Odds and Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JUNE 28, 1999:
Dateline: New Zealand -- According to Wellington's Evening Post, which dug through some 35,000 pages of documents filed by the Inland Revenue Department for a parliamentary inquiry into whether tax inspectors are too tough, New Zealand's tax department is surprisingly lenient -- especially when it comes to tax deductions for prostitutes. Among the list of acceptable claims for sex workers were condoms, lubricants, gels, oils, lingerie, costumes and "sex toys" such as whipped cream and bubble bath. "Ordinary stockings are not tax deductible, but patterned stockings used for work are," the Post reported in its front page exposé. Although prostitution is technically illegal in New Zealand, the country's strict tax secrecy laws allow sex workers to describe their occupation as "contractor," "consultant," "commission agent" or "receptionist" and to pay taxes without fear of criminal prosecution for soliciting.
Dateline: Honduras -- Fed up with the disproportionate number of murders, rapes and drunken brawling incidents in their hometown, citizens of the tiny Honduran town of Punuare have voted overwhelmingly to close all their bars. Punuare, a rural village boasting 3,000 people and 26 watering holes, recorded 665 votes to shut down the bars last Sunday. Only 16 people voted to keep the booze flowing.
Dateline: Florida -- Last Tuesday night, rock band Guns 'N' Roses killed a man. ... Well, sort of. A raunchy karaoke rendition of the Guns 'N' Roses hit "Welcome to the Jungle" at an East-Central Florida bar resulted in a brawl in which one person was fatally stabbed and another was injured. The musical dispute began at the Smokehouse Saloon in Merrit Island when a patron performed a drunken version of "Welcome to the Jungle." The swozzled singer substituted his own obscene words for the original lyrics. Apparently several patrons, the karaoke operator, the bar owner and the bar owner's girlfriend all took offense to the blue tune and asked the man and his entourage to move along. The singer's friends exchanged harsh words with the complaining group, and the ensuing melee spilled out into the parking lot. When the dust settled, two of the Axl Rose-wannabe's group had been stabbed, one fatally.
Dateline: California -- In other bizarre, socially unacceptable behavior, Nicholas Vitalich, 24, was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly beat his 21-year-old girlfriend with a large tuna outside a San Diego supermarket. The two had apparently been arguing inside the grocery. According to witnesses, the girl exited the store, but was soon accosted by her tuna-toting beau. Witnesses told police that Vitalich "repeatedly hit her with this large fish." The fish was fresh, not frozen, but is still considered a deadly weapon. Vitalich was arrested a short distance from the supermarket.
Dateline: California -- El Segundo-based Mattel Toys, the world's largest toymaker, has bowed to complaints over their recent "Butterfly Art Barbie." Although the doll -- which features a small butterfly tattoo on her stomach -- will not be pulled from store shelves, the company has abandoned plans to include tattoos and piercings on the upcoming "Generation Girl" line of teen-targeted Barbie dolls. The "Butterfly Art Barbie" is a bestseller, but Mattel has logged "about a dozen" complaints regarding the tattooed toy.
Dateline: Iowa -- There may be a lot of disappointed tourists in Iowa this summer, thanks to a new state highway map. State officials are not recommending visitors book a vacation at the "Fort Dodge Recreational Facility" -- mainly because it is actually the new Iowa State Prison. "Oh, my God!" said State Transportation Director Darrel Rensink when he was handed a copy of the mislabeled map. Some 1.7 million copies have been issued so far. The prison does boast a basketball court and weight room, but it is not open to the public.