Fiends of the earth?

The FBI charged last month that the largest U.S. domestic terrorist group is the environmentalist Earth Liberation Front, a spokesman for which took the Fifth Amendment 50 times during a recent congressional hearing. According to the feds, the ELF is responsible for some 600 attacks on private and government-owned property in the last five years. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service has admitted that three of its employees, among other government environmentalists, had planted hairs from endangered lynx in Washing-ton state forests; their goal was to skew a research project on whether to restrict development in those forests. And a Cloverdale, Australia, terminal cancer patient complained that he suffered through an agonizing Christmas because a Greenpeace protest shut down the Sydney nuclear reactor that makes his high-tech pain-relieving radioisotope Quadramet.

In touch with today's youth

In December, Colorado Republican Party activist Randal David Ankeney, 30, was charged in a second sexual-assault incident, following his July arrest involving a 14-year-old girl he had met in an Internet chat room. The age of his latest alleged victim was not disclosed. Also, last month, the National Republican Congres-sional Committee withdrew the "Repub-lican of the Year" award that had been scheduled to be presented to Virginia party activist Mark A. Grethen, 44; the committee had just learned of his conviction on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

Really stupid pet tricks

A report by a St. Louis television station recently caused an uproar when it revealed that 3,500 dogs and cats euthanized in the city each year were being disposed of at a local rendering plant which sells some of its product -- including recycled fat and protein -- to pet-food manufacturers. The rendering plant now says it will stop accepting household animals, which it had been taking for free as a public service.

Quincy would be so upset

Among the 39 charges leveled by the Tennessee Health Department against former state medical examiner Dr. Charles Harlan in December were that he deliberately mutilated bodies during autopsies so that "no one could second-guess me" and that he allowed animals to "roam freely in his facility and consume the organs of deceased persons."

What a dump

A recent Los Angeles Times report describes a dozen emerging businesses in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, devoted to staging elaborate breakup schemes for couples and for business partners so that the dumping partner does not have to convey the bad news personally. In complicated cases, such as when a dumpee refuses to cooperate or when lots of money is at stake, the breakup agent might charge as much as $100,000 and employ schemes as elaborate as a CIA caper, creating false identities and staging sham events to get the job done.

Seoul mates

Now operating in Seoul are at least eight "booking clubs," in which males and females pay waiters to introduce them forcibly to each other because South Korean social rules discourage voluntary contact with strangers. According to a January Wall Street Journal report, men may pay several hundred dollars a night to demand introductions, and women pay a similar amount knowing that they will be physically delivered by the waiters to prospective suitors' tables.

Something stenkas

Officials in New York City declined to issue a permit for the highlight of the two-day Russian end-of-winter gala in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The reason is that the festival's signature event, the centuries-old "stenka na stenku," calls for two teams of 50 men to engage in vicious fistfights. Said one organizer, "We will have an ambulance standing by (but if) we lose a tooth, we lose a tooth. No big deal."

Heavy metal

Three Alaskans were charged recently with ill-thought-out thefts: Todd Shobe, 38, was arrested in Anchorage when his SUV got stuck in the mud at a construction site after being weighed down with all the tools he was trying to drive away with. And Roger D. Yost, 40, and William Isberg, 40, were arrested in Fairbanks when they tried to haul a 500-pound safe out the door of a Moose Lodge hall, apparently forgetting that they had arrived at the hall on bicycles.

Catch of the day

A 42-year-old man in Madeira Beach was hospitalized after being stabbed in the stomach with a swordfish during a brawl outside his home.


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