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News of the Weird

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Shoulder holster:
May marked the debut of Minnesota's gun-carry law, which critics complain is much easier on handgun-possession than even Texas' law. Licensees may carry guns openly in any parking lot in the state (except federal facilities), including school parking lots (although possession of a knife in a school parking lot is still a felony). Guns are still prohibited on other school property, but the law reduces licensees' penalty for that from a felony to a misdemeanor. Private establishments can prohibit guns, but only with a state-dictated sign at each entrance, and then the "penalty" for violation is to be told to leave.

DOOMSDAY:
The world did not end on May 15, contrary to warnings by Japan's 1,200-member Pana Wave Laboratory cult, whose public activities (covering themselves and their property in white sheets for protection against electromagnetic waves beamed by "communists") had drawn media attention just before "doomsday." The Pana Wavers are believed not to be dangerous, although one member said that if the group's guru, Ms. Yuko Chino, soon succumbs to her (supposedly) microwave-induced cancer, the cult will, in revenge, exterminate "all humankind."

New products:
"Purring Kitty" software causes Nokia cell phones vibrate continuously to create a "discreet massager" (according to the British firm, Vibrelet). A fashionable but electrically charged woman's anti-assault coat, with rubber lining and vinyl outer layer sandwiching 9-volt circuitry that, when armed, delivers a finger-in-a-wall-socket-type jolt to anyone who touches it (from Advanced Research Apparel).

Nit-picky:
"We figured that [every small business] obviously worth doing is already being done by 50 other guys in Miami, so we had to do some thinking first," said "Anton" to the Miami New Times in April. That thinking resulted in Anton's belief that "thousands" of people would pay a dollar each to view his (and his partner "Frank"'s) painstakingly created display of exactly 1 million toothpicks. After hundreds of hours of counting and banding the picks, the two men were at last word ready to look at venues and marketing proposals.

Womb of one's own:
Doctors at Chimkent (Kazakhstan) Children's Hospital told the BBC in April that they had removed a fetus from a 7-year-old boy; it was thought at first to be a cyst but when removed, actually had hair and bones and is now believed to have been the boy's Siamese twin that grew in the wrong place. And in May, Groote Schnuur Hospital (Cape Town, South Africa) reported only the 15th documented case of a fetus developing in the mother's liver (and the fourth to survive).

Also, in the Last Month... :
A motorist drove his car into a self-service car wash hoping to drench a small fire in his engine, but by the time he realized he didn't have any coins, the fire had spread, eventually destroying four of the car wash's eight bays (West Seneca, N.Y.).

2003 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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