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LEAD STORY: Sales of bottled water for dogs are growing, according to a March Wall Street Journal report, spurred not only by sudden concern about vitamin deficiency but apparent certainty among some owners that their pets find tap water disagreeable and thus are dangerously at risk of dehydration. Of course, veterinarians cited by the Journal are puzzled by this recent rejection of municipal water and suggest it might be the smell of the food bowl rather than a new dog generation's preference for fine beverages.

The Unruly Mob: On Thika Highway in Nairobi, Kenya, in February, frenzied and hungry villagers brawled for access to meat from a baby hippopotamus that had been killed by a passing vehicle. Amid the kicking and punching, two people were stabbed. Two weeks earlier, in the London suburb of Edmonton, 6,000 Ikea customers rioted, vying for on-sale sofas and other bargains. Said one customer, "There were people diving on sofas" and "tugging at two different sides of the same sofa and shouting 'mine, mine.'"

Protests: In London, 35 Greenpeace protesters rushed onto the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in February, intending to paralyze oil trading on the day the Kyoto environmental initiative took effect, but the traders turned on them, punching and kicking the protesters until they ran for their lives. Said one protester, "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view." And New Zealand computer technician Simon Oosterman, 24, who says he goes naked everywhere in public to protest society's dependence on the automobile, paused outside an Auckland district courtroom in February, took clothing from his backpack, and got dressed to step inside to enter his not-guilty plea to an earlier charge of indecent exposure.

Florida Children At Risk: After several incidents of teacher-student sex in Florida, it was almost a relief in January that Perry, Fla., teacher Natalie Whalen, 58, was accused only of biting a student (who had tried to take a CD player from her desk) or that, in February, Orlando high school chemistry teacher Perry Pieski, 42, was accused only of teaching his class how to make a bomb. But the crisis returned in March when a man revealed in a divorce deposition that not only had he had trysts with his son's Boynton Beach elementary school music teacher, Carol Flannigan, but so had the son.

Oops!: The Transportation Security Administration removed a screener from Newark Liberty International Airport in February, and scheduled retraining after a passenger reported that she had inadvertently been allowed to pass a checkpoint with a butcher knife in her purse. The passenger, Katrina Bell, 27, was not charged with a crime because she had merely forgotten about the knife, having put it there earlier in the week before heading out on a "blind date." In a suburb of Houston in February, a 16-year-old boy was charged with shooting his father, Jacob Hughes, 43, because he mistakenly believed Dad was beating up Mom. However (according to KPRC-TV), sheriff's deputies, after investigating the alleged domestic abuse, said the couple were merely having robust sex, during which the mother apparently got really loud, which awakened and frightened the boy and his younger brother.

People Different From Us: Dallas artist James Sooy, 22, weary of his eyeglasses constantly slipping down his nose, had a practical piercing done in December, inserting a bar through the upper bridge of his nose and having his prescription lenses affixed to it. Sooy seemed to believe there was money to be made with the idea, but an optometrist interviewed by the Houston Chronicle said prescriptions would be harder to adjust "if you have a hole in your face," and a Houston body-modification technician said work like Sooy's would require a longer-than-normal healing time.

Testicles in the News: In February, Amanda Monti, 24, of Birkenhead, England, was sentenced to 30 months in jail for ripping off one of her ex-boyfriend's testicles with her bare hands in a rage over his refusal to have sex. (According to witnesses, Monti briefly hid the testicle in her mouth, but a friend retrieved it and handed it back to the man, saying, "That's yours.") Also in February, Welsh rugby fan Geoff Huish, 26, was so certain Wales would lose to England that he told club patrons in Caerphilly that he'd "cut [his] balls off" if Wales won. Immediately following Wales' 11-9 victory, Huish went home, fulfilled his promise, and walked, gingerly, back to the club to show that he was a man of his word.

© 2005 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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