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News of the Weird


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Lead Stories

A group of athletes and administrators of the traditional Turkish sport of oil wrestling protested to the government in April when they discovered that an organization of gay men was planning to attend a major tournament in July near the city of Edirne to ogle. According to a Reuters news service reporter, "Putting a hand down the opponent's trousers to get a better grip is a common tactic."

The chief justice of oil-rich Brunei ruled in March that Prince Jefri, the 46-year-old brother of the sultan of Brunei, was entitled to an allowance of about $300,000 a month while awaiting trial for allegedly misspending $15 billion while in charge of the country's investments. A preliminary audit showed that Jefri had bought himself $2.7 billion worth of goods in ten years, including 17 airplanes, 2,000 cars, and a huge yacht that he named Tits, with two dinghies named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2.

Government in Action

After Ivory Coast's soccer team was eliminated from the African Nations Cup in January, the country's military ruler, General Robert Guei, had the team arrested and put in a military prison for two days. Addressing the players, Guei said, "I asked that you be taken there so you reflect awhile. Next time [if you play badly] you will stay there for military service . . . until a sense of civic pride gets into your heads."

In January a Philadelphia city-funded community organization published a pamphlet of health and safety tips for prostitutes, which recommended always getting on top, negotiating price before getting into a car, and getting the money in advance. Also in January, a member of the Canadian Parliament released a list of pamphlets recently funded by the government, including "How to Communicate With the Dead," "How to Stimulate the G-spot," and "How to Understand and Enjoy an Orgasm."

Despite many government-sponsored antismoking programs, a Senate subcommittee found last year that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had spent $4.2 million since 1996 to help Native Americans build discount cigarette stores as part of the federal community block-grant program. (In April of this year legislation was introduced in the Senate to end the practice.)

In January a New York judge ruled after four hearings in three years that Krystyna Maliszewska, 51, of Brooklyn was not eligible for workers' compensation because she had not provided the proper "medical evidence" that her leg had been amputated. Maliszewska attended each hearing and could have shown her artificial leg and the stump that ends at her right knee but was never even asked to speak. After a February New York Daily News story, the state quickly reopened the case.

People With Issues

Wynema Faye Shumate, 65, was arrested in Ladson, South Carolina, in March on two charges of mishandling a dead body. The case came to light after a 27-year-old Englishman flew to America to marry Shumate after a hot Internet romance but discovered that Shumate was not the thirtyish woman she had claimed to be. According to police, when the man asked Shumate if she had any other surprises, she told him about the carved-up body in the freezer, that of her male former housemate, who Shumate said had died the year before of natural causes. Shumate was cleared of causing the death, but the Englishman says the wedding is off.

A judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, told U.S. navy program analyst Kristin Kierig in November that she could keep the 104 cats that share her town house in Annandale, Virginia, because the house is apparently clean and the cats groomed and in good health. Kierig produced medical records on the cats, showed that she cleans the 101 litter boxes twice a day and keeps the 15 water bowls and 20 food bowls stocked, and said she can recognize each cat by name, but she did confess that her house might have an "odor."

In March, Benjamin Thomas Douglas, 34, was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the latest in what police call serial public masturbation incidents in the middle of department stores in Dallas and its suburbs of Plano and Mesquite. And the month before, Philadelphia police were looking for a man in his early 20s suspected in seven incidents of public masturbation at area fast-food outlets over a four-month period; in each case, according to the police reports, the man reached a climax quickly and then left without his order.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has regularly reported highway truck spills over the years, but a December spill in Providence, Rhode Island, wove in another News of the Weird theme: the wayward public employee. Rhode Island department of transportation maintenance supervisor Thomas E. Jackvony Jr. was charged with larceny after an 18-wheeler spilled grocery items; according to police, during the cleanup Jackvony stowed some items in his car. Police recovered 15 packages of cookies, 15 electronic scales, and 20 cassette tapes.

More divine dentistry: A News of the Weird roundup last July listed several cities in which worshipers had claimed that gold teeth and fillings appeared in their mouths in place of the previous porcelain and silver after prayer. Later that year, similar divine outbreaks occurred at a church in Weatherford, Texas, and in Orangevale, California. As in earlier instances, some of the faithful stuck to their claims even when their dental records showed they'd had gold fillings all along.

The Only Way Out

In December a 57-year-old man in Halifax, England, distraught at his wife's death, decapitated himself with a homemade guillotine. In January a 30-year-old man trying to kill himself in Rustenberg, South Africa, put a firecracker in his mouth and lit it; the explosion shook his house and mangled his face, but he survived. In February a 29-year-old man, arguing with his fiancee on a cell phone while driving to work during rush hour near Washington, D.C., shot himself to death; the resulting collision tied up traffic for hours.

In the Last Month

A man in a wheelchair wearing a beanie robbed a bank in Pleasant Hill, California, instructing the tellers to fill the beanie with cash. A woman in Bennington, Vermont, won $171,000 from a jury for slipping on a piece of broccoli in a supermarket. A police officer in Washington, D.C., was found guilty of sexual assault, becoming the 16th officer on the force in 15 months to be convicted of a crime. The Ohio liquor-control agency banned the Belgian ale Manneken Pis because its label features a boy urinating.

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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