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News of the Weird


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According to a May report in the Los Angeles Times, human-egg brokers are doing a brisk business in the U.S., with the average woman getting as much as $5,000 for a multiple-egg harvest and certain tall, athletic, brainy blonds commanding $80,000. Donors undergo a hormone regimen lasting several weeks and then have the eggs extracted by syringe; several Ivy League women told the Times that with a single visit they can pay off all their bills for the semester.

CIA sources interviewed by the New York Times in May say that, aided by a ghostwriter, Saddam Hussein recently completed a 160-page romantic novel called Zabibah and the King. The heroine, whose name translates as "people of Iraq," is raped in a scene that's thought to be an allegory of the gulf war. Sample dialogue: "I'm a great leader. You must obey me. Not only that, you must love me." And "The people need strict measures so that they can feel protected by this strictness."

In May, British researchers told the American Society of Clinical Oncology that a poison used by South African Zulu tribesmen to coat the tips of their spears and arrows could be a major weapon against cancer of the lungs, colon, and ovaries. The toxin, which comes from the root bark of the Cape bush willow, appears to deprive human cancer tumors of blood without harming the surrounding tissue.

Brianna Stewart, who graduated in spring 2000 from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington, was exposed earlier this year as 31-year-old Treva Throneberry and charged with fraud and perjury. Throneberry has masqueraded as a homeless teenager twice before, in Pennsylvania and Texas. During her career at Evergreen she earned a D in drama class (despite her successful ruse) and got a 45-year-old man jailed for having sex with a minor (which of course she was not).

Latest Rights

Richard L. Greist, who killed his pregnant wife and stabbed his daughter and grandmother in 1978, recently sued the state mental hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he's been a patient for 23 years. Greist, a severe paranoid schizophrenic, complained that hospital officials violated his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act when they refused to consider him for an in-house job as a clerk.

In February, Debby Messer of Livonia, Michigan, filed a $1 million lawsuit against the estate of her late ex-husband, Gordie Milner, alleging that he harassed her after their divorce and that she still fears him even though he committed suicide in July 2000. Quoted in the Detroit News, Messer said, "I'm just hoping that even in your death, Gordie, you cannot hurt me...and continue to hurt me...and hurt the children."

The Knees of the Few

In January a federal judge in Toronto ruled in favor of a prisoner who was suing Her Majesty the Queen because prison guards failed to provide him with a lower bunk in his cell. Khon Ha Tri, who was serving a term for drug trafficking, injured his knee while playing soccer in August 1996 and later fell while coming out of the shower, aggravating his injury. A prison doctor who treated him wrote guards a note directing that the patient be given a lower bunk, but Tri's cell mate refused to give up the bunk, guards did nothing about it, and Tri fell from an upper bunk several times, eventually tearing a knee ligament. (Tri was released from prison after filing his suit but has since been jailed again on another charge.)

Not My Fault

In March a federal grand jury in Philadelphia indicted former U.S. Representative Edward Mezvinsky, alleging that he defrauded banks and investment clients of $10.4 million (including $300,000 from his mother-in-

law). The next day Mezvinsky sued his doctor, his pharmacy, and pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding, claiming that the antimalaria drug Lariam, which he had taken for business trips to Africa, had fogged up his thinking.

People Different From Us

In April a judge in Charleston, West Virginia, sentenced 38-year-old James Dale Duncan to 20 to 40 years in prison for having sex with his 13-year-old daughter, ostensibly to teach her about sex and birth control. Duncan insisted that he was acting only "from a parent's point of view and not a pervert's"; his sister agreed, telling the judge, "He didn't do this for pleasure." Duncan showed no remorse after the sentencing and declared, "I'm going to jail knowing she won't end up pregnant."

Thinning the Herd

During a snowball fight with a coworker, a 46-year-old toll collector in Wilmington, Delaware, reached out of his booth to grab a handful of snow from a passing 18-wheeler and was dragged to his death....And in April a 19-year-old man in Largo, Florida, went through a red light while fleeing the scene of a minor traffic accident and was killed.

In the Last Month

A judge in Knoxville, Tennessee, threw out charges against a couple who were allegedly carrying 560 pounds of marijuana because the search was triggered by an incompetent police dog, two-thirds of whose previous discoveries had turned out to be bogus....A Los Angeles man was arrested for locking his five-year-old nephew in a car whose temperature exceeded 100 degrees; the man was worried that his stereo would be stolen if he left the car unattended....A Good Humor vendor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was convicted of disrupting classes at a public school because so many junior-high kids were walking out to buy ice cream....And Sweetie, a dog owned by Glenda Stevens of Park Hills, Missouri, was hit by a mail truck, presumed dead, and given a ceremonial burial in Stevens's backyard. Minutes later the dog dug its way out of the grave; it's now recovering from a broken leg and jaw.

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

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

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