NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Abu Bakar Bashir, suspected of masterminding the massacre at a Bali disco, was asked if he had anything to say to the relatives of the victims, and he said, "My message to the families is please convert to Islam as soon as possible" -- in order to avoid the fate of everyone who died in the blast and went to hell. He then blamed the United States for the bombing, held a prayer service in which he prayed for Osama bin Laden, and
said in the future it won't matter anyway, because the new Islamic government of Indonesia will ban all nightclubs. Then he checked into a hospital to avoid being questioned by Jakarta police -- right before we were going to ask him who he liked in the World Series.
Saddam Hussein issued "Get out of jail free" cards to tens of thousands of prisoners, virtually emptying the nation's penal institutions in a move that pretty much gave Amnesty International the week off.
Ice-T will marry Coco. Normally you have to go to a nursing home cafeteria to find that combination.
A stone inscription reading "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" was unearthed in Jerusalem on a limestone burial box. Rumors that a graffiti prankster had inserted the word "older" in front of "brother" have proved unfounded.
Somebody electronically attacked nine of the 13 root computer servers that manage global Internet traffic by transmitting data at 30 to 40 times the normal amounts, causing them to shut down for an hour. Experts enacted defensive measures and the attack stopped. In Modesto, Calif., however, a Pamela Anderson download of 13 billion bytes had to be started all over again.
Mohamad Akbar Popal, a University of Nebraska graduate, took over as chancellor of Kabul University, rehired all the professors who were purged by the Taliban, reopened enrollment to women, and restored the book to the library.
Cuban President Fidel Castro has scientists working around the clock to clone Ubre Blanca, the most prolific milk-producing cow in the world, once capable of giving 241 pounds of milk in a single day. Ubre Blanca has been dead since 1985 but has remained in a climate-controlled glass case at the entrance to the National Cattle Health Center, and her tissue samples have been preserved. Castro has, of course, been dead since 1991, but his tissue continues to make four-hour speeches.
Monica Isa, a streetwalker in Turin, Italy, was arrested and charged with restraint of trade for drastically lowering her prices in an effort to force the other hookers out of business. The 24-year-old Sierra Leone native cut her normal fee from 35 euros to 5 euros, or about $3.20, and the other girls in the red-light district reported her to police. The upcoming trial promises to be a repeat of the Microsoft battle against Netscape, with Isa arguing that her fees are globally competitive, and her accusers arguing for European protectionism. The government maintains that her testimony is that of a $3 hooker.
The chief of the MacLeod clan in Scotland is selling an entire mountain range that has been owned by the clan for 1,000 years -- in order to finance roof repairs at his castle. John MacLeod closed a deal to sell the Black Cuillins, a series of peaks on the Isle of Skye, to an unnamed American for $8.9 million -- and the other MacLeod's are a little upset. Dunvegan Castle, the 800-year-old family seat, is leaking, though, so what's wrong with unloading a little heather for the sake of a good solid flying buttress, even if it means the area will become slightly more commercial? The American is reportedly already in
negotiations with the famous McDonald clan.
Bette Greene's novel "The Drowning of Stephan Jones" was banned in eight school districts in Horry County, S.C., after parents claimed that it "promotes homosexuality," contains objectionable language, and blends religious themes in a conflicting manner. The superintendent acted after receiving a letter from Eugene Carroll Craig of Myrtle Beach, who said, "I did not feel that the book should be afforded the dignity of a review board. I looked upon it as a rattlesnake that had crawled into the living rooms of everybody's home in Horry County and needed to be killed right then and right there." The same book has previously been removed from curricula and school library
shelves in Boling, Texas, in 1993, because it "teaches anti-Christian beliefs and condones illegal activity," and banned from Mascenic Regional High School in Ipswich, N.H., in 1995.
Then there was the 1998 case, when the school district of Barron, Wis., removed it and got sued by the ACLU. It's a popular 1991 novel about teens who commit hate crimes against a homosexual couple in a small Arkansas town -- which is just, of course, so impossible to imagine.
Blackman, a new board game invented by Chuck Sawyer, involves six players who all start out as 18-year-old black men, in college, the military, the ghetto or show business. First to get to a space marked "Freedom" wins. The rules are purposely complicated so that you're prone to make the wrong decisions due to being ill informed. Meanwhile you have to weather cards with penalties like "Police chase you for a traffic violation -- miss three turns" and undergo the agonizing option of whether to take a crime card or not. It could mean big money -- $10,000 for a drug deal, for example -- or it could send you to federal court with a public defender. It's sort of the reverse of Monopoly, and Sawyer has already sold 15,000 copies through his Web site, blackman-game.com. While in prison, by the way, it's not only possible to get assaulted, but to impregnate women and incur child support.
It also becomes increasingly difficult to score that sitcom card providing $40,000 a week. Greta Van Susteren has already condemned the game, according to The Washington Post. She opened an interview with Sawyer by saying, "Is he exploiting his people to make money?" No, he could only do that if he drew the popular Don King card.
A 29-year-old Taiwanese national has performed about 50 castrations on his kitchen table in Oak Park, Mich., but his latest one, in which he removed the testicles of a 48-year-old Birmingham man, went awry when he was unable to stop the bleeding. Fortunately the man is recovering after several hours of emergency surgery. Police are uncertain as to whether the Taiwanese man committed any crime, although he was turned over to immigration authorities on a visa violation, and they grudgingly admitted that it takes balls.
Eight British Members of Parliament introduced a bill authorizing the government to acquire a cat to patrol the halls of Parliament and rid it of mice. It is considered most prudent that it be a Labor as opposed to Tory cat, as it would be likely to be hungrier.
Krispy Kreme donuts were introduced into Canada for the first time, challenging the national donut king Tim Hortons, and early results from the debut store in Mississauga, Ontario, are so spectacular that heart surgeons throughout the nation are selling their homes and trading up.
Scenes from our secure republic:
Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian director who has been honored at the Cannes Film Festival many times and won the Palme D'Or in 1997 for his movie "A Taste of Cherry," was denied a visa to appear at the New York Film Festival where his new film "Ten" premiered. U.S. embassy officials in Paris, where he applied for the visa, said they wanted 90 days to "investigate his background" -- making it too late for the appearance. The background of the 62-year-old director can be ascertained via a one-hour search on the Internet, but that would be trifling with potential cinematic terrorism, wouldn't it?
Scenes from domestic life:
In Brooklyn, two Egyptian men, both named Mohammed, tried to put out a contract on six members of their respective families, according to police. Mohammed Khatib wanted his wife killed, because she's "a fat Jew" and he doesn't like his kids wearing yarmulkes, he told the undercover cop he thought was a hitman. But he also wanted his wife's 18-year-old son killed because "he's just a bum," plus his wife's sister because she's
"nosy," plus his sister-in-law's son because he's a Hebrew teacher who taught Khatib's children to speak Hebrew. Fortunately Khatib's friend, Mohammed Kadri, had a kinder nature. He only wanted two relatives killed, at the going rate of $10,000 each. We're guessing that anger-management classes aren't going to do it for these guys.
Joe Bob Briggs writes several columns for UPI. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Web site, www.joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.