Kidney sold to pay for iPad 2
IT IS with deepest sadness that Alternative Universe reports the death of Queenie, the word's oldest and perhaps only water-skiing elephant.
She was 58, or possibly 59, and was euthanased by vets at Wild Adventures in Georgia, USA, who decided she would not recover from what they called "chronic health issues linked to her quality of life".
For those unfamiliar with Queenie's exploits, she was born in Thailand and sold as a baby in a New York City pet store to Liz Dane, who helped to develop the animal's apparent fondness for water-skiing.
Balanced atop of pair of pontoons that had been fused together, Queenie astounded audiences across America with her grace and balance for more than 40 years. Queenie, who retired from showbiz in 2003, will be remembered as the pioneer for other animal water-skiing acts such as Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, a 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of drug dealing after his 10-year-old daughter took a bag of cocaine to a show and tell at her school.
Police in Newhaven, East Sussex, England raided his home when teachers called them. The innocent girl had taken a bag of lollies to the lesson and pulled out the class-A drug, believing the white powder to be sherbet.
Pupils got a lesson about the dangers of drugs and the girl has been sent to live with other relatives with monitoring from social workers.
And if that has made you squirm, here's another disturbing modern tale, this time from China.
A 17-year-old by the name of Zheng was so desperate to acquire a new iPad 2 that he sold one of his kidneys to pay for it.
He confessed to his mother that he had been paid the equivalent of $3000 for the precious organ after spotting an online advertisement offering cash to anyone prepared to become an organ donor.
Trading organs is said be "commonplace" in China despite attempts by the authorities to ban it. There are reports that transplant tourists are prepared to pay up to $100,000 to receive new kidneys there.
And if that's not gross enough for you, doctors in Taiwan claim to have cured a teenage girl of a mysterious itching sensation by removing 30 ants that were living in her ears.
The 16-year-old had a fondness for eating snacks in bed and medics believe crumbs from her night-time treats tempted the ants into nesting in her ears.
She's not thought to have suffered any permanent damage.
And finally, a little something to enjoy with a pot of tea and a scone. UK spies have struck a blow against terrorism by hacking into an al-Qaeda website to replace bomb-making instructions with information on how to make cupcakes.
Trainee suicide-bombers who thought they were learning how to create a deadly explosive device instead discovered a recipe for light and fluffy treats topped with tasty icing.
Does this mean James Bond is being replaced by Jamie Oliver? I can't answer that, but if you are offered a bun by a shifty looking character it might pay you to run away. Just in case.
Alternative Universe is a weekly humour column by Adrian Taylor.