Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lincoln Park Brown

Jay Lynch, "Introduction," in James Danky & Denis Kitchen, eds., Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2009), p. 14.

In '67, Skip Williamson and I started an underground humor mag called the Chicago Mirror. By the third issue of the Mirror, we were getting a little bit discouraged, though. It seemed that the hippies just didn't seem to grasp the concepts of satire. This was driven home to me one day when I was selling copies of the Mirror on the streets of Chicago's sixties hippie neighborhood known as Old Town.

At this time, the press had been reporting that some hippies had been drying and curing banana skins to smoke for a legal high. In the Mirror we ran a piece satirically stating that smoking dog poop would provide an excellent psychedelic experience. We went on to say that the best variety of dog poop was something called "Lincoln Park Brown," and we gave tongue-in-cheek instructions for preparing the poop for smoking. We said that the new breed of dog-poop smokers were known as "shit heads." Get it? "Pot heads"? "Shit heads"? It's satire, right? But then when I was selling the mag on the street, this hippie came up to me and said, "Hey, man! Thanks for the tip on how to cure dog poop! We've been smoking it all week, and it's groovy!" I tried to explain to the kid that it was satire and that he shouldn't really be smoking dog poop, but he wouldn't listen. Apparently he was too blissed out of his mind on the nitrogen content of dog feces to grasp my explanation.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pumas Secretly Introduced to Pennsylvania

Fortean Times #257 (January 2010), p. 73.


Pennsylvania pumas

[Tamy Kay Thompson of Newport News, Virginia, writes that the Pennsylvania Game Commission once tried to cut down the deer population by secretly introducing pumas outfitted with tracking device collars. Although the cats were probably responsible for the subsequent spate of missing pets and livestock, authorities denied that any pumas were in the area. -- bc]

A short while later, a farmer shot and killed a puma as it prepared to maul his cattle. He removed its tracking device and buried the carcass under his manure pit. The next day, officials with the Game Commission showed up on his porch, demanding to know where the puma was located. The famer looked them straight in the eye and used their own words against them, "There aren't any pumas around here."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heart Recipient Acquires Donor's Food Cravings

The Daily Telegraph [Sydney]
23 December 2009

Donor's heart goes on with Burger Rings craving

Richard Noone

[...] [Kaden Delaney's] parents Greg and Shelley spent two years finding David Waters, whose life was saved when he received their son's heart after he died in a car crash. But in an exchange of emails they learned Mr Waters amazingly had developed a taste for Burger Rings - which was Kaden's favourite snack treat. [...]

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Most Shoplifted Book

The Daily Telegraph [UK]
5 January 2008

Jeffrey Eugenides: Enduring love

By Mick Brown

[...] Jeffrey Eugenides has written just two books in the past 15 years. The first, The Virgin Suicides, a darkly comic fable of five suburban sisters who kill themselves, published in 1993, has sold more than a million copies, but also is said to hold the distinction of being the most shoplifted book of modern times. 'It's my most famous accolade,' Eugenides laughs, 'although Paul Auster claims one of his books is the most shoplifted. It's one of those things authors argue about.' [...]

New York Times
16 December 2009

Steal These Books


[...] Although there’s no hard statistical evidence on most-stolen titles, The Telegraph of London reported last year that Jeffrey Eugenides’s novel “The Virgin Suicides” was said to be “the most shoplifted book of modern times.” Eugenides had heard this for many years. “I just assumed that the book appealed to the young and sticky-fingered to a certain extent,” he told me, with some amusement. Years ago, Eugenides was at a literary conference with Paul Auster, another top choice among literary thieves. “Paul and I argued about whose book was stolen more,” Eugenides said. “He claimed he was stolen a lot, I claimed I was stolen a lot. Back and forth. It was one of those deep intellectual conversations.” [...]

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Body in the Snow

The Globe and Mail [Toronto]
19 December 2009

Yule never believe this story

Tabatha Southey

[The columnist relates two of many legends told to her by a neighbor. 1) A couple on holiday in Florida made friends with another couple at their hotel and they arranged to babysit each other's kids on alternate nights. On the last night of their stay the Canadians went dining and dancing, but when they returned the other couple and all the children were nowhere to be found. 2) One Christmas Eve a man dutifully shoveling the driveway of his former house -- now his ex-wife's -- looked in a window and saw her and the man who had once been his best friend drinking champagne and dancing. The sight was too much for him; he had a heart attack and collapsed. "And it kept snowing and they never found him until spring."]

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pishtacos article

Slate Magazine
17 December 2009

The Human Grease Murders
A mysterious crime in Peru revives a vampire legend that's more than 400 years old.

By Daniel Engber

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sick Boy Gets Mail

The Post-Standard [Syracuse, NY]
17 December 2009

Internet rumor about ill Mexico boy snowballs into avalanche of Christmas cards

By Debra J. Groom / The Post-Standard

Mexico, NY -- Day after day, thousands of Christmas cards are delivered to Jacob Hadcock in Mexico. Cards are coming in from Central New York, every state in the United States and countries as far away as England, Australia and China. They come from people who think 4-year-old Jacob is dying. [...]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bank Robber Hypnotized Tellers (Russia)

5 December 2009

Bank robber hypnotized tellers

By Kevin O'Flynn
Special to GlobalPost

MOSCOW, Russia - Bank robbers have threatened tellers with knives, shot their way into banks and tunnelled up into vaults. But one woman in southern Russia chose a more peaceful method: Police say Galina Korzhova hypnotised a bank teller into handing over tens of thousands of dollars in what is believed to be just one in a series of daring, if non-violent, bank robberies. [...]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Disney Characters Are First on the Lifeboats

[From the POPBITCH Newsletter, 10 December 2009.]

Disney's mouse and duck get special treatment

"This might be a story that does the rounds within the Disney parks, but I'm assured rather sincerely by a friend who worked a stint at one of the Disneylands that it is true.

"If a Disney cruise ship ever needs to be evacuated at sea, the protocol is that the people who get the first lifeboat (before the women and children) are two Disney employees. These two employees are required to take one Mickey Mouse and one Donald Duck costume with them so that when/if the children arrive to safety they can be greeted by Mickey and Donald so that they don't get upset thinking that they have gone down with the ship."

Fumes from Burning Bins Intoxicate Teens

Tameside Advertiser [UK]
10 December 2009

Dump this deadly craze

Sue Carr

YOUTHS setting fire to wheelie bins in an attempt to get ‘high’ are at risk of killing themselves, a fire chief has warned.

Blue bins, used for paper recycling, are at the centre of the latest craze among youngsters in Tameside who wrongly believe an urban myth that the combination of fumes from the paper and burning plastic will give them a hit. [...]

TV Remote Stuck Up Man's Ass

The Mirror [UK]
10 December 2009

Chinese man gets remote control stuck in bottom after drunk prank

[...] Nineteen-year-old Huang Chen mystified medics when he turned up drunk at Hunan Hangtian Hospital in Changsha, complaining of unexplained pain from his rear end.

While being examined, the tipsy student turned over in bed, and inadvertently changed channel on the ward's telly.

Astonishing X-rays later revealed that the teenager had a TV remote control lodged up his backside. [...]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Asian Restaurant Serves Dog Meat, Claims Leaflet (Bristol, UK)

Bristol Evening Post [UK]
9 December 2009

Bristol restaurant dogged by smear campaign offers £10,000 reward

A £10,000 reward has been put up by a Bristol restaurant owner to track down the instigators of a smear campaign which claimed it served dog meat.

Several customers have called Asian restaurant Cosmo on Clifton Triangle to tell staff about a leaflet put through doors in the surrounding area, which says the venue has been closed by environmental health officers for serving "suspicious meat". [...]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kidney Thefts (Malaysia)

The Malay Mail [Malaysia]
7 December 2009

Two claims of organ harvesting in JB reported

Yushaimi Yahaya

KUALA LUMPUR: Two calls to his handphone yesterday by men claiming that syndicates in Johor Baru were "stealing" kidneys from those who visit prostitutes in the capital of Johor has set Datuk Michael Chong's alarm bells ringing.

Chong said in the first case, the caller claimed that his friend had visited a prostitute and ended up waking in a bath tub full of ice. [...]

The Malay Mail [Malaysia]
8 December 2009

Kidney harvesting an urban myth


KUALA LUMPUR: Johor police have not received reports of organ harvesting in the state. [...]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

McDonald's Applie Pies Contain Chayotes (Australia)

The Daily Telegraph [Australia]
6 December 2009

Are there chokos in McDonald's Apple Pies?

John Rolfe, Daily Telegraph

THE MYTH: McDonald's secretly uses chokos in its hot apple pies to cut costs. [...]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Burglars' Code (UK)

The Daily Telegraph [UK]
2 December 2009

Burglars tag homes to let each other know which are worth stealing from

A gang of burglars have been scrawling coded messages in chalk outside homes to let each other know which are worth targeting, police have disclosed. [...]

The Guardian [UK]
3 December 2009

Is your home about to be burgled?
Chalk marks left by burglars on your walls could be a signal to rob you

Duncan Campbell

[...] Inspector Elaine Burtenshaw described the use of the symbols as "a troubling development". She is now asking local residents to alert the police if they spot them. This time the chalking of circles on the wall is said to mean that a wealthy person lives in the house, a circle with a cross over it denotes "nothing worth stealing", while others indicate whether the resident was "nervous and afraid" or has "already been burgled". [...]
Daily Mail [UK]
2 December 2009
The Burglars' Code: Criminals chalk messages which pinpoint targets for other villains

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

UPDATE: Peruvian Fat-stealing Gang,8599,1943539,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

1 December 2009

Peru's Fat-Stealing Gang: Crime or Cover-Up?

By Lucien Chauvin / Lima

Much of the world was shocked and titillated by news of alleged fat-stealing murderers in the Peruvian jungle. But the story may have a much more sinister underbelly. Could the allegation of homicidal liposuction possibly be a smokescreen to distract attention from other crimes, including, some local journalists say, the existence of a death squad that may be operating within the country's national police? [...]

Reuters AlertNet
1 December 2009

Peru suspends cop behind gang of 'human fat sellers'

By Terry Wade

LIMA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Peru suspended its top organized crime investigator on Tuesday after he misled the country by saying he had caught a gang of serial killers who acted out an ancient Andean legend and sold their victims' fat. [...]

The Associated Press
1 December 2009
Peru purges police, fat-stealing claims questioned

Associated Press
4 December 2009

Peru's fat hangover: Garcia denies police killings

LIMA, Peru — Peruvian President Alan Garcia denied Thursday that his government invented a tale about murderous fat-thieves to distract from allegations of police death squad killings, saying the claim was fundamentally true even if it became exaggerated. [...]

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Serenity Prayer

New York Times
28 November 2009

Serenity Prayer Skeptic Now Credits Niebuhr


A Yale librarian who cast doubt last year on the origins of the Serenity Prayer, adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and reprinted on countless knickknacks, says new evidence has persuaded him to retain the famed Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as the author in the next edition of The Yale Book of Quotations. [...]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Garlic & Onions Prevent Swine Flu

Associated Press
19 November 2009

Moldovan soldiers given onions to fight swine flu

CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldova's army is feeding its soldiers onions and garlic to help them ward off swine flu. [...]

Washington Post
26 November 2009

China sees huge rise in garlic prices
Speculators accused of cashing in on people's swine flu fears

By Robert Cookson and Patti Waldmeir
Washington Post Foreign Serivce

HONG KONG -- Garlic prices are hitting record highs in China, the world's biggest producer of the pungent bulbs, amid reports of a speculative bubble in the market even as people rush to buy it as a putative cure for swine flu. [...]

Sliced Tomato

Nigerian Muse
27 November 2009

Of Death, Rumours, Curses And Superstitions

Akintokunbo Adejumo

[...] For many years now, the Nollywood actress, Sola Sobowale, popularly called Toyin Tomato has been rumoured as dead. It was said that she was arrested and beheaded in Saudi Arabia for committing drug related offences. Contrary to the rumours however, Toyin Tomato is still alive safe and sound. In fact I see her at Emukay Restaurant in London almost every weekend, the last being just last Friday. We are also constantly on the phone. She has never even been to Saudi Arabia, not to talk of being beheaded. For the past 3 years, everytime I visit Nigeria, people who know that I know Sola always ask me if the rumours were true, and I had to go to great lengths to deny this wicked rumour. [...]

Gang Initiation: Cop Claims He Was Attacked at Mall

Belleville News-Democrat [IL]
24 November 2009

Fairview police say there is no truth to officer's claim that he was attacked at mall


FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS -- Chief Ed Delmore said there is no truth to a widely circulated e-mail cautioning St. Clair Square shoppers that gang members are attacking patrons as initiation.

An off-duty Lebanon police officer mentioned in the e-mail told Fairview investigators he was attacked, but declined to file a police report and could not provide details of the crime, Delmore said. [...]

Greyhounds to be killed

The Janseville Gazette [WI]
27 November 2009

Greyhound rumor said to be false

By Associated Press

KENOSHA — A greyhound adoption group wants to silence rumors that hundreds of dogs could be put to sleep when Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha closes. [...]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blood-stained Concrete Removed

The Independent [UK]
23 November 2009

True blood: What the forensic pathologist saw

It's splattered over vampire movies, TV shows and crime novels. But the bloody reality of guts and gore is even more fascinating than the fiction, writes New York pathologist Jonathan Hayes

[...] I've heard that when a member of one of New York's Orthodox Jewish sects (the Satmar and the Lubavitchers) is murdered on the street, their friends descend on the site with pick-axes to collect the blood-stained concrete; I've not seen that myself. [...]

Alligators in NYC Sewers

New York Times
23 November 2009

The Book Behind the Sewer-Alligator Legend


[An overview of the legend of alligators in New York City sewers.]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Murder Victims' Fat Used in Cosmetics (Peru)

New York Times
20 November 2009

Peru’s Police Say Gang Drained Victims’ Fat

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A gang in the remote Peruvian jungle has been killing people for their fat, the police said Thursday, accusing the gang’s members of draining fat from bodies and selling it on the black market for use in cosmetics.

Medical experts expressed skepticism, however, that a major market for fat might exist. [...]
20 November 2009
Gang accused of killing to sell human fat
Daily Telegraph [UK]
20 November 2009
Peruvian gang killed victims for their body fat, police

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fisherman's Friend Prevents Swine Flu

The Daily Record [UK]
14 November 2009

Swine flu 'cure' rumours send sales of Fisherman's Friends soaring

John Ferguson

FISHERMAN'S Friend lozenges are flying off shelves - because people think they might cure swine flu.

Makers have been forced to increase production of their aniseed variety after health fears sent sales of the iconic lozenges soaring by 43 per cent since June.

The key ingredient star anise - or pure aniseed - is also contained in the swine flu treatment Tamiflu. [...]

Daily Mirror [UK]
14 November 2009
Fisherman's Friend sales soar because people think they might cure swine flu
By Stephen White
The Grocer [UK]

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Child Abducted in Asda Store (UK)

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner [UK]
14 November 2009

Asda child abduction text message hoax - the full story

by Anne-Marie Senior, Huddersfield Daily Examiner

SUPERMARKET chain Asda has quashed rumours of a child abduction at its Huddersfield store as “absolute nonsense.” [...]

The message in full: "Dear All. This is a very serious message that I hope you can pass on to as many people as you can.

“Last night at the big ASDA in Bradley a three-year-old girl went missing. Fortunately their policy when something like this happens is to lock the doors.

“The little girl was found in the toilets with two Romanian women, one shaving her head and the other dressing her in boys’ clothes. This comes from an employee who was there last night. Please pass the message round to as many as you can and remain extra vigilant with your own children.”
Leicester Mercury
16 November 2009
Hoax text messages claim child abducted at Asda stores in Leicestershire

Swine Flu Causes Surge of Garlic Sales in Serbia

The Associated Press
13 November 2009

Swine flu causes surge of garlic sales in Serbia


[...] "Garlic is the best, forget the vaccines," said Marko Jankovic, an elderly Belgrader, with the pungent smell of garlic obvious as he spoke at the crowded Kaleniceva Pijaca market. "From the vaccine, you can get sick. From garlic, you can only get bad breath." [...]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thatcher Is Dead

National Post [Canada]
11 November 2009

Fur flies over death of 'Thatcher'

David Akin, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA • With lightning speed, it spread from BlackBerry to BlackBerry among the 2,000 or so Conservatives in black-tie on Tuesday evening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the first True Patriot Love Tribute Dinner: "Thatcher has died." [...]

[Not Margaret Thatcher, it turned out, but Thatcher the cat, the 16-year-old pet owned by Canada's Transport Minister and named after the former British P.M.]
The Canadian Press
11 November 2009
Cat's demise prompts rumours of Thatcher death, causes fur to fly

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Carjacking Warning (UK)

Daily Telegraph [UK]
11 November 2009

Carjacking warning
Drivers urged to be aware of potential car-theft scam.

By David Williams

Motorists have been warned to be wary of a new carjacking ruse in the run-up to Christmas.

Thieves are reportedly leaving notes or leaflets on the rear windows of parked cars. Drivers don't spot the piece of paper until they start the engine and look over their shoulder to manoeuvre.

When they get out to retrieve the note carjackers are reportedly pouncing into the driver's seat and making off with the car.

Details of the ruse have been widely circulated via an anonymous email. [...]

Drug Trafficker's Critic Gets Head Shaved (Mexico),0,2499736.story

Los Angeles Times
10 November 2009

Women play a bigger role in Mexico's drug war

By Tracy Wilkinson

Reporting from Culiacan, Mexico - In the story making the rounds here in Mexico's drug capital, the setting is a beauty parlor. A woman with wealth obtained legally openly criticizes a younger patron who is married to a trafficker. The "narco-wife" orders the hairdresser to shave the first woman's head. Terrified, the hairdresser complies. [...]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Swine Flu Rumors (Ukraine)

The Globe and Mail [Toronto, ON]
9 November 2009

Flu fears and rumours paralyze Ukraine


[Some Ukrainians believe that the H1N1 virus can be contracted from imported food. It's also rumored that "helicopters have tried to disinfect Kiev by spraying it with chlorine gas."]

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Candy (2009)

WLBT-TV [Jackson, MS]
30 October 2009

Mid-South father found blades in bag of candy

CORDOVA, TN (WMC-TV) - A Mid-South father says he thought it was just an urban myth before he found razor blades inside a package of Kit Kat bars purchased at Wal-mart.

Zach Bourneman says his son wanted to dip into the Halloween candy a little early. But Bourneman received a scare when he opened the bag of treats. Inside the bag of miniature Kit Kat bars, he found two box-cutter blades wrapped in cellophane tape. [...]

Globe and Mail [Toronto, ON]
1 November 2009

Parents find razor blades, needle in Halloween loot

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update and The Canadian Press

Toronto Police are warning parents to take a closer look at their child's Halloween treats after a North York family discovered a razor blade in a loot bag. [...]

The Record [Cambridge, ON]
1 November 2009

Syringe found in Halloween bag in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE — Parents are being asked to check through Halloween candy after a girl brought home a syringe in her trick-or-treat bag. [...] [ON]
1 November 2009

Needle found in Halloween candy

WHITBY -- Halloween was a lot scarier for a local family after a parent found a needle in a piece of Halloween candy last night. [...]

Grand Forks Herald [ND]
1 November 2009

GF resident reports needle in Halloween candy

By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald

An officer from the Grand Forks Police Department took a complaint today from a citizen who said he was stuck by a sewing needle when eating his child’s Halloween candy, according to a news release. [...]

The Chronicle-Herald [Halifax, NS]
1 November 2009

N.S. mom finds razor blade in apple
Police warn parents to inspect candy


MELVERN SQUARE — RCMP are reminding parents to inspect their children's Halloween loot after a Nova Scotia woman discovered a scary surprise in her child's treats.

The Annapolis County woman told police she found a razor blade hidden within an apple that her child received Saturday night. [...]

WBNS-TV [Columbus, OH]
31 October 2009

Pill Found In Child's Halloween Candy

ALEXANDRIA, Ohio — A parent reported to police that she found a prescription pill after her child went trick-or-treating, 10TV's Brittany Westbrook reported. [...]

The family claimed that the pill was pressed inside the cream-filled center. [...]

The Sudbury Star [ON]
2 November 2009

Halloween treat in New Sudbury contained a piece of glass

Greater Sudbury Police are asking the public to double check their kids' Halloween treats after a piece of glass turned up in a treat bag in New Sudbury Saturday night. [...]

Granite Bay View [CA]
3 November 2009

Hypodermic needle found in kid's candy bag
Police investigating incident

Nathan Donato-Weinstein

[...] Roseville residents in one neighborhood are being urged to check their children's Halloween candy after a trick-or-treater reportedly found a hypodermic needle in his bag of loot. [...],0,2845963.story

KFOR-TV [Oklahoma City]
3 November 2009

Tack in candy

Russell Carter Reporting

EDMOND, OK -- An Edmond woman is upset after her eight-year-old nephew made a shocking discovery inside of his Halloween candy. According to Amy Gullett, someone stuffed a full size tack inside of a candy pumpkin and then placed it in her nephew's bag. Luckily he didn't eat it. [...] [Halifax, NS]
3 November 2009

Cape Breton Police investigating after pin found in kid's Halloween candy bar

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Helicopters Carrying Taliban Fighters (Afghanistan)

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Helicopter Rumour Refuses to Die
Many Afghans believe foreign forces providing support for insurgents in the north.

By Ahmad Kawoosh in Mazar-e-Sharif (ARR No. 343, 26-Oct-09)

Persistent accounts of western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taleban fighters, strongly denied by the military, is feeding mistrust of the forces that are supposed to be bringing order to the country. [...]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Animal Shelter Mass Euthanasia

The Southampton Press [NY]
27 October 2009

Animal shelter supervisor dispels rumors, focuses on adoptions

By Bryan Finlayson

The Town of Southampton Animal Shelter was deluged with phone calls last Thursday following the spread of an internet rumor that the facility was going to euthanize all of its 130 cats and 30 dogs within seven days. [...]

[The shelter's assistant supervisor complained that of the hundreds of people who called expressing concern about the rumor, not one was willing to adopt an animal.]

Baby Boom: Missouri, 2009

Southeast Missourian
27 October 2009

Baby boom?: Winter ice storm might be causing uptick in births in coming weeks

By Michelle Felter - Standard Democrat

SIKESTON, Mo. -- It's been nine months since ice storms crippled Southeast Missouri, leaving many without electricity for days.

But things were apparently still heating up in some homes, as local hospitals are expecting an increase in births over the next few weeks. [...]

Golf Ball Crisps

BBC News Magazine
23 October 2009

In praise of scepticism

Clive James

[In his essay on skepticism and gullibility, James reveals that sometimes errant golf balls, mechanically harvested along with potatoes, are turned into potato crisps (or chips, as we say in North America).

[...] Apparently a golf ball yields precisely 18 slices. All 18 slices of the golf ball, along with the thousands of slices of potato, go into the cooking process and emerge at the other end as something hard to distinguish, visually, from crisps. [...]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Korans Desecrated (Afghanistan),0,2243260.story

Los Angeles Times
25 October 2009

Afghans protest rumored desecration of Koran by U.S. troops

By Laura King

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan - Hundreds of angry protesters in Afghanistan's capital today burned an effigy of President Obama, acting on rumors that American troops had desecrated the Koran.

U.S. military officials emphatically denied that any copies of the Muslim holy book had been mishandled, and accused the Taliban of spreading falsehoods to incite hatred against Western forces. [...]

Cannibal Rumors (South Africa)

The Witness [South Africa]
24 October 2009

E-mail causes ‘cannibal’ scare

Sharlene Packree

CANNIBALS, missing people, decomposing bodies with missing organs … While this sounds like a good horror movie, these are in fact the contents of a hoax e-mail that is causing hysteria among residents in Phoenix and Verulam, north of Durban. [...]

Times Live [South Africa]
24 October 2009

'Cannibals' rumour sparks fear in Durbs

By Corrinne Louw

Hundreds of concerned Phoenix, Verulam and Inanda residents were conned this week by a hoax e-mail and reports of a "black magic cannibal".

News of a "half-human, half-animal thing" circulated in schools, shops and businesses after hundreds of people descended on the Amaoti police station in Inanda last Sunday to enquire about two alleged cannibals. [...]

Monday, October 19, 2009


Sydney Morning Herald
20 October 2009

Column 8

''Reading your paragraph giving the derivation of platypus as 'flat foot' took me back to Canberra in the 1960s,'' writes Laurie Malone, of Bilgola (Column 8, Friday). ''With the opening of Lake Burley Griffin, the ACT police decided they should have water police like all the other police forces. So a water police station was set up, water police appointed and a water police boat purchased. The police authorities decided the boat should have an appropriate name. So they approached a professor of classics at ANU for a name. They were a little surprised and a little disappointed when he suggested 'Platypus'. They were expecting a more classical name but accepted, thinking that the name of an Australian water-loving animal was OK, if a little pedestrian. It was many years before the penny finally dropped.'' [...]

Canberra Times
20 April 2004

Flat chat on course for a boat's name

IT'S 40 YEARS this month since April showers swelled the hitherto modestly babbling Molonglo into a river big enough to fill Lake Burley Griffin for the first time. A reader who read last weekend's Our Great Lake supplement in this paper with its story about the Water Police is reminded of another tale. The Water Police story mentioned the first police launch, the Platypus.

''Mine is a tale which certainly had currency in ANU circles at the time, though whether or not apocryphal I cannot say,'' the reader writes. ''The then ACT Police Commissioner or other some such exalted officer was casting around for an appropriate name for the first police launch and, encountering at a function one night the then Master of University House, the erudite Emeritus Professor A.D. Trendall, sought his assistance. Trendall suggested the name Platypus. With occasional sightings of this creature in the Molonglo, so recently replaced by the lake, the name seemed eminently suitable and so was adopted for the vessel and for its successor.

''The commissioner may not have realised at the time that, before his appointment as Master, Dale Trendall was a much respected Greek scholar and with something of a sense of humour - 'platypus' derives from the Greek, 'platypous', meaning flat-footed.'' [...]
Australian Federal Police
AFP Emblem – The platypus

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Unverified Mountain Lion Sightings

Wall Street Journal
15 October 2009, p. A1

There's Nothing So Rare as a Cougar in Missouri
Still, Many Sightings Reported; Mistaking Tabby for a Mountain Lion


[...] Apocryphal big cats, on the other hand, are infesting the heartland faster than ever, thanks to a combination of mistaken sightings and deliberate hoaxes -- and the tendency of the Internet to magnify assertions. [...]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gang Initiation: Killing Women

The Star-Ledger [NJ]
15 October 2009

Text messages sent to Elizabeth, Newark students about rumored gang initiation considered a hoax

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger

The ominous text message recently sent to dozens of high school students in Newark and Elizabeth sounded plausible -- as well as deadly.

"Oct. 21st starts gang initiation week they are rumored to try to kill 140 Woman.PLZ FORWARD This can save our women!" reads the foreboding text.

The fear-mongering messages convincingly refer to a gang initiation rite called "Red October," when prospective Bloods kill to earn their gang stripes. [...]

New York Daily News
20 October 2009

Cops vigilant for potential gang slashings

BY Rocco Parascandola

Cops across the city are on alert for a Bloods initiation drive that calls for 145 slashings, police sources said Monday. [...]

CBS2 [Chicago]
21 October 2009

Police: Gang Threat Against Woman Is E-Mail Hoax
Similar Hoaxes About Gang Initiation Have Been Around For Decades

CHICAGO (CBS) ― An e-mail claiming that Chicago gang members plan to kill women as a part of initiation is a hoax, police say.

The e-mail, which has been circulating for at least the past week, claims that gang initiation starts on Wednesday, Oct. 21. The e-mail claims that gang members plan to kill 140 women in total, and that women will be targeted around the Chicago area. [...],0,3725495.story

The Hartford Courant [CT]
28 October 2009

Hartford Police Chief Says Gang Text Messages Are A Hoax


The Hartford Courant

HARTFORD - Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts says that recent e-mails, text messages and tweets regarding "a nationwide gang initiation" that targets 140 women are a "hoax." [...]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cape Town's Passion Gap

Daily Telegraph [UK]
7 October 2009

Cape Town's passion gap: sexual myth or fashion victimhood?

Dental modification is a teenage rite of passage for some in Cape Town - one that has been around for 60 years.

By Fran Blandy in Cape Town

[...] One of the most enduring images of mixed-race South Africans known as coloureds is the frequent absence of their front teeth, a mystery to many but popularly believed to facilitate oral sex.

This sexual myth - not borne out by research - has seen the trend referred to as the "Passion Gap" or the "Cape Flats smile", after a populous neighbourhood. [...]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Organ Theft Rumors (Uzbekistan)

9 October 2009

Hunt for children’s organs rumours dreading Tashkent – Rumours about the killings of children by a group of unidentified individuals in residential areas to remove their organs have been dreading residents of Tashkent for the past two weeks. [...]

An official of the Uzbek Prosecutor-General’s Office who asked not to name him said that a group of criminals had been killing people to take their organs in the capital. They sell these organs in Western countries, he suggested. [...]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blimp Spies on Women (Afghanistan)
7 October 2009

Giant blimp has Kandaharis on edge.

By Bruce Ward, Canwest News Service

KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan - There's a giant blimp, white with three tail fins, hanging over the city these days and it's causing a stir among Kandaharis who believe the Americans are using it to spy on them.

And it could be they're right.

``Many people believe it's a spy blimp that can see through walls to look at our women,'' said Ghulam Ghami, a local fixer attuned to the buzz in coffee shops and kebab stands. [...]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

American Tourist Takes Stamps Overseas

Sydney Morning Herald
8 October 2009

Column 8

[...] "When my wife and I were on a Danube cruise from Germany to Romania a few years ago," writes Jim Hunt of Running Stream, "we would spend time in a series of countries for a day or so. One of our American fellow travellers observed that she knew from past experience the hassle of changing money into the local currency to buy postcards and stamps to send home. However, on this trip she had overcome the problem 'by bringing plenty of American stamps from home'." [...]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stolen Hair Used in Axis Bomb-Sights (1942 Rumor)

Theo Paijmans, "The Phantom Barber of Pascagoula." Fortean Times #254 (November 2009), pp. 30-1.

[In 1942 citizens of Pascagoula, Mississippi, were alarmed by reports that an unknown assailant was breaking into homes and cutting the hair of the occupants while they slept. Some people suggested that the "phantom barber" was actually a "Fifth Columnist, working to collect hair for Axis bomb-sights" ("Steals Their Hair While They Sleep[:] Strange Exploits of the Phantom Barber," San Antonio (Texas) Light, 30 August 1942). A man arrested for using an iron bar to batter a couple in their bedroom was also accused of being the phantom barber, which he may have very well been. He also happened to have a connection to Germany. -- bc]

Evening Tribune (Marysville, Ohio), 14 August 1942, pp. 1, 3.

"Phantom Barber" Caught After Intensive Search

PASCAGOULA, Miss., Aug. 14 -- Police Chief A. W. Ezell claimed today that "the phantom barber" who broke into at least 10 homes to cut the hair of the sleeping occupants is William A. Dolan, 57, a German educated chemist.

Dolan, Ezell announced, has been in jail for three weeks and is charged with attempted murder. His motivation, Ezell charged, was to impair the morale of war workers. [...]

Ezell and Morris Talley, Pinkerton detective who was worked on the case for six weeks, said several persons had signed statements that Dolan had expressed sympathy for Germany.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Child Abduction Rumors (Northern Ireland)

Ballymena Times [Northern Ireland]
22 September 2009

Attempted child abduction 'urban myth' - say police

By Staff reporter

RIFE rumours that a little girl had been abducted recently in a Ballymena supermarket were completely unfounded, a local police officer has said.

The circulating speculation included a rumour that the young victim had been led into shop toilets where she was put into boys’ clothes and even given a shaved head to mask her identity by her phantom abductors. [...]

28 September 2009

Abduction story is NI 'urban legend'

The PSNI have refuted rumours of attempted child abductions at various supermarkets throughout Northern Ireland. [...]

Preserved Bodies on the Bottom of Lake Tahoe

28 September 2009

Corpses, Hungry Bears Embellish Lake Tahoe Non-Casino Pleasures

By Peter J. Brennan

[...] “The world isn’t ready for what’s down there,” is the apocryphal quote attributed to the late marine explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau in the 1980s and repeated to us by our white-water rafting guide on the Truckee River. [...]

The lake rumor is that dozens if not hundreds of bodies, including Mafia victims, are perfectly preserved near the bottom. Our rafting guide theorized that bodies cannot float in such cold, fresh water and there aren’t enough bacteria at the bottom to dispose of the remains. [...]

The Dismantled Plane

Bill Kaysing, We Never Went to the Moon (Cornville, AZ.: Desert Publications, 1981), p. 186.


While in Las Vegas in 1976, I met a man who told me the following story which he claimed was true. It seems a doctor and his family accidentally flew over the secret DOE (formerly NTS) base north of Vegas. The base is definitely off-limits to both air and surface travel. It is also the region that I claim was used for "lunar" photography. The doctor's plane was forced down by USAF fighter planes and was totally dismantled...evidently searching for a hidden camera. The doctor and his family were questioned at great length and finally released. The plane was shipped back to the doctor in pieces.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heavy Petting in Hot Tub Leads to Pregnancy


24 September 2009

Attention 'Glee' Fans: A Hot Tub Cannot Get You Pregnant

Kate Dailey

[...] The most preposterous thing in last night's episode of Glee [...] was sweet, hot, dumb jock Finn believing that he got his girlfriend pregnant by kissing in a hot tub.

They didn't even take off their swimsuits! Finn sputters, though in fairness there was some premature ejaculation. No matter, cheerleader Quinn shrugs. "A hot tub is the perfect temperature for sperm," she says. "It helps them swim faster."

Of course, it's later shown that Quinn, president of the chastity club, got a little action on the side and was just trying to protect her rep and her relationship. [...]

DNR Secretly Releasing Mountain Lions

Bemidji Pioneer [MN]
24 September 2009

Mountain lion backlash

By: Molly Miron, Bemidji Pioneer

[...] The other rumor going around is that the DNR has imported and released mountain lions to cut down the whitetail deer overpopulation. I have asked more than one DNR officials about the claim. They told me the DNR has released grouse or prairie chickens in western Minnesota and, many years ago, reintroduced fishers in Itasca State Park to control porcupines. No mountain lions. One specialist said a radio-collared mountain lion was spotted in this area some time ago, but the animal had been collared in the Black Hills of South Dakota and had wandered here from out West.

I talked to someone today who said a DNR official had told him/her 15 mountain lions had been released near here, but that the DNR doesn't want people to know. I asked for a written affidavit from this official who reported the releases before I would consider the claim. The response was that officials don't want to put it in writing, but the caller would see about getting written testimony. [...]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Montgomery Animal Massacre

New Jersey Real-Time News

Rumors about Montgomery animal shelter closing flood officials with phone calls

By New Jersey Local News Service
September 23, 2009, 1:41PM

MONTGOMERY -- If you want to bombard a township with calls from angry people, start a rumor that cats and dogs are going to die.

That's exactly what happened Tuesday and today, when an Internet rumor claiming the local animal shelter in Montgomery was going to close and all cats and dogs remaining there would be euthanized.

And it happened across the country, too, as a viral rumor with countless incarnations made similar claims about shelters in communities named Montgomery. Only one shelter, located in a Texas County by the same name, is closing and its operator was working to find homes for all the pets, according to a local newspaper there. [...]

Philadelphia Inquirer
23 September 2009

Local shelter closing, dooming pets? No way

By Peter Mucha

Talk about news getting twisted until it loses the truth: No animals face death today because of the closing of a Montgomery County Animal Shelter. [...]

The Leaf Chronicle [TN]
23 September 2009

Local animal shelter staying open


Misinformation posted on Facebook over the weekend has launched a wave of concerned phone calls and e-mails to the local animal shelter and county mayor’s office.

There was a typo in the Internet article about an animal shelter in Montgomery County, Texas needing to close because of lack of funding, said Elizabeth Black, public information officer for Montgomery County, Tn. [...]

The Courier of Montgomery County [Texas]
23 September 2009

Rumor Mongrels: Confusion leads to flurry of pet adoptions at animal shelters

By Brad Meyer

Unsubstantiated rumors that dogs and cats would be euthanized when the Humane Society of Montgomery County ceased operations in Conroe last weekend resulted in traffic jams and a rush to adopt pets. [...]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Henna Poisoning Rumors (India)

Times of India
22 September 2009

Rumours spoil festive mood

RANCHI: Eid celebrations on Monday were marred by rumours of henna causing severe allergic reactions among women and children in Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Traditionally, women apply henna after the sighting of the Eid moon. Khurshid Hassan Rumi of Anjuman Islamia said the rumours were generated by mischief-mongers.

It isn’t clear where the first rumours originated, but in no time there were long queues of ‘patients’ in front of hospitals on Sunday night. As announcements were made from mosques warning people not to use henna, women rushed to hospitals complaining of severe burning sensation on their palms. [...]

Patna Daily
22 September 2009

Thousands Taken Ill after Using Henna; Probe Ordered

A day after panic over poisoned henna ensued in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday, ordered a high-level probe in the complaints saying the whole thing was a conspiracy to foment communal unrest in the state when the Muslims were engaged in celebrating Eid in the state. [...]

Bihar Times
21 September 2009

Eid turns sour as women, girls taken ill after applying artificial mehndi

[...] It appears that the people actually fell ill by applying mehndi. But since they could not realize as to how can a person be poisoned by mehndi they thought that milk may be the cause of the illness. So in suspicion they threw tonnes of milk in the drain.
The loudspeakers of the mosques were used in the wee hours of the Eid day to appeal to the people not to use artificial mehndi and Sudha milk. [...]
Bihar Times
22 September 2009
Mehndi, milk mania: Nitish sees conspiracy, orders probe

Calcutta Telegraph
24 September 2009

State bans mehndi


[...] Bhadrak, Balasore, Padampur, Sambalpur, Khurda and Bhubaneswar drug inspectors today swung into action, raiding shops and collecting samples. It was found that two brands, Dulhan Purohit and Mila, caused the reaction. [...]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Suicidal Engineer (John Edward Schwitzer)

Prairie Post West [Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada]
17 September 2009

High Level Bridge has an interesting history

By Alisha Sims
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Lethbridge -- The High Level Bridge was an engineering failure, John Edward Schwitzer concluded.

Weeks prior to the final pieces of steel being laid on the 5,327.625 feet (1.6 kilometres) long and 314 feet (96 metres) high structure, the senior engineer on Canadian Pacific Railway’s Western lines realized the project would never work.

Humiliated by his miscalculations that would result in a whopping $1,334,525 failure and determined to prevent a single train from crossing the tracks of what many newspapers of the day were calling “one of the wonders of the world,” Schwitzer walked across the nearly completed structure, turned to the side and stepped off, his body plummeting to the earth below. [...]

While researching stories about the Lethbridge landmark on and off for about a month, [Belinda] Crowson came across another myth regarding Schwitzer’s death. Story has it while he was in charge of engineering the famous spiral tunnels in the Rocky Mountains, he realized a week before the tunnels were finished that his mathematical calculations were off and they’d never meet in the middle. He entered one of the tunnels and shot himself in the head. A week later, the tunnels were completed and met in the middle as Schwitzer had calculated and he took his own life for nothing. [...]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bees & Wasps Repelled by Bags of Water

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
16 September 2009

PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Bounce bees with bags of water?

Q: I was at a child’s birthday party, and wasps and bees were flying all over while the food was out. Someone said to get self-sealing plastic bags (sandwich-size is fine), fill them with water and put them on the table. The wasps disappeared. If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes, I never would have believed it. [...]

Perfume Attacks (St Helens, UK)

St Helens Reporter [UK]
16 September 2009

A real stinker: police probe fable of crooked perfume salesman

By Chris Amery

It may be a tale as old as the hills - but the story of a dodgy perfume salesman drugging and robbing unsuspecting female shoppers has been given new life in St Helens.

Stories circulating that the elaborate scam is being operated outside Asda's popular Kirkland Street store have even prompted police to investigate and local councillors to issue warnings in their official minutes. [...]

Phone Masts Could Poison Food (Bahrain)

Gulf Daily News [Bahrain]
2 September 2009

Row over illegal phone masts


MUNICIPAL councillors will vote today whether to seek an urgent court order to remove illegal phone masts on rooftops in Muharraq, which have caused violent clashes between neighbours.

Muharraq Municipal Council has been bombarded with calls from residents complaining about neighbours, who are paid by telecommunication companies to set up masts at their homes or buildings.

There have been violent clashes between neighbours amid rumours that emissions from the masts could poison food. [...]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jelly Bracelets, Shag Bands, etc.

Daily Camera [Boulder, CO]
10 September 2009

Lafayette middle school discourages jelly bracelets, citing sexual meanings

By Vanessa Miller
Camera Staff Writer

The principal of Lafayette's Angevine Middle School is asking parents to discourage their children from wearing colored jelly bracelets to school because of rumors that they carry sexual meanings. [...]

The Star [UK]
12 September 2009

Sex band outrage

By Kate Lahive

AN OUTRAGED South Yorkshire mum has hit out at a sexually-explicit children's fashion craze which is sweeping the nation.

Youngsters up and down the country are sporting so-called 'shag bands' - bendy plastic wrist bangles which look just like innocent friendship bracelets and come in an array of trendy neon colours.

But the idea behind them is the wearer twists two of the bands together - and then jokingly agrees to sleep with whoever gets close enough to snap the bands apart. [...]
Sheffield Telegraph [UK]
14 September 2009
Children's 'shag band' fashion craze outrage
Daily Mail [UK]
24 September 2009
Thousands of young children are buying coloured wristbands every week. But parents have no idea of their true disturbing meaning...
By Sadie Nicholas
Daily Mirror [UK]
25 September 2009
Fury over 'sex' bracelets sold to school children
By Euan Stretch
Yorkshire Post [UK]
27 September 2009
Jayne Dowle: Why my boy in the bands doesn't need a slap on the wrist
By Jayne Dowle,27574,26131516-1248,00.html
The Courier-Mail [Australia]
27 September 2009
Shag bands a parent's worst nightmare
By Carly Hennessy
The Sun [UK]
29 September 2009
Bracelet which means your child is having SEX
By Dulcie Pearce

[As a bonus, the Sun article also contains a warning about rainbow parties.]

The Star [South Yorkshire, UK]
1 October 2009

Pressure growing to ban sex bands

By Kate Lahive

PRESSURE is growing for a ban on a sexually explicit children's fashion craze sweeping the nation - after The Star highlighted the playground trend that has horrified parents. [...]

Wales on Sunday
11 October 2009

Should these ‘shag bands’ be banned?

by Clare Hutchinson, Wales On Sunday

CHILDREN as young as SIX are wearing bracelets advertising their sexual availability.

The brightly-coloured rubber bands – known as shag bands – are the latest craze to sweep playgrounds across Wales. [...]

BBC News [UK]
25 September 2009

MP calls for 'sex bracelet' ban

[...] Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, who was elected in May 2005, wants under 16s banned from buying the items. [...]

BBC News [UK]
2 October 2009

County schools ban 'sex' bracelet

Coloured plastic bracelets claimed to encourage promiscuity among youngsters will be banned from a county's schools.

Carmarthenshire council said it was the first in Wales to stop pupils wearing the bands around their wrists. [...]

The Times [UK]
10 November 2009

Would you let your daughter wear a "shag band"?

Chloe Lambert
Dorset Echo [UK]
21 November 2009
Call for 'sex bracelets' to be banned
By Miriam Phillips
Dorset Echo [UK]
24 November 2009
Parents' horror over 'sex bands' at Weymouth and Portland schools
By Laura Kitching and Miriam Phillips
Lancashire Evening Post [UK]
30 November 2009
'Sex act' wristbands withdrawn from toy shops
By Melanie Wallwork
Wigan Today [UK]
3 December 2009
'Sex' bracelets concern
By Natalie Walker

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Is Worse Than John Mellencamp?

30 June 2003

Ain't that America?

By Eric Boehlert

[...] [John Mellencamp:] When the song first came out I was in the car one day and we were driving to the airport and I had my kids with me and a radio station was playing "To Washington" and having callers call in. Some guy comes on and says, "I don't know who I hate the most, John Mellencamp or Osama bin Laden." My kids heard that and my 9-year-old said, "Dad, are they talking about you? Why are people mad at you?" [...]

The Washington Post
7 December 2004, p. C01

The Blue in Blue-Collar
Despite Backlash, John Mellencamp Continues to Fight Authority

By Sean Daly
Washington Post Staff Writer

[...] He leans forward, his voice a whisper: "I got so much [bleepin' stuff] over that song. I was in the car going to the airport with my boys and my wife, and they were playing the record on the radio. As soon as the song was over, they took callers, like they were rating the record on Dick Clark. The first call was some hillbilly going, 'I don't know who I hate the worse now, John Mellencamp or Saddam Hussein.' My kids heard that!" [...]

[I've no reason to doubt Mellencamp's anecdote, even though he can't decide if he was compared to Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. -- bc]

Dumb Tourist Questions (Banff, Alberta)

Calgary Herald [Alberta, Canada]
29 August 2009

20 dumb Questions

At what elevation do deer turn into elk? That's just one of the many silly questions Banff tour operators hear on the job

By Lisa Monforton, Calgary Herald

The Body in the Farmer's Pickling Box

Star Tribune [Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN]
7 September 2009

What really happened to Clell Miller's body?

By PEG MEIER, Special to the Star Tribune

[In 1876 medical student Henry Wheeler shot dead bank robber Clell Miller, then got possession of his cadaver for his medical school. But before the body was shipped to the University of Michigan, the story goes, it was stored temporarily in a farmer's pickling box.]

[...] Soon after, a young Swedish immigrant who had worked for the farmer that summer showed up to collect his wages. The farmer explained that no one -- repeat, no one -- was paid until the wheat crop was marketed. The young man was persistent. Again, he demanded his pay.

So the farmer took the hired man out to the barn. He pulled an old horse blanket off the top of the pickling box, pointed to Miller's decaying corpse and said, "That is the last man who asked me for his pay before he was entitled to it."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cobra Kills Store Customer (Thailand, 2002)

Phuket Gazette [Thailand]
19 March 2002

Cobra tale ‘poisonous nonsense’ – Super Cheap

PHUKET TOWN: The Managing Director of Phuket Town’s famed Super Cheap emporium admitted to being furious today about what he sees as a venomous whispering campaign, probably inspired by business rivals.

The story going the rounds yesterday and today was that a 40-year-old woman shopping at Super Cheap went to take onions from a display in the vegetables section. As she dug around for good ones, she felt a sharp pain on the back of her hand. [...]

[She died from a cobra bite. Seventy cobra eggs were found in a nest underneath the onions.]

Ribbons on Cabs Indicate Support for the Taliban

Halifax Evening Courier [UK]
5 September 2009

Myth of the 'taliban' ribbons: Police deny cabbies' tags show loyalty to extremists

By Emily Heward

POLICE have crushed rumours that black ribbons hanging from Halifax cabs are symbols of support for the Taliban. [...]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Syringe Attacks (Urumqi, China)

The Associated Press
3 September 2009

Syringe attacks spark new protest in Chinese city


BEIJING — Hundreds of Chinese protested deteriorating public safety Thursday after a series of mysterious syringe attacks further unnerved residents in the western Chinese city of Urumqi where ethnic rioting in July killed nearly 200 people. [...]

Xinhua [China]
3 September 2009

Tens of thousands of protesters demand security guarantees in Urumqi after hypodermic syringe attacks

URUMQI, Sept.3 (Xinhua) -- Crowds gathered at a number of sites in downtown Urumqi Thursday to protest against hypodermic syringe attacks in the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and demanded security guarantees from authorities. [...]

Police said that attacks with syringes against innocent people have been carried out in Urumqi since Aug. 17. The regional health department said 476 people have sought treatment for stabbing, of whom 89 were showing obvious signs of needle sites. At Sept. 2, there had been no deaths reported and no symptoms have been found of infectious disease viruses or toxic chemicals. [...]

Xinhua [China]
4 September 2009

Urumqi protesters confront police over syringe attacks

URUMQI, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Urumqi residents confronted armed police Friday during protests against further hypodermic needle attacks as uncertainty stalked the streets of the city. [...]
Associated Press
5 September 2009
China blames Muslim separatists for needle attacks
Xinhua [China]
5 September 2009
4 prosecuted for endangering public security in Urumqi syringe attacks
Xinhua [China]
5 September 2009
Police chief stresses stability as situation in Urumqi comes under control

Xinhua [China]
5 September 2009

Chinese medical experts examine Urumqi syringe attacks victims

URUMQI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese military medical experts on Saturday said that it was too early to say victims in recent syringe attacks in Urumqi City had contracted diseases related to radioactive substance, anthrax and toxic chemical as rumors had it. [...]
6 September 2009
China's Urumqi still edgy after officials sacked
7 September 2009
China threatens punishment for rumors in Urumqi
By Royston Chan

China Daily
9 September 2009

Syringe attacks persist in Urumqi

URUMQI: Police said they received 77 reports of syringe attacks between 5 pm Sunday and 5 pm Monday in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, despite authorities warning attackers they might face the death penalty. [...]
China Daily
11 September 2009
Syringe suspects seized in Xinjiang
By Cui Jia and Cai Ke (China Daily)
The Associated Press
11 September 2009
New needle attacks reported in Chinese cities
11 September 2009
Needle attacks and rumours spread in China's Xinjiang
By Lucy Hornby
Xinhua [China]
11 September 2009
Xinjiang hospital offers psychological counselling for needle attack victims
The Times [London]
11 September 2009
Panic over syringe stabbings spreads to Beijing
Jane Macartney, China Correspondent
Xinhua [China]
12 September 2009
Suspects sentenced over needle attacks in Urumqi
Xinhua [China]
13 September 2009
Tests find no infections in Xinjiang needle attack victims
Xinhua [China]
Xinhua [China]
17 September 2009
Four sentenced over syringe attack in Urumqi

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Sandpaper Man

Eleanor Wachs, Crime-victim Stories: New York City's Urban Folklore (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 36.

[This account comes from a female social worker from Brooklyn, who insisted that it was true. -- bc]

She's a very articulate woman -- when she went blind four years ago, she really got herself together. She's very independent -- she's totally blind, but she is mobile. She gets around, does what she has to do. She went through a bad depression, except nothing stops her. She took mobility training, and she's independently strong -- very wonderful woman. And she's really a kind, generous woman. She went home from the agency, and then the doorbell rang. And she has a chain on her door, and she just opened the door. Someone said it was a messenger or something, and she didn't really question it. She opened the door -- this guy grabbed her entire arm and took sandpaper and just started scratching her entire arm up and down. And he told her to break the chain or he's gonna ruin her arm with this sandpaper. And she just tried as much as she could not to present herself as a victim, you know, the idea that you can't be hurt, or that you can't be treated as a victim if you don't present yourself like a victim. So what she did was she grabbed the guy's arm and said, "You have no right treating me like this! Who the hell do you think you are?" She grabbed his hand, and with all her energy she took his fingers with all her strength and broke them all -- all his fingers broke like spaghetti. And he ran off. She called the cops. And they picked him up a few hours later because he went to an emergency room in a hospital because he had five broken fingers. She refused to be a victim.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Flushing in Newark

The News Journal [Delaware]
29 August 2009

Newark (can) flush with returning UD students
City's population doubles today, but the water-pressure legend is a myth


By Newark folklore, today's return of college kids tells locals one thing: You can't flush.

University of Delaware's annual return morphs the town of about 15,000 full-time residents into a college city nearing 35,000, with a proportional rise in plumbing use.

Rick Armitage, UD director of government relations, said he has heard locals couldn't flush the day students come back since he came as a student in 1969. [...]

A Letter of Introduction

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Confessions of a Caricaturist, Vol. 1 (of 2), by Harry Furniss

Harry Furniss, The Confessions of a Caricaturist, vol. 1 (New York & London: Harper & Brothers, 1902), p. 34

A propos of letters of introduction, I am reminded of a brother artist, who, although a caricaturist, was entirely devoid of guile, and, in addition, was as absent-minded as the popularly-accepted type of ardent scientist or professor of ultra-abstruse subject. Well, this curious species of satirist was setting forth on travels in foreign climes, and in order to lighten in some measure the vicissitudes inseparable from peripatetic wandering, he was provided with a letter of introduction to a certain British consul. The writer of this letter enclosed it in one to my friend, in which he said that he would find the consul a most arrant snob, and a bumptious, arrogant humbug as well—in fact, a cad to the backbone; but that he (my friend) was not to mind this, for, as he could claim acquaintanceship with several dukes and duchesses, all he had to do was to trot out their names for the edification of the consul, who would then render him every attention, and thus compensate him to some extent for having to come into contact with such an insufferable vulgarian. On the return of the guileless satirist to England the writer of the letter of introduction inquired how he had fared with the consul, and great was his surprise to hear him drawl out, in his habitual lethargic manner:

"Well, my dear fellow, he did not receive me very warmly, and he did not ask me to dinner. In fact, he struck me as being rather cool."

"Well, you do surprise me!" rejoined his friend. "He's a horrible cad, as I told you in my letter, but he's awfully hospitable, and I really can't understand what you tell me. You gave him my letter of introduction?"

"Well, I thought so," said my friend; "but, do you know, on my journey home I discovered it in my pocket-book, so I must have handed him instead your note to me about him!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kennedy Never Worked a Day in His Life

[This profile of Ted Kennedy originally appeared in the September 1968 issue of Esquire.]

26 August 2009

The Last Kennedy

By Burton Hersh

[...] One September evening in 1962, having just proposed to open his political career as the Junior Senator from Massachusetts, Kennedy glanced up from his prepared remarks to hear the issue of his candidacy itself being laid open savagely by his upset opponent. "What are your qualifications for the United States Senate?" Edward J. McCormack was intoning across a South Boston auditorium platform. "You graduated from law school three years ago. You never worked for a living. You have never run for or held elective office." [...]

Kennedy himself, as things worked out, profited immediately and measurably from an enormous sympathy backlash. He sensed the effect a couple of days afterward when, as he was campaigning at the door of a factory at quitting time, a seasoned old laborer asked suddenly, "Is it true, like I heard, that you never worked a day in your life, Kennedy?"

The candidate mumbled something to the effect that he hadn't worked much with his hands, really...

"Well let me tell ya somethin', kid," the seasoned old laborer said, "ya sure ain't missed a hell of a lot."

From that instant, Kennedy realized, he had his seat in the Senate. [...]

Boston Herald
27 August 2009

Ted Kennedy’s legacy not as heroic as some might think

By Howie Carr

[...] There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that in his first Senate campaign in 1962, Kennedy was shaking hands at a factory-gate during a shift change. A haggard worker began berating him about how he’d never worked a day in his life. According to the legend, at that point another salt-of-the-earth blue-collar type leaned in and told Kennedy, “Never worked a day in your life, kid? You ain’t missed a thing.” [...]