Lead Story

According to a recent Associated Press story, residents of the primitive South Pacific island of Tanna raise the U.S. flag each day and formally pray that Americans will return to the island to bring more supplies like the cargo they brought when they used the island as a staging area during World War II and the Vietnam war. Islanders have built an airstrip with a bamboo “control tower,” hoping to attract U.S. planes; they’ve built bamboo “refrigerators,” opening them each day to see if their prayers have brought food; and one cult worships Lyndon Johnson and prays to Johnson outboard motors, which were part of the wartime shipments.

The Continuing Crisis

“He’s quite a guy” is how a water-department worker in Provo, Utah, described fellow employee Jerry Miller, who volunteered in December to lower himself into nine feet of raw sewage that was blocking the pipes in a residential neighborhood.

As of November, at least 72 commercial airline passengers had been arrested at New York’s Kennedy Airport because of X rays that showed heroin, wrapped in condoms or balloons, in their intestinal tracts.

Sylvia Matos left New York City without a trace shortly before officials cracked down on her for 2,800 unpaid parking tickets (over a 38-month period, an average of 2.5 per day), totaling $171,000 in fines. She had registered her car at 19 addresses with 36 different license plates.

A government survey revealed that 62 percent of the residents of Cairo feel they need sleeping pills at night because of noise: Horns are more important to motorists than traffic lights, and mosques play loud calls to prayer several times a day. At one city square, the noise is ten times greater than international recommended levels.

According to a Vatican policy statement in December, Eastern meditation practices such as Zen and yoga can debase Christian prayer by encouraging a “cult of the body.”

Members of the Corsican National Liberation Front took credit in January for blowing up about 60 cabins at a holiday complex near the French city of Bastia that caters mostly to nudists.

A 45-year-old man walked into WTVJ-TV in Miami in April and told a receptionist he had a bomb, causing employees to flee. However, the man told one employee who stayed behind that the bomb was in his head, having been surgically implanted by the CIA in 1965 (though he later said the bomb seemed to have moved to his rectum). The station ran on automatic programming for a few minutes, showing mostly commercials, until the man was apprehended.

Controversy within China mounted recently about the practice, by peasants working along the Yellow River south of Beijing, of leaving their infants tied inside sandbags each day while they are at work. The practice supposedly teaches obedience, keeps the child warm during winter, and allows sand to function as a diaper, but new evidence shows babies develop more slowly if kept in sandbags.

In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Two days after 32-year-old Kevin Callahan reportedly stabbed his wife in the throat in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and fled, he was found unconscious on a bridge, having been struck by lightning.

Off-duty Minneapolis police officer Craig Stoddard, 35, was arrested in October after he was discovered nude, asleep and snoring, in a child’s bedroom in nearby Moose Lake. Stoddard, apparently intoxicated, had been involved in a traffic accident in front of the house, and while the inhabitants went outside to watch the tow trucks, Stoddard wandered around back and into the house, where he crawled into an upstairs bedroom and slept for three hours before being discovered.

Two 15-year-old boys from Kansas City, Missouri, were arrested in Prairie Village, Kansas, in December for auto theft and leading police on a chase. Police were tipped off when the boys stopped at a police station to make a phone call, believing it was a convenience store. Their getaway took place at a speed of under ten miles per hour because of the ice-slickened street.

In March, when Warren Renando, city manager of Mount Clemens, Michigan, was touring a riverbank site that would be used several minutes later for a photo opportunity (in front of 40 members of the press) for state senator David Gephardt, he discovered a car parked right where Gephardt would be standing. Inside the car a couple was making love. Renando suggested they move on.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.