Dateline: China--If you’re a potential adoptive parent, China has two words for you: No fatties. According to U.S. adoption agencies, Beijing is tightening adoption rules, now requiring that foreign applicants be married, between the ages of 30 and 50 and with a body mass index of 40 or under. The new rules also bar parents who take medication for depression or who have a “severe facial deformity.” The changes, which take effect in May, come amid a surge in foreigners seeking to adopt Chinese children. Under national law, Chinese couples are only allowed to have one child. Female babies are often abandoned or put up for adoption by couples hoping for a male child.
Dateline: England--What’s Christmas without a miraculous virgin birth? Flora, a pregnant Komodo dragon living in England’s Chesterfield Zoo, hatched eight babies last Wednesday, despite having never mated or even mixed with a male dragon. Flora fertilized all her own eggs through a process culminating in parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. Other lizards have been known to do this, but scientists only recently found that Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards, are capable of the process. Scientists at Liverpool University discovered Flora had no male help after doing genetic tests on three eggs that collapsed after being put in an incubator. The tests on the embryos and on Flora, her sister and other dragons confirmed that Komodo dragons can reproduce through self-fertilization. “Those genetic tests confirmed absolutely that Flora was both the mother and the father of the embryos. It completely blew us away because it [parthenogenesis] has never been seen in such a large species,” Kevin Buley of the Chester Zoo told the science journal Nature.
Dateline: Ohio--Two young men were arrested last Monday, accused of stabbing Frosty the Snowman with a screwdriver. The Hamilton Country Sheriff’s office said two 18-year-olds were charged with criminal damaging after their assault was caught on videotape. Homeowner Matt Williquette set up a motion-sensitive video camera in a tree in his yard because his 12-foot inflatable Frosty has fallen victim to two earlier attacks. The inflatable, the biggest lawn figure on display in suburban Colerain Township outside of Cincinnati, was punctured with a screwdriver on Sunday night for the third time. “The question I have is, ‘Why me? And why Frosty?’” Williquette asked reporters. Police said they arrested one young man at his Colerain Township home and the second turned himself in.
Dateline: Wisconsin--Three boys from the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin were stopped by police shortly before Christmas for caroling door to door. The boys, all juniors at Franklin High School and members of the school’s band, decided to tour their neighborhood singing Christmas songs with their guitars in tow. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the teens picked houses that were brightly decorated. The people inside would hear them singing and come outside. One offered them hot chocolate. A few gave money that the boys plan to donate to charity. After about an hour, the carolers decided to hit another neighborhood where a friend lived. At about 7:30 p.m., they drove past the friend’s house, attracting the attention of a Franklin police officer. He pulled the boys over, put on his emergency lights and approached their vehicle. “He wanted to know our names,” 16-year-old Jasper Mayzik said. “He told us to keep our hands out of our pockets and up in the air where he could see them.” According to Franklin police Capt. Mike Martens, officers were investigating an alleged drug deal in the neighborhood. Mayzik and his two friends, Aaron Kooping and Joe Schultz, told the officer that they were out singing Christmas carols. “You could see in his eyes that he found that kind of unbelievable,” Mayzik told the Journal Sentinel. After 20 minutes of questioning and a pat-down search which uncovered nothing more than a set of Christmas bells, the boys were released. “What is this world coming to when Christmas carolers are frisked by the police?” wondered Mayzik’s mother Michele.
Dateline: South Carolina--A mother from Rock Hill, S.C., apparently convinced the police to arrest her 12-year-old son after he unwrapped a Christmas present early. The boy’s great-grandmother had specifically told him not to open his Nintendo Game Boy Advance, which she had wrapped and placed under the family Christmas tree, according to a police report. But last Sunday morning, she found the box unwrapped and opened. When the boy’s 27-year-old mother heard about her son’s impatience, she called police. “He took it without permission. He wanted it. He just took it,” the 63-year-old great-grandmother told The Herald. The boy eventually returned the portable game console, but the mother called police anyway. Two Rock Hill officers responded to the home and charged the boy with petty larceny. A police spokesperson said the boy was charged and released the same day and, as a juvenile, was never held at the jail. The unnamed mother said her son likes attention and has a history of bad behavior.