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News of the Weird

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Last month sheriff's deputies in Kalispell, Montana, arrested 38-year-old militia leader David Earl Burgert after uncovering his group's "Project 7." Law enforcement officials allege that the plot involved assassinating several county officials (including the local dogcatcher) in hopes of sparking a national revolution. Burgert had amassed a huge arsenal of machine guns and heavy weapons in order to defeat the National Guard and the anticipated waves of Red Chinese from Canada.

Earlier this month the newsletter of a senior citizens' home in Hartford, Connecticut, asked residents to "please stop throwing rice in the garbage disposals," yet the Spanish-language version read, "You have to get used to the fact that you do not live in Puerto Rico, where leftovers were given to the pigs....If [using the garbage can] is too hard for you to do, move and continue with the customs of Puerto Rico." Manager Carmen Aponte, who is of Puerto Rican descent, later apologized.

Charmed, I'm Sure

Last November a Nigerian transportation official urged citizens to concentrate on the rules of the road rather than rely on auto charms to keep them safe....Last month the governor of Trang, Thailand, issued a similar decree when informed that drivers used charms to overcome evil ghosts at major intersections....And in January the Kanda Myojin Shinto shrine in Tokyo began selling its own prayer charms to ward off computer viruses.

Can't Possibly Be True

In January a three-foot-long metal rod fell off a bridge in Knoxville, Tennessee, and impaled a 50-year-old construction worker, traveling point first through his skull and neck, coursing down his trunk, and completely embedding itself in his body. He was semiconscious at the scene but talkative later, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and he survived.

Ausrine Burneikiene, ombudsman for gender equality in Lithuania, argued in January that women should no longer be required to take a gynecological exam to get a driver's license. Apparently lawmakers there believe that some gynecological illnesses manifest themselves suddenly or cause unconsciousness.

9Last month a federal appeals court blocked the release of 65-year-old H. Beatty Chadwick, who has served more than six and a half years in a suburban Philadelphia jail for contempt of court. Chadwick was incarcerated after he failed to produce $2.5 million he'd been ordered to split with his ex-wife; he says he lost the money in a bad investment, but she believes that he'd rather sit in jail than surrender her share of the money.

People Different From Us

Last month sheriff's deputies in Glades County, Florida, arrested a 53-year-old farm laborer on a single count of incest after discovering that in the past 25 years his union with his sister had produced nine children and four grandchildren. The family, which lived in a rural work camp, first drew the attention of deputies when a neighbor reported that the couple kept a casket in their living room containing the remains of an infant son who'd died 12 years earlier.

Least Competent People

Last December 25-year-old Chaddrick Dickson of Monroe, Louisiana, was hospitalized briefly after being wounded by a .22-caliber bullet. Dickson said that he was trying to remove the gunpowder by smashing the bullet's casing against the floor and that he wanted to mix the gunpowder into his dog's food to make the dog meaner.

Our Civilization in Decline

Last month a woman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to six months in jail and 65 lashes for unlawful sexual activity after being raped by her sister's husband....In Whittier, California, a Mexican immigrant found a purse and cell phone, returned them to their owner, and was shot to death, allegedly by the owner's brother-in-law, after asking for a $50 reward....And the public school system in Highland Park, Texas, has announced that it will sell permanent naming rights to dozens of its buildings and facilities (though it will not accept offers from corporations).

In the Last Month

In Woodbury, New Jersey, a man fired from a health-care association filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against his boss, alleging that she displayed in her office a "man sack rack," a device for hanging male genitals....The Georgia parole board issued a rare death-penalty reprieve, issuing a life sentence to an inmate so delusional he believes actress Sigourney Weaver is God....And on the Isle of Wight in England, a woman was convicted of cruelty to animals for throwing her three-foot-long pet iguana at a tavern's bouncer; she argued that the iguana leaped on his own to defend her honor.

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

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