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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In October the student senate at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, officially recognized the Miami U. Masturbation Society, permitting the group to use university facilities for meetings. According to the group's constitution, it hopes to promote "the safest sex possible," "challenge social prejudice" and stereotypes, and "strive toward manual dexterity" and "hand-eye coordination."

Couldn't Possibly Be True

In November LaVerne Pavlinac was released from prison in Salem, Oregon, after a man confessed to the murder she was convicted of. A jury had believed her 1990 confession in which she'd said that she and her boyfriend, John Sosnovske, had killed a woman; both were sentenced to life in prison. Pavlinac now says she had confessed because it was the only way she could think of to get out of her relationship with the allegedly abusive Sosnovske.

In a first-person account in London's Independent in September, Jenny Gathorne-Hardy reported that she drilled a hole in her skull to test the theory that adults' brains would function better if blood were able to circulate to the topmost part. Reported Gathorne-Hardy, "I feel calmer, and that particular mental exhaustion I became so used to has gone."

In the Bronx in October, deputy police inspector Anthony Kissik established guidelines to help limit paperwork from rising crime in the 50th precinct--assault charges will no longer be filed if the victim is merely suffering from bleeding, bruises, a fat lip, or a black eye. Only broken bones or wounds requiring stitches will qualify as assault.

According to a Knight-Ridder news service report from Hanoi in September, one of Vietnam's most popular TV programs is Ba Nu Tham Tu (Charlie's Angels). An official for the company that distributes the show said it's very popular among intellectuals. "The [actresses] are very intelligent," he said, "and the acting is good."

A jury in Washington, D.C., determined that Bernard Eaton, 36, could not be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital even though he had admitted to strangling his roommate, and a judge had ruled in March that he's mentally retarded and therefore not competent to stand trial. The jury decision held that Eaton isn't mentally ill.

In 1991 Linda Mathews drove through a stop sign and hit another car, causing catastrophic injuries to the couple inside. In September 1995 the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Mathews had been paid $50,000 by her insurance company while the victims of the crash, who require expensive caretaking, had been paid nothing. Mathews took an early settlement on her policy, bought a house, and then declared bankruptcy, which shields her from having to pay damages to the victims.

In August 70-year-old Kim Sun Myung, who's thought to be the longest-serving prisoner of war in the world, was freed in South Korea, where he'd been held--mostly in solitary confinement--since the outbreak of the Korean war in 1951. Officials said he would have been released years ago if he had publicly renounced his support for North Korea.

In November Kim Perisie was sentenced to five years in prison in Riverside, Ohio, for hiring a hit man to try to kill her husband, Stephen Perisie. She allegedly wanted to get his $3.1 million in lottery winnings. Nonetheless, Stephen wants to stay with her. "You don't wash 22 years under the bridge," he said. "Love is a state of insanity anyway." Stephen said his main complaint was that Kim had offered the hit man only $500.

In September the Brazil Health Ministry canceled a TV ad campaign to educate viewers about AIDS after at least 18 men named Braulio complained. In the ads a man converses with his penis, which he calls Braulio, about the pros and cons of indiscriminate sex without condoms. In preparing the campaign the health ministry had commissioned a poll that revealed that Braulio was one of men's top five names for penises.

New Rights

In November Raymond Sears, a high court judge in Hong Kong, ruled that a prison's practice of cutting out horse-racing results from daily newspapers before distributing them to inmates violates their human rights.

9Also in November a jury in Louisville, Kentucky, awarded William Townsend Jr. $20,000 after finding that he'd been excessively punished at River City Corrections Center. A guard had found contraband--two cans of Vienna sausages--in Townsend's underwear and had squeezed his testicles three times, causing a contusion that left him in pain long after his release from jail. According to Townsend, the guard told him at the time, "That'll teach you to bring Vienna sausages up here."

According to an October Washington Post story, the Federal Labor Relations Authority recently ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration might have to redecorate the offices in the radar tower at Denver International Airport. The FLRA found that the FAA had installed the tiles, wallpaper, and carpet without consulting the air traffic controllers' union, whose members don't like the color scheme.

In March a mother, her two adult sons, and her two adult daughters pleaded not guilty to incest in Nova Scotia, claiming sexual acts between consenting adults are protected by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In August the Nova Scotia Supreme Court rejected the claim.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

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