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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

At a November public meeting of Los Angeles County's four-year-old Ritual Abuse Task Force, several members of the 14-person commission renewed their claims that satanic forces were spraying a pesticide into their offices, homes, and cars in order to prevent them from revealing information about incidences of human sacrifice, torture, and sex orgies. One member said she was poisoned during a task force meeting in the Los Angeles Hall of Administration. None of the members who have made such claims have given any medical evidence of the poisoning. Said the county's chief of toxic epidemiology, who was in attendance, "I can't believe I'm sitting here listening to this."

November Election Recap

New York state senator Howard Babbush won reelection despite prosecutors' efforts over the last five years to bring him to trial on corruption charges. Babbush has claimed for the last two years that he is too ill to stand trial. Said he, "There's a big difference between standing trial and taking care of the needs of my constituents."

Bernard Hale, candidate for treasurer of Michigan's Cannon Township, was arrested at five o'clock one morning last July when his car was found to contain 31 political yard signs, most belonging to his opponents. He said he was just trying to clean up the neighborhood.

According to records obtained by the Boston Herald, Althea Garrison, 52, a female Republican recently elected to the Massachusetts legislature, began life as Al Garson, a male.

In North Bend, Oregon, Arlis Akin won a city council seat in a dice roll after he and Dean Smith had tied with 2,236 votes each. Akin was charged in October with raping a 20-year-old woman in Coos Bay.

By a vote of 540,000 to 400,000, Iowans amended their constitution so as not to permanently disqualify from public office anyone who has ever engaged in a duel.

Family Values

For more than a year Sandra McMahan Irwin has blocked the execution of the will of her late ex-husband, William Kane, who committed suicide in October 1991. Kane's girlfriend, Deborah Hecht, is claiming from the estate a vial of frozen sperm that Kane had stored just for her. However, Irwin and Kane's grown children argue that Kane was not of sound mind when he promised her the sperm. In December a judge ordered the sperm destroyed, but Hecht appealed.

A 53-year-old Vancouver man identified only as Michael S. said in November he would appeal to the British Columbia Supreme Court in his efforts to gain custody of the two children (age five and seven) he fathered during a ten-year affair with his daughter, now 28. Though she says he manipulated her, he says the affair was consensual and wants the law against incest declared unconstitutional.

Witnesses told Chicago police in September that Matthew Hall, 32, held his two-year-old son out the window as a shield while he pulled a drive-by shooting. And Arturo Buitron, 32, died in a shoot-out in Sacramento, California, in November after a car chase in which he dangled his one-year-old daughter out the window by her feet because he wanted his wife to come back home following a quarrel.

Dicey Mae Weathers, 83, was arrested in Covington, Kentucky, in December and charged with attempting to pass drugs to her incarcerated son, William, during a jail visit. She had sewn the drugs into the label of a pair of sweatpants.

Artis Anderson and Phyllis Brashears were married September 1 in Monticello, Kentucky. Anderson had filed a lawsuit against Brashears in November 1991 when she backed out of the engagement, but dropped the suit in February 1992 when the wedding was rescheduled. She allegedly changed her mind again in July, and Anderson attempted to reinstate the lawsuit. After the wedding Anderson said, "We just aim to deal with our little problems and get on with our life."

Julia Pena, 31, was arrested in Los Angeles last April for a drive-by shooting. Pena was angered when her son came home early one morning and complained that a gang had robbed him at gunpoint of 25 cents. Said police sergeant Gary Grubbs, she got out of bed, got dressed, drove back to the school, and fired off several shots at gang members.

Mary Middleton was injured in Batesville, Arkansas, in May, when her car collided with one driven by her father-in-law, Oscar Waymon Middleton. After the crash the two got out of their cars and exchanged gunfire. When family members went to bail the two out of jail more fighting broke out, during which several police officers were injured.

Uh-Oh

Japan Times reported in August that Hiroshi Totsuka intends to demonstrate soon his cure for cancer, which entails repeatedly submerging cancer patients in water right up to the point of drowning. Totsuka hopes the method will stimulate the patients' will to live and their bodies' anticancer agents.

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

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