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 V.14 No.26 | June 30 - July 6, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: RomaniaA young nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room by several other nuns and a priest at her convent. Police say members of the convent in Northeastern Romania claim Maricica Irina Cornici was possessed by evil spirits and that the crucifixion had been part of an exorcism ritual. According to the BBC News, the 23-year-old nun was denied food and water throughout her ordeal, had been tied and chained to the cross and had a towel shoved in her mouth. A postmortem is to be carried out, although initial reports say that Cornici died from asphyxiation. A priest and four nuns have been charged with imprisonment leading to death. The priest, Father Daniel, is accused of orchestrating the crime, but remained unrepentant in the local media. “I don't understand why journalists are making such a fuss about this,” the AFP news agency quoted Father Daniel as saying. “God has performed a miracle for her. Finally Irina is delivered from evil.”

Dateline: ChinaSome officials in the northern Shaanxi province ran up an astronomical restaurant bill that it will take the cash-strapped local government nearly four decades to pay off. The Beijing Evening News reported that in four years of visiting the small-town restaurant local officials had paid only a 10th of their 200,000 yuan ($24,000) tab. “The town government can pay only 5,000 yuan a year and they owe 180,000 yuan, so it will take 36 years to pay back--that's a lifetime,” Wei Zhongqin, the owner of the now-bankrupt restaurant, was quoted as saying. It is common for a rural town in China to be flat broke. The paper did not say why Wei had allowed his customers to run up such a large bill.

Dateline: New YorkAn attempt by juice company Snapple to create the world's largest popsicle has ended in sticky disaster. Last Tuesday, the company attempted to erect a 25-foot tall, 17 1/2-ton frozen Snapple juice treat in New York's Union Square. Snapple was attempting to promote their new line of frozen treats, but the giant ice pop melted much faster than expected in the 80-degree heat, flooding downtown Manhattan in kiwi-strawberry-flavored fluid. Firefighters closed off several streets and used hoses to wash away the sugary goo. Some passersby slipped in the fruity puddles, but no serious injuries were reported. Snapple spokesperson Lauren Radcliffe said the company would pay the city for the cleanup costs. Organizers weren't sure why the pop, which was made in Edison, N.J., and hauled in by freezer truck, disintegrated before it could be hauled upright by a construction crane. Radcliffe told reporters that the company was unlikely to make a second attempt to break the record set by a 21-foot ice pop in Holland in 1997.

Dateline: LouisianaA stickup man picked the wrong place to rob when he tried to hold up a beauty school in Shreveport. Police say Jared Gipson, 24, entered Blalock's Beauty College around noon last Tuesday and announced a robbery. “I thought it was someone just playing, but then I saw that big old gun,” manager Dianne Mitchell told The Times of Shreveport. “He said, ’Get down, big mama.'” The masked robber ordered the 20 or so students and teachers to lie on the floor. After collecting everyone's money, the gunman turned and began to run. That's when Mitchell stuck out her leg. The robber tripped over it, dropped the gun and slammed into a wall. “Get that sucker!” yelled Mitchell. The employees grabbed whatever they could get their hands on--curling irons, chairs, a table leg--and piled on Gipson. “They whooped the hell out of him,” said school owner Sharon Blalock. Crying in pain, bleeding and having soiled his pants, the gunman tried to crawl away, but the angry women held on to his legs and kept hitting him until police arrived. Gipson was charged with armed robbery and taken to LSU Hospital in a neck brace.

Dateline: MinnesotaIt wasn't that hard to catch the suspect in a recent bank robbery in Winona. According to the Winona Daily, a man walked into a Fortress Bank at 9:52 a.m. last Saturday and handed the teller a note that read, “Hi, I am Thomas Mason.” The note went on to demand $1,000 in $100 and $20 bills and said that the robber would, “kill everyone in the bank if he had to come back with a weapon in hand,” according to police reports. The teller handed over the money and the suspect left. At 10:14 a.m., Officer Chris Stark found a man matching the description of the robber behind a liquor store. The man was drinking a case of beer and scratching off $100 worth of lottery tickets. According to Stark's report, when he approached the man said, “I think I am the guy you want.” The man, identified as 37-year-old Thomas Eugene Mason, was searched and found to have $813 cash and the robbery note. Mason is being held in Winona County Jail on charges of aggravated battery and terrorist threats. “He is not a career bank robber,” noted Sgt. Chris Nelson.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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