Dateline: Thailand—Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is furious over news that one of his Cabinet ministers has had penis enlargement surgery. The allegations came from a woman who is being sued by a plastic surgery clinic for defamation after she claimed it gave her a face-disfiguring silicon injection. The woman, named Rawiwan Sitharat, claims that a prominent member of Shinawatra's Cabinet had received a penis enlargement injection at the same clinic and urged him to come forward as a witness for her defense. Sitharat held a press conference on the steps of Government House last Tuesday and said to the unnamed politician, “The problem with my face is bigger than the problem with your penis.” According to The Nation newspaper, Shinawatra demanded to know who had the manhood-enhancing procedure at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting. “This has affected the reputation of the Cabinet, because the news went around the world. I don't want the people to think the Cabinet members are obsessed with this kind of thing,” the newspaper quoted Shinawatra as telling his ministers. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said no one had owned up to the enlargement.
Dateline: England—Score one victory for psychotic, grave-robbing animal lovers. Chris Hall, owner of the Darley Oaks Farm in Staffordshire, has announced he will shut down his farm by the end of the year. Now can he please have his dead mother-in-law back? Hall, who owns the farm with his brothers David and John, has been subjected to a six-year campaign of intimidation by animal rights activists who are upset by the fact that Darley Oaks breeds guinea pigs for use as, well, guinea pigs in medical research. Last October, animal-loving extremists dug up the remains of Hall's 82-year-old mother-in-law, Gladys Hammond, from St. Peter's churchyard in nearby Yoxall. Since then, the Halls--who have been in business for more than 30 years--have been receiving letters from a group calling itself the Animal Rights Militia, which say Hammond's dead body will be returned once the farm closes its doors. A spokesperson for Staffordshire police said the investigation into the theft of Mrs. Hammond's remains would continue. He said the episode did “nothing to forward the cause of animal rights.”
Dateline: Turkmenistan—Don't expect to see Ashlee Simpson touring the former Soviet republic any time soon. Saparmurat Niyazov, the controversial and authoritarian president of Turkmenistan, has now banned lip-synching throughout his central Asian nation. Citing a “negative effect on the development of singing and musical art,” the president's office outlawed the practice last Tuesday. Under Niyazov's order, lip-synching is now prohibited at all cultural events, concerts and on television--as well as all private celebrations, including weddings. In 2001, Niyazov banned opera and ballet as “not corresponding to the national mentality.” Last year, he urged all young people not to get gold teeth and ordered authorities to crack down on young men growing beards and long hair.
Dateline: South Africa—Police had their hands full last weekend when a train carrying 180,000 crates of beer derailed near Waterval Boven, 124 miles east of Johannesburg. The train was en route from South African Breweries when it crashed late Friday night. By Saturday morning, police were fending off more than 200 people who arrived from the nearby township to make off with crates of beer. “It was a lot of trouble from one train crash,” said Superintendent Izak van Zyl. “They were firing rubber bullets into the crowd. The issue was the beer.” Officers raided nearby houses and recovered three out of at least 500 missing cases. Van Zyl said 20 officers would remain at the site until the surviving beer crates could be recovered, an operation that could take up to a week.
Dateline: Minnesota—Police in Goodview say 86-year-old Pauline Lillian Meyerhoff went for a Sunday drive last week--right into the town's annual parade. Meyerhoff allegedly approached from a side street in her red Cadillac, then turned onto Sixth Street, the town's main drag. There, she ran head-on into the Goodview Days parade. Instead of stopping, police say Meyerhoff sped up to nearly 50 mph, and headed down Sixth Street, scattering children, adults and the girls' gymnastics team. In all the confusion, police weren't able to stop the vehicle. But, since Goodview only has 3,300 people, it wasn't too hard to track down the Cadillac's owner. Police officer Robert Koch got to Meyerhoff's house not long after she did and gave her a ticket for reckless driving. Apparently, Meyerhoff wasn't exactly sorry for her behavior and took the opportunity to berate the officer for not clearing people off a street she wanted to drive on. The town of Goodview has asked the state to re-evaluate Meyerhoff's eligibility to drive.