Oddly Enough

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Bienvenue a l'enfer: Students and parents in France can now call a government hot-line for help when sadistic initiation rites at top schools go too far. A new law has made bizutage illegal for the first time since Napoleon established it to form a lifelong esprit de corps. The law makes it a criminal offence, punishable by six months in prison and fines of pounds 5,000. Mostly, the practices are harmless: wearing bin liners and being smeared in shaving cream, for instance. But increasingly violent practices have emerged in recent years, especially in military academies and medical schools. It hasn't taken long for the ban to take effect. Stanilas, an elite private high school in Paris, was forced to cancel its annual "orientation" week, and two schools have been shut after students were found locked in rooms.

Fleshly prepared: A recipe once used to prepare human flesh by Pacific Island cannibals is being revived by researchers to preserve fruit in an effort to expand the region's processed food industry. British food scientist, Richard Beyer, director of the University of the South Pacific's Institute of Applied Science, said he expected the recipe, if marketed properly, to be popular with tourists as a humorous product. "There's a fortune in it," Beyer predicted. "It doesn't matter what is in it because nobody is going to eat it. The tourists are just going to buy it for their mother-in-law."

Space cadets: A Nasa testing station's security has been penetrated by a rocket, but the "invasion" isn't causing any panic. The foot-tall rocket found at the Lewis Plum Brook Station was made of paper and fuelled by eight blue helium balloons. Attached was a note from a class at Lincoln Elementary School in Monroe, Michigan, asking the finder of the rocket to write back. "There's got to be a one-in-10 zillion chance of them landing a rocket in a rocket-testing facility," said Robert P Kozar, general manager of the station. Kozar invited the sixth-graders to the centre. "It's the best thing to happen since the school year started," said principal Patty Weisbach.

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