Odds and Ends – Friday November 6 – November 12, 2015


‘Back To The Future’ fans: Austria issues hoverboard rules

Vienna (AP) – It’s the day that Marty McFly landed in the future – and Austria’s transport ministry is ready with guidelines for hoverboards. Fans of “Back to the Future 2” know that McFly arrived on Oct. 21, 2015 – Wednesday. They also will remember the hoverboard sequence, with McFly being chased by Biff and his gang, all on flying skateboards. These may never go beyond the prototype stage. But the ministry has issued tongue-in-cheek rules on their use to mark “Back to the Future” day. Its website describes a hoverboard as a “small vehicle for use outside of the road” and says a special license is needed for rocket-driven “Pit Bull” models. It urges hoverboarders to wear helmets and to “be aware … of possible additional regulations” for use over water.

Chinese police detain 3 for stealing body for ghost wedding

Beijing (AP) – Police in northern China have detained three people suspected of stealing a corpse to sell as a bride in the ancient Chinese rite of ghost weddings, which join single people who died for a belated marriage in the afterlife. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the main suspect, a man aged 72, said he had heard about the death of a young woman in a nearby village in Shanxi province and thought of selling the corpse to relatives of single dead men. Xinhua cited police in Ruicheng county, where calls rang unanswered Friday. Xinhua said the main suspect and two accomplices pretended to be relatives of the woman and negotiated a sale price of 25,000 yuan ($4,000) with a buyer. While they were raiding a village tomb for the body last weekend, their plot was scuttled by villagers who caught them in the act and alerted police. The practice of afterlife matrimony extends back centuries and occasionally happens in poor rural areas where people are superstitious and believe in an afterlife, said Xu Keqian, a professor of Chinese language and culture at Nanjing Normal University. The villagers hope that marrying off a single person after he or she has died will ward off bad luck associated with dying while still single, Xu said. The male or female corpse is reburied in the tomb of the counterpart in a quasi-wedding ceremony to the accompaniment of gongs and drums, followed by a funeral service, Xu said. In some cases, two corpses were married because they had been a betrothed couple who died before their wedding.

Czech political rivals bet $421,000 over Internet betting

Prague (AP) – The stakes are running high on the Czech politician scene in a bet between two bitter rivals. Finance Minister Andrej Babis and his predecessor Miroslav Kalousek usually use strong words in their comments about one another but they took their rivalry to a whole new level on Wednesday. In a Parliamentary committee debate over the 2016 budget, Kalousek, who is from the conservative TOP 09 party, bet 10 million koruna ($421,000) that Babis’ allegation that Kalousek was investigated by police over his 2008 decision to allow betting on the Internet was not true. Babis, who leads the centrist ANO movement and is one of the country’s richest men, accepted that bet. Both men confirmed their bet to Czech public television, claiming both they’re in a position to win.

Education official resigns over “high heels” comments

Bucharest, Romania (AP) – A Romanian education ministry official has resigned after saying that schools should teach young women how to walk provocatively – in high heels. At a press conference Tuesday, Vasile Salaru, said Romanian schools should teach female students how to walk wearing high heels, dance the tango, be a good hostess and walk enticingly in public. He said girls should walk with “chest out, bottom out, let the boys faint!” Several student organizations protested his comments and called for his resignation. They also reported him to the National Anti-Discrimination Council. Salaru, state secretary in the education ministry, resigned Thursday, saying he did not want to harm his party. However, he said his “informal” comments had been taken out of context.