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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In a science journal researchers from Humboldt State University in California recently reported that the toe jam of black-tailed deer contains chemical compounds that can kill several common types of bacteria (including one that causes acne) and fungi (including one that causes athlete's foot). A firm in Tucson, Arizona, has begun to manufacture synthetic versions of the compounds.

Seeds of Our Destruction

An association of legal prostitutes in Canberra, Australia, announced in August that it would boycott French underwear, hosiery, and cosmetics to punish France for resuming nuclear-weapons testing in the South Pacific. And Australia's largest chain of sex shops and cinemas has taken all French products off its shelves.

In July French president Jacques Chirac awarded the nation's second-highest military order to Major General Jean-Claude Lesquer for commanding the troops that sank a Greenpeace ship in an Auckland harbor in 1985.

In August the county board in Walworth County, Wisconsin, preparing for an upcoming march by the local Ku Klux Klan, bowed to Lake Geneva supervisor Frank Janowak's desire not to call the Klan a "hate group," and passed a resolution encouraging peaceful counteractions to "unhappy groups" like the Klan.

Chinese dissident Liu Gang, 34, was arrested in September in Liaoyuan and charged with failing to honor a previous court order that required him to periodically inform police of his latest thoughts.

According to human rights activist Rafael Ruiz Harrell, Mexican law validates confessions made by torture when they're ratified by another confession, which can also be obtained by torture. "So all you have to do," he told reporters in July, "is torture two people."

The Wall Street Journal reported in July that MTV's first feature film will be Joe's Apartment, a romantic comedy chronicling Joe's adventures wooing his girlfriend in a New York City apartment that has 3,500 roaches. In one roach sequence the three-inch-long "Tiny" appears to rope an evil house cat and ride him out of the apartment. Said the film's executive producer, "Not one cockroach was harmed during the filming."

Biker Patrick Woodward was arrested in June in Coldwater, Michigan, and charged with assaulting and kidnapping a 23-year-old man who allegedly sexually assaulted Woodward's 14-year-old daughter. According to the Coldwater Daily Reporter, Woodward admitted that he'd offered the man four choices as punishment for the sexual assault: arrest by the police, a facial scar, a general beating, or a gunshot to each buttock. The man chose the gunshots and, according to the newspaper, Woodward delivered.

American Values Abroad

In Huzhou, China, ten-year-old Lu Jie filed a lawsuit against a zoo after being bitten by a panda. The Xinhua news agency said the lawsuit was the first of its kind in the country.

In May Takao Onoda, an official with the Ministry of Transportation in Japan, responded to U.S. claims that a Japanese manufacturer makes shoddy seat belts by blaming Americans for not caring properly for them. An example, Onoda said, was that Americans spill soft drinks on them.

Alexander Brener, wearing boxing trunks and gloves, was arrested earlier this year in Red Square, demanding that President Boris Yeltsin fight him. Previously in the name of art Brener attempted to copulate with his wife at a monument, defecated in a museum in front of a van Gogh, drove staples into his naked buttocks, and masturbated on a diving tower at a swimming pool in Moscow.

Weird Animals

In September in Fort Lauderdale a turtle fell from the sky and hit a white Chevy Nova cruising on a highway. Speculation was that a seagull dropped it. And in Dawson, Minnesota, in July Joe Saboe's roof was hit with "a wave of hundreds of minnows." He speculated that a waterspout from the nearby Minnesota River brought them in.

In Decatur, Georgia, in May Abbi Taylor received two $75 tickets for failing to restrain her three-legged mutt. The dog had cut loose from her restraints during a thunderstorm and run through the neighborhood. Taylor took the dog to the Georgia Mental Health Institute for evaluation, and forensic director Robert J. Storms--who usually evaluates human sanity--found that the dog, who'd been hit by a car two years earlier, had been "so overwhelmed by fear that she was unable to distinguish between right and wrong. She should not be held accountable for her actions." Taylor contested the tickets and won.

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

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