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News of the Weird

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The Times of London reported in March that a British government program is providing a convicted rapist in his 30s with Viagra to treat the depression he has been suffering from since his release from prison a year ago. Doctors at Saint George's Hospital in London say his main problem now is his lack of a girlfriend.

According to a recent issue of the Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, a study of arthritis patients found a majority reported a decrease in pain and an increase in hand strength after a regimen of "autohemotherapy." About three-quarters of a cup of each patient's blood was mixed in a copper bowl with one-quarter cup each of honey and lemon juice, stirred for several minutes, and then administered orally.

Clergyman James Elrod Ogle, 46, was indicted in March for conspiracy to commit murder. According to prosecutors, after a parishioner at Ogle's Bull Run Bible Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia, confided his marital difficulties, Ogle offered to kill the man's wife if the man would kill Mrs. Ogle. The parishioner reported the conversation to police.

Frontiers of Medicine

In February authorities at National Women's Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, opened an inquiry into an unusual treatment practiced on premature babies in 1993 and 1994 that may have been the cause of five deaths and eight cases of brain damage. Medical workers struck the babies on their chests for hours at a time to remove congestion from their lungs. Parents who objected were told the treatment was harmless and that most babies enjoyed it.

In January Baxter International, responding to a study conducted last year in which it was discovered that nearly half the patients who received its artificial blood died (although a relatively high death rate was expected, since the blood was given only to patients in critical condition), revealed that the company had never gotten the patients' consent for the treatment and instead had relied on an obscure Food and Drug Administration rule that requires only "community notification."

Latest Breast-feeding News

World women's chess champion Zsuzsa Polgar, 29, was due to give birth this month in New York City and so had been permitted to delay a challenge to her title until June. Polgar said she might have to breast-feed her baby during the match, which she thought would be more of a distraction to her than to her opponent. And in Hamilton, Ontario, a lifeguard ordered Shannon Wray, 25, out of a public pool in February when she began to breast-feed her nine-month-old daughter. Wray assumed it was because other swimmers were offended, but the lifeguard pointed to the "no food in the pool" rule.

Music From Hell

In February an upscale housing development north of West Palm Beach was denied a restraining order against pig farmer Paul Thompson, who blares country-and-western music from loudspeakers to soothe his hogs and improve their appetites. And in March an Associated Press report from Fort Lupton, Colorado, detailed judge Paul Sacco's punishment for violators of the town's boom-box noise ordinance: they must report to court weekly to listen to selections including Roger Whittaker standards, bagpipes, Navajo flute music, and Sacco's own guitar compositions. Several violators admitted they were scared straight by the music.

Even Malfunctioning Air Bags Save Lives

Deputy sheriff Elbert Fuller of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, shot and killed prisoner Clyde McShan in February after McShan pulled a knife on him in a squad car, causing Fuller to lose control of the car, which ran up an embankment and flipped over. Because the air bag had failed to inflate, Fuller, who was hanging upside down by his seat belt, was able to reach his gun and shoot McShan before McShan could stab him.

Least Competent People

At a routine traffic stop in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, in January, Donnie Todd, 17, presented a driver's license on which Arkansas was spelled "Arkansa" and was cited for suspicion of forgery. However, after investigating, officials said the license was genuine, issued by a county office whose computer was malfunctioning. In February Francis McCabe, 19, pleaded guilty to forging driver's licenses, a crime detected because he had used a license issued from the same county office as his model.

Joseph Kubic Sr., 93, was hospitalized in Stratford, Connecticut, in February after he tried to punch a hole in his belt by hammering a pointy-nosed bullet through it. The slug ricocheted off a table and hit him in the neck. In the last two years, Kubic also accidentally cut his leg to the bone in a chain-saw mishap and set a small brush fire that nearly raged out of control, threatening neighbors' houses.

In Monson, Maine, William Ranta, 25, and Russell LaBlanc, 31, were hospitalized in January after a car accident. The two pals had a tradition of switching to the left lane when passing each other on two-lane roads. This time Ranta spotted a truck following in LaBlanc's lane and tried to call off the pass, but LaBlanc was slow on the uptake, and they collided.

The Classic Middle Name, Continued

Arrested for murder after a fight over money in Corpus Christi, Texas, in February: William Wayne Wright. Sentenced to 27 years in prison for murder in Portland, Oregon, in February: Bryant Wayne Howard. Also in Portland, arrested for manslaughter in January: Terry Wayne Unruh. Arrested for the murder of his wife in Mount Airy, Maryland, in February: Donald Wayne Holt. And arrested for attempted capital murder for attacking a woman with a hammer and setting her on fire in Arlington, Texas, in February: Jimmy Wayne Miller.

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/Shawn Belschwender.

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