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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

Earlier this month Ade Ogunjobi, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission offering to buy General Electric, General Motors, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, AT&T Wireless, Hughes Electronics, and Marriott International (aggregate market capitalization: $650 billion). Ogunjobi offered to pay shareholders triple the value of their shares, but payment would be made only in shares of Toks Inc. (current capitalization: $0), of which Ogunjobi is 100 percent owner and sole employee. According to the SEC filing, the acquisitions will capitalize on potential synergies and will clear the way for "aggressive expansions of Toks Inc. into other industry sectors."

In a recent issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Rogerio Lobo, chairman of the ob-gyn department at Columbia medical school, reported that random groups of South Korean women practicing in vitro fertilization had almost double the success rate when a group of Americans prayed for them. Lobo told reporters that he almost withheld his findings because they were so improbable; he had probably failed to account for some variable, he said, but he couldn't imagine what it might be.

Names in the News

Arrested for public urination last month in Bowling Green, Ohio: Joshua Pees. Escaped this month from the same prison in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for a third time: Richard Slippery. Pleaded guilty of bank fraud in July at the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation, South Dakota: Manuel Fool Head and his wife, Sandra Fool Head.

Unclear on the Concept

In August two robbers invaded the San Francisco home of Brian Walters and threatened to kill him, his wife and children, and visiting friend Detrick Washington if Walters didn't turn over the cash from his concert-promotion business. After one of the robbers put down his gun, Washington picked it up and shot the other robber dead; Walters then shot the first robber in a scuffle. One day after being hailed as a hero by the police, Washington was jailed for violating his parole, which prohibited him from handling firearms. (After news of his arrest prompted pressure from the community, he was released.)

Last month Paragon Gaming of Las Vegas, hoping to take advantage of the fact that Native American tribal land is exempt from state regulation, signed an agreement to build a casino on the California property of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission tribe, which consists of 36-year-old Maryann Martin, her three children, and their four cousins.

The Continuing Crisis

Switzerland touched off a controversy in August when it submitted for world-record consideration a cherry-spitting launch of 82 feet, beating by eight feet the old record held by Rick "Pellet Gun" Krause of Arizona. Switzerland uses pits that tend to travel farther and includes in its distance measurement the two-foot follow-through, whereas other spits are measured from the point of release.

Dogs are known to make three distinctive sounds--barking, growling, and whining--but in August, Professor Patricia Simonet of Sierra Nevada College told a conference that there was a fourth: an unmistakably joyous pant delivered when a dog is tearing up a flower bed or outrunning its master at play. According to Simonet, the series of sounds is too subtle for most humans to hear, but when she played a recording of it for 15 puppies, all began to frolic in a nearby toy area.

In July, sheriff's deputy Tim Czachur of Sarasota County, Florida, drove his cruiser to a spot beside South Oxford Drive in Englewood where police often watched for speeders, and his vehicle rolled into a five-by-five-foot hole that had been overlaid with palm fronds and oak branches.

People Different From Us

In August prosecutors in Passaic County, New Jersey, filed a forfeiture action against 45-year-old Carmin Ezzo, a victim of spinal meningitis, and forced him to turn over the Craftsman turbo twin-cylinder riding lawn mower he allegedly uses to drive around and flash neighborhood women. Police claim that Ezzo also lures women into his home by pretending to be injured but that women who come in to help find him nude.

Least Competent Criminals

In August, 21-year-old Edwin V. Gaynor was filling out an application to join the Baltimore police when, asked if he'd ever committed a crime, he wrote a detailed account of a carjacking and two robberies in Texas. His answer drew the notice of detectives down the hall, who questioned him, called police in Texas, got a search warrant for Gaynor's home, and executed a Texas arrest warrant. Gaynor's mother said he'd always wanted to be a policeman.


In 1998, News of the Weird reported that surgeon Brigitte Boisselier planned to clone humans for $200,000 each, a partly spiritual mission based on her bishopric in the Raelian religion, which believes that earthlings came from extraterrestrial DNA and that cloning will advance the species. Boisselier recently shut down her human-cloning lab in Nitro, West Virginia (it was funded by a wealthy former state legislator who offered her $500,000 to re-create his dead infant but later disavowed the project). The Food and Drug Administration recently visited another lab near Syracuse, New York, and ordered Boisselier to stop all cloning experiments.

In the Last Month

In Merced, California, a man's pit bull was eaten by his other pet, a 200-pound Burmese python....In Ipswich, England, a 73-year-old man who had spent about $12,000 on driving lessons and received his very first license five months ago had it revoked for driving under the influence....In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a police department helicopter crew came under criticism for landing behind a Krispy Kreme store to pick up a box of doughnuts....And in Cross Timbers, Missouri, a funeral home dumped a body bag containing the corpse of a 74-year-old man on his girlfriend's front porch after she balked at paying the $1,200 cremation fee.

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

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