The Continuing Crisis 

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates mass transit just south of San Francisco, and whose employees stage about three dozen office parties a year, issued 33 pages of specifications in January to invite local companies to bid on a contract to supply sheet cakes. The winning bidder must be versatile enough to offer cakes in 11 specified flavors, 16 fillings, five icings and six toppings (but must also carry $3 million in liability insurance!).

Peru's Emilio Cordova, 15, won the South American chess championship in January, but rather than wind up a chess-obsessed nerd, he flew from the tournament site in Argentina to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved in with a 29-year-old stripper. After Emilio's two months in the fast lane, his father, with government help, went to Sao Paulo and snatched him back.

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