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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

In recent months two different Hindu cults in India have begun to embrace ancient sacrifice rituals, one using horses and the other using the nara bali practice of human sacrifice. In the village of Juna Padia, 150 priests participated in ceremonies to slaughter ten horses and collect their deified blood for the cause of peace and prosperity. A paucity of human volunteers has compelled the Kamakhya Temple in Assam to use human effigies made of flour.

In March the Los Angeles Times reported that more parents in South Korea are having outpatient mouth surgery performed on their preschoolers to snip the tissue under the tongue. Greater tongue freedom, they believe, will permit the child to pronounce the difficult l and r sounds that have so long stigmatized English-speaking Asians.

In-Turmoil Revenue Service

In April the IRS admitted to a Washington Post reporter that it had paid out $30 million in fraudulent refunds over the past two years, allowing black taxpayers (including 12 IRS employees) to claim the nonexistent slavery reparations credit and collect about $40,000. The agency did catch $2.4 billion in slavery claims before checks were sent out.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Late last year the Miami company PetClean USA made the first American purchase of Spanish inventor Andres Diaz's $20,000, side-loading, automatic cat-washing machine. The 37-nozzle machine processes a cat in three cycles totaling 30 minutes.

In Croatia, Vladimir Markov has designed "antirape" jeans with a steel top button that's code-locked to discourage attackers....And at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, a college student has invented a vest with the vibrating units of eight cellular phones sewn into the garment, strategically placed to stimulate parts of the abdomen aided by acupuncture.

Tyson Foods CEO John Tyson collected a $2.1 million bonus last year despite a dismal economic performance and a federal indictment against six employees for allegedly smuggling illegal aliens into the U.S. to work at 15 plants in nine states.

Weird Science

In January a farmer in Manitoba, Canada, sued four doctors and the Brandon Regional Health Authority after he contracted the flesh-eating bacteria while undergoing colon surgery and had to have his buttocks amputated.

People With Issues

At press time the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board was still pondering what to do about Pittsburgh common pleas judge H. Patrick McFalls Jr., after recent allegations that in late December 2001 he created a disturbance at an airport ticket counter while visiting Charlotte, North Carolina; that in February he gave his $60,000 car to a parking valet as a gift, forgot about the incident, and later reported the car stolen; that on February 9, during a visit to Miami Beach, he was arrested for making a scene with a cabdriver over the fare; that on February 14 he removed his pants at a restaurant; that on March 30 he was arrested at a theater for becoming boisterous during a movie; and that the same day he allowed his pants to fall down repeatedly while having an animated conversation on the street.

Least Justifiable Homicides

Dean Glick, 41, convicted two months ago in Scottsdale, Arizona, killed his mother because she wouldn't pay the $1,850 fee he'd promised his date from an escort service....In January, 56-year-old Joseph Rich was arrested in Broward County, Florida, for allegedly killing his roommate in an argument over whether to turn the lights off....And last December in Pittsburgh, 50-year-old Kenneth Hairston was charged with killing his wife and son to prevent them from seeing him tried for rape.

Least Competent Criminals

According to a March story in the Boston Globe, convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer, imprisoned at the MCI-Norfolk facility in Massachusetts for a brutal attack on an elderly woman, has spent nearly two decades waging "a public campaign maintaining his innocence." LaGuer recently demanded a DNA test on semen recovered from the rape, his supporters raised $30,000 for the test, and on March 22 the results identified the sperm as LaGuer's.

Early this year 44-year-old Marshall Thomas, suspected of a 1999 rape, received his long-begged-for DNA test in Belleville, Illinois. That case is still pending, but Thomas's DNA has been matched to an earlier, unsolved rape, and prosecutors say they plan to file additional charges against him.

In the Last Month

In Lewiston, Maine, a 32-year-old man fled into the woods on foot after a police traffic stop but was captured after being incapacitated by a skunk's spray....And the city council of Sioux City, Iowa, made another official request to the Federal Aviation Administration to change its airport designation, which is SUX.

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

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