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Lead Stories

Moscow TV now airs a program called The Naked Truth, which features a 26-year-old female anchor who often delivers news topless, while undressing, or while being fondled. According to an October New York Times report, however, the station's policy is that she must be fully clothed while delivering any news regarding President Putin or other leading officials.

A Quebec-based sect, the Raelians, announced in September that it would immediately start trying to clone an American girl who died recently at the age of ten months whose parents paid the Raelians $500,000 to duplicate her. According to a Princeton University researcher, the technology exists to carry out the work within a year. Founder "Rael" (the former Claude Vorilhon) believes that all humans are clones of extraterrestrials and says Raelians could eventually offer a cloning service for about $200,000.

Electric Chair Mania!

"Rides" called "The Original Shocker" at an arcade in Rockville, Maryland, and "The Electric Chair Game" at theme parks in Italy simulate experiences in a death-row electric chair. Amid clouds of smoke and the sound of sizzling juice, riders are strapped in and administered a dose of electricity until they can't take it anymore; "winning" involves staying in the chair until the machine declares you dead. And one popular toy released last summer was a doll called Death Row Marv, who is strapped into an electric chair and talks trash to his "executioner," almost begging to be lit up with more jolts of electricity.

Unclear on the Concept

State officials near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, issued $100 citations in August to two drivers whose U.S. government water trucks were on their way to fight the forest fires in Montana. The officials discovered that the trucks exceeded the highway weight limit of 17 tons (by 1 and 2 tons respectively). According to the Helena Independent Record, the trucks were permitted to go on only after they had dumped enough water to satisfy the inspectors.

In a video outtake mistakenly telecast on a Cape Cod public access cable channel in July, the organizer of a cat-adoption service was shown being yelled at by her cameraman husband to get the cat she was offering for adoption to stop squirming. One viewer told the Cape Cod Times that the husband "must have used the 'F' word 50 times" and threatened to strangle the kitten.

Schemes

In July a federal grand jury in Charlotte, North Carolina, indicted 18 people in an interstate cigarette-smuggling ring (profitable because of the wide disparity in state taxes). At least part of the motivation for the scheme, according to the government, was to raise money for the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Cristal Campbell, 29, was arrested again on July 12 in Boston after escaping from custody and spending five days on the lam. At a court hearing five days earlier, she urinated on the floor, claiming that she was pregnant and that her water had broken. Campbell was rushed to a hospital by concerned court personnel, who fell for the trick. After court personnel took her to the hospital on July 7, she escaped twice more.

Cliches Come to Life

Yell what in a crowded theater?: In June, Sasha Aleksandr McClain Coe, 22, was charged with reckless endangerment in Sevierville, Tennessee, after setting off a string of firecrackers in a theater during the movie The Patriot. Seventy-eight panicked patrons scrambled to get out the doors, but once outside they surrounded Coe and held him for the police.

Man bites dog: In Canton, Ohio, Richard Nelson, 40, fleeing on foot after being stopped in a stolen car, found his arm in the grip of Bear, a police dog, and decided to retaliate by biting the dog on the nose. Instead, Nelson's bite caused Bear to tighten its jaws so hard that one of the dog's teeth broke off in Nelson's arm and had to be surgically removed.

Update

Innocent middle-named Waynes? In July CBS News and three newspapers jointly offered to underwrite DNA testing of a man convicted of a 1981 rape-murder and executed in 1996 to determine whether the judicial system had put an innocent man to death: Ellis Wayne Felker of Perry, Georgia. In August, Texas governor George W. Bush issued a pardon to convicted rapist Roy Wayne Criner (the victim was also murdered, but Criner was charged only with the rape) because his DNA did not match that found on the victim, as reported in News of the Weird in July.

Least Competent Criminals

Traffic patrol officers often find suspected drunk drivers trying to switch seats with a passenger before the officer can reach the car--only a good idea if the passenger is more sober than the driver. In July police in Lake City, Tennessee, witnessed a driver-passenger switch, but both failed sobriety tests (along with the two people in the backseat). And in August, police in Hackensack, New Jersey, stopped a weaving van to discover an open bottle of Scotch, a drunk 20-year-old man in the driver's seat, and a drunk 22-year-old man sitting in his lap; apparently the two men got stuck trying to execute the switch.

In the Last Month

A female placekicker who was cut from the Duke University football team won $2 million when a jury attributed her release primarily to her gender, despite evidence that several competitors were better kickers. In White Deer, Pennsylvania, two prison guards were indicted for smuggling out the sperm of organized-crime inmates, who later became fathers despite their long incarcerations. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays apologized to members of a local high school band scheduled to play the national anthem for making them buy tickets to get into the ballpark. In Linwood Township, Minnesota, a 54-year-old ex-marine stabbed his new son-in-law (a member of the air force) during a heated discussion over which military branch is best.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weird@compuserve.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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