Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
(Eric J. Garcia)
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Dateline: Tanzania– In a state of the nation speech delivered earlier this month, President Jakaya Kikwete finally came out strongly against witch doctors who kill albinos and harvest their body parts in the hope it will bring prosperity. In condemning the practice, Kikwete noted that 19 albinos have been murdered since March 2007, mostly in the Victoria region of his East African nation. Another two albinos were missing and presumed dead. “Sometimes, word spreads around that body parts of people with certain physical attributes, like bald people or albinos, contribute greatly to attaining quick prosperity,” Kikwete said in the speech. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” he added.

Dateline: Venezuela– Deeming “The Simpsons” to be inappropriate for children, a Venezuelan TV station has yanked the animated sitcom off the air–and replaced it with reruns of “Baywatch Hawaii.” Televen TV spokesperson Elba Guillen said last Monday that the decision to hand over the daily 11 a.m. time slot came after the National Telecommunication Commission received complaints from viewers. The regulatory agency didn’t specify which elements of the program were deemed offensive, but said showing the cartoon at that hour could violate national regulations prohibiting “messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents.” As a result, Venezuelan children will now be wholly educated by the bikini-clad lifeguards of “Baywatch Hawaii.” The station’s general manager, German Perez Nahim, told the newspaper Ultimas Noticias that “The Simpsons” has provided his station with “the highest level of viewership for that morning timetable in the history of the channel.”

Dateline: Wisconsin– A school dress-up day at Pineview Elementary School in Reedsburg raised the religious ire of a Christian radio station, which flooded the school district with outraged calls last Friday. Students at the school had been dressing up in costumes all week as part of Wacky Week, an annual tradition intended to mix in “a bit of silliness with our reading, writing and arithmetic.” On Friday, students had the option of dressing as old people or as someone of the opposite gender. The Milwaukee-based Voice of Christian Youth heard about the event and interrupted its regular schedule for a special broadcast that aired on nine radio stations throughout Wisconsin decrying dress-up day and accusing the school district of promoting alternative lifestyles. “We believe it’s the wrong message to send to elementary students,” Jim Schneider, VCY America program director, told the Reedsburg Times-Press . “Our station is one that promotes traditional family values. It concerns us when a school district strikes at the heart and core of the Biblical values.” Schneider said on his live call-in show on Friday that parents and taxpayers, “do not appreciate the imposition of a particular lifestyle being portrayed as a normal lifestyle for the kids.” District Administrator Tom Benson told the newspaper the district was not attempting to promote cross-dressing, homosexuality or alternative gender roles with dress-up day and that the idea had actually come from the students themselves. Pineview Elementary Principal Tammy Hayes said a flyer detailing the events of Wacky Week had been sent home with the children a week before and no parents registered complaints. Hayes reported about 40 percent of the student body dressed up on Friday with half opting to dress as senior citizens and half as the opposite gender.

Dateline: Nebraska– A jail inmate who has filed 149 lawsuits since January 2007 will now be limited to six filings a year unless he can show he faces immediate harm. Eric Lewis, 36, once filed 60 lawsuits in a single day, but must now curtail his favorite hobby thanks to a court order signed off by all six Lancaster County District judges. Nebraska’s federal judges also limited the number of suits Lewis could file after he initiated 113 lawsuits in U.S. District Court in 19 months. This isn’t the first time courts have limited the number of lawsuits litigious inmates can file. In 1990, the Douglas County District Court said Billy Roy Tyler, who was serving a seven- to 10-year prison term for drug charges, had filed 99 lawsuits in an eight-year period. The court limited him to filing just one a month unless he proved the likelihood of “immediate, extraordinary and irreparable harm.” Lewis will not be able to file anymore lawsuits in Lancaster county in 2008, as he has already exceeded his yearly limit. Lewis is awaiting trial for second-degree murder after attacking and killing a doctor at a Lincoln psychiatric hospital.

Dateline: Louisiana– The Louisiana State Senate last Tuesday rejected legislation that would have made the Sazerac the state cocktail. The bill’s author, Sen. Ed Murray, a New Orleans Democrat, noted that the famous drink was created in his hometown. “Is there a possibility that we could be encouraging folks, who were not intending to drink, that it would be acceptable and they could become an alcoholic?” asked Sen. Buddy Shaw, who opposed the bill. “No,” replied Murray. The legislation to honor the whiskey, sugar, bitters and absinthe concoction failed 27-8.

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

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