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 V.17 No.18 | May 1 - 7, 2008 

Odds & Ends

Eric J. Garcia

Dateline: Congo--Police in Kinshasa have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises. The penis snatchings have set off a wave of panic and attempted lynchings in the capitol of the West African nation. Rumors of penis theft began circulating earlier this month in the city, quickly dominating local radio call-in shows. Listeners were urged to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings. Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure. “You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings,” Kinshasa’s police chief Jean-Dieudonne Oleko told Reuters U.K. last week. Police have been arresting the accused practitioners of witchcraft as well as their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis-nappers were beaten to death by angry mobs. “I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said. “But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it?’ ”

Dateline: Japan--A high school pleaded for mercy in a regional baseball game after surrendering 66 runs in less than two innings, local media reported. The coach of Kawamoto Technical High School threw in the towel to spare his pitcher’s arm with his team losing 66-0 with just one batter out in the bottom of the second. The poor pitcher had already hurled more than 250 pitches, allowing 26 runs in the first inning and 40 in the second. “At that pace, the pitcher would have thrown around 500 pitches in four innings,” Kawamoto’s coach was quoted as saying. “There was danger he could get injured.” The game was abandoned, and the opposing Shunshukan team was credited with a 9-0 victory.

Dateline: England--The BBC reports a drunk man wearing a black garbage bag and a cape recently attacked the founder of a Jedi church while shouting “Darth Vader.” Arwel Wynne Hughes, a 27-year-old from Holyhead, Anglesey, in England’s west, admitted in court to committing two counts of common assault after drunkenly attacking two men with a metal crutch on March 25. A district court was told that U.K. Church of the Jedi founder and dedicated Star Wars fanatic Barney Jones, 26, and his cousin Michael were filming themselves playing with lightsabers in a backyard when Hughes jumped over a garden wall, crutch in hand. Hughes told police he had consumed “the best part” of a 10-liter box of wine prior to the attack and did not remember the Drunk Darth incident until he read about it later in a newspaper. He’s still not sure where the crutch came from. Hughes hit the church founder, also known as Master Jonba Hehol, in the head and the second man in the thigh. Both men suffered minor injuries. Jones’ church claims about 30 members locally and “thousands worldwide.” Hughes, who admitted to having a “chronic alcohol problem” and no personal vendetta against the Jedi church, will be sentenced on May 13.

Dateline: Illinois--A senior prank involving a monkey suit and some bananas may have been funny to the students involved (and the student body and the community and probably most of the school’s staff), but school administrators aren’t laughing. A group of 10 students dressed in oversized banana costumes ran through the halls of the Zion-Benton Township High School last Thursday while an 11th student dressed as a gorilla gave chase. The prank started innocently enough when senior Andrew Leinonen wanted to come up with something that wouldn’t damage property or hurt anyone while still being hilarious. “What’s funnier than a gorilla chasing bananas through a school? Nothing,” Leinonen, who donned the ape costume, told the Lake County News-Sun. “It was a harmless prank.” School administrators didn’t agree, slapping the boys with a seven-day suspension and threatening to ban them from prom and their graduation ceremony. Zion-Benton Township High School Superintendent Deborah Clarke couldn’t comment on the punishment but said the school was only following guidelines in place for “serious pranks.” Since the incident, the “Banana Boys” have become local celebrities. “We have a lot of people supporting us,” said Brandon Epker, who was one of the bananas. “There are a lot of people telling us this was a great prank--it was well done.”

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

 
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