Dateline: The Philippines--Officials are warning religious revelers that crucifixion may be hazardous to their health. Every Good Friday in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, dozens of men re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by having themselves nailed to wooden crosses. At the same time, hundreds more strip to the waist and whip themselves until their backs are cut and bloody. The Catholic church frowns upon such crucifixions and self-flagellations, but the practice has become a major tourist attraction in The Philippines. The department of health issued a health warning last week advising people taking part in these rituals to have tetanus shots and to check the condition of whips before usage. Health Secretary Francisco Duque said since it was difficult to discourage “flagellants from whipping their own flesh, the best penitents can do is ensure that their whips are well-maintained.” The health department also cautioned that the six-inch nails employed in crucifixions be sterilized before use.
Dateline: Japan--Next up: Garfield as secretary of state. Last Wednesday, Japan’s Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura appointed a popular cartoon character to a newly formed government post. The big, blue, time-traveling robot cat known as Doraemon was appointed “anime ambassador” in the hopes that he could promote Japanese culture and diplomacy though the use of animated cartoons. “Doraemon, I hope you will travel around the world as an anime ambassador to deepen people’s understanding of Japan, so they will become friends with Japan,” Komura said as he handed an official certificate to a person in a plush Doraemon costume. At the inauguration ceremony, Doraemon was also given a stack of dorayaki--red bean pancakes commonly known to be the cartoon cat’s favorite snack.
Dateline: Massachusetts--Gloucester restaurateur Joe Scola got into a meat-on-meat duel with a food thief earlier this month, hammering the hamburglar with pork products. Scola was preparing for his newly opened eatery’s lunchtime rush and refilling a customer’s bottomless cup of coffee when he heard the cellar door slam. The movement of the door, located on the outside of the restaurant, caught Scola’s attention, and he glanced outside. A waitress returning from a break asked him, “Who’s that guy carrying the meat down the street?” It was then that Scola noticed a man in his 30s, dressed all in black, running down the street with his arms full of meat from the restaurant’s freezer. When Scola caught up with the thief, he saw the hungry burglar was lugging 20 pounds of frozen meat, including two bags of linguica, a prosciutto log and a whole ham. Scola started to reclaim his meat, grabbing the bag of linguica and the ham. The suspect then raised the 5-pound log of prosciutto above head, presumably to hit Scola. “So I slammed him with the ham in the face,” Scola told the Gloucester Daily Times. The would-be thief dropped his greasy booty and ran off. “I felt bad,” Scola said of the suspect’s injuries. “If he had come in and said he was hungry, I’d have given him a breakfast.”
Dateline: New Jersey--Police in Gloucester Township responded to a fire alarm at the Lake View Apartments and ended up arresting a man who answered the door of the burning apartment apparently under the influence and holding a crack pipe. According to NJ.com, 25-year-old Dorrhon Lasseter struggled with the officers when they tried to remove him from the smoke-filled apartment and place him under arrest. The suspect was taken to JFK Hospital in Stratford for a medical evaluation. After the fire was extinguished by the four responding fire companies, it was determined by Camden County fire marshals that the fire had been intentionally set. Lasseter was later charged with aggravated arson, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia, use and under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and throwing bodily fluids at a law enforcement officer.
Dateline: Michigan--A Monroe County sheriff’s detective on a stakeout to catch an arsonist got his man after the suspect tried to steal a little fire-starter fuel from the officer’s gas tank. Officers were stationed around homes under construction after police had received two arson complaints in the past week. Several officers, including Detective Thomas Redmond, watched the 17-year-old walk away from his Lambertville home early Sunday carrying a bucket before approaching Redmond’s unmarked squad car. Police say the teen unscrewed the gas cap and started siphoning the fuel before Redmond got out of the car and chased him. Authorities say the teen later admitted to the two arsons as well as three others in 2006.