Dateline: India—Police in the eastern state of Orissa arrested nearly 200 people for watching a pornographic movie in a cinema hall and made them perform 10 sit-ups in public as punishment. Parents of teenagers under 17 caught in the cinema were ordered to come watch the exercise, the Hindustan Times daily reported. Sanjeev Panda, police chief in the Balasore district where the movie was being shown, said he was trying a new approach toward stopping the screening of pornography, which is illegal in India. “Earlier, we acted against the [cinema] hall owners and their staff. But it failed to effectively check screening of obscene movies. So we decided to crack down on the audience,” Panda told the newspaper. Similar punishment was meted out to about 400 people watching a porno at a hall in Orissa's Roukela district.
Dateline: Germany—Germans nostalgic for the crowded, paranoid, heavily polluted days of communism can now purchase an odorous reminder of East Germany: a can of Trabant exhaust. The cheap, tiny and box-like Trabant vehicle was East Germany's economic answer to the Volkswagen. Entrepreneur Thorsten Jahn is now selling cans of “Trabi” exhaust online for a mere 3.98 euros (just under $5). “The smell is something very special and scarce nowadays,” said Jahn. “I wanted a way to preserve the past in an original way.” A friend of Jahn's produced 1,800 cans in four days by stuffing pieces of cotton wool into the exhaust pipe of his aging Trabi. Jahn speculated that the exhaust scent would pose no danger as the cotton wool filtered out toxic particles.
Dateline: Louisiana—Douglas Kelly's elaborate tale of robbery, kidnapping and assault didn't quite add up in the minds of police investigators in Slidell. Kelly, 39, told police he went to a local Exxon station to buy dog food. Exxon does not sell dog food. Kelly said he was hit on the head and robbed by unknown assailants. But Kelly still had $400 cash in his wallet. Kelly said he was then forced into the trunk of his 1994 Cadillac, but escaped with the help of an emergency release. The Cadillac doesn't have such a safety feature. After several hours of questioning, Kelly finally admitted to detectives that he made up the whole story because he was afraid his girlfriend back in Higden, Ark., would find out he had blown most of his money hanging out at the Scuttlebutt Gentleman's Club all night. According to the Times-Picayune, Kelly eventually told Slidell Police Detective Reggie Relf that his elaborate lie about being kidnapped, robbed of $500 and locked in his trunk for up to two hours was “to insulate himself from the wrath of his pregnant girlfriend finding out he had been at Scuttlebutt's.” Kelly actually spent the night getting drunk at the strip club with a friend. He now faces charges of filing a false police report. “He really and truly feared the wrath of his pregnant girlfriend, to the point where he was willing to go to jail,” police spokesman Capt. Rob Callahan told the Times-Picayune. “Plus, the wrath is still going to be there now.”
Dateline: New York—A 27-year-old New York woman filed a lawsuit last Thursday against New York utility company Consolidated Edison claiming she fell off her skateboard in Manhattan last year and was branded with the letters of the Con Ed logo when she landed on a searing hot manhole cover. Elizabeth C. Wallenberg was burned just above her buttocks and on her left arm when she fell off her skateboard and onto a cover over a steam pipe at Second Avenue and 13th Street in the East Village. “It literally looked like a brand that had been applied by someone,” Wallenberg's lawyer Ronald Berman told reporters. According to Berman, Wallenberg was treated at the Beth Israel Hospital emergency room and released. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, accuses Con Ed of “negligence, carelessness, recklessness and culpable conduct” related to Wallenberg's injuries.
Dateline: Indiana—A city fire captain in Kokomo is in trouble for using a fire truck to water his front lawn. Capt. Kevin Shaffer must repay the department $120 for the use of the fire truck. In addition, he must pay 35 cents per gallon for the water he used, officials said. Shaffer and other firefighters were training recently on the south side of Kokomo. After the training, Shaffer decided to purge the fire truck's tanks. “We consider this a misuse of fire department equipment,” Deputy Chief Pat Donoghue said last Tuesday. Shaffer apparently told his superiors that he did not want to waste the water by dumping it down a drain. “He said he didn't want to waste it. If he didn't want to waste, he could have watered the department's lawn.” Shaffer said he did not plan to appeal the reprimand or fine.