A Nigerian transportation official has urged citizens to de-emphasize their heavy reliance on icon charms to keep them safe in their automobiles, urging people instead to concentrate on the rules of the road. Similarly, the governor of Trang, Thailand, has urged citizens to resist their heavy dependence on auto charms to overcome "evil ghosts" at the town's major traffic intersections. Meanwhile, the Kanda Myojin Shinto shrine in Tokyo has begun selling visitors its own information-technology-prayer charms to ward off computer viruses.
Fomenting at the mouth
When sheriff's deputies in Kalispell, Mont., arrested militia leader David Earl Burgert, 38, last month, they uncovered his group's alleged "Project 7" plot to assassinate several county officials (including the local dogcatcher). According to officials, Burgert believed his fanciful plan would create enough local chaos to start a national revolution. Burgert (whose last job was as a snowmobile rental agent) had amassed a huge arsenal of machine guns and heavy weapons in order to carry out the assassinations, defeat the National Guard and hold back the probable waves of what Project 7 called "Red Chinese" pouring in from Canada. According to Project 7 thinking, NATO would have to send troops to Kalispell, leading to the ultimate revolutionary war. Law-enforcement officials noted that Burgert is just a local loudmouth who has gotten in "way over his head this time."
Taking a powder
Chaddrick Dickson, 25, was hospitalized in Monroe, La., after being wounded by a .22-caliber bullet he was fooling around with. Dickson said he was trying to remove the gunpowder by smashing the bullet's casing against the floor. He said he needed the gunpowder because he wanted to mix it into his dog's food to make the animal meaner.
Hat's off to him
A 50-year-old construction worker in Knoxville, Tenn., survived his Jan. 14 impalement by a 3-foot-long, 3-inch-thick metal rod that fell from a bridge and went point-first through the man's skull and neck, coursed down his trunk, and stopped only when completely embedded in his body. He was semiconscious at the scene but talkative later at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. The man was not wearing the required hard hat.
Do not pass go
Rod Yellon, a political-science professor at the University of Manitoba, was fined in February for protesting a postponement of his trial in his four-year-long constitutional challenge over a $25 traffic ticket he had been issued in Winnipeg for rolling through a stop sign. Yellon had challenged the law as too vague, in that a "stop" sign did not "specify sufficiently" what drivers were supposed to do when they encountered one.
Lithuania's gender-equality ombudsman, Ms. Ausrine Burneikiene, announced in January that she would fight to end the country's requirement that women need a gynecological exam to get a driver's license. The exams apparently are based on the belief that some gynecological illnesses manifest themselves suddenly or cause unconsciousness and therefore would be dangerous to other motorists. Meanwhile, a study reported in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh Daily, by a professor at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, concluded that women are responsible for about 50 percent of Saudi traffic accidents, even though they cannot legally drive cars; the professor was referring only to women as distractions and backseat drivers.
In March, the manager of a Hartford, Conn., senior citizens' home told residents in the monthly newsletter to "please stop throwing rice in the garbage disposals" and that repairs for such "negligence and carelessness" would be billed to the tenant. But the Spanish-language version of the same newsletter was different (as translated): "You have to get used to the fact that you do not live in Puerto Rico, where leftovers were given to the pigs. We do not have pigsties, but we do have garbage cans ..." The manager, herself of Puerto Rican heritage, later apologized for getting carried away with her diatribe.
Sheriff's deputies in Glades County, Fla., arrested a 53-year-old farm laborer on a charge of incest after discovering that he and his sister had established a 25-year family unit that had produced nine kids and four grandchildren. The family lived in a rural work camp and drew the attention of deputies when a neighbor reported that the couple kept a casket in their living room, containing the remains of an infant son who had died 12 years earlier.