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More strange news ahead. Mere fractions of an inch ahead, actually.


Not the actual truncated iguana.

IGUANA'S STUBBORN ERECTION GETS THE CHOP
(Belgium, Reuters) -Vets at a zoo in Brussels have chopped off the penis of an iguana called Mozart, so he can walk again after suffering from a permanent erection. Zoo officials decided to perform the operation after keepers called in experts when they saw the iguana was in some discomfort, and having trouble walking because of the permanent erection. Veterinarians at Antwerp's Aquatopia had sought to treat the animal's problem, but decided removal was the only solution because of the risk of infection. The good news for Mozart and his mates is that male iguanas have two penises. Zoo staff said the animal was recovering well after the procedure, and the operation is unlikely to reduce Mozart's opportunities to reproduce.

STAND-IN MISTRESS SOUGHT TO TAKE WIFE'S ABUSE
(China, Reuters) - A Chinese businessman has advertised on the Internet for a stand-in mistress to be beaten up by his wife to vent her anger and to protect his real mistress, Chinese media reported. "When the woman found out her husband had a mistress, she insisted on beating her up," the Beijing Youth Daily said, citing the advertisement posted on a popular online jobs forum. More than 10 people had applied for the job, the newspaper said. The "successful" candidate would be 35 and originally from northeastern China and would be paid $400 per 10 minutes. Many Chinese businessmen keep mistresses in second homes, a trend banished after the Communists swept to power in 1949 but which has made a comeback with market reforms in recent decades.

U.S. SENIORS FIGHT OFF MUGGERS, KILLING ONE
(Costa Rica, AP) -- A tour bus of US senior citizens defended themselves against a group of alleged muggers, sending two of them fleeing and killing a third in the Atlantic coast city of Limon, police said. One of the tourists, a retired member of the US military, put assailant Warner Segura in a head lock and broke his clavicle after the 20-year-old and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus. The two other men fled when the 12 senior citizens started defending themselves. The tourists then drove Segura to the Red Cross where the man was declared dead. The tourists left on their Carnival cruise after the incident, and Hernandez said authorities do not plan to press any charges against them, saying they acted in self-defense. "According to witnesses, while sightseeing at a local beach, the group of guests were approached by three assailants, one of whom was armed," a statement said. "The victims struggled with the armed perpetrator, and were able to disarm him. During this process, the gunman's two accomplices fled the scene. In the course of disarming and restraining the assailant, he died from apparent asphyxiation." The cruise line said the guests were questioned by local law enforcement and then returned to the ship, whose departure from Limon was slightly delayed to await their return. "All of the guests involved, who had booked the cruise together as a group, have opted to continue with their vacation plans. Carnival is providing full support and assistance to the guests," according to the statement.

SWORD SEIZED AFTER MAN MISTAKES PORN FOR RAPE
(Wisconsin, AP) -- A man says he broke into an apartment with a cavalry sword because he thought he heard a woman being raped, but the sound actually was from a pornographic movie his upstairs neighbor was watching. "Now I feel stupid," said James Van Iveren, who has been charged in the case. "This really is nothing, nothing but a mistake." According to a criminal complaint, the neighbor told police that Van Iveren pounded on the door and kicked it open without warning, damaging the frame and lock. "Where is she?" Van Iveren demanded, thrusting the sword at the neighbor, the complaint said. "Where is she?" The neighbor told police Van Iveren became increasingly aggressive as he repeated the question, insisting that he had heard a woman being raped. The complaint said that, with the sword pointed at him, the neighbor led Van Iveren throughout the apartment, opening closet doors to prove he was alone. The neighbor later played for police the part of the DVD he believed Van Iveren heard downstairs. Van Iveren, 39, of Oconomowoc, was charged with criminal trespass, criminal damage and disorderly conduct, all while using a dangerous weapon.

MAN'S BODY FOUND IN FRONT OF TV YEAR AFTER DEATH
(New York) - The partially mummified body of a man dead for more than a year has been found in a chair in front of his television, which was still on, authorities said. Vincenzo Ricardo, 70, apparently died of natural causes, said Dr. Stuart Dawson, Suffolk County's deputy chief medical examiner. Police found Ricardo's body this week when they investigated a report of burst pipes. The home's dry air had preserved his features, morgue assistant Jeff Bacchus said. "You could see his face. He still had hair on his head," Bacchus said. Ricardo's wife died years ago, and he lived alone, Dawson said. "He hasn't been heard from in over a year. That's the part that baffles me," he said. "Nobody sounded the alarm." Neighbors said they had thought Ricardo was in a hospital or nursing home.
"We never thought to check on him," said neighbor Diane Devon.

SPACE SPUDS HOT ITEM IN CHINA
(China) - Space spuds are hot in Shanghai. Purple Chinese space potatoes are the latest fad in the ultra-trendy commercial hub of Shanghai. The spuds were bred from seeds that mutated while being carried aboard a Chinese spacecraft. The Shanghai Daily newspaper reports the spaced-out potatoes are being offered for Valentine's Day dinners, served crispy fried, or even in iced drinks. China's space program has successfully completed two manned missions and is a great source of national pride.

CLEANSER LOOKS LIKE A SPORTS DRINK
(Texas) - The health risk is low. The yuck factor is high. A physicians group warned that dozens of Texans mistakenly drank a mild cleaning product that happens to look like a sports drink. Fabuloso is a buck a bottle at some stores, deliciously colored and fits comfortably in the hand. Its purpose, however, is cleaning floors and toilets. But researchers with the American College of Emergency documented 94 cases of accidental ingestion during the first four months of the year across Texas. Many were children under 6, the group said. Medical researchers, who plan to release a study, blame the confusion on what they call a poor choice of packaging that distributor Colgate-Palmolive Co. needs to correct. "People should be aware that children especially may be confused and try to drink it," said a statement attributed to Dr. David Masneri of the research team. Colgate said it began shipping Fabuloso with a "child-safety cap" to "protect against misuse." Fabuloso has been on the market since 1997, meets standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and bears a picture of a mop and bucket and the words "multi-use cleaner" on the label, said a company statement. The cleaning agent, which is made in Mexico, was available online and in stores in colors reminiscent of popular lime green, purple, blue and red sports drinks.

INMATE SUES FOR FALLING FROM BUNK
(England) - An inmate at an Oxfordshire jail is suing the Prison Service after he cut himself falling from the top bunk in his cell. The prisoner at Bullingdon near Bicester, told a prisoners' magazine, Inside Time, bunk beds were "an accident waiting to happen." He suggested inmates should not be compelled to sleep on the top bunk. The Prison Service said it was trying to meet the needs of prisoners who felt unsafe sleeping on the top bunk. A spokesman said, "Prisoners who sleep in bunk beds have been advised for some time on how to use them safely and are encouraged to report any concerns to prison staff." He said meeting the needs of prisoners who do not wish to sleep on the top bunks would "not always be possible due to constraints imposed by population pressures and health and safety concerns." The spokesman said rail guards could be used as ligature points by prisoners trying to commit suicide. In his letter to Inside Time, the prisoner writes, "In November 2005, I turned over in my sleep and fell from the top bunk of my bed sustaining a bad gash to the head." He was now pursuing a claim for negligence.

DUTCH FUNERAL PROVES FATAL
(Netherlands) - Lightning killed two musicians and injured three more standing under a tree during a funeral in the eastern Dutch town of Vorden, police said. One of the victims died instantly, while the other was resuscitated in the churchyard but died shortly afterwards. The musicians were part of a group performing at the funeral of an elderly man, which drew around 100 mourners, when the storm suddenly struck, police said.

DANIEL WINS MISS UNIVERSE
(Australia) - You could call Daniel Dibley the luckiest kid in Australia. When his friends ask him who he is taking to his senior formal he can, without a word of a lie, tell them Miss Universe, Jennifer Hawkins. In a victory for studious kids nationwide, the 17-year-old Bathurst High School student became the coolest dude in school after Hawkins answered his letter of invitation, and said yes. "I didn't tell anyone I was doing it so it's a surprise to me and everyone Ms. Hawkins said yes,'' the boy said. "I like to think outside the square and I thought Ms. Hawkins was a prominent figure, especially to the men, that she'd be a good formal partner.'' After "lagging behind'' on finding a date for the formal, Dibley tracked down Hawkins' manager, pleading his case on school letterhead. "I feel this would be a great honor for both Ms. Hawkins and me,'' he wrote. "She could fly up to Bathurst as there are flights daily and I would book accommodations for Ms. Hawkins at Lochinvar Cottages, which is situated on the famous Mount Panorama looking over Bathurst and is the only five star accommodation in the Bathurst Region,'' he tempted. Lucky for the business studies and legal studies student, she liked the sound of that. "When I saw the letter from Daniel, I thought 'that's cute,' he went to that effort and he was nice and I've never been to Bathurst,'' Hawkins said. "I didn't have anything in my diary for that day and I love doing random things, and school formals rock.'' Lucky for Dibley, Hawkins' boyfriend, reality TV ice skating star Jake Wall has approved the date. "He already knows. He's cracking up. He thought it was hilarious,'' Hawkins said.

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