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Real (Strange) News

A man with the world's longest ear hair has had his world record officially recognized. The Guinness Book of Records has sent the official certificate to B.D. Tyagi (pictured at left) of Bhopal in India. The hair sprouting from the center of his outer ears measures 4.01 inches at its longest point. The record appears in the Longest Ear Hair category.

(Australia) A health service in Western Australia's Kimberley region has come up with an innovative way of promoting safe sex in Aboriginal communities. The program provides free condoms at unusual outdoor locations. Posters around Fitzroy Crossing advertise "Free Condoms in a Tree Near You." Under the program, canisters of condoms are hung from trees where different Aboriginal language groups traditionally gather. Patrick Davies from the Nindin-lin-gaari Cultural Health Center says the idea follows concern over the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. He says previously people were embarrassed about getting condoms from the only outlets in town—the hospital or the news agency. "We were able to target the people from outlying communities when they came into town by hanging these PVC containers under those trees—they take about 2,500 or 3,000 every month," he said.

(London) As comic book hero Spider-Man fills cinemas with his webby adventures, prepare to meet an equally astonishing creation—Spidergoat. Scientists have combined the DNA from a goat and spider to create an animal which produces silk that is five times stronger than steel. The fiber, derived from the goats' milk, harnesses the huge strength of silk spun by spiders. The breakthrough could be worth millions because the silkmilk fiber can be used to make body armor which is far tougher than normal bullet-proof vests—while weighing little more than a cotton shirt. The hybrid goats were created by the insertion of a single gene from an orb-weaving spider into a fertilized goat egg. The amazing genetically-engineered goats are outwardly normal, but carry the gene responsible for production of a spider silk protein. Each goat is only 1/70,000th spider, but when fully grown the females produce a milk which can be treated to produce a fiber with spider-silk strength.

(Brazil, Reuters) A Brazilian dog with a strong instinct to retrieve brought his master an unwelcome gift recently—a smoking grenade. "He dropped it on the floor and smoke began to come out of it," local news wire quoted the dog's owner, Haroldo Renato Mota, as saying. Police in the city of Sao Jose dos Campos, some 60 miles north of Sao Paulo, detonated the rusted weapon. Mota said "Chumbinho," a black and white dog of mixed ancestry, had in the past brought home an old bicycle wheel and a .22 caliber revolver. "The only thing he has not brought yet is money," Mota said.

(Uganda, Reuters) A Ugandan woman bit off her husband's penis and testicles during an argument, police said. The woman, Annet Minduru, 30, was in police custody in the capital Kampala and could be charged with causing grievous bodily harm, said the officer in charge of the station, Vigilius Okuni. The case comes on the heels of a survey showing high levels of domestic violence against women in some parts of Uganda. The independent Monitor newspaper said Minduru had bitten off John Ndekeezi's penis and testicles on Sunday night after her 45-year-old husband slapped her. "Because I was so drunk she overpowered me and by the time my neighbor came to my rescue, she had bitten off both my testicles and the penis," Ndekeezi told the paper. Minduru's account of events was not immediately available.

(Reuters) It's official--boxing legend Muhammad Ali has Irish roots, Irish genealogists announced. Researchers at the Clare Heritage Center in southwest Ireland said they have evidence that a great grandfather of the three-times world champion hailed from the county town of Ennis, close to the west coast. Antoinette O'Brien, a genealogist at the center, told Reuters that Ali's great grandfather, Abe Grady, emigrated to the United States from County Clare in the 1860s, settled in Kentucky and married an African-American woman. heir son also married an African-American, and one of that couple's daughters, Odessa Grady, married Cassius Clay in the 1930s. They settled in Louisville, Kentucky where their son, also called Cassius, was born in 1942.

(Stockholm, Reuters) A man squeezed into a garbage chute in an apartment building to retrieve a favorite old sweater thrown away by his wife, but got stuck between floors, the fire brigade recently reported. Firefighters had to rescue the 25-year-old Ecuadorian, who had managed to pull himself through the chute's nine-inch-wide garbage hole on the third floor, legs first, after discovering the basement door to the garbage area was locked. "It was not difficult at all, because I am quite small," he told the Expressen daily. "I knew the garbage would probably be collected early in the morning so I rushed to save the sweater." He got stuck after sliding one floor down and was unable to climb up knotted bed sheets lowered into the chute by his wife. After his rescue, the basement doors were unlocked for him to retrieve his now filthy sweater—a hand-knitted gray-black present from his mother.

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Fugitive Arrested While Boasting On Phone
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(New York, AP) A fugitive who called police to boast that he could not be caught was arrested while he was still on the phone when investigators used caller ID to trace the call. Police said they were surprised when the man called them and bragged that he'd never be caught. The dispatcher noted the number on caller ID and discovered it was from a residence in Auburn, Georgia. Police contacted the sheriff's department there, and deputies moved in for the arrest. The suspect was taken to the Essex County Jail without bail, after a year on the run.

(Manila) A Filipino man was killed and his friend seriously wounded after they sarcastically applauded a student for singing Frank Sinatra's classic My Way off-key, newspapers reported. The 21-year-old student felt insulted when the victims clapped after he sang the song at a karaoke parlor in downtown Manila, according to the reports. After getting into a fight with the student's friends, the victims left the parlor to avoid trouble but were ambushed outside and shot by the student who was later arrested. Newspapers have said Philippine karaoke parlors have been removing My Way from playlists because fights frequently broke out—for unfathomable reasons—when the song was sung. The song seems to drive many drunken men to commit anything from slight physical injuries to homicide, reports said.

(London, Reuters) Scientists say they have discovered what they believe to be the world's oldest fossilized vomit from a large marine reptile that lived 160 million years ago. Professor Peter Doyle of the University of Greenwich in London said that the vomit found in a clay quarry in northern England shed new light on the diet and eating habits of the ichthyosaur—a Jurassic Age fish-like reptile with a long head, tapered body and four flippers. "We believe that this is the first time the existence of fossil vomit on a grand scale has been proven beyond reasonable doubt," Doyle said. Other examples of fossilized vomit have been discovered, but Doyle and Dr Jason Wood of the Open University said their sample was the oldest.

(Maine, AP) A convicted sex offender who fled into the woods when approached by a detective is threatening to sue, saying he lost a few toes to frostbite because police were slow in arresting him. Harvey Taylor, 48, spent at least three nights in the woods after running from a Penobscot County Sheriff's detective recently. "If the detective had done his job, I wouldn't be in here now. I would have been in jail that very same day," Taylor told the Bangor Daily News in an interview from his hospital room. Taylor said he has had "two or three" toes amputated on his left foot due to frostbite. He said he wasn't sure of the number because he didn't want to look too closely at his foot.

(AP) A man who claims he broke his arm after slipping on a greasy trail left by a pub patron wearing pork chops for shoes is suing for compensation. Troy Michael Bowron, 25, is suing the Jannali Inn (Sydney, Australia) licensee Kelly Wells, and pub patron Ross Lucock over the incident on November 30, 1997. Bowron, from Oyster Bay, told the NSW District Court he had been playing in a pool competition at the pub when he saw a barefoot Lucock with a meat tray. He said he saw Lucock strapping pork chops to his feet with sticky-tape and claimed Lucock said he was using them for shoes. "He was walking around most of the night all around the place, it was a big laugh up there," Bowron said. He said he noticed the floor was slippery and when he went to congratulate his pool opponent for beating him he slipped and fell onto his left arm. Bowron is suing the pub and Wells for negligence for "allowing or permitting the use of pork chops as footwear in circumstances that the defendant knew, or should have known, that such use would have produced a hidden trap and did so produce a hidden trap." He is also suing Lucock, alleging he created a situation of danger.

(North Carolina, AP) The nation's fourth largest cigarette maker is suing the creator of an anti-smoking radio ad—which suggests its cigarettes contain dog urine. The Lorillard Tobacco Company is suing American Legacy—creator of the "Truth" ad campaign—for allegedly violating the terms of a 1998 tobacco industry settlement with 46 states. In the ad, the voice of a dog walker phones Lorillard and tells the operator he wants to sell the company some "quality dog urine." Urine contains urea—a chemical the speaker in the ad says Lorillard puts in cigarettes. Urea exists naturally in tobacco leaves as well as urine. A spokesman for the North Carolina-based tobacco company says ads can be "edgy," but shouldn't "mislead the public with false attacks." American Legacy calls the suit "meritless."

(Kentucky, AP) A Trigg County teacher's aide has been suspended after he gave middle school students heart-shaped Valentine's Day treats that turned out to be cat food, the district superintendent said. The first-year aide was suspended pending an investigation. "He exercised very, very, very poor judgment," said Superintendent Tim McGinnis, adding that the name of the aide will not be released until the investigation is finished. When school officials learned of the incident, they immediately called the treats' manufacturer. "They said there could be some light diarrhea," McGinnis said. "They were nontoxic, but that doesn't mean that a student couldn't have an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients." Assistant principal Beth Sumner said children exposed to the treats were encouraged to wash their mouths out, brush their teeth and visit the school nurse. She said there were no reports of illness.

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Drunken Hunters Ruin Alcohol Abuse Meeting
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(Reuters) A group of drunken hunters cut off electric power to a third of the population of Kyrgyzstan's capital when they used ceramic insulators on high-voltage lines for target practice. One building which suffered the 30-minute blackout was a hotel hosting a conference—on alcohol abuse. Delegates, including Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev, were obliged to take a coffee break.

(Cairo, Reuters) A survivor of Egypt's biggest train disaster who escaped with light injuries after jumping off one of the rear carriages died on his return journey by falling under another train, security sources said. Abdel-Rahim Qenawi, a 22-year-old laborer from the town of el-Maragha about 225 miles south of Cairo, escaped from a fire (eight days before his death) which killed about 360 people when it swept through seven carriages of a crowded passenger train. After spending the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha with his family, he was waiting at Maragha train station to return to Cairo when he slipped under a passing train and was killed, the sources said.

The London Daily Telegraph reported that Syrian Gen. Mustafa Tlass told his men not to attack Italian peacekeeping soldiers during the 1983 chaos in Beirut only because he had a lifelong obsession with the Italian actress Gina Lollabrigida. Gen. Tlass said his men could "do whatever you want with the U.S., British, and other forces, but…I do not want a single tear falling from the eyes of Gina Lollabrigida."

In 1999, Malaysian skydivers guided the national car, a Proton Wira, on a parachute to a landing at the North Pole, where the engine started right away. Prime Minister Mahathir Mahamad said the drop "bolsters our spirits," but critics said it was a stunt by the government to get people's minds off the dismal economy.

Charles Collins III was indicted in Albany, N.Y., for his protest at the state Court of Appeals building over a child custody case. Shortly before dawn, according to the indictment, he hooked a spray gun to a 55-gallon drum of chicken manure and covered the front of the building.

Indictments were returned against New York City inmates Hector Muniz, Carlos Martinez and Troy Jennings for their alleged get-rich scheme at Rikers Island prison. Authorities said Muniz, who had a day job on the outside, smuggled a gun inside so that, at Jennings's direction, Martinez could shoot Jennings in the leg, which he did. The plan was that Jennings ould sue the city for "millions" for negligence in allowing the gun inside and insist on the release of all three men as a condition of settlement.

Jim Gordon, a candidate for South Carolina's elected agriculture commissioner, told a campaign stop audience in Greenville in May that the two most important issues stifling the family farm are access to technology and "the homosexual agenda." "How does that relate to agriculture?" he asked, rhetorically. "We can't have Bob and Bob being married" without hurting the concept of the family farm.

The chief justice of Sudan, Obeid Hajj Ali, issued a decree to halt the flogging of women, following an outcry over the recent government beatings of 40 females who had merely handed an official a note protesting Sudan's military involvements. However, the chief justice said there were exceptions to the decree and that women could still be flogged for drinking alcohol or committing adultery.

The French Health Ministry recently disclosed that it had produced five short sex-education films, so graphic as to be called hardcore pornography, supposedly for the purpose of remedying a major lapse in sexual knowledge in France. As one film director described it, "I had to show that if a man has sex with two women together, he must use a different condom with each one." Men's ignorance in that circumstance, said a Health Ministry spokesperson, is "a big problem."

Cheung Tat-kwong, 76, was found guilty in Hong Kong of murdering his roommate, Wong Fai, 75, after Wong had complained one time too many about Cheung's habit of scratching his butt around the house.

In a two-week period, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed in New Orleans, allegedly by his brother, and a Baton Rouge man was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the murder of a friend, with the cause of both incidents being fights over the TV remote control.

In a Liverpool, England, lovers Steven Bain, 27, and Steven Gawthrop, 31, were sentenced to 18 months in prison for gross indecency for various "perverted acts." Among the men's exploits revealed at trial: They are foot fetishists and had tricked thousands of people into giving up socks, claiming they were collecting for a charity. Police found the men's apartment to have an 18-inch-high "carpet" of socks and about 4,000 more wrapped in sandwich bags, each tagged with the donor's name.

Researcher Dave Smith of Manchester (England) Metropolitan University revealed in March that thinking about exercise is almost as productive as doing it. His group of exercisers improved 33 percent in a month, and his non-exercisers did not improve at all. However, the non-exercisers who practiced the exercise mentally improved 16 percent when it came time to do the exercise again. Reasoned Smith, "If you can improve neural input to the muscle, you can recruit more muscle fiber and exert more force."

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