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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

In February, based on a prosecutor's complaint that a boy, Ayman Khadari, had roughed up a two-year-old girl, a judge in Alexandria, Egypt, declared Khadari (who was not in court) guilty of assault. The judge sentenced Khadari to six months in jail and instructed the prosecutor to have him arrested. The complaint had not stated the boy's age, and when the father brought him to an appeals court it was discovered that the convict was only 18 months old. (The girl's parents, who instigated the complaint, had long been feuding with the boy's parents.)

In March a Welsh couple was awarded about $200,000 from the driver who caused the collision that left Alan Davies with a rare brain injury. According to doctors, Davies developed Capgras syndrome, a separation of connections between visual perception and emotion that causes the victim to believe that a person he recognizes (in this case, his wife, Christine) is actually an impostor. Davies is convinced that the real Christine is dead. A court psychiatrist said the condition is permanent.

Also in March prominent Christian conservative psychologist Paul Cameron told Rolling Stone that he fears gay sex will supplant heterosexual sex unless society represses it. "Marital sex tends toward the boring," he said. "Generally it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does." If all one seeks is an orgasm, he said, "the evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women....Homosexuality seems too powerful to resist."

The Judicial Temperament

Last June in Rochester, New York, Judge William Bristol, reportedly annoyed that a confused driver had stopped in the middle of the road, allegedly pounded on her windshield "like a lunatic" and followed her home so that he could tell police her address. Also last June Judge Michael Hoague was convicted in Delaware, Ohio, of threatening a 24-year-old woman who he said was driving recklessly. According to the woman, Judge Hoague tailgated her at high speeds while yelling profanities, and he later ordered her to appear in his courtroom even though no charge had been filed against her.

Teachers From Hell

In Wichita Falls, Texas, former elementary school principal Terry Hitt said in October he would challenge the state's attempt to revoke his teaching certificate. He said he had a teaching ability that was a "gift from God," even though he had admitted earlier in the year to stealing Ritalin from his students, melting it down, and shooting up with it.

In Lop Buri, Thailand, in November teacher Sombat Boon-namma was accused of punishing seven students by forcing them to hold their hands over a candle, burning them so badly the students had to be hospitalized. Boon-namma said she was merely trying to get to the bottom of a recent theft. And in Cairo the daily newspaper Al-Akhbar reported in December that a teacher in a suburban elementary school had been accused of punishing a rowdy ten-year-old boy by forcing him to stare at the sun, damaging his retinas.

Unclear on the Concept

In December Gina Tiberino, 32, a secretary for sex-crime prosecutors in Spokane, Washington, was fired a month after she reported that she had been raped. She attributed her deteriorating performance to typical posttraumatic effects of sexual assault, pointing out that she had never received negative job evaluations before the incident. Her superiors, though, said she had become "too focused on [her] personal tragedy."

In August at several mink farms in England, animal-rights activists "liberated" 6,000 of the aggressive animals. In the following weeks there were dozens of reports of minks killing pets, chickens, birds in a sanctuary, and endangered water voles. Many minks were also killed, either by people protecting their animals or in fights with other minks, and some were said to have died from the stress of being released into the wild.

In December the U.S. Department of Justice found that the Texas Commission for the Blind (which provides workplace support to the visually impaired) had discriminated against two of its own sightless employees and was ordered to pay them $55,000. The commission had failed to provide braille or large-type employee manuals for the sight-impaired workers.

In December Great West Casualty Company filed a $2,800 lawsuit against the estate of Gertie Witherspoon, who was 81 when she was struck and killed near Harrisonville, Missouri, by a truck insured by the firm. Great West contends that Witherspoon was negligent in walking in front of the truck and seeks to recover the money it had to pay to fix the damage to the vehicle.

In January a 16-year-old driver and his 20-year-old passenger smashed their car through the glass doors of their high school gym in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and into a concrete wall in what the driver later said was a suicide attempt. However, both were wearing seat belts and were not seriously hurt.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird reported in January of last year on a motorist killed by a flying cow, which had been hit by another car. In February the same thing happened to the driver of a pickup truck near Vacaville, California. Five days earlier, near Prattville, Alabama, a 19-year-old motorist was killed by a 300-pound flying hog.

Least Justifiable Homicides

In Edmonton, Alberta, in February a 34-year-old man was beaten to death in a tavern during a fight over whose turn it was at the pool table. In Black Oak, Arkansas, in February a 65-year-old man was shot to death in an argument over whether the town needed sewer service. And in Miami Beach in March a 66-year-old man was shot to death at a condominium-association meeting by a resident enraged that someone had stolen his garden hose.

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/Shawn Belschwender.

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