THIS WEEK IN BABY-TOSSING
India has supposedly outlawed the “baby-tossing” religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods’ blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a bedsheet appears below to catch the unharmed baby.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
More federal civilian employees have “arrest and firearms authority” than the total number of active-duty U.S. Marines, according to a June report by the organization Open The Books, which claims to have tallied line-by-line expenditures across the government. Several agencies (including the IRS and EPA) purchase assault weapons and other military-grade equipment (camouflage, night-vision goggles, 30-round magazines) for their agents, and even the Small Business Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Education buy their agents guns and ammo.
LET’S PLAY IMMIGRATION BALL!
San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was traded on July 23 to the Toronto Blue Jays–in the middle of a series between the Padres and the Blue Jays in Toronto. Normally, such a player would merely gather his belongings and walk down the hall to the other team’s locker room. However, while Canada treats Blue Jays’ opponents as “visitors,” Blue Jays players, themselves, are Canadian employees, and if not residents must have work permits. Upton had to leave the stadium and drive to Lewiston, New York, which is the closest place he could find to apply to re-enter Canada properly. (He made it back by game time.)
SHREWD TOURISM CAMPAIGNS
Since Bulgaria, on Romania’s southern border, lies close to Romania’s iconic Transylvania region, Bulgarian tourism officials have begun marketing their own vampire tourism industry–stepped up following a 2014 archaeological find of a 4th-century “graveyard” of adolescents with iron stakes through their chests. And the new tourism minister of Thailand is threatening to close down the lucrative sex business in Bangkok and Pattaya, even with the country still rallying from a 2014 near-recession. Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul insisted that visitors are not interested in “such a thing [as sex]” but come for Thailand’s “beautiful” culture.
PAID TO GO AWAY
Sports Illustrated noted in May that some universities are still paying out millions of dollars to failed coaches who had managed to secure big contracts in more optimistic times. Notre Dame’s largest athletic payout in 2014 was the $2.05 million to ex-football coach Charlie Weis–five years after he had been fired. That ended Weis’s Notre Dame contract (which paid him $15 million post-dismissal), but he is still drawing several million dollars from the University of Kansas despite having been let go there, also.
THE CONTINUING CRISIS
A year-long, nationwide investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (reporting in May) found more than 2,400 doctors penalized for sexually abusing their patients–with state medical boards ultimately allowing more than half to continue practicing medicine. Some doctors, a reporter noted, are among “the most prolific sex offenders in the country,” with “hundreds” of victims. And District Judge Joseph Boeckmann (in Arkansas’s rural Cross County) resigned in May after the state Judicial Discipline committee found as many as 4,500 nude or semi-nude photos of young men who had been before Boeckmann in court. (Some were naked, being paddled by Boeckmann, who trolled for victims by writing young men notes offering a “community service” option).
FOR GOOD MEASURE
Rhys Holman pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in Melbourne, Australia, in July for shooting 53 bullets into his brother’s Xbox. (The brother had urinated on Holman’s car.) And Mauricio Morales-Caceres, 24, was sentenced to life in prison by a Montgomery County, Maryland, judge in July following his April conviction for fatally stabbing a “friend” 89 times.
Knoxville, Tennessee, firefighters were called to a home in July when a woman tried to barbecue brisket in her bathroom–and, in addition to losing control of the flame, melted her fiberglass bathtub. Firefighters limited the damage–by turning on the shower. And one day earlier, in Union, South Carolina, a 33-year-old woman called police to her home, claiming that she had fallen asleep on her couch with her “upper plate” in her mouth, but that when she awoke, it was gone and that she suspects a teeth-napping intruder.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE DRUNK
The owner of the Howl At The Moon Bar in Gold Coast, Australia, released surveillance video of a July break-in (later inspiring the perpetrator to turn himself in), according to the Brisbane Times. The man is seen trying to enter the locked bar at 3am, then tossing a beer keg at a glass door three times, finally creating a hole large enough to climb through, acrobatically, and fall to the floor (lit cigarette remaining firmly between his lips). Once inside, he stood at the bar, apparently waiting for someone to take his order. When no one came, he meekly left through the same door. The owner said nothing was taken, and nothing else was damaged.