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News of the Weird



Lead Story

An entrepreneur in Washington, D.C., told a reporter recently that he wanted to open a dolphin "swim and hug" venture at a local waterfront hotel where customers would pay to frolic with the dolphins. Animal-rights advocates have been critical of such ventures as exploitative, but the entrepreneur said he would hire a psychic to telepathically recruit only "volunteer" dolphins. Recently a Florida agency was considering banning swim-and-hug programs in the Keys because of complaints that male dolphins have become sexually aroused while cavorting with female customers. A Miami woman reported that a male dolphin had rubbed up against her amorously. "He liked me a lot," she said.

Compelling Explanations

Jeffrey Petkovich and Peter DeBernardi rode a "10-foot metal container" over Niagara Falls in September, making them the eighth and ninth survivors in history, to "show these kids there's a lot better things for kids to do than be on the brink of dope."

American lecturer John Dolan, 40, was arrested at the Dublin airport in January for carrying a hollowed-out book containing a live flare, which would emit a flame when ignited. After 20 hours of questioning, authorities released Dolan, satisfied with his explanation that he uses the flare exclusively in the classroom, to get the attention of dozing students.

In a December training exercise, firefighters in Winthrop, Maine, deliberately set fire to the oldest house in town, a 220-year-old Cape Cod featured on the town's official logo. Said deputy chief Dave Ketchen, "It's just an old building as far as I'm concerned."

Court Reporter

In December a California appeals court upheld a $46,000 judgment for a police officer who had been attending a public meeting in Newport Beach in 1987 when an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to rough him up if he didn't leave.

The Maryland Court of Appeals in December upheld the 90-day suspension of attorney Stuart L. Alison, who had been convicted of dumping garbage on his estranged wife's lawn. He had also been accused of several other public disturbances and had called a judge an "asshole" in court.

Last fall Bloomingdale's settled out of court a lawsuit brought by Deborah Martorano in 1984 after an employee, trying to be helpful, spritzed her with perfume by surprise, sending her to the hospital for 11 days because of an allergy. Her physician said she had been close to death.

Baltimore judge Richard T. Rombro found Kevin Robinson of Randallstown, Maryland, in contempt of a child- support order in November and ordered him to pay $4,000 plus $25 per week for a child whose father Robinson had confessed to being in 1980. In 1988 a blood test showed Robinson could not have been the child's father, but Judge Rombro said an order is an order.

In Walhalla, South Carolina, 48-year-old Luther Turner recently won a jury verdict for $50,000 against Winn-Dixie Stores for a 1986 injury in which he suffered head and back injuries after slipping on a green bean while shopping.

An appeal by prisoner Kerry A. Perkins to Massachusetts' highest court to prevent forced surgery by doctors Perkins said were incompetent was declared moot by the court late last year. Doctors had wanted to remove a paper clip that Perkins had inserted into his penis, but it came out naturally.

Former San Diego judge Joseph K. Davis, 44, was granted a lifetime disability pension in February after he submitted evidence that he had suffered severe "stage fright" during his nine years on the job. Davis had required medication to be able to perform such jobs as instructing juries and advising defendants of their rights during sentencing.

The Continuing Crisis

Montreal is considering building a huge microwave oven to melt winter snow because starting in 1994 pollution controls will prohibit the city from dumping snow in the Saint Lawrence River.

At least 21 people have been indicted recently in Arizona in a scheme to steal huge, rare saguaro cactuses, some worth as much as $15,000. A four-year undercover investigation revealed 150 thefts of cactuses at least 12 feet high and hundreds of years old.

Officials in New Berlin, Wisconsin were forced to spend $5,000 on a useless school-board primary election in February: Vaughn Werner had signed up as the second candidate just before the deadline and then gone home, where his wife denied him permission to run. He went back to withdraw but was 15 minutes late, and by law his name had to remain on the ballot.

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

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