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News of the Weird

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In May Jams Von Arx, 41, who'd been on probation for child molestation in Wausau, Wisconsin, was jailed after he refused court-ordered sex therapy designed to induce interest in adult erotic images. He argued that requiring such therapy would be unconstitutional because it would require him to masturbate, which is against his religion.

Family Values

Sajid Rhatti, 23, and his 20-year-old wife brawled in Toronto in March over whether Katey Sagal, who plays Peg Bundy on Married . . . With Children, is prettier than Christina Applegate, who plays her daughter. As they scuffled, the wife slashed Rhatti in the groin with a wine bottle. But she dressed his wounds, and the two sat down again to watch another episode of the show. Moments later the fight erupted again--Rhatti suffered a broken arm and shoulder, and he stabbed his wife in the chest, back, and legs before they finally implored neighbors to call an ambulance.

In March elementary school teacher Myra Obasi, 29, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was brought, bleeding from the eyes, to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas by her two sisters, who eventually were charged with having gouged out Obasi's eyes with their fingers because they thought she was possessed by the spirit of their father. Detectives were unable to question Obasi for several hours because she refused to stop chanting, "Thank you, Jesus."

At least eight times during the past nine months in the United States people have been charged by police with imprisoning other family members at home, either as punishment or to subdue them. Among them were a Boulder, Colorado, woman who locked her mother and aunt in the basement to free up some time for herself on Mother's Day, and a couple in Rudd, Iowa, who tied the wife's mother, 73, inside a cage in their yard in November (the wind chill was eight below) while they went to a movie. And in England 12 children in five incidents were found locked up alone over the Christmas holidays.

William and Hermita Doyle were placed on probation in Waynesville, Missouri, in December after pleading guilty to allowing their three teenage daughters to dance nude at a club near an army base in Saint Robert, Missouri.

In August Yvonne Kottle, 24, who'd tested positive for drugs shortly before a judicial hearing in Philadelphia, fled the courthouse. An hour later her judge, Arthur Kafrissen, spotted her in a nearby park and took her arm to escort her back to the courthouse. Kottle's five-year-old daughter then kicked Kafrissen in the leg and groin while shouting, "Don't hurt my mommy!" Said the judge, "In a sense, you have to respect [the girl]."

In April a Virginia Beach, Virginia, husband and wife were sentenced to six years each in prison for having their daughters, ages 13 and 14, take photographs of the couple having sex. The husband, who's in the navy, said he wanted to take the photos with him during sea duty.

Multiculturalism

Seven Muslim fundamentalist lawyers filed a lawsuit in January in Cairo, Egypt, to force the happily married professor Nasr Abu Zeid and his wife to divorce, because Zeid had written alleged heresies that disqualified him from marriage to a Muslim woman. According to the lawyers, any Muslim has the power to petition to end such a marriage. A civil-affairs judge ruled against the lawyers.

In November the family of Sarasota, Florida, student Wayne Camp-Bell convinced school officials to give them a videotape they'd made of him misbehaving in class that they'd intended to use to justify Camp-Bell's punishment. According to the family, which is Native American, photographing a person takes his soul away, and a ritual must be performed to restore it.

According to recently released figures from India's department of justice, 4,785 women were killed by their husbands in 1992 for having insufficient dowries, an increase of about 350 percent since 1986. The figures may be low because at least some such murders are disguised as accidents.

In December the Juma Indians of the western Amazon rain forest sent word to neighboring tribes that they needed a virile man to mate with one of three remaining fertile Juma women to perpetuate the tribe. There were 300 Jumas in 1940, but massacres by loggers reduced the population, and the last young male was recently killed by a panther.

This January, in the year of the dog, the city of Beijing prohibited its citizens from owning dogs, though many people still try to hide dogs in their homes. A park recently opened north of the city where you can rent dogs to walk for about 23 cents for ten minutes. In April Feng Quantang filed a lawsuit in Shenyang, China, asking for damages from the government because inspectors allegedly beat his illegal dog to death in front of him.

In January in Riga, Latvia, five "controllers" from the local bus company beat a 33-year-old man named Smits to death because he couldn't produce a ticket during his bus ride and was presumed to be riding illegally. According to local police, controllers routinely give beatings to scofflaws.

Least Competent Person

As reported in the University of Arizona student newspaper's "Police Beat" column of May 4, a 19-year-old student filed a charge against a fellow student for stealing his fake Arizona driver's license. The complainant said he loaned the man the card, but it was confiscated at a local club and the borrower refused to reimburse the $40 the complainant paid for it.

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

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