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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Last month a report from the Stanford University School of Medicine identified a physiological disorder that causes sleeping people to act out rough sex and even rape. Professor Christian Guilleminault said that the problem at first seemed to be psychological but that glitches had appeared in the brain waves of all his test subjects.

Last month, when Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni traveled to Coolup, Australia, to accept an award for lowering his country's AIDS infection rate from 28 percent to 6 percent, he implied that the task was made easier because no one in his country is gay (last year Amnesty International issued a report condemning the torture of homosexuals in Uganda)....That same month officials of the African National Congress issued a report questioning the existence of HIV and attributing the 4.7 million cases of AIDS in South Africa to the products of Western pharmaceutical companies.

Rimshot, Please

In January, Ted Hudson was arrested in Casper, Wyoming, for allegedly setting up a secret video camera in his boss's bathroom and catching the man's wife showering, a stunt he claimed was just a practical joke....That same month deputy sheriff Gabriel Bruno was arrested for placing feces in the sinks of two Rhode Island Superior Court judges, which he also called a practical joke....And last month Idaho state representative Kent Higgins presented two colleagues who advocate early childhood education with a swastika-adorned photograph of a child from a breeding scheme in Nazi Germany, later telling his stunned colleagues that it was all a joke.

The Continuing Crisis

Two months ago a man was murdered in Menlo Park, California, by someone who phoned in a pizza order for the victim, waited until the victim opened the door for the delivery man, and then shot him. According to a neighbor interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the delivery man fled after the shots were fired, but a few minutes later another man arrived, gathered up the pizzas that had been left behind, and resumed the route.

In February, 47-year-old Steven McDonald chose to act as his own attorney during a trial in Mount Vernon, Washington, and when he took the witness stand, he used the simplistic tactic of posing questions to himself. Earlier a witness had testified that the perpetrator was "arguing with himself" at the crime scene; when McDonald reached this point in the case he asked, "Mr. McDonald, have you ever talked to yourself?"

Smooth Reactions

In February, 22-year-old Leon Watson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was arrested for allegedly beating his two-year-old son; Watson said the boy had given him a "mad dog" look reminiscent of gang members staring down rivals....That same month a jury in Galveston, Texas, convicted Thomas Mitchell of shooting his girlfriend; Mitchell said she'd uttered the words New Jersey, among the four names that send him into a rage (the others are Wisconsin, Snickers, and Mars bar).

Bovine Intervention

Two months ago People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested a fund-raiser for Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, that offered "cow-patty bingo," in which a field is divided into squares, donors place bets on them, and the winning square is the first to receive a cow deposit. PETA accused the organizers of feeding the cow laxatives (which they denied) and subjecting the cow to emotional abuse because the game is "silly" and "demeaning." Cow-patty bingo continues at state fairs in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and Calgary, Alberta.

Our Civilization in Decline

According to a report last month in the Washington Times, Iraq appears to be preparing construction contracts in a serious bid to host the 2012 Olympics....And in February the Department of Corrections for Washington State admitted that, lacking sufficient halfway-house facilities, it had lodged high-risk sex offenders at hotels and motels without informing guests in adjacent rooms.

In the Last Month

After being shot in the leg, a 23-year-old man in Bend, Oregon, removed the bullet with an X-acto knife, and the shooter bought it back for $200 to hinder the prosecution's case against him....A 73-year-old woman outside a Wal-Mart in Geneseo, Illinois, was trapped by a spring-loaded newspaper vending machine for 20 minutes before an employee agreed to put another 50 cents in the machine and free her....And a man in Telford, Tennessee, applied for a credit card from AT&T Universal and was accidentally mailed 2,986 rejection letters.

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

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