In a November raid on a warehouse used by Red Command, Rio de Janeiro's most prominent drug-and-money-laundering gang, police discovered hundreds of freshly made copies of a CD, Prohibited Rap, which the gang's neighborhood lieutenants had intended as Christmas presents for their best cocaine customers. Lamented one gang member, "We were trying to do something special. What are we going to give our people now?"
The Times of London reported in December that Cheltenham, England, shopkeeper Samantha Munns punctured her thigh two weeks earlier when she fell on the nozzle of a balloon-inflating canister and that within seconds enough helium gas had entered the subcutaneous tissue in her leg and abdomen to cause them to swell painfully to twice their normal size. Munns was treated at Cheltenham General Hospital by physician Alison Moon, who said she could find only one similar case in medical textbooks and prescribed rest in order to let the gas dissipate.
On July 17, Michael Adams, 13, got his arm caught in an irrigation machine while working alone on his family's alfalfa farm near Crane, Oregon, and watched as the arm was severed just above the elbow. He picked up the arm, walked 100 yards to a vehicle and drove for help. Unable to steer well, he crashed, but walked to another vehicle, which he drove to a friend's home, and still comforted his distraught parents when they arrived. The arm was reattached, and Michael is doing fine.
Leading Economic Indicators
Russia's venerable National Philharmonic Orchestra, touring Great Britain in November with almost no financial support from the homeland, was forced to play for spare change outside a McDonald's restaurant in Swansea, Wales, taking in about $32.
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Authorities in Tokyo began investigating the giant finance company Nichiei in November after two debtors reported being pressured by Nichiei loan managers to sell their kidneys and other body parts to meet payment schedules. According to a separate lawsuit, another Nichiei employee demanded a debtor sell his daughter into prostitution. Nichiei is the country's leading lender to small businesses.
Twenty-eight of Warsaw's 42 prime-location public restrooms were leased in early 1999 to private companies on the condition that they renovate and maintain the toilets. The result, according to an August Associated Press dispatch, has been a variety of small shops operating out of the facilities (e.g., taverns, a veterinary clinic, and even the Lunch Time restaurant featuring a salad bar).
Also, in the Last Month...
A practice bomb accidentally fell off an F-16 flying over a golf course, making divots over a 300-yard swath (Phoenix). A 48-year-old ex-cop who played "Officer Friendly" teaching kids to avoid strangers was convicted of indecent exposure in a shopping mall (St. Paul, Minnesota). Two inmates who escaped from a prison in Tanzania soon gave up after being forced up a tree by lions. The $30,000 Presidents Pace horse race in Edmonton, Alberta, was won by the favorite, Clintons [sic] Cigar.