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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Nude dancer Dora Oberling, 30, was recovering nicely from a gunshot wound inflicted by a 75-year-old man during an October argument outside the Mons Venus Club in Tampa, Florida. Police sergeant M.D. Smith said that paramedics treating Oberling told him her breast implants "might have saved her life" by slightly deflecting the bullet aimed at her chest.

The Continuing Crisis

Junius Wilson, who cannot speak or hear, was charged with attempted rape in 1925 at the age of 29 but declared incompetent to stand trial. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he has lived ever since, even though the rape charge was dropped. In 1992 the state ruled that Wilson, then 96, could leave the hospital to live in an apartment provided by the state. But last November the state announced that Wilson would have to continue living in the hospital after all because the apartment was found to contain lead-based paint, causing officials to fear for his health.

Russian officials reported that U.S. economist Michael Dasaro, 35, died of a routine heart attack in Moscow in November. However, they acknowledged that robbers had ransacked Dasaro's apartment either shortly before or shortly after his death. When the body arrived at the home of a family member in Peabody, Massachusetts, later that month, Dasaro's heart was missing.

Bill Holcomb, a disabled $5-an-hour bell ringer for the Salvation Army stationed in front of a K mart in Saint Petersburg, Florida, was fired in December for failing to bring in enough money. The area Salvation Army commander said, "We tell those who come in that this [job] isn't for everyone."

Reuters news service reported in November that Iraq has become a major supplier of human kidneys and other organs for the world market. Iraqi officials said the increase in donors was caused by the 1990 United Nations economic sanctions, which have reduced the value of Iraqi money by 99 percent.

In November the city of Bombay, India, announced it had 70 job openings for rat catchers; it received 40,000 applications--half from college graduates.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that the government of Switzerland has purchased 65 million potassium iodide pills, enough for everyone in the country in case of a nuclear accident. The pills supposedly prevent radiation from accumulating in the thyroid gland, averting one type of cancer associated with nuclear accidents.

In November the Grand Canyon claimed its seventh death-by-falling victim of 1993. At least two of the seven toppled over backward as they tried to position themselves to accommodate family photographers. Said the director of a local outdoors group, "A lot of tourists approach the Grand Canyon like a ride at Disneyland . . . and think it's idiot-proof. The Grand Canyon wasn't built by attorneys and engineers."

In a September wrongful-firing lawsuit former Peace Corps volunteer Paul T. Correri, 64, said his country director in Cape Verde, Africa, dismissed him because he's homosexual, which the director thought would offend local citizens. Correri charged that he'd been ordered to "conspicuously" say goodbye in his front yard to any local male visitors each afternoon to assure the neighbors the visitors were not staying overnight.

Last summer the Chinese government proposed raising money by launching the ashes of dead people into space--on either a 12-year or an infinite voyage. NASA criticized the program, pointing out that it would merely increase the debris in space.

In July a 20-year-old University of Saskatchewan student survived a truck accident, climbed out of the ditch he was in, and was run over and killed by a tractor trailer. In October a 40-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, man survived a truck accident on Interstate 635, but died when he fell over the side of a bridge as he was getting out of the truck. And that same day a 23-year-old man who'd just survived ramming his truck into a utility pole in Dekalb, New York, stepped on a severed power line as he walked toward the highway and was electrocuted.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported in October that in the town of San Juan Chamula in southern Mexico, where a blend of Christianity and worship of Mayan gods is practiced, many parishioners believe their leaders' doctrine that because Pepsi has more bubbles than Coca-Cola it's closer to the sun and therefore more powerful. Bottles of Pepsi are among the holy artifacts inside local churches, and some leaders believe the cola has healing powers. (Coca-Cola officials say Pepsi's importance is due purely to Pepsi's payment of kickbacks to the leaders.)

Creme de la Weird

According to a November story in the New York Times, imprisoned mass murderer Charles Manson will receive ten cents in royalties for every shirt sold by a vendor who uses his likeness on "Charlie Dont Surf" T-shirts. And a source told the Associated Press that if the new Guns N' Roses album--which contains a song, "Look at Your Game, Girl," reportedly written by Manson before he was imprisoned--sells a million copies, Manson's royalties could reach $60,000.

I Don't Think So

Councilman Larry Townsend of Alvin, Texas, said publicly last February that he thought only Christians should be allowed to hold public office in the U.S. He also used a racial slur, though he said he did so only because he was role-playing during a "training exercise" and had been asked by the "public relations" people conducting the exercise to use language that would offend minorities.

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

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