Norwegian Judge Strips Go-Go Girls of Tax Burden

Along with ballet and theater, the refined performance arts have adopted a new genre …striptease.

Forget the sleazy skin clubs, next stop, Globe Theater!

A court in Norway has ruled that stripping is considered to be an art, thereby leaving Norwegian strippers exempt from taxes, reported the BBC.

Dancers at the Diamond Go-Go Bar in Oslo, Norway, argued that their act should be considered an "artistic performance," and thereby be exempt from the country's 25 percent value-added tax.

The Go-Go girls cried foul over the fact that the famous Chippendales male strip show has been placed into this category and is exempt from the tax.

Other stage performers such as stand-up comics and sword swallowers are also excused from this tax.

"Striptease, in the way it is practiced in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting," the court ruled, and then ordered Norway to pay the legal costs for the Go-Go Bar, estimated at $27,000.

The government has not decided if it's going to appeal the decision.

One Man's Belly Fat Is Another Man's Fuel

Talk about recycling. One scientist in Belgium has found a creative new use for the millions of pounds of excess body fat being carried around by Americans: fuel.

Norwegian businessman Lauri Venoy thinks fat collected through liposuction would make a great alternative fuel source, the Aftenposten reports. Bio-diesel fuel can be produced from plant oils or animal fat, and excess baggage from humans definitely falls into that category.

More than sixty percent of Americans are overweight, making for a fuel source that's bound to keep giving for many years to come.

Venoy's firm in Miami, Florida is in the process of signing an agreement with American hospital giant Jackson Memorial.

This deal would give Venoy's company around 11,500 liters of human fat a week from liposuction operations, which is enough to produce about 10,000 liters of bio-diesel.

Maybe we should urge people to eat more so we can create more raw material for fuel," said Venoy.

In Norway bio-diesel is mostly produced out of fish oils and used fryer fat.

The Check That Bounced Big Time

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man who police say tried to pass a counterfeit check at a Wal-Mart chose the wrong store at the wrong time.

Dozens of officers were at the suburban Detroit store helping needy children pick out items as part of an annual "Shop with a Cop" charity event.

That didn't stop Calvin E. Fluckes Jr., 21, from pulling into the parking lot next to 40 marked squad cars, police said. He apparently was unfazed by the police presence as he tried to pay for merchandise with a poorly photocopied check for $847.83.

The cashier called over a manager, who alerted one of the 80 officers who happened to be in the store.

"He was immediately apprehended," Chesterfield Township police Lt. David Marker told the Detroit Free Press. "I can't even imagine what he was thinking."

Fluckes was arraigned Wednesday on one count of uttering and publishing. He was being held in the Macomb County Jail on $2,000 bail.

He could face up to 14 years in prison if convicted, The Detroit News reported.

Get Your Ghost-Ridden Gallows!

CHICAGO (AP) — Morbid curiosity beat out history to lay claim to the infamous Cook County gallows.

The oddity-loving Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum outbid the Chicago History Museum late Wednesday night, offering $68,300 for the rights to the contraption that put 86 inmates to death between 1887 and 1927.

The gallows were first built to hang the anarchists charged in a deadly bombing during the May 4, 1886, Haymarket Square riot. In recent years, they were part of Mike Donley's Wild West Town, a tourist theme park in Union, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.

But with Wild West Town increasingly catering to children, Donley, who bought the gallows from Cook County in 1977 for a price he declines to reveal, said it was time for the gallows to go.

The gallows were last used on June 24, 1927, to hang convicted murderer Elin Lyons.

After that, Cook County shifted to electrocution.

The gallows' 10- by 20-foot (3- by 6-meter) platform and 15-foot-high crossbar — with its four noose bolts still attached — would have been destroyed then had it not been for the Dec. 19, 1921, escape of convicted cop-killer "Terrible Tommy" O'Connor three days before he was scheduled to hang.

Since O'Connor's sentence specified he was to die by the rope, if he was recaptured he could not be electrocuted. He had to be hanged. Instead of being scrapped, the gallows was dismantled and relegated to a jail basement, where it remained, unused, for 50 years.

Brian Marren, vice president of Burr Ridge-based Mastro Auctions, which put the gallows up for auction starting at $5,000, said Ripley's had yet to make arrangements to move the structure. The San Francisco-based company operates several museums.

That's One Pretty Penny

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — With the drop of a single coin into a Salvation Army holiday collection kettle, the group may have been enriched by as much as $14,000.

The donated 1908 Indian head coin has a face value of $2.50, said Capt. Louis Patrick. It's worth at least at $250 and possibly as much as $14,000, according to a preliminary analysis.

"I was shocked," Patrick said. "I've heard of this happening in other places, but I've never actually seen it."

The coin was enclosed in a protective plastic case.

"It was an incredibly generous thing to do," Patrick said. "We are very appreciative."

The Salvation Army plans to have the coin appraised and sold, possibly before the end of the holiday season.

"One hundred percent of the money will be used to benefit our programs," Patrick said. The local Salvation Army distributes toys, food baskets and clothing.

Before the gold coin donation, the local group had raised about $34,000 this year, Patrick said. It typically raises $80,000 through its kettle collections, he said.

Bring Back Big Blue!

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) — Bluefield State College is offering a $300 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Big Blue.

The big, blue fuzzy college mascot has been an icon on campus for more than decade. But the mascot costume disappeared recently, leaving disappointed Big Blue fans both on and off campus.

"We haven't heard from his captors or whatever, and we haven't received a ransom note or anything like that," said Joan Buchanan, student services specialist. "We really miss him, and we would like to have him returned,"

Students and staff searched closets and rooms throughout the campus but found no trace of Big Blue.

"It's really detracted from our games not having him especially for the children," Buchanan said. "We do have a Big Blue week in February, so we sure hope he shows up by then."

Delinquent Fisherman Reels In a Fortune

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Using fish line and a hook, a thief reeled in bags of cash from a bank's night deposit box, police said.

Police would not say how much money was taken, but think the thief made off with 11 deposit bags, Bloomington police Sgt. David Drake said.

An employee of the Fifth Third Bank branch called police Monday morning after noticing that there were far fewer deposit bags than usual, Drake said.

Authorities found the deposit box had been damaged, with one of the metal security pieces sheared off.

"It would've taken a lot of force to take that off," Drake said.

Next to the piece of broken metal, police found a dowel rod with fishing line and a hook.

Drake said authorities believe whoever broke into the deposit box dangled the hook and line into the box and fished out the deposit bags, one by one.

The bank did not have security cameras aimed toward the deposit box, police said.

Compiled by's Hannah Sentenac.

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