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News of the Weird


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In October in Bogota rowdy students jeered the president of Colombia's prestigious National University, Antanas Mokus, as he was delivering a speech. Finally, Mokus stepped to center stage, turned around, lowered his trousers and underwear, and bent over. He subsequently apologized and resigned.


Della Dobbs, 31, the woman police called "the snow queen," was arrested for theft in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in April. According to police, she twice met men in bars, took them outside to her pickup truck to have sex, and persuaded them to take off their clothes, get out of the truck, and rub snow on themselves as foreplay. She then drove off with their wallets.

A gang of grease thieves burglarized restaurants in Dallas in January, making off with more than seven tons of scrapings from griddles and deep-fat fryers. According to police, the "stinky, rotten" grease has a resale value of about 13 cents a pound; it's used in cosmetics and cow feed.

In October a newspaper in Toulouse, France, turned down an advertisement from a 42-year-old woman offering one of her kidneys to any employer who would give her a job. She said she was "ashamed of this assistance money I've been getting." And in March a 71-year-old World War II veteran fed up with Department of Veterans' Affairs delays placed an ad in a Sandusky, Ohio, paper offering to sell one of his eyes or kidneys so that he could afford a long-overdue knee operation.

In October U.S. postal inspectors said a man calling himself John Walker unsuccessfully attempted an apparently too-well-known scam: He mailed 100,000 letters to restaurants across the country demanding that they reimburse him $9.20 because a waiter had spilled a drink on his silk sports jacket. Inspectors found that Walker received 20 pieces of mail in reply, which would have netted him a total of $184. But his postage cost him $29,000.

In June Pittsburgh police sought a drifter, Elmore Ray Harvey, in connection with the theft of $1,055 from a money-changing machine in a laundromat over a two-month period. Harvey allegedly stole 4,220 quarters with a one-dollar bill to which he'd tied a string; he would insert the bill into the machine just until the quarters were disbursed, then pull it back out.

The Jerusalem News Service reported in June that chemist Rabbi Moshe Antelman has invented a bullet he believes will do more than merely kill Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. The bullets contain small amounts of pork, and many Muslims believe that any contact with swine will kill their souls.

In October police chief Robert Thompson of Rumney, New Hampshire, was charged with misconduct in arresting Thomas Phelan. The prosecutor alleged that the arrest was made so that Thompson could spend more time with Phelan's wife. In arresting Phelan, Thompson had acted on an anonymous informant's tip that Phelan planned to kill Thompson, but the informant turned out to be Mrs. Phelan. Later in the month a judge dropped the charge against Thompson, but the prosecutor is appealing.

In October hygiene-products salesman David Roessler, 33, pleaded guilty in Rockford, Illinois, to stealing about 800,000 disposable diapers from his company over a ten-month period and selling them to drugstores.

In June U.S. customs agents in Miami, tipped off by an "unnatural bulge" in a boa constructor entering the country in a snake shipment from Colombia, confiscated the entire shipment. They found 312 snakes with cocaine-filled condoms in their stomachs and their rectums sewn shut.

The Weirdo-American Community

Illinois inmate Jesse Loden, 49, filed a lawsuit against the state in August claiming that his religious freedom has been restricted. Loden wants to cover his cell door for a few minutes a day so that he can pray in the nude. He says that's a requirement of his Technicians of the Sacred religion, which he describes as "neo-African voodoo-chanting." (Loden is white and has a Confederate flag tattoo.) "I'm not really sure why I have to be naked," Loden told reporters. "It brings me closer to God."

Least Competent Person

Edilber Guimaraes, 19, was arrested in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in November for an attempted theft at a glue factory. According to police, Guimaraes stopped to sniff some of the glue he was stealing and knocked over two large cans, spilling their contents. When police arrived at the factory Guimaraes was sitting immobile, glued to the floor.

The Continuing Crisis

The county commissioners of Comanche County, Oklahoma, voted in October to pay $179,000, to be raised through a tax increase on property owners, to settle a lawsuit filed by convicted murderer Luis Anger-Rivera, who was diagnosed with cancer after being jailed and who said county officials refused to treat him. A dissenting commissioner complained, "I can see people with life-threatening conditions commit a crime to get free medical treatment."

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

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