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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Nuclear scientist Eric Voice, 73, told England's Guardian in August that, as far as he knows, inhaling plutonium is not dangerous, stating that he had sniffed a little 18 months previously as a test and nothing bad had happened. Voice claimed plutonium has never harmed anyone, except for those two bombs in Japan.

Under a bill expected to become law next year, the government of the Netherlands recently proposed to loosen restrictions on euthanasia for terminally ill people, even extending the right to children as young as 12. In principle, those ages 12 to 15 would need parental permission, but in some circumstances doctors could honor a minor's wishes without it. Euthanasia would still be illegal under the bill, but doctors adhering to the new guidelines would be immune from prosecution.

Apparently, Another Tragic Affliction of Seniors

John Glover, 74, explained in June that his car was in the middle of New Jersey's Deal Lake because the gas pedal got stuck. Billy W. Parkham, 68, said his minivan smashed into a dress shop in Seekonk, Massachusetts, in August because the gas pedal got stuck. Marie Wyman, 87, claimed her Buick crashed into a restaurant in Winslow, Maine, in July because the gas pedal got stuck.

Cultural Diversity

Latest holy icons: Crocodiles, in a lake near Karachi, Pakistan, where thousands brought meat offerings in March to secure blessings for their babies; two frogs, joined in Hindu matrimony in Gauhati, India, in March to please rain gods and end a four-month drought; and six Franciscan priests, in Copacabana, Bolivia, who specialize in blessing motorists against drunk drivers, bad brakes, and gasoline shortages.

In April the supreme court of Zimbabwe unanimously decided that adult females are inherently inferior to males and have a status akin to that of teenagers. The court cited "the nature of African society" as its basis.

An April Chronicle of Higher Education report reviewed research showing that, in more than a dozen South American societies and others in New Guinea, Polynesia, and India, all men who have sex with a pregnant woman are considered joint biological fathers. In this "partible paternity" the fetus is considered fertilized by repeated contributions of sperm. At least one society, the Canela of Brazil, believes the baby will most resemble the man who contributes the most sperm.

Cliches Come to Life

In June Wanda Nelson, an elementary school teacher in Panama City, Florida, was reprimanded for confiscating a National Geographic magazine from a fourth-grade boy because it was "pornography." And two Illinois researchers told a professional convention in May that they discovered telling a lie triggers a release of hormones to the nose, increasing its size.

Sound like Monty Python sketches: Clifford Shattuck, 66, owner of a motel in Lincolnville, Maine, was barred by court order in May from having any contact with motel guests after one complaint too many that he harassed his customers, once by tossing rocks at a potential guest's car. And in July the first European Swamp Soccer Championship was played in Hyrynsalmi, Finland, on a field of knee-deep mud.

Deborah Lee Benagh, 44, filed a lawsuit in July in Denver against Six Flags Elitch Gardens amusement park for injuries she suffered on a roller coaster. Because her shoulder harness did not hold her securely, she said, she repeatedly bumped her head during the ride and later suffered headaches and nausea as well as short- and long-term memory loss. The name of the ride is the "Mind Eraser."

Never Give Up

John Paul Roby, 56, was convicted in Toronto in May of 35 counts of sex crimes against minors after a long trial in which a mountain of evidence (including the testimony of 42 victims) was produced against him. Roby denied that a thoroughly authenticated photograph of him was really of him, he claimed that "I never masturbate, period," and he repeatedly asserted that he could never have exposed himself in men's rooms (as witnesses claimed) because he has so much bladder control that he rarely urinates.

Update

Michael Robert Wyatt, now 38, made News of the Weird in 1990 when he pushed a woman to the ground in Little Rock, Arkansas, and began sucking her toes. After several such incidents he was ordered into counseling and has since gotten married and worked as a mechanic in West Plains, Missouri. However, in August Wyatt was arrested in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for allegedly harassing several women by telling them they would look really hot if they amputated some of their toes. Some women in West Plains reported similar incidents.

Least Competent Criminals

In Calgary, Alberta, in June David Thomas Poole, 49, was sent to jail for one year for perjury committed while challenging a routine traffic ticket. Poole submitted a photograph of the intersection at which he was ticketed showing there was no left-turn-only lane, as the ticket stated. Actually, the left-turn lane had been reconfigured recently, and though Poole swore that he had taken the photo at the time of the incident in January, it showed green grass and trees in full foliage.

In the Last Month

A 47-year-old burglar in London, Ohio, was crushed to death when a pickup truck fell off the jack as he was attempting to steal the wheels. The police commissioner of Cambridge, Massachusetts, admitted there was no scientific evidence to support the statement in his training manual that Mexican-Americans' diet makes them immune to pepper spray. An anesthesiologist in San Francisco was charged with stealing her colleagues' credit cards from their lockers and buying designer clothes. In Panama City, Florida, two police cars collided on the way to a doughnut shop (the shop was a crime scene). Four veterinarians in Nelson, British Columbia, who treated ten dogs exhibiting "hallucinogenic stupor" believed they ate wild marijuana near the town's railroad tracks.

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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