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It's never sunny in North Korea
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It's Never Sunny in North Korea

• North Korea's World Cup adventure began auspiciously with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to a superior Brazil team, leading the government to release photographs of the North Korean coach supposedly receiving long-distance telepathic strategy signals during the game from Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il. With the country's hopes up, the team was embarrassed in two subsequent games and dispatched from the tournament. Back home in July, the players were paraded into the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, where for six hours, they were publicly denounced and taunted. Coach Kim Jong-huh is said to fear an eventual violent end.

• Just before the World Cup matches, North Korea issued a public demand for compensation, blaming the United States for almost every single misfortune suffered by the country in the last 65 years. Its official news agency assigned the U.S. responsibility for 5 million people injured, kidnapped, missing or killed -- as well as for economic damages resulting from U.S.-led trade sanctions. According to the news agency, America can atone for the losses by sending North Korea $65 trillion.

Woody Allen Joke Come to Life

Shirley Anderson, 71, is suing her son Ken, 46, in Vancouver, British Columbia, for parental support -- even though she and his father had abandoned him when he was 15 (having one day just picked up and moved and, as in Mr. Allen's joke, "left no forwarding address"). An archaic 1922 law in British Columbia obligates adult children to support "dependent" parents, and in 2000, Shirley sued, demanding $350(Cdn) per month each from Ken, who is a trucker, and his four siblings (three of whom were at least 17 when the parents left and not considered "abandoned"). A judge awarded token interim support pending a final resolution, which after years of paperwork and delay was to come in early August but has been postponed once again.

The Continuing Crisis

• We Have Rules! A team of anglers from Hatteras, N.C., had first place wrapped up in the prestigious Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in June, salivating over their $1,231,575 prize money (including a bonus for single-largest catch), when judges discovered that one member of the Hatteras crew, Peter Wann, had not gotten a $30 North Carolina coastal recreational fishing license before their boat pushed off that day. Under the rules, the entire team was disqualified, and the runner-up, from Cape Carteret, N.C., got the money.

• They Don't Make "Drug Lords" Like They Used To: (1) Widely feared Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke was arrested in June and extradited to New York City after being picked up wearing women's clothes and a 1970s-style Afro wig too small for his head (with a pink wig on standby). The Jamaica Observer reported that Coke wet his pants as he was arrested. (2) Longtime South African drug lord Fadwaan "Fat" Murphy, speaking at a bail hearing in January in Cape Town, disclosed that he was born a hermaphrodite and has a separate identity ("Hilary"), which became relevant when arresting officers discovered that Murphy was wearing a strap-on penis. Nonetheless, he insists he is a man: "I look like a man. I talk like a man. I am a man."

-- "(A) new high point" in electoral politics in Philadelphia occurred this spring, according to the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News, when openly gay state Rep. Babette Josephs "outed" her primary opponent Gregg Kravitz as straight. According to Josephs, the heterosexual Kravitz was posing in Josephs' gay-friendly 182nd District as bi-sexual. Kravitz said he is "attracted" to both men and women and found Josephs' comments offensive.

• Charmed Lives: (1) Recently while visiting her childhood home of Bishop, Texas, Joan Ginther won a Texas lottery drawing for the fourth time, taking home a $10 million first prize to lift her career Texas lottery winnings to $20.4 million. (By then, she had already moved to Las Vegas.) (2) At the other end of luck, British farm worker Mick Wilary, 58, was hospitalized in April after machinery crushed both his legs. According to the Daily Telegraph, Wilary has also had his ankles broken (twice), ribs cracked, finger cut off, head split open, collarbone broken and fingers broken, and been stabbed, and been frequently kicked by livestock.

• Thinking Large: (1) Northern Ireland farmer William Taylor introduced his prototype Livestock Power Mill recently and claimed that the world's 1.3 billion cattle, using treadmills for eight hours a day, could produce 6 percent of the world's electricity requirement. (The cow must keep walking to avoid sliding down an incline.) (2) California gubernatorial candidate Douglas Hughes proposed this year to solve the state's child-molestation problem by developing an island 30 miles off the Santa Barbara coast to contain the state's pedophiles, who would, according to The Daily Caller, "write their own constitution, build their own infrastructure and maintain a society."

• Avoiding Marriage, the Hard Way: A female lawyer from Puri, India, in her mid-30s told The Times of India in July that she recently underwent gender-reassignment surgery in part to avoid the male-female marriage that her parents were arranging for her: "I did not want a family life which is being forced on girls in our society."

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Justin Johnson, 21, was arrested in Bloomfield, Ind., in July after failing to get a Bloomfield State Bank branch to cash his bogus check for $1 million, which he presented to a teller in the bank's drive-through window. Optimistic, he had handed over his driver's license for ID along with the check. (2) Scot Davis, 52, was charged with robbing the All in the Family bar in Des Moines, Iowa, in March. Davis, a contractor who is friends with bartender Gladys York, had spent the evening at the bar passing out business cards before leaving. Said York, when Davis re-appeared carrying a .22-caliber rifle and demanding money, "Scot, What the (expletive)?" Said an officer, "This is not the hardest case our detectives have ever had to investigate."

A News of the Weird Classic (October 1989)

Ron Kravitz, 22, filed a lawsuit in June (1989) against Mickey Mantle Sports Productions Inc., for injuries he suffered the previous September while watching a company baseball video in his den to improve base-stealing technique. While attempting to "beat" Tom Seaver's pickoff throw to "first base," he crashed into a table, resulting in torn ligaments and a severed tendon, which he thought was the company's fault. cs