Wacky Wire Stories – July 28, 2003-Stories too Wild, Wacky or Interesting to Be Dumped in Cyber Trash

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”Gang Boss Killed by Parrot”

SYDNEY — A Scottish-born underworld boss who survived a bombing, shooting, and a heart attack has died of pneumonia from a parrot.


James McCartney Anderson, who left Scotland for Australia, was well known to police in Sydney, where he managed bars, nightclubs and strip clubs.

He was also a suspect in one of Australia’s greatest unsolved murders, when a woman went missing after visiting one of his clubs, the Glasgow Daily Record reported Saturday.

Despite surviving several brushes with death, “Big Jim” caught an infection after feeding rosell parrots a few weeks ago.

It developed into avian pneumonia and hospital doctors treating him discovered that the 73-year-old was suffering from cancer. He died just days later.

The newspaper said while Anderson had a fearsome temper, he mostly maintained a cheery disposition. His typical farewell was, “Remember, mate, every day’s a bonus.”

”Naked Austrian Statue Shocks Mayor”

SALZBURG, Austria — Even Prince Charles may find it hard to keep a stiff British upper lip as he passes by the giant statue during his weekend trip to Salzburg, Austria.

That is what is worrying Salzburg Mayor Heinz Schaden as he prepares to receive the heir to the British throne, who is well-heeled in the art of British understatement, BBC reports.

The cause of His Honor’s worry?

The statue, unveiled Friday, is named “Arc de Triomphe.” It depicts a naked man bending over backwards with his hands on the ground, while his manhood, shown in two-feet long erection, thrusts skyward.

Mayor Schaden says it would be impossible for Prince Charles to avoid seeing the figure when he arrives in the city of Mozart’s birth. He wants the sculpture taken down immediately.

It seems no one sought the mayor’s permission to put up the art. The artists who did the work say the piece has a royal theme about it with the majestic arch of the man bending over.

”Medical Center is Really a Hair Salon”

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand-funded trust for Maori people is paying for a medical center but it is, in fact, a hair salon.

The Dominion Post reported the building, leased for 10 cents a year to a Maori trust to provide health services is being used instead as a hairdressing salon by the sister of the trust’s chief executive.

Former employees of Waipukurau-based Te Whatuiapiti Trust, which receives more than $800,000 (USD470,000) a year in taxpayer funding to improve Maori health, say the trust is rife with nepotism.

The chief executive of Te Whatuiapiti Trust is former dental nurse Brenda Kupa-White. Her brother, former sheep shearer Russell Kupa, is the chairman.

Among trust employees are Kupa, two other sisters, his wife and his stepfather.

Kupa told an employee he once counseled a psychiatric patient by telling him to sit down before he knocked him down.

”Midnight Might have Psychological Problems”

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — A Simi Valley thieving cat might be suffering psychological problems – but he’s certainly is causing problems for his owners and their neighbors.

The Simi Valley Star says Midnight, the marauding four-legged street pirate, nightly plunders garages, sheds, back yards and patios. He proudly carries home to his distressed owners, Sue and Richard Boyd, various articles of feline value.

Sue Boyd told the newspaper: “We wake up in the morning and go out and there’s stuff under the truck. The cat leaves things all over. We don’t want these things.”

Midnight apparently likes apparel — shoes, hats, shirts, panties — all of which his owners daily put in a bag and hang from their mailbox so neighbors can reclaim missing items.

A animal behavior psychologist says one solution might be to give the klepto cat an obsessive-compulsive medication.

The Boyds are considering giving Midnight a feline obsessive-compulsive medication but, for now, “All we can do is laugh.”

”Playboy: Men Subscribe for the Articles?”

NEW YORK — Playboy Magazine is celebrating its 50th birthday by selling some of its assets, including proofs of the first James Bond novel, published in Playboy in 1963.

The London Telegraph said Playboy is not only well known for its women, but for its literature as well. The magazine, over the years, has featured such authors as Ian Fleming, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke.

And as part of its 50th anniversary, more than 300
Playboy items will be auctioned at Christie’s in New York. Bidders at the Dec. 17 auction are expected to offer as much as $25,000 for some items.

Included in the auction will be more than 70 original prints of photographs, such as an early portrait of Marilyn Monroe and John Derek’s nude picture of his wife, Bo, which is expected to gain up to $7,000 in bids.

Other paintings, drawings and cartoons used to illustrate the magazine over the 50 years are included in the sale.

”Menopause Researchers Turn to Ewes”

BOULDER, Colo. — Researchers studying menopause are increasingly using sheep in clinical studies because sheep experience many of the same problems as humans.

Colorado State University research projects verify that under induced menopause sheep behave much like menopausal women.

When their ovaries are removed, older ewes experience hot flashes, eye trouble, bone density loss and other symptoms of menopause.

That means research that would benefit menopausal and post-menopausal women, such as about estrogen replacement therapy, osteoporosis treatments, and prevention of arthritis and sight-inhibiting changes can be conducted on ewes.

As an example, a Colorado State University study measured hot flashes with tiny embedded temperature loggers in ewes. It showed that estrogen replacement results in milder and less frequent hot flashes. That phenomenon was previously unreported in other animals with the exception of laboratory rats with their ovaries removed or in research monkeys.

”Airport Detector Beeps Scanning Manatee”

SARASOTA, Fla. — Airport security went underwater in Florida to locate a medical thermometer lodged in a manatee.

Lab workers at the Mote Marine Laboraties in Sarasota fed two dime-sized thermometers to Buffett, a 1,800-pound manatee to record his intestinal temperature July 1.

They expected him to pass them both within eight days, but only one appeared, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Saturday.

Manatee expert Debborah Colbert came up with the idea of using an airport metal-detecting wand to determine where the missing thermometer was exactly.

So Chris Kelleher of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport agreed to get into Buffett’s tank and wand him over.

The thermometer was found deep inside, and near the end of Buffett’s intestinal tract. He eventually passed the gadget July 14 reassuring the scientists who feared it would cause an infection.

”Mobile Phones Come to Iraq”

BAGHDAD — Mobile phone networks are springing up in Iraq even before occupation authorities have gotten round to handing out official licenses.

Iraq’s communications systems have been devastated, first by 12 years of sanctions and then by the bombings in the Iraq war.

At present, only two official mobile networks exist — one, in Baghdad, is operated by MCI by bankrupt U.S. telecom firm WorldCom which is used for U.S. personnel, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The other covers the south and is run by MTC-Vodafone, a consortium operated out of Kuwait.

Both are based on the GSM mobile standard, used by 60 million people in 20 neighboring Arab countries and also by about 70 percent of mobile users worldwide, according to the BBC.

”New Magazine Shows What America is Like”

WASHINGTON — A new magazine sponsored by the U.S. government is intended to show people in the Mideast what America is really like, officials say.

The magazine, called Hi, is funded by $4.2 million from the U.S. State Department.

Christopher Ross, the department’s senior adviser for the Arab world on public diplomacy said officials “looked for ways to rebuild a two-way dialogue” with Arab countries after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and it was hoped the magazine would help in that effort.

The first edition of the magazine, published completely in Arabic, is just off the presses. It is aimed at readers 18 to 35.

Hi’s editorial consultant is Samir Husni, a University of Mississippi journalism professor.

“It gives me an opportunity to serve my adopted country in a way I never dreamed I would do, in my native language,” said Husni, who is from Lebanon.

Beginning this month, 50,000 copies of the magazine are being distributed monthly to offices and newsstands across the Middle East.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International. All rights reserved.