THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC An Israeli court convicted Avigdor Eskin of violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act for putting a curse on Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a month before he was assassinated. Eskin stood outside Rabin's house on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1995 and cursed Rabin with an ancient curse, then went on television after Rabin's murder, claiming the curse had succeeded. The Church of Sweden fired popular minister Ma Oftedal, saying her interest in magic and the occult violates church teachings. The church explained that Oftedal hired a shaman to exorcise spirits from her home, participated in a ritual to identify her "power animal" and taught Indian spiritualism to teen-agers preparing for church membership. "It's never happened before that anyone has been forced to leave on such grounds," Oftedal told the newspaper Expressen. "This is a new kind of Inquisition."SURFING U.S.A. Cincinnati police accused Sandra Hacker, 24, of locking her three children in their room so they wouldn't bother her while she surfed the Internet for six to 12 hours a day. Sgt. Paul Neudigate noted that Hacker left the children, ages 2, 3 and 5, in filthy and deplorable conditions, amid broken glass, human waste and other debris, while her computer area was immaculate. Psychologists said Hacker may suffer from Internet Addiction Disorder. In Fayetteville, N.C., Eddiesenior Jones McLauchlin, 45, was charged with murder after she admitted hitting her 4-year-old son with a computer keyboard.ANY EXCUSE FOR AN ARGUMENT Jeffrey Van Moretz, 34, was charged with using an assault rifle to shoot his brother, Thomas William Moretz, during an argument over a missing toothbrush. Police in Baltimore County, Md., said Jeffrey told them he locked himself in his bedroom when his brother began banging on the door and threatened to shoot him if he did not get his toothbrush back. When Thomas kicked down the bedroom door, police said, Jeffrey shot him. Edgar D. Colvin, 49, of Falmouth, Va., was charged with beating his wife after she changed the channel with two minutes left in Game 5 of the NBA championship series and wouldn't give him back the remote control. This was the game where Michael Jordan scored 38 points despite suffering from a flu-like virus, to rally the Chicago Bulls to a two-point victory over the Utah Jazz.BLESSED BE THE SHOPLIFTERS The Church of England banned the Rev. John Papworth, 75, from officiating at church services after he declared that shoplifting is a justifiable act, calling it "a badly needed reallocation of economic resources." Papworth did say it was wrong to steal from individuals and small but not from giant retailing corporations, which he said have put smaller shops out of business and harmed local communities. Douglas Petrovitch, 28, a former high school business and economics teacher in Waukegan, Ill., was charged with trading good grades to students in exchange for gifts and meals and for letting him shoplift at stores where they worked. He was arrested at a Target store where one student worked as a cashier after he tried to buy $1,000 worth of goods for only $111. The student said Petrovitch had promised her an "A" if she undercharged him, according to Assistant State's Attorney George Strickland, who noted, "He taught applied economics, which I suppose is appropriate."JUMBO DOSE South Africa's largest game park ended a seven-month program using hormone implants to keep elephants from getting pregnant because the implants kept the elephants in a continuous state of heat. "The bulls were following them around all the time, hassling them," park veterinarian Douw Grobler said, adding that although none of the elephants got pregnant, "this was not the kind of behavior we were looking for." Elephants used in illegal logging operations in northern Thailand's Mae Riang-Soi Yaeng forest reserve are fed amphetamine-laced bananas to speed up their work, the Bangkok Post reported. At least 10 of the animals have died of overwork and exhaustion as a result, according to Dr. Preecha Puangkham, a volunteer at the Lampang province elephant hospital, which has treated several elephants for amphetamine addiction. Researchers at Bangkok's Kasetsart University and the Dusit Zoo have developed chewable tablets to feed elephants whose traditional food sources are disappearing because of development of their natural habitat. The one-pound pills contain concentrated sugar cane, corn, molasses, vitamins and minerals.ANIMAL TALES Peter Lerat, 33, who had been sought by Toronto police for holding a Canada goose hostage during a robbery in April, was arrested in May on charges of threatening a raccoon. Police said Lerat swore he would hit a two-month-old raccoon on the head with a rock if passers-by did not give him $35. After being charged with extortion, Lerat tried to make his first court appearance stark naked. "Apparently he left here with his clothes," police Officer Bruce Kane said, "but he refused to put them on." A raccoon riding on a garbage truck jumped off onto a pickup truck, shatterin g the windshield and knocking the driver, John David Antienowicz, 39, unconscious. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the driver's 19-year-old son, David Antienowicz, grabbed the wheel and steered the pickup to a stop. Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents John Halliday and Tom Colbert spotted a car moving erratically along busy U.S. 19 in Clearwater, Fla., then noticed a 3-1/2-foot green-and-orange iguana at the steering wheel. "It looked like the iguana was driving," FDLE supervisor Larry Sams told the Tampa Tribune. "He had his claws on top of the wheel." The agents followed the car for several miles before pulling it over and finding the car's owner, John Ruppell, slouched down in the seat. Ruppell was arrested on a drunk-driving charge. Officials investigating a three-alarm fire that caused $750,000 in damage to Vintage High School in Napa, Calif., blamed the blaze on an iguana. Napa Fire Department Captain Scott Sedgley said the reptile, which was kept in a cage in a science classroom, apparently knocked over a heat lamp, igniting nearby combustible material. Sedgley added it was the third fire he had heard of in the past five years caused by reptiles knocking over heat lamps. Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.