(1) April Gaede, who four years ago guided her teenage daughters, Lynx and Lamb (performing as "Prussian Blue"), to a brief music career singing neo-Nazi songs, announced a new project recently on the white nationalist Web site Stormfront.org. She offers a no-fee matchmaking service to fertile Aryans, hoping to encourage marriage and baby-making -- to help white people keep up with rapidly procreating minorities. (2) Don "Moose" Lewis announced plans in January for a 12-city pro basketball league composed only of white players (natural-born U.S. citizens, whose parents are both Caucasian). Lewis denied any "racism," explaining to the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle that whites simply like "fundamental" basketball and not "street ball" ("flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch").
• Computer-obsessed Japanese nerds' latest fancy is Love Plus, a Nintendo DS dating simulation that allows them a young, attractive, mouthy, teenage digital "girlfriend" who begs for attention. The touch-screen lover demands hand-holding, kissing and having sweet nothings whispered in her ear. How can men so easily become addicted to such vicarious experiences? Said one reluctant player, "Koh," to the BoingBoing blog,"(It) comes down to the fact that men are simple." (In December, Reuters reported that Japanese player SAL9000 had eloped to the Philippines with his Love Plus girlfriend, had himself photographed with her at romantic sites -- clutching the screen showing her image -- and then took her through a marriage ceremony.)
• As vultures approach extinction in South Africa, they grow in value among local "traditional" communities for their magical abilities. Specks of a vulture's brain, sprinkled on mud and smoked, can supposedly ward off evil and bring winning lottery numbers. One Johannesburg vendor told Agence France-Presse in December that the specks even work when daubed on dogs' noses, enabling them to extend their scenting power.
Latest Religious Messages
• A Montana-based sect is fighting to remain viable, six months after the death of its "Mother," the Jesus-channeling Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Several aspirants have tried to claim her mantle, but the sect's council of elders found them all to be charlatans, and membership rolls have dwindled. The church was similarly challenged in 1990, when Mother forecast nuclear doomsday and financed the construction of large underground bunkers on a mountainside north of Yellowstone National Park (which are still available). The council is having trouble, especially, finding volunteers to transcribe the 22,000 hours of video and audio in which Mother set out the justifications for the sect.
• Televangelist Rod Parsley informed his flock in December that he urgently needed several million dollars because of financial problems attributed directly to Satan. According to a report in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Parsley's World Harvest Church was facing a $3 million deficit for the quarter ending in December after earlier in the year paying $3.1 million to settle a lawsuit over its day-care center's having too brutally spanked a boy. Wrote Parsley, "Will you help me take back what the devil stole?"
• Crimestopper: (1) In Frisco, Texas, in January, boutique owner Marian Chadwick, who was about to be robbed at gunpoint by a hooded intruder, pointed her finger at him and said: "In the name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the Holy Spirit." The man appeared stunned, then turned and walked out empty-handed, cursing. (2) A 20-year veteran Houston cop who wears badge number 666 told the Houston Chronicle in a December profile that once, 17 years ago, a dangerous perp who had been defiant that he would not be captured suddenly dropped to his knees and surrendered. He had glanced at the badge. Said he, "I ain't fighting the devil."
• In Thailand, the endangered status of crocodiles and elephants is largely ignored by the public, who are instead enthralled with the giant pandas and their cub on loan from China. (There is even a 24-hour cable TV "panda channel.") At several of the country's zoos, officials now regularly paint their crocodiles and elephants in panda colors (with harmlessly washable paint) to call attention to their plight. Even though the paint must be reapplied daily, "It's impossible not to do it now," said one croc handler for a December Wall Street Journal dispatch. "People expect it."
• Only four days after the January earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships made a port call at a private enclave about 60 miles up Haiti's coastline from ground zero, turning loose hundreds of frolickers for "jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks," according to a report in London's The Guardian. Haitian guards employed by the cruise line manned the resort's 12-foot-high fences, but about a third of the passengers still declined to leave the ships, too upset by the unfolding disaster nearby to enjoy themselves. Royal Caribbean said it had made a large donation to the rescue effort and promised, also, to send proceeds from the port's thriving craft stores.
• The Need for Parental Licensing: In January, as punishment for her 12-year-old son's bad grade in school, a Warm Springs, Ga., mother allegedly forced the boy to club his pet hamster to death with a hammer. Lynn Middlebrooks Geter, 38, was arrested after the kid told his teacher, who called the state children's services agency.
Unless Stephen Gough, 50, changes his mind about wearing pants, he risks spending the rest of his life behind bars, according to a January ruling of Scotland's Perth Sheriff Court. Gough, Britain's "naked rambler," is a freelance nudist who for years has roamed the United Kingdom countryside, interrupted by numerous jail stints for violating public decency. He was released from Perth Prison in December after his latest stay, but seconds later shucked his clothes and was re-arrested. (In his most recent trial, Gough acted as his own lawyer and somehow persuaded an overly fair judge to let him be naked in court.)
Least Competent Criminal
Shane Williams-Allen, 19, was arrested in Tavares, Fla., in January and charged with burglarizing an unmarked police car and stealing several items, including handcuffs and a Taser gun. Eventually, Williams-Allen called the police for help after he accidentally cuffed himself, and officers believe he also accidentally Tasered himself.