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News of the Weird


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Lead Story

In a recent poll reported in the French magazine Le Point, 20 percent of a group of women instructed to analyze hypothetical employment situations said they would not consider it sexual harassment if they were asked to undress during a job interview.

People Unclear on the Concept

Criminal-justice professor Michael Petrik, 30, who taught an "alternatives to prison" course at New York's Nassau County Community College, was arrested in May for helping two inmates escape from a correctional facility in Warwick, New York. Said a former student, "He made class interesting. I guess everybody has their own little secrets."

In April Robby Doyle Calhoun, 30, was arrested for stabbing letter carrier Raymond Bell, 35, in Dallas. A police detective said that Calhoun had told a maintenance man the day before that he was upset about receiving bills and that he was "going to get the mailman."

In May the Capital Security Command in Bangkok established a "coup d'etat hotline"; people can call 240-2111 to see whether a revolution has occurred.

In February Roman Catholic parishioners in Sluis, Netherlands, disturbed by loud noises that interrupted their worshiping, opened the curtains of a confessional to find a man and woman having sex inside. (The parish priest was out of town at the time and thus could not grant the couple absolution for the incident.)

In October Thedford Browning, 20, filling out identification papers in court in Springfield, Massachusetts, while applying for release from jail without bond after his arrest on a crack cocaine charge, listed his occupation as "drug dealer." The judge denied the request and imposed a $20,000 bond.

Cultural Diversity

Canadian doctors recently reported an alarming increase in the number of immigrant African women and girls whose genitals have been mutilated for cultural reasons (for example, lacerating the skin around the vagina so that it grows over the opening, creating a "natural" chastity belt). Canadian physicians say they cannot ethically perform such surgery when demanded by some Somalian, Kenyan, Ugandan, and Sudanese parents for their young daughters because it would violate Canada's child-abuse laws.

Africa Watch, an organization in Washington, D.C., estimates that as many as 100,000 people, mostly children, still live in slavery in the Islamic country of Mauritania. The slaves have no rights and are paid no salary, and their owners can torture or kill them without penalty.

In April in Springfield, Oregon, former human rights commissioner Katherine Maris, a white woman who is married to a black man, was convicted under the state's racial-intimidation law for making repeated racist insults against police officer John Patterson, who is black. Patterson had stopped her for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

The German town of Marl recently announced that it would replace half the bicycle signs on the town's bicycle paths by the end of 1992. All of the signs now illustrate the frame of a man's bicycle; half of those will be replaced by illustrations of a woman's bicycle.

In May the Maui County Council in Hawaii tabled an ordinance that would ban the backyard killing of dogs because of opposition by some groups that such a ban would be discriminatory based on their religious tradition of eating dogs.

Mayor Bob Rowell of Spartanburg, South Carolina, changed his mind in April and decided not to publicize a proclamation dedicated to Holocaust survivors. He admitted that the reason was that he feared offending the German BMW car company, which was then deciding between Spartanburg and Omaha as the site for a new U.S. plant. In July BMW selected Spartanburg.

The Weirdo-American Community

Sheriff Bill Wiester announced in March in Moses Lake, Washington, that he had arrested a man who was sitting in a car bobbing his head and who thus looked like he was doing drugs. On closer inspection, however, the sheriff discovered that the man had a straw in his mouth and was blowing bubbles into a fishbowl he was holding in his lap in order to aerate the water for his pet piranha.

Least Competent Person

Sam F. Stewart, 17, was arrested for burglary in April in Waskom, Texas, after he had broken into a van parked in a residential garage and then inadvertently activated the electric locks while trying to start it. He awoke the van's owners as he hit various controls in an attempt to get out of the vehicle and was still trapped inside when police arrived.

The Diminishing Value of Life

Last October Dietrick Mitchell, 16, was charged with the vehicular murder of pedestrian Daniel Goetsch, 16, near Aurora, Colorado. According to a passenger in Mitchell's car, Mitchell had aimed for Goetsch, whom he did not know, and announced "three points" for hitting him.

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

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