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News of the Weird

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After marathon sessions in March, Alabama lieutenant governor Steve Windom survived a challenge to his powers in the state senate. However, because his opponents might have won votes if he left the podium even for a minute, he was forced to urinate into a pitcher at one point. The director of the state archives asked for the pitcher, but Windom said it had been discarded.

New Scientist magazine reported in April on the ways weaker males in two animal species father almost as many offspring as their studly competitors. Researcher Brian Preston discovered that strong rams run out of sperm toward the end of mating season, allowing females to be impregnated by scrawnier rams. And a team from Liverpool University reported that male flour beetles' spiny penises can scrape away previously deposited sperm in females, but that some of the scraped sperm remains on the penis during the male's next conquest. The subsequent female is sometimes impregnated by a male she has never encountered.

Kriss Worthington, a member of the city council of Berkeley, California, announced in April that he would propose a reparations package to heal wounds from social and political unrest dating back to the 1960s. Included were proposals for official apologies to Vietnam war protesters and to Patricia Hearst Shaw. Worthington also suggested that the city erect a statue of Shaw carrying a gun and declare the house in Worthington's district from which she was abducted a historic site.

In February a 52-year-old woman in Hong Kong turned her husband's body over to authorities after he had been dead for a week; she said she had hoped that he would revive. And in January authorities in Thunder Bay, Ontario, recovered the body of an 85-year-old man who died four years ago. It was discovered in a house that one officer called "a tremendous biological soup of garbage and debris." Neighbors had noticed a smell but did not think it was bad enough to report.

Leading Economic Indicators

In January the Japanese firm Mataro introduced a pair of dolls: a female with her hands out asking for a loan and a male banker in a business suit rejecting her. In Mompos, Colombia, in March teachers stole about 50 Easter figurines from a church and vowed not to return them until the city issued their paychecks, which were six months overdue. Also in March Nike announced it was raising the minimum wage of its Indonesian workers to about $37 per month, approximately one-fourth the price of a pair of Air Jordans in the U.S.

Interesting Workplaces

Unitel Corporation announced in March that it was relocating its telemarketing office from Frostburg, Maryland, to Florida. Unitel said workers in Frostburg were too polite for the business.

A February Science News article profiled University of South Florida pollution microbiologist Joan B. Rose, who flushes bacteriophages down toilets and sends crews into local waterways to track where they end up. She has found that some germs can seep into nearby canals within 11 hours.

Janice Peck, 50, filed a lawsuit last year in Salt Lake City against the state Division of Wildlife for alienation of affection. The agency had assigned Janice's husband, Randal, and agent Jodi Becker, now 33, to pose as an outdoorsy married couple to infiltrate a poaching operation. Randal later divorced Janice after 23 years of marriage and married Becker. Randal and Jodi said they first slept together only to give their undercover act greater authenticity.

Recurring Themes

In 1994 News of the Weird reported on a bragging contest and fight over telephone privileges between notorious murderers Colin Ferguson and Joel Rifkin in their prison in Nassau County, New York. According to news reports in March, bombers Timothy McVeigh, Ramzi Yousef, and Ted Kaczynski indulge in bull sessions twice a week in the federal prison in Florence, Colorado. Said one former prosecutor, "This is the oddest kaffeeklatsch in the history of Western civilization."

The late Bennie Casson's unsuccessful lawsuit against a strip club in Sauget, Illinois, for neck injuries caused by a dancer swinging her breasts at him was reported here in 1997; in February Mark Kent, 28, filed assault charges against the Kappa Kabana club in Kappa, Illinois, after a dancer tried to wrap her legs around his neck while holding on to a pole onstage, causing Kent to fall off his bar stool and injure his head and elbow.

News of the Weird reported in 1993 that a cafe in Santa Monica was selling coffee produced from choice beans that had been through the digestive tract of a Sumatran marsupial for $130 a pound. A March Wall Street Journal story from Vietnam described a coffee made from beans harvested from the feces of the civet cat, whose skill in finding the finest coffee beans in a field is said to be uncanny. The coffee is getting harder to find because Vietnamese diners have developed a taste for the civet cat.

Anyway, They Survived the Crash

A 22-year-old woman in an automobile collision in Pendleton, Oregon, in January was placed in an ambulance, but seconds later a truck skidded into it, killing her. A 36-year-old man survived a head-on crash into a utility pole in Miami Beach in January only to be killed when the pole fell on top of him. And a 72-year-old man was slightly injured in December when his car went off the road near Penicton, British Columbia, coming to rest on a ledge, but when a rescuer attempted to reach him, the car slipped off and fell 30 feet, killing the man.

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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