Milking Castro's convertibles

In a May dispatch from Cuba, The Wall Street Journal reported that Fidel Castro proposed in 1987 to alleviate a chronic milk shortage by trying to get his scientists to clone the most productive cows, shrinking them to the size of dogs so that each family could keep one inside its apartment. The cows would feed on grass grown inside under fluorescent lights. Cuba was the home of the late Ubre Blanca, the "Guinness Book of World Records" title holder as the most milk-productive cow of all time.

A pig in a poke

A Dutch livestock-breeding-device manufacturer recently began selling a $27 vibrator that supposedly relaxes sows during artificial insemination to increase the chances of fertilization. According to the sales manager at the company, Schippers Bladel BV, "Once the vibrator is inserted, the pig's ears will go up and she will stand ready to be serviced." The company also makes a remote-controlled plastic pig whose movements, mating sounds and scents supposedly encourage the sow to be serviced.

Working out the kinks

Testifying at the child-pornography trial of John Robin Sharpe in Vancouver, British Columbia, in January, English literature professor James Miller of the University of Western Ontario said Sharpe's self-published writings were comparable to mainstream literature such as that of Dickens and Dante. According to Miller, Sharpe's book "Sam Paloc's Boyabuse: Flogging, Fun, and Fortitude: A Collection of Kiddie Kink Classics" was "transgressive literature" that "celebrates, in a ritual way, alternative visions of culture ... reveal(ing) the seismic ironies in the new world-order associated with globalization." In March, a judge acquitted Sharpe on his writings but convicted him on two counts of possessing child porn photos.


In Scranton, Pa., in May, Janice Taylor, who maimed her 4-year-old son in 2000 in a stabbing attack because she thought he was the Antichrist, filed a lawsuit against two psychiatrists and an obstetrician for not giving her enough anti-psychosis medication. Taylor was pregnant at the time she attacked the boy, and her doctors were wary of prescribing more medication for fear it would harm her fetus, but they finally relented and gave small doses of Thorazine. (The baby was born unharmed, even though Taylor made a stab at it, too, plunging the knife into her abdomen.)

Cold logic

According to police in Woodinville, Wash., when Anita Durrett, 42, tried to speed away in her car with $266 worth of groceries shoplifted from an Albertson's supermarket, an employee pursued her in his car. Durrett lost control and crashed at 90 mph, and her 9-year-old daughter, riding in the front seat, was killed. Though Durrett was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, she has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Albertson's, claiming it should not have chased her.

Mama mia, let him go!

Italy's highest appeals court ruled in April that a 29-year-old, out-of-work lawyer still has the right to be housed and financially supported by his parents. The son, Marco Andreoli, owns property and has access to a $200,000 trust fund, but he objected when his father cut off his $675 monthly allowance, which had been ordered when his parents divorced. Andreoli successfully argued that he needed his allowance because he had not found a job fulfilling enough. (More than a third of all men in Italy between ages 30 and 34 still live with their parents.)

Tenants of faith

Born-again-Christian roommates Derrick Mitchell, 38, and Teresa Tafawa, 58, were served eviction notices in May by their landlord in Cornwall, Ontario, because of complaints that they pray loudly -- and often -- around the apartment complex. Mitchell says he can't help himself when he receives "visions," especially holy alerts about local devil worship; he said he is moved to speak in a high, quivering voice that Tafawa calls "the ecstasies" and that the pair may pray and sing for hours a day, even in the laundry room and the parking lot. Said Tafawa, "We try to walk with the Lord all day."

Top guns

A 54-year-old security guard was accidentally shot to death by a colleague as the two demonstrated quick-draw techniques to each other outside a school dance in New Orleans ... A 22-year-old Los Angeles man behind the wheel of a drive-by-shooting car was accidentally killed by the passenger-side shooter who was trying to fire through the driver's-side window. ... Three young Amish drivers were charged with traffic violations in Leon, N.Y., after their late-night buggies' race caused a collision with another Amish buggy.

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