News you may have missed...
February, 2000

We open with this month's story to file under "probable urban legend, but far too good to miss"...

Suzy DeLucci and the Miracle of Life

One morning around 5am, 22 year old Susan DeLucci of Kittery, Maine, woke up with a painful need to urinate. At first she thought she had diarrhoea, but when she stood up out of bed, she realised that it was urinary pain. It was very similar to the feeling of having diarrhoea, just out the wrong hole. She wobbled to the toilet and upon sitting on it, her vagina erupted into the most horrific messy farting noise anyone has ever heard. In paralysing pain, Ms. DeLucci for the next few minutes continued to push and squirt out of her vagina a burning tide of wretch and filth while she gripped the sides of the toilet, white-knuckled. She was screaming wildly, and the neighbours called the police.

When medics arrived they found Ms. DeLucci unconscious lying on the floor of her bathroom wearing nothing but her bath robe. Running down her leg, was a stream of brown and green syrup. The medic had to transfer her to a stretcher, so he grabbed her left leg which was bent crossing her other leg, to straighten her out. She was lying there all twisted up. When he lifted her left leg to straighten her body out, he exposed her vagina at which point a creature, no larger than the tip of a finger wormed its way out of her g*nitals and landed on the floor with a wet popping sound. Shocked, the medic stared at the creature that was lying on the tile bathroom floor in a casing of mucous. It was a tiny mud shrimp and it sat there on the cold floor gasping for water while flipping itself back and forth. The horrified medic turned to the toilet as he felt the nausea setting in. When he put his face down into the toilet to puke what he saw was so horrific that to this day he cannot look into a toilet without convulsing. The entire toilet bowl was boiling with baby brown mud shrimp flipping and splashing at a furious pace.

If you think that is bad - wait until you hear how it happened: Ms. DeLucci official death was the result of a combination of shock and severe head trauma. She stood up over the toilet in pain and when she saw what she had done, she went into shock and fell, smashing her head on the toilet and then on the floor. It is believed by medical police that on two nights before the accident she had purchased a live lobster at a fish market. While lying in a tub, she gently inserted the creature's tail into her vagina to derive pleasure. At that point, she held a lighter under the creature's face causing it to flip its tail in a violent snapping motion. The medics found a lesbian XXX video in the VCR and the TV was positioned on a table in front of the tub. The lobster was found in the kitchen garbage can wrapped in a paper bag. Traces of Ms. DeLucci's DNA were found on the lobster along with pubic hairs that had wedged themselves between the lobster tail joints. The lobster's face was lightly burned with the same fuel used in lighters. The lobster's digestive track and colon were found to be full of mud shrimp egg casings. Doctors believe that the lobster had eaten them (they are common in the water at fish markets and are usually harmlessly boiled to death) and the lobster had excreted them into Ms. DeLucci when she was torturing it. Maine mud shrimp only take two days to gestate and Ms. DeLucci was only four days away from getting her period, doctors believe that at that point of her menstrual cycle, her womb was the perfect PH balance to grow these mud shrimp which are a much larger version of the popular "Sea Monkey" pets sold throughout the US. Over night the eggs had hatched and the mud shrimp began doubling in size every ten minutes. You can imagine the pain she was in when she woke up that morning and gave birth to well over 1,000 mud shrimp in her toilet.

Pacifics exuberant form of cricket getting big international day out

AUCKLAND, Jan 24 (AFP) - Cricket, the dull and boring game played by men in white flannels right? Not the way it will be played here next month when the Pacific version of the game -- kilikiti -- finally gets centre stage at Eden Park, New Zealands home of the English game. In an instant everything will change -- the men, for one thing, will be wearing colourful lavalava or skirts, theyll be armed with fearsome looking three-sided clubs and the solid natural rubber balls will make a cricket six look like a quiet schoolboy knock. The New Zealand Herald reported Monday that during the break in the one-day cricket game between Australia and New Zealand on February 19 the champion sides in an Auckland kilikiti competition will play an exhibition game. Kilikiti is the off-spring of the London Missionary Societys assignment to civilise the natives in the Pacific in the 19th Century. But the way it turned out was perhaps not what the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) had in mind.

Forget 11-man teams. Quickly the Pacific adopted a variation to that rule -- the whole village could form a team. Away games were a substitute for war; entire villages of men, women and children all playing. Wickets were any uprights that could be found and forget the smack of willow on leather. Willow doesnt grow in the Pacific so any wood would do, provided it produced a grunty man-sized weapon. At first balls were a tad bit frail until some one had the bright idea of using fresh rubber latex to make the balls. And lots of them -- because when a hefty Samoan with a mighty bat connects with a tiny bouncy ball something really flies. Lots of local rules came into play as a result -- balls into the lagoon could be acceptable in one village, a disadvantage in another. Kilikiti quickly moved away from cricket. Nothing illustrates it more than traditional crickets Law 42.6 "Incommoding the striker" which says its wrong for the fielding side to distract the striker "by any noise or action". An important -- perhaps crucial -- part of any kilikiti training section is to focus on the on-field chants and dance steps.... And thats real dance. Video-umpiring was a no-go back then, but the Pacific islanders had their committees, and long into the night discussions between elders would occur to determine who won. It was usually a political outcome.

Kilikiti is still played widely in Polynesia -- even in places like Funafuti in Tuvalu which is a tiny atoll barely wider than a cricket pitch, so local rules come into play. Samoa became particularly obsessed by the game, to the utter fury of the up-tight German administrators. They saw it as a tremendous waste of time and banned, without any success, the ceremonies, feasting and dancing that accompanied any inter-village tournament. Some said the New Zealand military administration which took over in 1914 only really got one thing ever right in Samoa -- they played cricket too. Auckland, which claims to be the capital city of Polynesia, has a long tradition of both games during the summer and in recent years the Pacific game has become a major part of school sport.

The game has become more formalised -- the days of entire villages has gone although in the church league entire parishes can have the right to bat -- and a national championship climaxed over the weekend. The Stormers beat Happy Days in the mens final and Lau Laau Farani beat the Gardenias in the womens. Organiser Puluaau Pilitai told the Herald the appearance of the Stormers and the Happy Days at Eden Park was going to be awesome for everybody. "These guys here would have wanted to be All Blacks and dreamed of going to Eden Park, but playing your own game there...," she said. "These people deserve it, they are long overdue."

Web "porn-trepreneurs" get Internet business tips

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - It is not easy breaking in as an Internet pornographer. For starters, you need to overcome the stigma attached to the pornography business, which can make it hard to seduce investors. Then try competing in an already jampacked field where setting up shop requires little more than a computer, a few dirty pictures and a taste for titillation. But pity not the "porn-trepreneurs." In San Francisco, ground zero for the new media revolution and breeding ground for Internet millionaires, an industry group has been set up to help would-be Hugh Hefners and Larry Flynts of the Internet age get on their feet. Bay Area Adult Sites holds monthly meetings where panel discussions explore topics ranging from "How to Write Erotica for Online Adult Sites" to "Copyright Intellectual Property Issues." It also provides a forum for those in the business to network and search for ways to share customers and technology -- partnerships that industry insiders say are vital to survival in the harshly competitive environment. "The more people get together and garner support, the more they have a chance to succeed," group co-founder Caity McPherson, 31, told Reuters in an interview. "This is one of the most wired places on the planet but a lot of people in the adult industry are flailing around. Bay Area Adult Sites can give these flailing Web sites a resource to fall back on."

The group has attracted as many as 200 people to meetings at the Transmission Theater, a hip nightclub in San Francisco's burgeoning "South of Market" area that is also the meeting site for the more mainstream Association of Internet Professionals. Do not expect to see scantily clad women milling around or tables overflowing with raunchy photos at its meetings. The sessions are aimed at sowing seeds of business relationships and are a place where shoptalk borders on the wonkish as Web masters exchange ways to perfect their technology. "We felt like there was a need for people getting together in a monthly networking group," McPherson said. "Slowly but surely the group has grown." Models meet photographers, venture capitalists search for the next big thing, Web masters learn how to place their sites higher on search engines and business owners discover which accountants do not mind pornography.

"There is really enthusiastic mingling," McPherson said. "At Bay Area Adult Sites people are engaged almost immediately and the atmosphere is very businesslike." At one recent meeting, participants were treated to a panel discussion featuring one of the heavy hitters of the e-porn business, former nude model and stripper Danni Ashe, 32, who has parlayed her site "Danni's Hard Drive" into a mini-empire. Ashe's Web site, covered with her own nude pictures, is credited with helping to establish the standard business model for Internet pornography -- luring customers with a few free pictures and then making them pay to see more. She answered questions at the meeting and dispensed advice to would-be porn moguls on topics ranging from outsourcing employees to the benefits of Internet pop-up advertisements. "It is now much harder to be seen," she told Reuters in an interview, discussing the benefits of new groups like Bay Area Adult Sites. "I think it's important for small Web masters to band together." McPherson, tall, blonde and also a former stripper, runs a far smaller site called Juicy Mango, which gets about 2,000 hits a day. But she said the opportunity to mingle with fellow porn purveyors in the flesh, so to speak, helps facilitate business among group members. It even led to one million-dollar deal involving adult fetish videos with names like "Messy Girls" where nude women frolic while lathered in food. "These people had been going over stuff, missing phone calls and exchanging voicemail," McPherson said. "It was that one-on-one ... 'Let's sit down and shake hands and look each other in the eye' that confirmed the deal."

The stakes are certainly high. Mark Hardie, an expert on the adult entertainment industry, says Americans spend some $1 billion each year on online pornography. But with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 adult Web sites already floating around cyberspace and more being added by the day, an industry group like Bay Area Adult Sites can be a crucial tool for fledgling firms to share their experiences and strategies for survival. "The industry has always been one where cooperation is the first effort," said Hardie, a former analyst with Forrester Research who left to form Entertainment Technology Corp. "You want to have an approach where, whatever you want to find, we'll find it for you," he said. "It is better to send a visitor somewhere else where they leave satisfied and with what they were looking for. A lot of people involved in Bay Area Adult Sites just want to run a business, just like a pizza shop."

Dogfights draw the crowds in Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Two huge dogs -- an Asian and Caucasian shepherd -- stand muzzle to muzzle in the middle of a large pen, teeth bared, growling, and sizing each other up. The stand-off does not last long. Within seconds the animals are up on their hind legs, heads twisting and plunging as battle unfolds. Blood is soon visible around their teeth, necks and ears. It spatters the fresh snow inside the fighting area. This is the third time these two have fought. So far it is one win apiece. Surrounding the 20 metre (65 feet) square fighting area, some 200 mainly young male spectators cheer on their favourites, shout advice to the dogs and owners, discuss the merits of the various breeds and lay a small bet or two.

This is the official grounds of Kazakhstan's "Zholbars" Service, Fighting and Shepherd Dog Club, where burly men from Central Asia and the Caucasus gather each Sunday throughout the winter to see the canine display. Around the rusting metal walls of the compound are tied a frightening array of fierce-looking beasts, tugging and gasping at their leads to get at whatever dog is closest. Stocky pitbull and Staffordshire bull terriers line up alongside mastiffs; long-haired and bulky Caucasus sheepdogs eye up the Asian breed -- also large, but with shorter hair and a stump for a tail. Most show the scars of battle. One brown pitbull's head is a patchwork of pink gashes inflicted by his enemies. He is clearly itching to return to the fray.

There is nothing furtive about this weekly event, the equivalent to a day at the races in Europe, as would be the case in countries where the unarguably brutal "sport" is prohibited. Club president Timirbek Katpin said dog fighting is not banned by Kazakh law, explaining that it is part of the Central Asian state's heritage, alongside hunting with falcons and playing ancient sports on horseback. "The West considers this to be illegal, we know," he said outside the gate to the compound, ready to collect the 100 tenge ($0.70) entrance fee. "But in Central Asia this is our ancestry and has been for centuries, along with falcons, camels and horses. In Spain you have bullfighting, in Kazakhstan you have dog fighting." He recounts legends of how Asian sheepdogs, called "tobet" in Kazakh, protected livestock from wolves and snow leopards for nomad owners long before the vast Central Asian region between Russia, China and Iran was settled by the Russians.

Not everyone agrees. One spectator said that though it may be natural for some breeds of dog to protect livestock from predators, there was nothing natural about setting them against each other in a ring. "The only part dogs had in our heritage was Russian borzois hunting with mounted falconers," said Kurmangazy, driving back to the centre of Kazakhstan's drab commercial capital Almaty. "This is being promoted as a Kazakh tradition, but it is really just a way for young people to make money." Joy Leney, director for Europe and Asia at the World Society for Protection of Animals, said by telephone from London that it was now widely accepted that animals shared similar senses and feelings to humans and therefore sports like dog fighting were barbaric. "We work to try to get legislation in place, as without that framework we stand no chance of convincing people. Activities like dog fighting are barbaric and outdated," she said.

The fight between Pantos, the fine, grey Asian shepherd, and Karagyos, his magnificent white Caucasus cousin, is close. Three-year-old Pantos initially gains the advantage by locking the fatty back of Karagyos' neck in a vice-like grip and forcing him to roll over in apparent submission. But Karagyos wrestles free from the powerful jaws time and time again, and in return sinks his huge teeth into his enemy's ears, hind legs and neck in an increasingly bloody tussle. After 20 minutes of frenzied violence, the two steaming dogs are exhausted. They stand askance and pant for breath, apparently happy to call it a day. Their owners have other ideas. They push the blood-stained animals towards each other and urge them to put the bout beyond doubt, the crowd cheering them on. But the judge declares a tie, and after three encounters there is still little to choose between them.

Mikhail, the 43-year-old owner of the aptly-named Tyson, a fierce and fearless Staffordshire who made short work of his larger opponent, said he was still testing the 18-month-old dog. "There was no money on this fight," Mikhail said. "It is only his second time. In the first contest the other dog's neck was broken and he died almost immediately after the start, so it did not tell me much." Stakes between owners can run from a few dollars to several thousand, although the only bet acknowledged on this particular day was $100. That is well above the average monthly wage in the oil-rich but poverty-stricken former Soviet republic. Several spectators spoke in hushed tones of the legendary fight between Dzhinn, a Caucasus sheepdog and multiple Kazakh champion, and a pitbull from Russia. Dzhinn won, but the visitors were not pleased -- the stake was said to be $75,000.

Ottawa-funded porn film found awful, but not sexist

OTTAWA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Fans of "Bubbles Galore", the trashy soft-porn film funded by Canadian taxpayers, can rest easy. Canada's broadcast watchdog ruled on Wednesday the film may be awful, but is not overly violent or sexist. The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBST) said a rape scene in the film -- which tells the story of a bisexual female pornographer struggling to succeed in a male-dominated industry -- did not breach the rules. "This scene, while an unenviable component of an unenviable film, does not amount to a breach of the Violence Code," the council said in a statement. Heritage Minister Sheila Copps was deeply embarrassed last year when it emerged that the film had received more than C$100,000 ($69,000) in funding from government and provincial agencies.

Several viewers complained to the CBST after the Showcase Television channel broadcast the film, during which one of the female characters is raped. The council said the rape scene was highly unrealistic and was clearly designed as an allegorical struggle between the victim and the rapist. "While there is no denying the despicable and criminal nature of the act, in the context of the 'dueling' individuals, psychologically speaking, the Council considers that (the victim) has had the upper hand," it said. Bubbles Galore won best film at the 1997 Freakzone International Festival of Trash Cinema in France. It was described by one Australian critic as "a tender, trippy, pastel-tinted tribute to X-rated porn flicks and the women who work in them".

Police save goldfish from becoming artistic soup

COPENHAGEN, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Police on Friday removed from an exhibition a work of art with goldfish as the focal point after an animal rights group complained that the fish were in peril. The creation by artist Marco Evaristti consisted of goldfish swimming inside regular kitchen-blenders. Exhibition visitors could switch on a blender, transforming the content to fish soup, the Ritzau news agency reported. Police decided to remove the item after consulting the local veterinarian in the Danish town of Kolding. The same art centre has earlier drawn mixed comments by exhibiting rotting pig carcasses, Ritzau said.

South African critic sees fascism in Irish dance

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The apparently innocuous Irish folk dancing extravaganza "Lord of the Dance" has raised the hackles of a South African arts critic who says it has fascist overtones. Under the headline "Lord of the Dance's fascist appeal captivates crowds", Heather Mackie, writing in Monday's Business Day, said a performance at Johannesburg Civic Theatre had echoes of the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies. "Some of the appeal is fascist -- simplistic good and evil, giant icons that could have graced Nuremberg, the bad guys in grey shirts and camouflage pants," Mackie wrote. Irishman Michael Flatley became an overnight star in 1994 when he launched the "Riverdance" routine in Dublin as the interval show in the Eurovision song contest. The hugely successful tour which became the "Lord of the Dance" made him a multi-millionaire. Flatley left the show in 1998. "Desmond Bailey, in the title role, is a lightweight compared with Flatley, who has wisely retired from dancing," Mackie wrote. Advance bookings for the troupe's month-long Johannesburg season are strong.

Canada government defends Paris Call Girl exhibit

OTTAWA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Tuesday defended an art exhibit it has put on in Paris in which actresses pose as prostitutes and engage in erotic conversations with visitors. Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy described the interactive exhibit's designer, Nadine Norman, as "a very distinguished artist" and said the government would not interfere in the decisions of artists. "It's not for me to engage in judgment as to what's good art or culture," he told journalists in Ottawa. His department paid about C$35,000 ($24,000) to stage the "Call Girl" exhibit at the government's Canadian Cultural Center in the French capital, which until February 29 will look more like a brothel than an art gallery. A further C$15,000 came from the Canada Council for the Arts.

News about the exhibit -- which began on December 17 -- surfaced this month in Canada in the midst of a controversy about financial mismanagement of billions of dollars of public grants. The daily Ottawa Citizen newspaper ran a front-page headline "Your Tax Dollars at Work" over a photo of a scantily clad "call girl." "I think every Canadian would agree that this is the wrong priority for our money to be spent," opposition Reform Member of Parliament Diane Ablonczy told reporters. But a spokesman in Axworthy's department, Patrick Riel, enthused: "Mrs. Norman's creation is a huge success. The London Times called the show one of the most successful exhibitions in Paris." The department's website describes the show as "playing on interchange, the unexpected, desire, deception, surprise, availability and the forbidden." The Canada Council for the Arts is an arm's length agency of the Canadian Heritage Department, which has run into criticism over grants to fund porn film Bubbles Galore and to a publisher to print books on communicating with the dead and enjoying an orgasm.

"Wadde hadde dudde da" Germany's song for Europe

BREMEN, Germany, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The nonsense ditty "Wadde hadde dudde da" sung by comedian Stephan Raab has been voted Germany's entry in this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. Raab beat the challenge of blind singer Corinna May's "I Believe in God" by taking over half of viewers' phone-in votes at Friday's contest in another triumph for Germany's burgeoning trash culture over traditional melodic "Schlager" ballads. Raab, presenter of the comedy show "TV Total", composed the wacky 1998 Eurovision entry "Piep Piep Piep" which, despite failing to win in Birmingham, earned greasy-haired singer Guildo Horn cult status at home. The 34-year-old Raab has also scored another big hit lately, selling 750,000 copies of a single entitled "Maschendraht-Zaun" ("Wire Fence") which features a woman from Saxony arguing in her strong local dialect over her garden fence with her neighbour.

May's second place followed disappointment last year when she won Germany's Eurovision nomination with her song "Hoer den Kindern einfach zu" ("Just Listen to the Children") only to be disqualified after it was revealed that her song had been recorded previously by another artist. Fur-clad Berlin rockers Knorkator also made an impact, but won few votes, on Friday with their number "Ick werd zun Schwein" ("I'm Turning into a Pig") which featured their keyboard player taking an axe to his instrument.

German TV's "indecent proposal" put on hold

BERLIN, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Plans to air a live daytime talk show featuring a German man offering a night of sex with his wife for one million marks ($500,000) were shelved on Tuesday after a storm of protest. Television station RTL said it was putting its "Baerbel" show, scheduled for Wednesday, on hold after complaints that children would see the programme and warnings RTL could even get into legal trouble as an accessory to prostitution. The Bild tabloid carried a front-page story earlier quoting jobless Rainer W. as saying he hoped the offer of sex with his wife Carmen -- inspired by the 1993 Hollywood movie "Indecent Proposal" starring Demi Moore and Robert Redford -- would get the couple out of financial trouble. Carmen, a 28-year-old waitress, was quoted by Bild as saying she had no problem with the sex scheme: "It's only one night. Perhaps it would be a nice change," she told Bild. RTL spokesman Lars-Uwe Hoeltich said the channel planned to record the show and then play the tape to youth and legal experts. "If there are no reservations, then the programme will be broadcast a few days later," he told Reuters. German TV stations shows have resorted in recent months to ever more lurid spectacles in a cutthroat battle for ratings similar to that fought by U.S. daytime talk shows.

Glass house stirs Chileans' voyeurism

SANTIAGO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Chileans stood in awe on Wednesday as they watched a young woman roll out of bed and get dressed inside a glass house one block from the presidential palace as part of an art project. Actress Daniella Tobar sleeps, showers, uses the bathroom, eats, brushes her teeth, reads and talks on the phone inside the simple, one-room transparent house, which is in the heart of downtown Santiago next to a bank and church and built in an empty, weed-filled lot across the street from the stock exchange. In a bold step for the Catholic, conservative South American nation, the National Fund for the Development of the Arts financed the project, which aims to open a debate about public and private spaces and will run for two weeks before heading to neighboring Argentina.

The house, built especially for the project, is surrounded by a wall, but passersby can easily peer over it. Metal barricades have been set up along the street to keep pedestrians from interrupting the flow of traffic. "I feel a little bit like I am in a glass zoo. I do not think people are ready for this. In this country, people need to learn to see the beauty in daily life," Tobar told radio Cooperativa. About a hundred people -- most of them men -- stood on the sidewalk under the tiring sun on Wednesday afternoon waiting for Tobar to reappear. An occasional "here comes the chick" raised and immediately dashed the crowd's hopes when found to be a false alarm. Another person in the crowd shouted, "I bet Frei is watching," referring to the proximity to President Eduardo Frei's headquarters. "I came here out of curiosity," Sergio Subiabre, a 46-year-old agricultural worker who came from Talagante, 24 miles (38 km) southwest of Santiago just to see Tobar, told Reuters. "This is a way to show feminine beauty," he said, adding that he had been waiting four hours just to see her, but she still had not returned. Tobar appears to have won a secret admirer. A red rose tied with a ribbon lay atop a white envelope in the dirt inside her patio, waiting for her arrival.

Republicans debate merits of mosh pits

MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan 26 (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday debated the merits of mosh pits and whether heaving oneself off a stage into the arms of concert-goers is a test of faith or an undignified display for a White House hopeful. The discussion, dubbed "surreal" by one witness, drew uproarious laughter from 500 media representatives in a makeshift work room at WMUR television studios and quizzical looks from some of the five contenders for the Republican presidential nomination more used to dissecting foreign and domestic policy. Only one, radio host and former diplomat Alan Keyes, has actually moshed. As rock music blared, he once flung himself off the stage at a campaign rally to be caught by cheering fans. Texas Gov. George W. Bush started Wednesday's mosh debate by asking Keyes, an orator with a flair for the dramatic: "What's it like to be in a mosh pit?" "It's a lot of fun actually. I enjoyed it," Keyes replied.

That quip set off conservative activist Gary Bauer who accused Keyes of condoning the "anti-family, anti-cop and pro-terrorist" sentiments of the band playing at the time. "It's the kind of music that the killers at Columbine High school were immersed in ... . I was a little surprised to see you fall into a mosh pit while a band called 'The Machine Rages On' or 'Rage Against the Machine' played," he said. "Rage Against the Machine" is a politically strident rock band known for its lyrics about societal ills and controversies such as the imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and radio journalist condemned for killing a policeman 18 years ago. Bauer's comment set off Keyes, who responded with a long monologue on the merits and morality of mosh pitting. "Until you told me this fact I had no idea what that music was. I had nothing to do with that music." "Admittedly, I was willing to fall into the mosh pit, but I'll tell you something. You know why I did that? Because I think that exemplifies the kind of trust in people that is the heart and soul of the Keyes campaign ... . And when you trust them, they will in fact hold you up."

Still not satisfied, Bauer declared it incompatible with the dignity of politics for presidential candidates to act like guests on "The Jerry Springer Show." "Well, I would leave that to the judgment of the American people. I do know that when I got down, one of the folks who was there looked at me and said, 'You know, you're the only person I've ever seen dive into a mosh pit and come out with his tie straight,'" Keyes said. Afterward, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who has been escorting Bush around the state this week, shook his head in amazement. "I thought it was surreal," he said.

NZ scientists present ball lightning theory

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - One of nature's strangest phenomena, ball lightning, may have been explained by two New Zealand scientists whose theory was published on Thursday in an international science journal. University of Christchurch scientists John Abrahamson and James Dinniss believe the bright, hovering spheres first recorded in the Middle Ages are fluffy balls of burning silicon created by ordinary fork lightning striking the earth. "Most ball lightning is seen outside in thunderstorms, so we start with a normal lightning strike on soil," Abrahamson told BBC radio. "If you look at what the lightning does to the soil, it penetrates underneath the surface of the soil and we suggest the heating of the soil...brings about a hot vapour which then, after the lightning has gone, erupts above the ground in just the same manner as you blow air through your lips to get a smokers' puff," he said.

Around one in 100 people claim to have seen ball lightning, but scientists have never been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation for it. It is typically described as having a diameter somewhere between a golf ball and a beach ball and lasting for around 15 seconds, floating in the air not far from the ground. Ball lightning can be any colour, but is normally white or yellowish, with an intensity roughly equivalent to a 100 watt light bulb. In their article in Nature magazine, Abrahamson and Dinniss suggest that the extreme heat generated at the point where lightning strikes can sometimes turn the silica-carbon mixture contained in soil into silicon and silicon compounds with oxygen and carbon. The process is similar to the techniques used in industry to extract pure silicon from sand. The silicon forms tiny "nanoparticles" which link together into chains which are lifted above the ground by air currents, Abrahamson and Dinniss wrote. The particles then burn slowly, giving off heat and light. The scientists have not yet been able prove their theory by recreating ball lightning in the laboratory, but believe it explains all the commonly observed features of the phenomenon.

After wrestling success, WWF tries new football league

NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. Like the NFL, XFL games will be played on 100 yard fields, but yet-to-be-finalized rule changes will be aimed at providing more entertainment so channel-surfing viewers will stop to watch, said Michael Keller, a former NFL player and vice president of football operations for the XFL. McMahon displayed the in-your-face demeanor the XFL hopes to exude when he responded to a remark that Wall Street analysts Thursday downgraded the WWF's share price because of the expense of starting the new league. "Well, they can kiss my ass," McMahon said. WWF's shares lost about 25 percent of their value on Thursday, the largest percentage loser on the NASDAQ, falling 4 3/16 to 12 5/16. McMahon said he thinks the new league will turn a profit by its third year and that its first-year expenses will be just shy of $100 million. The XFL will start play in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Orlando, Washington and two cities to be named later. Play will mostly be in large outdoor stadiums including the Orange Bowl in Miami; the Los Angeles Coliseum; 3Com Park in San Francisco; RFK Stadium in Washington; and the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, DeVito said. Negotiations were under way to find a spot for the New York team, he said.

Unlike the National Football League -- which McMahon called the No Fun League -- which does not own its teams but offers franchises, the eight teams that start play next year will all be owned by WWF. "We don't play well with others," McMahon said. The new league is looking for a television contract. WWF's wresting programming runs on the USA Network and Viacom's UPN. Each team will have a salary cap, players will have a base salary based on their position and determined by the television contract. They will also be paid incentives for winning, scoring, and playing time. The 40-player teams will play 10-game schedules culminating in a championship game at a neutral site in late April. The season is timed to take advantage of football fans who want something different than basketball, hockey and figure skating in February. "Personally, I think that figure skating sucks," McMahon said. The X in XFL stands for nothing in particular, but the new league's officials on Thursday suggested Xciting, Xplosive, Xtreme and Gen-X. McMahon said it can stand for whatever anyone wants.

BA flight meets sticky end at Heathrow

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Flight arrival times are rarely set in stone but a British Airways plane was late for the gate on Friday after getting stuck in a patch of wet concrete. Officials at London's Heathrow airport said the concrete should have set after being laid overnight and speculated that the flight's early arrival from New Delhi was to blame. Steps were rolled out to allow the 300 passengers to get off the Boeing 747-400, which then had to be towed clear.

British villagers protest over topless hair salon

LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Irate villagers on Monday demanded the closure of what was billed as Britain's first topless hairdressing salon. Men visiting the "Mipples" salon in the Buckinghamshire village of New Bradwell get a haircut plus the chance to see the stylist without her top on. Owner Gary Mernagh said the salon was just meant to be "a bit of fun" -- but it has provoked a storm of protest in the village and calls for its closure.

Bill seeks to curb men's topless-bar reactions

(The Arizona Republic, Feb. 17, 2000) Topless bars might have to install a cold shower for their patrons if a House proposal regulating exotic dancing passes. That's because the proposal also seeks to regulate the sexual arousal of patrons, specifically men with erections -- and not just in topless bars but any liquor serving establishment. Male genitals "in a discernibly turgid state even if completely and opaquely covered" would violate the bill's prohibition on depicting sexual activity, a Class 1 misdemeanor. "So, if you get your Viagra dose wrong and go to the bar, you could be in violation of this law," said Rep. Steve May, R-Phoenix. "This is a poorly written bill, and we ought to be concerned about what we are passing."

The proposal, an amendment attached to an omnibus liquor bill (House Bill 2360), is a companion bill to Rep. Marilyn Jarrett's push to regulate dancing in all-nude cabarets that don't serve alcohol (HB 2297). The bills would keep customers and dancers from touching and would restrict tipping to a chaste hand-to-hand transaction. No putting bills in dancers' G-strings would be allowed. Both bills have passed out of the Government Reform Committee and will likely be heard on the House floor this week. Backers of the bills said the three-feet separation between dancer and customer is designed to prevent drug use and prostitution and disease. "Oh, I see how that will solve the problem," said Rep. Sue Gerard, R-Phoenix, sarcastically.

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