Dateline: China—The government has banned its citizens from burning paper models of condoms, luxury houses, karaoke hostesses and other “vulgar” items when paying respects at the graves of their ancestors. Many Chinese people traditionally burn paper money and other items as a sacrificial rite to honor deceased relatives, but recent economic development has brought with it a rise in more capitalistic offerings to the afterlife. Anxious to curtail such modern twists on ancient superstitions, authorities in China have drafted new funeral and interment regulations that include fining citizens who burn “vulgar” offerings, the Beijing News reported last week. “The burning of luxury villas, sedan cars, mistresses and other messy sacrificial items ... will be investigated and punished,” the paper quoted Dou Yupei, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as saying. In the last two years, officials have discovered people burning paper versions of the male virility drug Viagra, extramarital mistresses and even “Supergirls”--dolls modeled after winning contestants of Chinese television’s hugely popular “American Idol” clone, “Mongolian Cow Sour Milk Supergirl.” “The tomb-sweepers’ feelings are understandable,” said Dou. “But burning these messy things--not only is it mired in feudal superstition, but it just appears low and vulgar.”
Dateline: Croatia—A man found the skeleton of a Nazi soldier while sifting through a bag of soil for his new garden. Bruno Marincic bought the soil from construction workers who had helped build a nearby highway. Marincic, from Rupe, was spreading it on his garden when he spotted the remains. Local historians said metal identification tags found with the remains showed the soldier was a member of the Nazi army’s 188th division, which fought in the area under the command of General Ludwig Kibler. Local authorities have contacted the German Embassy in Zagreb about the find.
Dateline: Turkey—An official with Turkey’s ruling party has been arrested for chewing gum while laying a wreath at a monument to the country’s revered founder Kemal Ataturk, the state Anatolian News Agency reported last Monday. Veysel Dalci, head of the local branch of the Justice and Development Party, was arrested in the Black Sea town of Fatsa and charged with insulting Ataturk’s memory during the Sunday afternoon ceremony marking Turkey’s National Sovereignty Day. CNN Turk television quoted the 38-year-old Dalci as saying he chewed gum to hide the smell of garlic, which he had eaten the previous evening. “After laying a wreath at the monument, I noticed I had gum in my mouth. I am very sorry,” the official told the television reporters. Showing disrespect for Ataturk, the soldier-statesman who founded the modern Turkish Republic in 1923, is a crime in the Mediterranean nation. It was not immediately clear what kind of penalty Dalci would face for the infraction.
Dateline: Oregon—According to a report in the current issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery, an unidentified 33-year-old Portland man went to a hospital late last year complaining of a headache. An initial examination found nothing, but a later X-ray found 12 nails embedded in the man’s skull from a suicide attempt with a nail gun. The man was apparently suicidal and high on methamphetamine when he fired the nails into his head one by one. A photo published in the study suggests the nails were between 1 1/2 and 2 inches long. The man at first told doctors he had had a nail gun accident, but later admitted it was a suicide attempt. No one before is known to have survived after intentionally firing so many foreign objects into their head, according to the report, written by Dr. G. Alexander West, the neurosurgeon who oversaw the treatment of the patient. Before his surgery at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, the patient was in “remarkably good condition.” He was later transferred to psychiatric care and stayed under court orders for nearly a month before leaving against doctor’s orders.
Dateline: New Jersey—An 18-year-old man proved a valuable lesson for police at the fourth annual Police Expo in Rockaway Township: Don’t steal ... from police ... at the Police Expo. Last Saturday afternoon, the unnamed 18-year-old criminal mastermind walked up to a booth at the Rockaway Townsquare mall staffed by Mendham and Mendham Township police officers. Of particular interest to the teen was a display case holding facsimiles of popular drugs, including ecstasy and methamphetamine. Assuming the props were real, the teen decided to get a closer look. He popped open the case and tried to get away with several of the contents. Police officers standing behind the tables scattered throughout the mall converged instantly on the teen. “We saw it. We ran over and detained him,” Mendham Township Police Sgt. William Lunger told the Daily Record. “There was one mother there with her child who pointed at the guy and said, ‘You see? That’s what happens when you break the law.’” The 18-year-old was charged with criminal mischief by Rockaway Township police.