Afghan nationals who work at NATO’s Kandahar Airfield must use their own “separate but equal” toilet facilities, according to a March dispatch in Toronto’s Globe & Mail. The American officer in charge of administrative contracts said the policy was based on hygiene, in that some locals customarily stand on toilet seats and then squat down, which he said creates unusual messes, but also on some Muslims’ carelessness in cleaning themselves in preparation for prayer, when their water bottles sometimes fall in and have to be fished out.
MOVIE INDUSTRY GOES TO THE DOGS
In April, two Labrador retrievers named Lucky and Flo sniffed out another shipment of pirated DVDs (worth about $435,000) in a building in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. It was at least the second such bust since mid-March, when the U.S. Motion Picture Association of America loaned the dogs to Malaysian authorities because they can detect the polycarbonate and unique chemicals in the discs. So successful are Lucky and Flo that an unspecified crime gang has reportedly put out a contract on them.
CUTTING EDGE SCIENCE
American researchers in West Africa believe they’ve found the first instance of an animal (other than humans) building a multi-step weapon, after observing wild chimpanzees grab sticks from one to four feet long, sharpen the ends with their teeth, and murderously jab them into deep tree hollows where delicious bush babies may be nesting. Writing in the journal Current Biology, the team even reported observing the chimps tasting the tips after the stabs, to ascertain whether they had actually located a prey. One of the researchers said the jabbing reminded her of the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Researchers at the Second University of Naples (Caserta, Italy) recently reported the case of a 65-year-old man who, because of damage to the fronto-temporal region of his brain, habitually assumes an identity appropriate to his setting, a behavior reminiscent of the Woody Allen character Zelig. The researchers said the man lacks awareness about his tendency to switch roles and in fact suffers from amnesia about his life since the brain damage, according to a March report by the British Psychological Society.
NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES
A $60,000 mattress from the Swedish manufacturer Hastens, introduced to the United States recently for people who might believe that they’re so special that they’re entitled to a luxuriously rejuvenating night’s sleep; and Holy Drinking Water in half-liter bottles, from Wayne Enterprises of Linden, Calif., which supposedly obtained blessings from Catholic and Anglican priests for the ordinary purified water.
DO ASK, DO TELL
Army drill sergeant Edmundo Estrada, 35, was arraigned in January in Hampton, Va., on charges of indecent assault, on a complaint by a young subordinate who said Estrada prescribed a confidence-building regimen in which the two men role-played from a pornographic movie, with the trainee dressing as a Superman character and Estrada performing sexual acts on him. According to the arrest affidavit, when Estrada “torture[d]” the trainee, the man was to respond by “moaning.” Another trainee accused Estrada of trying to photograph his squad bare-chested, claiming he needed to document their physical growth. MTW