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 Jun 14 - 20, 2007 
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Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O’Leary

Dateline: India—Wildlife officials in India have found a high-tech way to trap wayward leopards—with cell phone ringtones. So far six leopards that have strayed too close to villages have been lured into traps by ringtones playing the calls of roosters, goats and cows, said H.S. Singh, chief conservation research officer in the western Indian state of Gujarat. “Now instead of using live bait, sounds of animals have been downloaded as ringtones on mobiles, which are attached to speakers kept behind cages and then played at regular intervals,” Singh said last Tuesday. “The leopard drawn by the sound is an unsuspecting victim,” Singh said, adding that the trick only worked at night. All the leopards were later released unharmed in forests away from the villages, Singh said.

Dateline: China—A public amusement park in China has erected (so to speak) what it claims is the world’s largest penis. The 30-foot-tall statue, known as the Sky Pillar, was build at Longwan Shaman Amusement Park in Changchun city. Builders wrapped more than 6,500 square feet of straw around the steel structure which stands on an altar atop 1,250-foot-high Qinlong Hill. “It is a totem of Shamanistic culture, which originated in this city,” Cheng Weiguang, president of the park, told the East Asia Economic and Trade News. According to local legend, an ancient Shaman hero named Ewenki vanquished a cruel female ruler and gave her a penis totem, telling her to respect males and not kill them at will. Shi Lixue, director of the China Folk Culture Association, backed the project, saying, “It symbolizes our ancestor’s pursuit of happiness and prosperity.”

Dateline: Germany—A 43-year-old man was rushed to the hospital after he fell off a second story balcony during a spitting contest with his 12-year-old son. A spokesperson for police in the eastern town of Cottbus said the man, who lived in neighboring Forst, had apparently lost his balance after thrusting too far forward in an attempt to outspit his son. He tumbled over the ledge and landed on the balcony of the ground floor apartment below. According to hospital officials, the man was listed in critical condition.

Dateline: England—In other gravity-based news, a man died after plummeting 80 feet from a posh rooftop restaurant in London and landing on the roof of a passing double-decker bus. The man allegedly fell from the seventh-floor terrace of the restaurant Le Coq D’Argent, near the Bank of England in the City of London. A witness who was working nearby described the incident for the UK’s Independent Television News agency: “He slammed straight down on to the roof of the bus. There were about 10 passengers on the top deck and around 20 below. I expected lots of screaming from the bus, but they seemed totally stunned.” Police identified the man as a city worker and indicated the death might have been a suicide.

Dateline: West Virginia—Who wouldn’t want to see a parking attendant get a ticket? Police in the town of Huntington found themselves in an unusual situation last week when they were forced to pull over parking meter attendants and warn them that their brand-new, city-issue miniature Mitsubishi and Subaru vehicles were not street legal and did not have proper registration. The state Division of Motor Vehicles recently informed the Huntington Municipal Parking Board that the two golf-cart-like trucks it just purchased were manufactured for off-road use only. They also don’t qualify as low-speed vehicles and can’t be registered, according to Glenn Pauley, DMV director of vehicle services. The Huntington Municipal Parking Board had thought the two gas-powered vehicles would be more cost-efficient than the electric cars attendants had been using because they get about 50 miles per gallon and don’t have to be taken off the streets at least two hours a day to be recharged, said Johnette Nelson, the board’s executive director. For now, the $9,600 trucks will have to sit in the city garage while the Parking Board decides what to do with them.

Dateline: New York—A Manhattan man has sued the maker of the health drink Boost Plus, claiming the vitamin-enriched beverage gave him an erection that would not go away and eventually led to his hospitalization. The lawsuit filed by 29-year-old Christopher Woods said he bought the nutrition beverage, which is made by the Novartis pharmaceutical company, at a drugstore on June 5, 2004, and drank it. Novartis’ Boost Plus website describes the drink as “a great tasting, high calorie, nutritionally complete oral supplement for people who require extra energy and protein in a limited volume.” According to court papers, Woods woke up the next morning “with an erection that would not subside.” Woods said the erection lasted for more than three days. “It was awful. It was painful. I would always wear jeans, but it was hard to go out, so I had to buy some sweatpants.” He eventually sought medical treatment of the condition, called severe priapism. Woods is asking Novartis for unspecified damages due to “pain, shock and mental anguish.”

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

 
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