Dateline: Japan—A giant white radish that won the hearts of the Japanese people was in critical condition at a town hall in western Japan late last week after surviving a murder attempt by an unknown assailant. The daikon radish, similar to a giant carrot, first made news a few months ago when it was discovered poking up through the asphalt along a roadside in the town of Aioi, population 33,289. Last week, residents were shocked and even moved to tears to learn that the beloved vegetable, nicknamed “Gutsy Radish,” had been decapitated. TV talk shows seized on the attempted vegecide as a hot topic of discussion and a day later, the top half of the radish was found near the site where it had been growing. A town official said last Thursday that the top half of the severed radish had been placed in water in an attempt to keep it alive and possibly to get it to flower. Asked why the daikon, used as a garnish in traditional Japanese food, had so many fans, town spokesman Jiro Matsuo told reporters, “People discouraged by tough times were cheered by its tenacity and strong will to live.”
Dateline: Thailand—VIP guests at the grand opening of the zoo in northern Thailand will not only be able to see some of their favorite exotic animals--they'll also have the opportunity to chow down on them. The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo will have its official opening on New Year's Day. According to Plodprasop Suraswadi, director of the zoo project, VIP guests who pay 4.500 baht ($110) for that day's “Exotic Buffet” will be able to sample such delicacies as tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe. Critics have lambasted the idea, saying it will encourage wildlife trafficking in a country already notorious for hunting endangered species. “Serving rare animals on the table confirms that Thailand is ignoring policies for wildlife preservation,” said Wildlife Fund Thailand secretary Surphol Duangkae. When open, the zoo is expected to have 2,000 animals of about 100 different species--several of which are probably delicious.
Dateline: The Netherlands—The plans of a Dutch television company to break the world record for domino toppling were nearly, well, toppled when a wayward sparrow knocked over some 23,000 of the tiles. The unfortunate bird flew through an open window at an exposition center in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden. Employees of television company Endemol NV had been working for weeks setting up more than four million dominoes in an attempt to break the official Guinness World Record for falling dominoes. Robin Paul Weijers of Domino Day 2005 explained to reporters that a series of 750 “safety walls” prevented the entire installation from falling down. The bird was eventually cornered by an exterminator and shot with an air rifle.
Dateline: Italy—According to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, a stunned Italian actor was heckled off stage in the northeastern city of Mestre by an irate audience member after he lit up a cigarette during a recent performance of Arthur Miller's A View From a Bridge. Sebastiano Lo Monaco had to stub out the cigarette after a woman from the audience shouted, “Put out that cigarette!” Since January of this year, Italy has banned lighting up in all enclosed public spaces. The play was delayed for 15 minutes while the theater staff hastily rewrote Miller's script to make the main character a nonsmoker.
Dateline: England—A Welsh rugby fan is at a loss to explain why he cut off his own testicles with a pair of wire cutters to celebrate a Wales victory on the field. Geoffrey Huish, 31, performed the impromptu self-surgery in February when his beloved Wales beat world champions England. After performing the deed, Mr. Huish put his severed anatomical parts in a plastic bag and took them to his local pub to show fellow fans. He eventually collapsed from blood loss and was rushed to a hospital. “I'd told my pal Gethin Probert before the game that Wales didn't stand a chance,” Mr. Huish told The Sun. “It wasn't a bet, but I said I'd cut my balls off if we won. I listened to the game on the radio at home by myself. After the match, I got up for a pee and saw the cutters in the bathroom. Gethin had left them after repairing the chain on the toilet. I remembered what I'd said and thought he had left them for me. I thought, ’Oh no. I haven't got to do anything like that have I?' And then I thought, ’You can do it!' So I started hacking away at my tackle.” Surgeons were unable to reattach Huish's tackle. “I think about what happened every day and still haven't come up with a good reason why,” he said. Mr. Huish, who has no history of mental illness, is now under the care of a psychiatrist.