Cultural Diversity 

Sweden's army turned down 600 draftees in July, claiming that it did not have enough officers to supervise them, but about 350 of the conscripts launched a formal protest, demanding to serve. Said one, "I was upset. What was I going to do for a year?" The National Service Administration arranged for 100 of the draftees to get into the army anyway, with 160 others re-registering for the next round.

The 14 branches of the Tari Bunia Bank in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu act as traditional banks (checking accounts, loans, mortgages), but also accommodate local tribesmen by accepting tusks, woven mats, shells, giant rocks and other items for deposit into individual accounts at traditional bartered rates. An additional benefit of taking in the items, according to a July BBC News dispatch, is that bank robberies are rare, thanks to the "spirits and snakes" guarding the artifacts.

Inexplicable: Annual "crying sumo" events are held in several Japanese cities every year (the most recent in Tokyo in April), featuring sumo wrestlers holding specially dressed toddlers out in front of them and coaxing them to cry, with the first bawler declared the winner.

No industrialized country has more national holidays than Italy (12), but a group of legislators recently proposed to inadvertently challenge industrial growth by adding seven more, according to a June Reuters dispatch, mostly marking Christian events.

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