Of Human Interest: News-lite

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   April 30, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   0 comments

BUSTED!

At least six Washington state employees who used their e-mail to send raunchy jokes, sexual overtures and even make plans for an orgy will be fired, the state's Department of Labor has announced.

The agency also said it's investigating 14 more of its workers to find out if they also abused their e-mail. The department said it has uncovered hundreds of off-color e-mail messages that, while not illegal, violate department rules on misusing state resources.

Eva Santos, the agency's deputy director, said the department first discovered the messages last September and traced them back to a small number of workers spending a large number of working hours swapping steamy e-mail.

(Thanks to Chris H. Sieroty, UPI Technology News)


NOT IN MY BACKYARD

Florida Keys residents are upset over last week's biological- and chemical-detection tests over the Gulf of Mexico.

In an attempt to determine if civilian Doppler radar and military radars used to detect drug flights could differentiate between rain clouds and possible biochemical attacks, the Army and the Environmental Protection Agency sprayed a veritable cocktail of chemicals over the Gulf. A crop duster released egg white powder, clay dust, ethanol, irradiated vegetable spores and what an Army spokesman called a "chemical compound commonly found in drugstore cosmetics."

Angered that the Defense Department gave them only one week's notice before the experiment, local citizens burned up the phone lines to the Army, the EPA, local officials, the media and assorted congressmen.

It could have been worse, apparently. Col. Stephen Reeves, program executive officer for the Chemical and Biological Defense Program, said there had been a debate within the Pentagon over whether to notify the public at all, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office finally gave the green light to release the news.

With more such tests planned, the Army now wants to calm public fears. At last week's tests, spokesman Mickey Morales dashed to a grocery store and picked up a bottle of Visine, an angel food cake, and a mud mask used to treat acne. Morales cheerfully announced, "You can go to the supermarket and buy this stuff basically, except for the dead spores."

(From UPI Hears)


CELEBRITY AUCTION

A $35,000 dress worn by actress Kate Winslet in the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" will go on the auction block June 12. It's part of an auction of celebrity memorabilia being conducted by Odyssey Auctions, the publisher of Autograph Collector magazine.

The post-Victorian style red silk dress is the costume Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet) wore as she contemplated jumping overboard because of her hopeless engagement, but then is saved by Jack Dawson (Leonard DiCaprio). The sequin and lace adorned dress cost $35,000 to make, and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity signed by Salvadore Perez, the film's costume manufacturing foreman.

Also up for auction -- Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock guitar strap and Elvis Presley's Vegas guitar.

"The strap is one of the most recognizable pieces of rock music history to become available to collectors in many years," said Bill Miller, president of Odyssey.

The sale also includes guitars used by Hendrix and Presley.

"Drummer Mitch Mitchell, an original member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, has confirmed the authenticity of the Fender Mustang red guitar played by Hendrix while recording the precedent-setting 1968 albums, 'Axis: Bold As Love,' and 'Electric Ladyland,'" said Miller.

Elvis' black Gibson J-200 Acoustic -- played by The King during the era of his 1970s Las Vegas appearances and later given as a gift to his long-time friend, Marty Lacker -- will be offered in the auction.

Odyssey Auctions is based in Corona, Calif.


REASONS TO CELEBRATE TODAY:

TUESDAY: This is Beltane, one of the "Greater Sabbats" of the Wiccan year. It's also Walpurgis Night, eve of May Day, which is the feast day of St. Walpurgis, the protectress against magic arts.

Today is Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and International Walk Days.

It's National Honesty Day, with the Honest Abe Awards announced by "The Book of Lies" author Hirsh Goldberg.

This is Spank Out Day USA, a day on which all caregivers of children vow not to use corporal punishment.

The Netherlands celebrates the Queen's Birthday today.

Sweden celebrates the Feast of Valborg, an evening festival that usually involves gathering around a communal bonfire and singing hymns to spring.

And this is Liberation Day in Vietnam, commemorating the fall of Saigon to the Communists in 1975.

(Thanks to Chase's 2002 Calendar of Events)


BY THE WAY...

When and where was the first theater in North America performed?

The first theater to be performed in North America took place on this date in 1598 on the banks of the Rio Grande near present-day El Paso, Texas. An expedition of soldiers performed a Spanish commedia.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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