You say you have Kofi Annan on speed-dial and you're up on all the rules for U.N. inspectors? And you're pals with Bono and Sean Penn, so you understand the world economy and the situation in Iraq? But even though you predicted the Republican sweep and the Trent Lott downfall, you have this nagging feeling that you missed a few crucial news events in 2002?
Fear not, reader. Here gleaned from news and wire reports is our annual account of happenings Beyond the Beltway.
Freedom of Shrieks
BERLIN -- A swingers club in Berlin was forced to shut because a court ruled that members' moans and shrieks of pleasure violated noise regulations.
Freedom of Expression
SYDNEY -- Australian police warned that the law would lose its bite if "mooning" became enshrined as an implied constitutional right.
AMSTERDAM -- Two Dutch mechanical engineering students tried to ride into the record books on a 28-meter (90-foot) bicycle they made themselves.
LITTLE ROCK -- An Arkansas man was charged with murder for allegedly bludgeoning his wife with a bowling ball.
Kiss of the Spider Woman
MODESTO, Calif. -- A police pathologist ruled that the bite a woman gave her husband after he refused to have sex eventually caused his death.
TEHRAN -- Iranian police were on the lookout for an alleged sorcerer who conned a man into believing he was invisible and could rob banks.
BERLIN -- A German driver who got out of his car on a hill to relieve himself found his vehicle at the bottom of a river after he forgot to apply the hand brake.
CAIRO -- A woman set fire to her Cairo apartment after a row with her husband over his refusal to buy dried fruit and nuts traditionally eaten in the holy month of Ramadan.
STOCKHOLM -- Police shot dead a drunken bull elk that attacked a young boy after becoming intoxicated on fermented apples.
Getting the Drop
LAKE CITY, Fla. -- A Lake City woman was hospitalized after her 9mm handgun fell into the commode and discharged, hitting her in the left buttock.
AMMAN, Jordan -- The groom spent his wedding night in jail after accidentally shooting dead two guests while firing his automatic rifle to celebrate his marriage.
LONDON -- A Welsh police team dubbed "the Frying Squad" was formed to sniff out motorists who fuel their cars with cooking oil from fish and chip shops in a bid to avoid paying high government fuel taxes.
OLATHE, Kan. -- Attorneys for a man accused of killing women and stuffing them into barrels asked for a change of venue after a disc jockey showed up on the courthouse lawn handing out T-shirts that read "ROLL OUT THE BARRELS."
GENEVA -- A United Nations committee rejected a Frenchman's appeal of his country's ban on dwarf-tossing on the grounds it violated his human rights.
LONDON -- British detectives were looking into the mystery of a hamster found driving a treadmill-powered toy racing car along a promenade near the seaside resort of Blackpool, newspapers said.
CIA Guinea Pig
OXNARD, Calif. -- An Oxnard man was charged with animal cruelty and being under the influence of amphetamines after allegedly torturing and dissecting his daughter's pet guinea pig because he thought it was a camera-equipped robot placed in his home by government agents.
JIM THORPE, Pa. -- A man sentenced for falling asleep behind the wheel of his car and crashing into a school bus told the judge he dozed off because he was up late the night before making counterfeit checks.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodian police presented a $256 crime-fighting prize to an officer who surprised a suspected temple looter at Angkor Wat and shot him in the testicles.
PARIS -- A court fined French rapper Joey Starr the equivalent of $9,100 after he hit his pet monkey on television, sparking a storm of protest from animal rights activists, including former film star Brigitte Bardot.
VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Lithuania's Health Ministry scrapped a Soviet-era rule requiring that women undergo gynecological examinations to qualify for a driver's license.
The Eyes of Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Rhode Island State Senate unanimously passed a bill to issue automobile license tags honoring the 50th anniversary of Mr. Potato Head.
A Nice Chianti
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Two crematorium workers accused of eating human body parts, washed down with a bottle of wine, were freed by a provincial court because there is no law against cannibalism in Cambodia.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Members of a Wake Forest University fraternity were charged with animal cruelty and abandonment after their pet pig was found drunk, dehydrated and sunburned in a local park.
BUENOS AIRES -- An Argentine fortuneteller threatened to burn down the house of a lottery ticket seller she accused of entering her dreams to steal winning lottery numbers.
In a Jam
MONROEVILLE, Ala. -- A man was convicted of shooting into his girlfriend's car because she didn't fix him toast for breakfast.
LIVINGSTON, Tex. -- Convicted killer Rodolfo Hernandez, who has only one leg, demanded that the Texas prison system supply him with an artificial limb to aid his 50-foot walk to the death chamber.
LONDON -- A survey in Britain showed that mobile phone thefts are soaring but that nearly as many people drop their handset into the toilet or a drink or accidentally wash it with their laundry.
MANILA -- A Filipino man was killed and his friend seriously wounded after they sarcastically applauded a student for singing Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way" off-key.
THE HAGUE -- Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic listened to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" on a CD player while locked up on war crimes charges.
ATLANTA -- The Georgia parole board issued a stay of execution for a killer so delusional that when he is off his medication he believes that actress Sigourney Weaver is God.
LONDON -- The Royal National Theatre announced plans to stage an opera based on the life of talk show host Jerry Springer.
BERLIN -- A Berlin man who laughed too much and too loudly was evicted from his flat after neighbors complained.
ORLANDO -- Federal court documents described a ruse whereby Colombian drug smugglers starched their shirts and blue jeans with heroin to slip it past Customs.
BUCHAREST, Romania -- A Romanian pensioner was charged with running up a bill the equivalent of $950 -- equal to a year's pay in the country -- after he fell asleep listening to a telephone sex line.
LUSAKA, Zambia -- Zambian police arrested a newspaper editor for quoting a politician who said the president is a cabbage.
LONDON -- British scientists said they had discovered what they believed to be the world's oldest fossilized vomit, from a large marine reptile that lived 160 million years ago.
Like a Virgin
KAMPALA, Uganda -- Virgins in Uganda are to have their traditional wedding gift of a goat updated to a television set. A morals committee set up to stem the spread of AIDS decided girls who stay chaste until their wedding day should be given more of an incentive.
LONDON -- A February survey showed that one in nine love missives received on Valentine's Day were sent by people to themselves.
ZURICH -- A fire at a Swiss warehouse destroyed 4 million chocolate Easter bunnies.
On the Wrong Foot
LONDON -- A homeowner who discovered three men trying to rob his house had no difficulty describing one suspect -- he had no legs.
Crooks Are Dumb
TICONDEROGA, N.Y. -- A man who called police to brag that he couldn't be caught was arrested while still on the phone.
St. Louis Toodle-oo
ST. LOUIS -- A judge ordered a St. Louis alderwoman to stand trial on charges she urinated in a trash can during a floor debate.
Thong of Desire
CALGARY, Alberta -- Police arrested a Canadian man who they said stole women's undergarments while visiting real estate open houses and then made obscene phone calls to the owners of the items.
Cream of the Force
LONDON -- British milkman Steve Leech, who saved a row of shops and flats by dousing a fire with 320 pints of his product, was named "Hero Milkman of the Millennium."
BOGOTA, Colombia -- A presidential candidate who promised to invigorate Colombians in the struggle against war and corruption startled prospective voters by handing out samples of the impotence drug Viagra.
Polly Wanna Whacker?
BERLIN -- A despondent German man who punched and killed his parrot for screeching incessantly told the court the deceased was "a good friend."
PENRYN, Pa. -- A volunteer group that directs traffic at fire scenes refused to work at a YMCA triathlon because it said the club promotes witchcraft by reading Harry Potter books to children.
OSLO -- An American woman became trapped in the restroom of a transatlantic airliner after a high-pressure vacuum flush sealed her to the toilet seat.
DOVER, Del. -- Several flesh-eating pet lizards were found feasting on the corpse of their owner in his apartment.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital operated on the wrong side of a man's head after a CAT scan was placed backward on an X-ray viewing box, the hospital told the state Department of Health.
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- An artist used 800 pounds of donated Land O'Lakes butter to sculpt a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
BERLIN -- An elderly German man thwarted armed robbers by throwing a tin of sauerkraut at them.
Vision of the Future
WAILUKU, Hawaii -- A judge ordered a windsurfer to stay at least 100 feet away from Kahana Beach Park after the defendant allegedly slammed into a kitesurfer in an act of "wave rage."