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News of the Weird


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At least 92 restaurants in Luoyang, China, were shut down in August after they were found by government inspectors to have been inserting opium pods and seeds into their dishes to addict customers to their food. Almost one ton of pods and seeds was confiscated. Officials became suspicious when they saw long lines of people waiting to get into some restaurants while neighboring restaurants were empty.

Science Fair

Doctors in New Hamburg, Ontario, treated an 80-year-old man in March after he had apparently shot himself in the head accidentally. He didn't remember doing it, but they found a bullet hole above his eyebrow when he showed up complaining of blurred vision. He later speculated that he had accidentally shot himself when he fell while carrying a small-caliber gun up a flight of stairs.

William R. Randall, 61, of Mesa, Arizona, was asleep when shot in the face in February and didn't realize what had happened until three days later when the bullet showed up in an X ray. Randall, who had called in sick to work each of those three days, still has no idea how he was shot, but police found a note in his kitchen reading: "Bill, you've been shot. Call 911."

In July the American Psychological Association called for an investigation of the claims of Michael Stivers, a former police officer and professional wrestler in Saint Petersburg, Florida, that he could enlarge women's breasts through hypnosis. At least three women have given testimonials for Stivers, claiming increases of two to three inches, although one three-inch woman said she later experienced a one-and-a-half-inch shrinkage.

The Associated Press reported in March on the collection of brains (120 of them, all of fairly famous people) at the University of Japan. Because of the traditional Japanese reverence for the dead, researchers are reluctant to experiment on brains, and the brains remain in storage. The collection's curator says the people of Japan would want it that way: "They wouldn't like to have them lying around on lab benches."

A recent report in Machinist magazine stated that the moon contains about 100 million tons of Helium-3, an element that sells for $1,000 a gram. Twenty-seven tons of it in a fusion reactor could power the entire United States for a year with little radioactive waste.

Earlier this year Chinese sex specialist Chen Kai introduced a machine to help Chinese men with the pervasive problems of impotence and premature ejaculation. The patient inserts his penis into Chen's machine, where it is bathed with medicine and stimulated with the sensations of intercourse. Chen said he would soon open a women's clinic.

The Democratic Process

In a report on the progress of democracy in Poland, the official news agency wrote in July that only one of the 595 eligible voters in the village of Mragowo cast a ballot. That man was one of the candidates, who courteously voted for one of his opponents.

During an April school board election in Tavistock, New Jersey, George Wolf was the only one of the town's 11 registered voters to cast a ballot. With his vote he selected the school board member and determined the budget.

Spain's two main parties demanded a new vote on an income tax bill in May because 177 votes were cast by the 156 senators present. The European reported in June that an automatic TV camera in the Spanish parliament had captured Senator Joaquin Galan pressing his own voting button with his finger while also pressing the voting button on an adjacent, unoccupied desk with his outstretched foot.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Mark Mirimanian, 37, a former treasurer of the Las Cruces, New Mexico, Crime Stoppers, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in March for embezzling $138,000 from the bank he worked for as vice president.

Pusa Finau, 42, a leader of the New Zealand group Samoan Men Against Violence, was imprisoned in May for six years after attacking a sleeping man with a hammer. He had also recently torched his estranged wife and her home.

Minneapolis lawyer Robert Joseph Brenner, 40, who specializes in defending victims of sexual harassment, was charged in July with sexually abusing a seven-year-old girl. During a search of Brenner's house, police discovered a newsletter entitled Bondage and Dominance NewsFlash.

Wang Zufen, a local leader on women's issues in Wenshan, China, was arrested in May and charged with abducting women and selling them into slavery after two women were passed on to traders in Burma for $470.

Convicted arsonist Michael Hames, 22, who is still serving his five years' probation, was elected the unpaid chief of the Chesnee, South Carolina, fire department in June by the 14 members of the department.

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

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