throw a spell" on the plane.A Newsweek magazine poll showed that two out of three Americans believe in the existence of Satan and that 37 percent of those polled said they had actually been tempted by the devil. Among evangelical Protestants who were asked, 85 percent said they believed in the devil, and 61 percent claimed to have been tempted.FOOD TO THE RESCUEIn Sri Lanka, a would-be rapist fled in pain after the intended victim threw a bottle of chili sauce over his naked body. The Colombo Daily News reported that before the 62-year-old suspect was arrested, he "remained several hours under water in great pain."In Pompano Beach, Fla., Izzie Rotterman, 81, and Gloria Lepcio, 55, were entering a restaurant when a man grabbed Lepcio's purse. As the attacker tried to flee, however, Rotterman beat him over the head with a half-pound Vidalia onion, causing him to drop the purse. Rotterman explained later he carried a Vidalia onion whenever he dined out because it was easier to digest than regular onions.NO. 3 WAS JERRY LEWIS-SANA recent survey in France asked 1,000 adults to name the people they most associate with Japan. First was filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Second was Bruce Lee, the late Chinese actor.HOT ON THE TRAILThe introduction of the LoJack automobile tracking device to Hong Kong last year has resulted in some unusual requests for its services, according to the South China Morning Post. After its installation, the device is activated if a car is stolen or towed and sends a high-frequency radio signal to pinpoint its location. "We get requests from husbands and wives to track their partners," said Shirley Lo Sheung-yuk of LoJack Network, the Hong Kong licensee for the U.S.-made product. Other requests to use the device for personal surveillance also have come from companies eager to keep track of their workers.Speaking of keeping tabs on people, in Italy, Tuscan watchmaker Fabrizio Caselli introduced a special coffin for people who fear they'll be buried prematurely. The $4,500 casket is equipped with a two-way microphone-speaker, a flashlight, a small oxygen tank, a heart stimulator and a beeper to alert an above-ground monitoring station. Caselli said that if sales meet his expectations, Italy will need as many as three such emergency centers to respond to premature burial alerts.SUSPICIOUS MINDSPolice at Japan's Osaka airport stopped Ted Joffe, general manager of American Minerals Inc., after the crew of his Thai Airways reported he had refused to eat his meal, "which could indicate that he swallowed drugs to smuggle into Japan." After Joffe was released, he commented, "Next time I'll stuff the meal into the seat pocket in front of me."British police who raided a pub in Loughborough, Lincolnshire, looking for a drug dealer nabbed an elderly gentleman who was in possession of a bag of white powder. The police let him go after he explained the powder was the ashes of his late wife, which he carried everywhere.REAL OR MEMOREX?Motorcyclist Michael Cringle, 33, was arrested in Eureka, Calif., after he gave police Officer Matt Duran the finger, then led him on a chase that reached speeds of 120 mph. Cringle explained he thought Duran was a police department mannequin that occasionally is propped up in a patrol car to trick drivers into slowing down. "He flipped off the wrong dummy," Duran said.When Cellular One asked the owners of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate for permission to erect a 150-foot relay tower on the grounds, they said the monopole would have to be inconspicuous. The company agreed to lower the height to 100 feet and disguise the pole to look like a fir tree, with needles and bark made of plastic and rubber. Cellular One official Mike Maus said the company would even add perching plastic owls to prevent real birds from nesting in the pole's fiberglass branches.OOPS!Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone was billed as the keynote speaker at a British seminar on "How Can Democracy Be Sustained?" He was unable to attend, however, having just overthrown his country's government and ordered the forthcoming elections be canceled.LAST RESPECTSImelda Marcos announced she would buy a generator to keep the refrigerated body of her late husband Ferdinand preserved in case a local power company cuts off electricity because she cannot pay the $450 monthly bill.Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled that male doctors may no longer perform autopsies on female corpses, explaining, "The dead body is laid on a table in a naked condition where male members of the medical staff have free ingress."Australian physician Philip Nitschke has developed a computer program for euthanasia. The "Deliverance" software presents a patient hooked up to an intravenous drip with three questions to determine the subject's seriousness. The final question asks, "If you press 'YES,' you will cause a lethal injection to be given within 30 seconds and will die. Do you wish to proceed? Yes/No."Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Odd-news hounds will enjoy the latest compilation, "Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest: True News of the World's Least Competent People," by John J. Kohut and Roland Sweet (Plume/Penguin).

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