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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Earlier this year, Ralston Purina subsidiary Purina Philippines introduced power chicken feed designed to build muscles in roosters for cockfighting. According to a June Wall Street Journal report, the market for Rooster Booster chow is huge: the Philippines has five million gaming roosters.

In a June report decrying discrimination against people who do unpaid work, such as housewives, the feminist group Mothers Are Women called on the Canadian government to pay wages to breast-feeding women in accord with other kinds of milk production. One female economist pointed out that such income would logically subject women to breast-feeding taxes.

Recent Protests

In January in Toronto labor activist Dan Craig, 25, accepted a plea bargain that will keep him out of jail. Craig protested layoffs at an aerospace plant by suspending himself from a factory ceiling and playing Amazing Grace on a bagpipe for four hours.

In West Union, Ohio, last winter, Berry Baker, 54, protested the school district's placing sculptures of the Ten Commandments on school lawns by demanding equal space for statues promoting his "Center for Phallic Worship," which he said is based on an actual religion. In February Baker filed a lawsuit against the district; in June the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property.

Witches on the Move

In May the Oregon state senate permitted Wiccan high priestess Cleda Johnson to provide the traditional session-opening blessing. And in June a coalition of Christian organizations, along with U.S. Representative Bob Barr, demanded that Texas's Fort Hood, the army's largest installation, stop sanctioning a Wiccan group, as it has done for the last two years. Wiccan groups have also been sanctioned by U.S. military bases in Louisiana, Alaska, Florida, Okinawa, and Germany.

Least Competent Criminals

Sean Barry, 23, was arrested in Chandler, Arizona, in May after summoning police for help when he couldn't unlock the handcuffs he had put on for fun. When officers arrived, they ran a routine check on Barry and discovered there was an outstanding warrant on him for failure to appear in court on a traffic charge. They decided to leave the cuffs on until they got him to the station.

John Michael Haydt, 34, was arrested in Mountain View, California, in April and charged with burglary after he called 911 from a furniture store at 2 AM. According to police, Haydt had cut himself badly breaking in through a window.

Easy collars: Philip Racicot was arrested in Norwich, Connecticut, in April for carrying an unlicensed gun. He was discovered when he shot himself in the buttocks while trying to hide the weapon. In May a 17-year-old identified as Lukasz S. was captured by police in Bydgoszcz, Poland, after an assault. Lukasz shot himself in the foot during the chase. And an unidentified 17-year-old fleeing police in San Francisco in February after vandalizing a construction site accidentally shot himself to death with a sawed-off shotgun he was trying to hide in his car.

Gary Patton and two 17-year-olds were arrested in Grand Junction, Colorado, in January and charged with robbing a bank. They were caught after one of the teenagers sent some pants to the laundry without checking the pockets, one of which contained the trio's holdup note.

Travis Black, 29, went on the lam on June 1 in Fort Lauderdale just as his trial for aggravated assault was getting started. The trial went on without him, and the next day the jury found him not guilty. He turned himself in three days later and is facing a contempt of court charge.

Ew, Gross!

In January, preparing for a festival at the end of Ramadan, the Taliban government in Afghanistan decided to clean up six trees in Kabul displaying the amputated left feet of recently convicted robbers.

In a March story in California's Santa Cruz Sentinel, cockroach expert David George Gordon called the pests "intelligent, hardworking, and fastidious groomers" that are responsible for recycling dead animal matter, especially in the tropics. Gordon has written a bug cookbook, which touts crickets for calcium, termites for iron, and grasshoppers for protein.

Fecal ordnance: The director of the sewer system in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, told reporters in June that gases released by sewage backup from last year's Hurricane Mitch may cause pipes to burst, possibly showering the city with waste. And neither local officials nor the FAA is certain who has been causing the dozen or so instances of fecal bombardment of homes in and around Salt Lake City since April. Home owners initially blamed airliners but now suspect a vandal in a small plane or someone using a catapult.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: Annual riots in Bangladesh, first reported in News of the Weird in 1988, in which students demonstrate for the right to cheat on national placement exams. Hundreds are injured and thousands are arrested yearly. After this year's riots in May, 11,000 students were expelled. Also no longer weird, the person who goes on a national TV talk show while on the run from criminal charges, making it easy for police or parole officers to find him, as Willie Johnson, 22, did in May. He appeared as a drag queen on The Jerry Springer Show while wanted in Houston for stabbing his sister's husband.

In the Last Month

An Israeli man filed for divorce from his wife of 51 years because she had voted for moderate Ehud Barak for prime minister. A Lockheed aeronautics executive said the company lost as much as $70 million because of a misplaced decimal point in a sales contract. A newly arrived British NATO peacekeeper mistakenly turned right instead of left in Salonika, Greece, and wound up in Athens, 250 miles away, instead of at his Macedonian border post, 50 miles from Salonika. And a Home & Garden TV channel study revealed that more men would rather tend their lawns than have sex.

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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