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China continues to prepare for the Olympics: Officials have issued a standard chanting routine that all Chinese spectators should employ during competitions (translated as “Olympics! Add fuel!” with two claps and then both thumbs up, then “China! Add fuel!” with two more claps and raised fists, according to a June Reuters dispatch). (“Add fuel” is apparently a traditional motivational chant in China.) Also preparing was Dr. Wei Sheng, the Chinese man who holds the Guinness Book record of sticking 1,790 needles in his head at one time. In June he stuck himself with 2,008 pins in the Olympic design and colors.

Cultural Diversity

Dozens of spas operate in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains region, exploiting the mineral springs in the area, and apparently colonic treatment is a specialty. In fact, in June, the Mashuk-Akva Term spa in Zheleznovodsk unveiled a large monument to the enema (an 800-pound brass syringe bulb held aloft by three angels). “Let’s beat constipation,” read one banner. Said the sculptor: “This device is eternal; it will never change. We could promote this brand, turn it into a franchise with souvenirs and awards for medical doctors.”

The reputation of the Japanese for being humble is falling to Western norms among primary-school parents, according to a June dispatch from Tokyo in The Times of London. “Across Japan, teachers are reporting an astonishing change in the character of parents” as they push for their children’s “rights.” In one school’s performance of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” there were 25 Snow Whites after “monster parents” bullied officials into admitting that it was not fair to have just one kid in the title role.

His countrymen are too polite, wrote French doctor Frederic Saldmann in his new book (translated as “Spring Cleaning”) and can improve their health by uninhibitedly embracing their bodily functions that he said too many Frenchmen suppress. According to a May dispatch from Paris in London’s Daily Telegraph, Saldmann wrote that the intestines, stomach and esophagus benefit if gas is expelled promptly and pores freely excrete toxins. In fact, he wrote, doing away with antiperspirants also facilitates “a certain number of messages that are potentially very attractive to the opposite sex.”

A 50-year-old woman, married for 30 years, asked for a divorce last October (according to the Al-Arabiya news Web site in Dubai) because her husband had peeked at her face under her veil as she slept. The man apologized and said he would never do it again, but she said the customs of her village (near the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt) dictate that he had contaminated the marriage by seeing her face.

Questionable Judgments

A bus service that shuttles gamblers from Colorado Springs to nearby mountain-town casinos has been awarded $382,000 in Homeland Security anti-terrorism grants, according to a May report by the Colorado Springs Gazette. Federal officials said the grants were part of the Infrastructure Protection Activities program, with the money used for “vehicle security,” GPS systems and training drivers, which means, according to a bus company official, teaching them “to be aware of their surroundings, of what’s unusual and the people on board.”

Officials in Chongqing, China, abruptly shut down the lifestyle magazine New Travel Weekly in May after it published a photo spread of sexy women in lingerie posing in the rubble at one of the country’s recent earthquake sites. The editorial staff was fired and the company ordered into “rectification,” which is apparently the process of self-examination of what in the world the company might have been thinking.

You’ve Been Left Behind LLC has begun offering an e-mail service to Christians who are preparing for the Rapture (in which all “true” Christians ascend to heaven to meet the Lord). Since the Rapture may commence suddenly, those chosen may have to depart without saying goodbye to their less worthy friends and besides will leave their property behind during the ensuing seven years before Armageddon. For $40 a year, Christians can maintain an e-mail list of up to 62 people who would be notified and can store encrypted electronic documents, such as PIN numbers and powers of attorney. “There won’t be any bodies,” the Web site warns, pointing out an advantage of its service, “so probate court (would) take (all) seven years (just) to clear your assets to your next of kin.”

Fine Points of the Law

“Everyone knows what an ankle is,” said an official of the association of Texas medical doctors. Not so, said a lawyer representing Texas podiatrists: “You don’t have an ankle. The foot actually includes the ankle.” A state appeals court in March sided with the medical doctors, but the podiatrists say it’s not over yet and that they may continue to treat ankles even though they are licensed to work only on feet.

When the recent Midwest rains hit Wisconsin, Lake Delton overflowed and completely drained out, into the lower-lying Wisconsin River, and the owner of a Lake Delton resort filed an insurance claim for “loss of income” since guests, realizing there was no “lake,” had canceled their plans. So far, the resort’s insurer has refused to pay because the whole thing was started by uninsured “flooding,” even though the only reason for income loss is that Lake Delton is dry.

People With Issues

Since 2004 the Palmerton Area (Pa.) School Board has paid $45,000 for the special education of Rebecca Maykish, 17, who has an apparently devastating fear of “school,” dating back to fourth grade. The mere act of spending time in a classroom, her mother says, causes her to cry nonstop for hours. The board, acknowledging her “generalized anxiety disorder,” agreed to accommodate her illness by specially funding things broadly educational or therapeutic, and so far that includes not only tutors and software but modeling classes and travel, to build her self-esteem. The Morning Call of Allentown reported in May that, with the board’s funds depleted, and Rebecca’s continuing to drop out shortly after each school year begins, the government has begun to impose truancy fines on her mother.

Least Competent People

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Police quickly made an arrest in Hughes, Ark. (pop. 1,800) in May after a Pepsi machine was stolen from a liquor store; the distinct dolly tracks led from the store to the man’s home, and besides, he had left the machine in his front yard. (2) The armed robber of a Fifth Third Bank in Orlando, Fla., is still at large, but based on the surveillance video, a sheriff’s detective said the man was “probably not familiar with handguns” because he appeared to be pointing his at himself during the robbery.

Anne Greer filed a lawsuit in June against Winter Park, Fla., dentist Wesley Meyers over the death of her father during procedures to secure his dentures with implants. During av October 2006 visit, Meyers accidentally dropped a screwdriver down the patient’s throat, which required a colonoscopy to remove. The man returned the following year to give Meyers another chance and Meyers accidentally dropped a torque wrench down his throat, creating problems that ultimately proved fatal.