Odds & Ends
Dateline: Australia—A court has ruled that a convicted heroin dealer can claim a $165,000 tax deduction for money that was stolen during a bad drug deal. The Australian Taxation Office had been trying to make Francesco Dominico La Rosa of Perth pay tax on his 1994-95 income, which is estimated at $337,000. But La Rosa, who recently served a 12-year term for dealing heroin and amphetamines, insisted his taxable income should be reduced. La Rosa told the High Court that the $165,000 cash he had buried in his back yard was dug up to pay for a drug deal in May 1995. That transaction went badly and ended up with the money being stolen by unknown people. The High court agreed with a lower court decision that upheld La Rosa's claims. The federal government has now vowed to change the law to bar losses incurred in illegal transactions from being claimed as tax deductions in the future.
Dateline: Malaysia—A caretaker at a temple has allowed himself to be cooked for half an hour in a giant wok full of steaming dumplings and corn as an offering to his Chinese deities. According to The Star, the “offering” took place during a Taoist festival in Kedah state. Lim Boon Hwa, 56, sat on a wooden board atop the wok, and a huge steamer cover was placed over him, filled with dumplings and corn. The food was later distributed to the 1,000 spectators who came to watch. This was actually the fourth time Lim had been “cooked” to mark the Nine Emperor Gods festival. His record time is 45 minutes. “Lim's performance shows the greatness of the Taoist deities in protecting their devotees from harm,” said temple spokesman Goon Fook Theong.
Dateline: Japan—Japan's patent office has rejected a bid by game manufacturer Fuji Shoji to name a pinball slot machine after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Fuji Shoji had hoped to create an entire line of Pachinko machines based on historical figures. Among the 35 famous faces were Hitler, Moses and Abraham Lincoln. The patent office rejected all 35 names saying the trademarks could disrupt public order and violate the spirit of the pacifist constitution. “When we name new products, we always try to have an edge against our competitors. It was supposed to be a parody, but we lacked consideration,” a company official humbly remarked.
Dateline: Georgia—Beverly Mitchell of Douglasville returned home after two and a half weeks vacation in Greece to discover a complete stranger had moved into her house. “I noticed a car in the driveway and the windows of the house were open, which freaked me out,” the 46-year-old Mitchell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mitchell backed out of the driveway and dialed 911. Douglas county Sheriff's Deputy Chuck Haralson went into the house and discovered 53-year-old Beverly Valentine in the shower. “In 28 years, I've never seen something this strange,” said Chief Sheriff's Deputy Stan Copeland. Not only had Valentine moved into the house, she had loaded in all of her furniture as well as her pet dog. She had also switched all the utilities into her name, stripped Mitchell's family photos from the walls, installed a washer and dryer, repainted some of the walls and begun tearing up the house's carpet and replacing it with tile. Valentine first told officers she had been in the house for two weeks and had gotten in by breaking a window with a shovel. She later changed her story, saying she had lived at the location for two years. “Some people have suggested,” Mitchell said, “and I agree, that she probably thought this was her home.” In Valentine's car, police found a gun and $23,000 in jewelry belonging to Mitchell. Valentine was charged with burglary and is being held in the Douglas County jail.
Dateline: Tennessee—Three robbers, who broke into a Memphis home and made off with DVD players, computers, TVs and other electronics, were caught returning to the scene of the crime to silence a witness they feared would squawk. After fleeing the scene, Mark Martin, 18, Dallas Davis, 25, and Jarrin Hicks, 21, realized that a six-year-old pet parrot named Marshmallow had heard them using the nickname “J.J.” and was repeating it. “They were all afraid the bird would ’stool' on them,” police Maj. Billy Garret said. “They actually believed he could identify them.” As a result, the alleged burglars turned their car around and returned to the home they had just burglarized. Unfortunately, police arrived at roughly the same time and a chase car ensued. The chase ended with the thieves crashing their car after only a few blocks. The foot-tall stool pigeon Marshmallow escaped from his cage, which was smashed in the accident, and has not been seen since. Victim Felicia Cobbs said her kids still hope to find their missing pet. Martin, Davis and Hicks were all charged with aggravated burglary and evading arrest.
Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to firstname.lastname@example.org.