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Brand recognition 

Phoenix body modifier Steve Haworth, last written up in News of the Weird in 1993 when he was just getting started in business and had begun to offer skin branding (with a genuine branding iron), is now up to customer No. 450, according to a U. magazine story in September. He says his most exciting service now is implanting beads and spikes just below the surface of the skin to achieve a 3-D effect.

Local color

Local color

In September, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi announced that he had given up hope for unifying the Arab world and that he would begin to turn his country's interest toward Africa. "Africa is a paradise," he said. "I would like Libya to become a black country. Hence, I recommend to Libyan men to marry only black women, and to Libyan women to marry black men."

Nasty habits

In a Boston Globe interview in August, Roman Catholic nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph order in Boston described their obsession with the Red Sox, admitting that they frequently call in to sports talk radio and get rowdy at the games. One nun said the sisters especially enjoy dogging former Red Sox players like Jose Canseco: "It is not un-Christian to boo." And the Sisters of the Precious Blood order in Edmonton, Alberta, believe they were instrumental earlier in the year in saving Edmonton's hockey team, the Oilers, by praying that the team would not be relocated. According to an archdiocese spokesman, the sisters especially enjoy booing the Calgary Flames.

Marxist theory

A University of California professor's request to see FBI records on Groucho Marx was granted in September. Included were reports of Marx's friendships with other liberal Hollywood types and public quotes by Marx critical of the United States, some obviously made just for laughs. However, despite the fact that Marx has been dead for 20 years, several pages of his file remain secret, according to the government, "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy."

Remains of the bay

The Baltimore Sun reported in October that several residents of the Venice on the Bay community on the Patapsco River in Anne Arundel County, Md., have recently complained to authorities that people sprinkling cremated ashes are spoiling their waterfront. Some sprinkle them in the water while swimmers are present; sometimes the wind blows the ashes back onto residents' property; and one recent sprinkler unloaded a large plastic garbage bag on a small beach area.

Devil of a time

The latest in exorcism news is that the Roman Catholic Church in France revealed earlier this year that it now employs 95 exorcists, the highest number there in a century. Some observers consider this increase to be a reaction to the millennium. And in Albuquerque in June, Liz Madrid filed a lawsuit against the public schools after her 16-year-old son was allegedly exorcised by a middle-school counselor, who noticed a pentagram on his notebook. And in June, lay exorcist Baron Deacon stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and attempted to exorcise the demons from Congress. He soon quit and acknowledged that the job was too big for him.

Coming clean

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, an unidentified boy, complaining in May about the city's ban on free-lance windshield squeegee service, asked, "What would they rather I do -- be squeegeeing or breaking into your house, stealing your stuff and raping your kids?" And an unidentified domestic political assassin, quoted in the New York Times in August, demonstrated the business nature of his job by saying, "I would have voted for him if I hadn't been in jail charged with trying to kill him."

Everybody chill

In May, India's defense minister George Fernandes ordered three bureaucrats from his finance office to spend a week on the notorious Siachen Glacier in Kashmir. Temperatures on the glacier are usually considerably below zero, and wind speeds there average 60 mph. The bureaucrats had taken three years to process the paperwork to procure snowmobiles for troops stationed on the glacier, and the minister said the men needed to spend time there to understand why they should have worked faster.

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