Odds and Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JANUARY 10, 2000:
Dateline: Iran -- Despite the fact that more than 10 years have passed since late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruho Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for the death of British author Salman Rushdie, over 500 Islamic fundamentalists last week pledged to sell one of their kidneys to pay for Rushdie's murder. According to hardline Iranian newspaper reports, the organ drive was started by the Basij volunteer militia force in the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Mashhad and has been endorsed by officials of the elite Revolutionary Guards. In an attempt to normalize relations with Britain, Iran tried last year to distance itself from the $2.8 million bounty offered by an Iranian Islamic foundation to carry out Khomeini's decree. Despite attempts by Iran's current reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, to bury the fatwa issue, some 508 people, including six Muslims from countries outside Iran, have signed up for the "Kidneys for Killing" program. Organizers are planning an Internet campaign to seek worldwide support. Selling organs is legal in Iran and is overseen by a state organs bank.
Dateline: Chile -- Santa Claus himself was stoned and robbed by a pack of angry children in Chile after he ignored their pleas to toss them candies from a pick-up truck as he drove by. Cristian Parenti, a 28-year-old unemployed single father, had found work this season dressing up as Santa Claus. The 300-pound Parenti was delivering boxes of candy to the northern village of Toccapilla, 960 miles north of Santiago, in the familiar red-and-white uniform when he was attacked. Parenti's cargo of Christmas candy was to be handed out later in the day by the local government. Impatient local kids, however, pelted the Santa-suited Parenti with rocks and made off with his bag of goodies. Parenti was nailed twice in the head, once in the chest and once in the eye. He was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.
Dateline: California -- Santa Claus wasn't having a particularly good holiday north of the border either. A shopping mall Santa in Los Angeles had a major meltdown, cursing out parents and ripping off his costume after a crying child tripped his trigger several days before Christmas. Kelley Fornatoro, 33, apparently told the ersatz elf that her crying 19-month-old son Brian might calm down if only Santa would put his arm around the bawling baby. The not-so-jolly St. Nick balked and told the mother, "I will not imprison your child." When Fornatoro went to pick up her baby, Santa unleashed a rather irate tirade, saying, "Was it worth it? What it worth it for you to torture your child for a picture? You must be an evil person." The woman told Santa that his mood was entirely unseasonal and that she would be filing a complaint. At that point, Santa leaped from his seat and said, "You can complain about me if you want, but I am Santa Claus. I am the best person in the world. I am good." Ms. Fornatoro then informed Santa that he should not be around children. At that point, according to witnesses, he got really mad. While parents at the Westfield Shoppingtown Promenade Mall rushed to cover their shocked children's eyes, Santa began to rip off his hat, beard, wig, coat and belt. The irate Santa was led away by security guards, and a replacement was brought in immediately.
Dateline: Ohio -- According to the Dayton Daily News, Derrick Seaver will be the sole Democrat running for a vacant Ohio legislative seat -- even though the 17-year-old isn't old enough to vote for himself. Three Republicans, all in their 30s, will be challenging Seaver for control of the legislative post in the predominantly Republican west-central Ohio district. Seaver, a senior at Minister High School, will turn the requisite age of 18 on Feb. 6 and has already taken a conservative stance on abortion and gun control. The primary election will take place on March 7.