Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
AUGUST 16, 1999:
Dateline: Malaysia -- Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has withdrawn their impotence drug Viagra as a potential prize in a Far Eastern golf tournament. Organizers of the Chequers Golf Classic in Putrajaya, Malaysia, had planned to give a year's supply of Viagra to the first two players to score a "hole in one" at the tournament. "We do not want it misunderstood that we are treating [erectile dysfunction] lightly," Pfizer Malaysia managing director Radzmi Rahmat told a local newspaper. The company will now donate a cash prize instead.
Dateline: Tanzania -- A police report issued last Tuesday out of Dar Es Salaam claims that more than 350 people have been killed by angry villagers in Tanzania in the last year and a half after being accused of being witches or wizards. Tanzania's Criminal Investigation Department estimates that an average of 21 superstition-based murders are committed each month. The murdered people were most often old men or women accused of practicing witchcraft by killing loved ones, inflicting curses, causing businesses to fail or reducing crop harvests. Witchcraft murders have been reported recently in southern Tanzania and have been linked to a cross-border trade in human skin. The skin is believed to protect homes from demons and, when used in certain rituals, to increase harvests and lure clients to shops.
Dateline: Egypt -- Egyptian police have arrested a man known as an exorcist after he beat a woman to death in an effort to rid her of demons. Hamed Mohammad, 45, was detained by police in Cairo last Monday after the family of 40-year-old housewife Satan Amer found her dead following a session with the self-proclaimed exorcist. Amer suffered from epilepsy and, after local doctors failed to cure her, the woman's family apparently sought the help of Mohammad. Mohammad locked Amer in a room and proceeded to beat her to death with a large stick in an attempt to rid her of the "four spirits" thought to be causing her fits. On the plus side, the demons seem to have left the woman.
Dateline: Pennsylvania -- It was a routine speeding stop outside Washington, Pa., until State Trooper Jeffrey Seeley asked the car's nervous-looking passenger about drugs or guns -- and the man fainted dead away. The incident began when Seeley clocked a sedan on Interstate 70 passing at 62 mph in a 55 mph zone. The officer had decided to simply write the driver a warning, but changed his mind when the driver and his backseat passenger began acting "very antsy." The alert trooper ordered the two to step out of the vehicle and then asked Marlon Matez Lee, the backseat passenger who had apparently rented the vehicle, if there were any drugs or guns in the car. According to Seeley, Lee "just rolled right back over the guardrail." Tipped off by the passed-out passenger, Seeley searched the vehicle's trunk and promptly came up with 10 kilograms of cocaine.
Dateline: Dallas -- Researchers in a Dallas Zoo project have been trying to lure about 100 isolated ocelots in south Texas to a single spot so the few remaining endangered animals will breed with each other. According to Cynthia Bennett, the zoo's research curator, ocelot poop, snake skin and snake musk were all used with varying degrees of response. None of those odorous offerings, however, did the trick quite as well as a liberal sprinkling of Calvin Klein's Obsession. The men's cologne apparently lured the cats into a frenzy of amorous behavior. One particular seven-year-old female named Chula seemed especially susceptible. "She'd rub up against it. She'd roll in it. She'd lay on it. It was almost embarrassing," said Bennett. Zoo officials did inform the offices of fashion figure Calvin Klein of their results. According to Ms. Bennett, "They thought it was cute."