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News Of The Weird

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Lead Stories

Perhaps the most satisfied customer of penile enlargement surgery among those interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter for a June story was Los Angeles print shop entrepreneur Frank Whitehead, who said his new length and thickness has changed his whole outlook on life. "I go out on a limb more than I did before with business," he said. "Now [when] I go into business meetings, I'm thinking, 'If you guys had just half of what I have.'"

In March a Washington state physicians agency filed charges of unprofessional conduct against county coroner Dexter Amend of Spokane. He'd allegedly halted the cremation of an AIDS victim to demand an autopsy of the rectum, and in another case had asked the mother of a 16-year-old girl who was shot to death whether the girl had ever been sodomized by gang members. And in May the county coroner in Tacoma, Washington, was fired for encouraging his staff to joke about corpses' sex organs and for allowing photographs of prominent persons' corpses to be circulated around the office.

On June 9, rock climber Reza Zand, 35, was rescued by a volunteer search team after getting stuck on a 300-foot cliff near Castaic, California. Lacking sufficient rope, he was admonished for being poorly prepared. Four days later a fire department rescue team was called to get an ill-prepared Zand down from the very same spot.

Cultural Diversity

About 4,000 Shiite Muslims in Lebanon slashed their heads with swords and razors in May in the annual self-flagellation ritual to honor the grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

In December a TBS network documentary on entrepreneurialism in China (China: The Wild East) showed women dressed in Tang Dynasty costumes playing "horse basketball"--conventional basketball but with players on horses.

In January the New York Times profiled physician Rubens Faria Jr., the latest in a line of Brazilians who claim to possess the soul of "Dr. Fritz," a German physician said to have had magical healing powers who died during World War I. On a typical day 800 people will wait up to 14 hours in line for an "office visit" that might last 30 seconds.

A 17-year-old woman was recently raped by a stranger on a street in Cairo. The man can avoid prison under Egyptian law if the victim agrees to marry him. In February she agreed.

In April a court in China's Hebei province found Qi Minggin, 61, guilty of making 180 long-distance calls on his employer's telephone and sentenced him to life in prison.

Congressional Candidates

Mark Steele, a Massachusetts candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, is on probation for setting a building on fire to collect the insurance.

Bill Yellowtail, a congressional candidate from Montana, was revealed to have had his wages garnished in the 1980s for child-support payments and to have kept secret his expulsion from Dartmouth College for burglary convictions.

Alabama state senator Charles Davidson dropped out of the race for Congress after receiving flak about a speech he gave in May in which he defended slavery as being ordained by God.

Bill Levinger, a congressional candidate in the Idaho primary, appeared on a public-affairs TV show in April. He stripped down to his underwear, offered the host $5,000 for a kiss, and played with a toy elephant and rolls of $100 bills.

Science News

Engineering professor Valery Fabrikant, serving a life sentence for shooting to death four colleagues at Concordia University in Canada in 1992, continues his professional publishing career from prison. His latest article, "Complete Solution to the Problem of an External Circular Crack in a Transversely Isotropic Body Subjected to Arbitrary Shear Loading," appeared in a recent issue of the International Journal of Solids and Structures. Fabrikant requested that comments be addressed to him in prison.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Shawn Belschwender.

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