- Snakes on a Train! A clumsy smuggler (who managed to get away) failed to contain the dozens of king cobras and other snakes he was transporting from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Hanoi (probably to be sold illegally to restaurants). After panic broke out on the train and police were called, the snakes were collected and turned over to a sanctuary. (Upscale restaurants can charge as much as the equivalent of $500 for a meal of king cobra, beginning with the selection of the snake, and having it killed at tableside, on to a serving of a snake's-blood appetizer. In one survey, 84 percent of Hanoi's restaurants were serving illegal wild animals of some sort, including weasel, monitor lizard and porcupine.)
Latest Religious Messages
- The notorious Santa Croce monastery in Rome was closed in May (and converted to an ordinary church) on orders from the Vatican following reports about Sister Anna Nobili, a former lap-dancer who taught other nuns her skills and who was once seen lying spread-eagled before an altar clutching a crucifix. Santa Croce was also an embarrassment for its luxury hotel, which had become a mecca for celebrities visiting Rome.
- Pablo Borgen has apparently been living without neighbors' complaints in Lakeland, Fla., despite general knowledge that he is, according to sheriff's officials, one of the area's major heroin traffickers, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month. Following a drug sting in June, however, neighbors discovered another fact about Borgen: that he and some of his gang were each drawing $900 a month in food stamps. Formerly indifferent neighbors were outraged by Borgen's abuse of benefits, according to WTSP-TV. "Hang him by his toes," said one. "I've been out of work since February (2008). I lived for a year on nothing but ... food stamps."
It's good to be an Arizona State University student, where those 21 and older can earn $60 a night by getting drunk. Psychology professor Will Corbin, operating with National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grants, conducts studies of drunk students' memories, response times and decision-making processes through extensive questioning -- after he has raised their blood-alcohol level to precisely 0.08 percent (which Arizona regards as presumed-impaired for drivers). Students are served one type of vodka cocktail, three drinks' worth, in a bar-like room on campus, and after 15 minutes to let the alcohol be absorbed, the questioning and testing begin. (At the end of the night, taxis are called for the students.)
Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready For Prime Time: Ryan Letchford, 21, and Jeffrey Olson, 22, were arrested in Radnor, Pa., in July after they had broken into a police van for the purpose of taking gag photos of themselves as if they were under arrest. However, the men somehow locked themselves inside the van, and neither they nor a friend they had called to come help could figure out how to open the doors. Finally, they were forced to call 9-1-1. Police arrived, unlocked the van, arrested the men, and locked them back up - inside a cell.
In June, Eric Carrier, 23, of Hooksett, N.H., became the most recent person arrested for running a scam on a home-healthcare worker by pretending to be disabled and in need of someone to change his adult diapers. Carrier first told the woman that he was the father of a man disabled by a brain injury, but when she reported for work, it was Carrier himself wearing the diaper and who demanded changing and who allegedly indecently exposed himself.