Dateline: Palestine—Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic clerics rang in the New Year by engaging in their now traditional annual Christmas brawl at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church, long claimed to be the birthplace of Jesus, is administered by three different religious sects, all claiming ownership of the sacred site. The groups are normally relegated to their own sections of the church. Every December, however, the church is cleaned in preparation for Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January. And each year, the three orders get into a knock-down-drag-out brawl. This year, more than 100 priests and monks engaged in a frenzied turf battle with broomsticks. Palestinian police, using batons and shields, were called in to break up the battle in the basilica. “It was a trivial problem that ... occurs every year,” police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi told Reuters news service. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal.” The Lieutenant-Colonel said no one had been arrested “because all those involved were men of God.”
Dateline: Samoa—On Thursday, Dec. 29, the entire nation of Samoa experienced time travel. Residents of the small Polynesian island voluntarily skipped Friday, Dec. 30, and went straight to Saturday, Dec. 31. The unusual calendar hiccup came because Samoans voted to move from one side of the international dateline to the other. Samoa maintains close trade and economic relations with Pacific neighbors Australia and New Zealand but has traditionally been a day behind them thanks to the Earth’s 24 time zones, which begin and end in Samoan waters. “In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on two working days a week,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told The Times of London. “While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.” Samoa has been located east of the dateline since American traders convinced the nation to move there in 1892. In moving west of the dateline, Samoan business owners will be required to pay workers for the now nonexistent day. According to MSNBC, hotel guests will not be required to pay for the missing Friday night.
Dateline: Pennsylvania—A 63-year-old man was arrested after telling police that two prostitutes he hired for a threesome refused to have sex with him. Jerry Eugene Streng of Berlin, Penn., called 911 to say that he paid $400 to Jacqueline Eubanks, 50, and Tonia Good, 34, to have sex with him at his residence and didn’t get his money’s worth. According to Streng, the two women got undressed and began smoking his marijuana. But when it came time for sex, Streng was relegated to watching from a corner of the bed while the two women had sex with one another. Unsatisfied by the amount of participation, Streng reported the transaction as a robbery. Streng was arrested and charged with patronization of prostitution. Eubanks and Good, meanwhile, were booked on prostitution charges.
Dateline: Florida—Mary Ellen Lisee, 45, called 911 from a Traveler’s Inn in Fort Pierce to tell dispatchers, “I ate too much.” After delivering the information, Lisee abruptly hung up. St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the motel and found a woman “jumping up and down and yelling in room #108.” According to their arrest report, officers smelled alcohol on Lisee’s breath and noted that she appeared to be drunk. Asked why she called 911, Lisee laughed and said, “Because I ate too much food.” According to the police report, “She then began repeatedly yelling that she had not consumed cocaine in over a year.” Officers asked Lisee to write out a statement. She complied, delivering a “mostly illegible” document, which read: “My name is Mary Ellen Lisee. I have beaten, I believe in God, and He forgives me. I may joke, but I do not do crack. I will not for as long as I live.” Lisee was eventually arrested on charges of misuse of 911 and disorderly conduct.
Dateline: South Carolina—A Charleston man died after eating cocaine out of his brother’s butt. Deangelo Mitchell, 23, and his brother Wayne Mitchell, 20, were both arrested and taken into custody on the night of Nov. 30 on allegations of cocaine trafficking. The two were placed in the back of a police cruiser with their hands cuffed behind them. Shortly afterward, Wayne Mitchell suffered a seizure. He died less than an hour later after being taken to a hospital by EMS workers. Surveillance footage from inside the police car clearly shows the two brothers discussing the additional drugs Deangelo Mitchell had stashed on his person at the time of their arrest. According to an article in Charleston’s Post and Courier, Deangelo encouraged his younger brother to remove and consume the drugs because, “You the only one who don’t have any strikes.” In the surveillance footage, Wayne seems reluctant—especially after Deangelo informs him, “You could die”—but eventually he leans over and pulls a small package from his brother’s butt crack with his teeth and chews it up. When the Charleston County Coroner's report came back in late December, backing up the police department’s conclusions, Deangelo was arrested for involuntary manslaughter. Deangelo allegedly told police his brother swallowed a full ounce of cocaine.