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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Neighbors found the mummified body of Georgia Farrell lying on her sofa in Boise in March. Authorities said she probably died in 1987 at the age of 88, but that the death was never reported by her son Robert, who lived in the house--which might set a new U.S. record for reluctance to part with deceased relatives. One neighbor said she often asked Robert where his mother was and Robert replied, "Oh, she's in [the house]." (Last August a Maple Heights, Ohio, man was reported not to have parted with his deceased mother for two years.)

Your Elected Officials

Mark A. Thomas announced in December that he would run for sheriff in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this year, pointing out that he would be more effective at fighting crime than the incumbent because he's "criminally minded": He was convicted of theft in 1983 and of embezzlement a few years earlier.

According to a recently filed lawsuit, Utah state senator Sara Eubank, a women's rights advocate, fired her employee Jacqueline Hedberg after alleging that Hedberg's productivity had dropped drastically. The principal cause of Hedberg's loss of productivity was that she hadn't been able to recover emotionally from being raped in December 1992. Said a representative of the Utah National Organization for Women, "[The case] is a tough one for us."

In February Vincent Castillo was jailed in Kenner, Louisiana, after illegally breaking into his mother's home in order to establish a "domicile" in Kenner so he could run for mayor as a resident. Castillo said he'd previously tried to establish a Kenner domicile by living in a vacant storefront where he once had a pet shop.

In February the Dutch parliament passed a law forcing farmers in the Netherlands to reduce the amount of animal dung they produce by a third. The country has so many farm animals that the dung causes massive water pollution. Farmers believe they can meet the new requirements by changing the diet of their livestock.

The Seattle Times reported in February that state representative Adam Smith had proposed legislation that would regulate the sale of books, magazines, films, etc and require that "sexual devices" such as the "penisator" and the "vibrillator" be kept out of sight of minors. When a reporter asked members of Smith's staff to describe the workings of the sexual devices, they couldn't.

By mid-February, after only six weeks in office, Mayor Freddie Goode of Liberty, Kentucky, had resolved clashes in his new administration by firing four of the five members of the city council (the fifth member is Goode's wife), the chief of police, the city administrator, two office employees, and the entire planning and zoning board. He attempted to have the council members arrested after they were fired, and when the police chief refused, Goode ordered him arrested for "impersonating a police officer."

A bill introduced in the Georgia legislature in January by Representative Doug Teper of Atlanta would require warnings in all hotel rooms that fornication, adultery, and sodomy are illegal in the state. The bill would also require that the warnings be not only in English but in braille and in "internationally recognized symbols," which were not specified.

Following the lead of former professional wrestler Jesse "the Body" Ventura, mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Jerry Kennett, who wrestles under the name "Khan the Warlord," was elected mayor of Bunn, North Carolina, in November.

Inexplicable

The Washington Post reported last year on the nine-year-old war between India and Pakistan over the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayan Mountains. The countries have largely resolved other issues in their 46-year-old border dispute, but the battle over the glacier, which is uninhabitable, continues: for every soldier who falls to hostile gunfire, nine die from the blinding blizzards, the treacherous footing on the ice-encrusted peaks, and the cold--the wind chill can drop the temperature to more than 150 degrees below zero.

In December India's Pioneer newspaper reported that U.S. corporations donated relief goods for the victims of the September earthquake in rural Maharashtra state that included dental floss, contact-lens cleaner, and lubricants for sexual intercourse. The newspaper reported that an illiterate barber mistook the lubricant for shaving cream and used it on customers.

Taro the dog had his life sentence commuted in February; he was released from New Jersey's Bergen County Jail and deported out of the state. Taro had been sentenced to die under the state's "vicious dog" law, but appeals continued until Taro had spent more than 1,000 days behind bars in his climate-controlled kennel, costing state taxpayers more than $100,000.

The Weirdo-American Community

In February Cincinnati police confiscated Maria Grueter's 1978 Chevy Chevette, which was parked on a city street, because, according to one officer, it was "full of rats." Boxes, newspapers, and food were crammed floor to ceiling in the car with just enough room for a driver, and a dozen rats were visible from outside the car. After an examination at a local hospital, Grueter was found to be mentally stable and in good health.

Least Competent Person

Darpan Patel, 20, was arrested in Glastonbury, England, in August after going to the local police station to ask a question about his driver's license. According to police, Patel freely gave his name. However, he also told officers that there might be an outstanding warrant for his arrest, that he didn't have time to deal with it right then, but that he would come back later to take care of it. Officers checked, found the warrant, and promptly arrested him.

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

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