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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

A number of news outlets in South Africa reported in November that a 20-foot African rock python had suffocated and swallowed a ten-year-old boy who was gathering fallen fruit in a mango plantation near Durban. Several children witnessed the attack, and hid up in the trees until the snake moved on; according to one, it took the victim about three hours to completely disappear. Though rock pythons have never been known to eat humans, some experts, including Durban snake-park owner Craig Smith, say the children's accounts are credible--especially since the snake had probably just awakened from winter hibernation and would've been famished.

In November on the Pacific islands of Fiji, British army recruitment officers interviewed and examined over 500 applicants, and reported encountering a large number of men with marbles sewn under the skin of their penises--a practice intended to heighten pleasure during sex. The marbles did not automatically disqualify a potential recruit, according to an Agence France-Presse report: one of the visiting officers, Captain Sarah East, said that 106 of the men will "probably" get into the army.

Recent Rages

Mailbox Door Rage: In November in Lexington, Kentucky, 40-year-old George Krushinski was charged with planting bombs in a mailbox and in a postal employee's vehicle because a weekend letter carrier had been leaving Krushinski's mailbox door down. Wrong Socks Rage: In November in San Diego, high school student Trevor LeBlanc was awarded $25,000 in a lawsuit against his band director, Tom Cole, who'd chewed LeBlanc out for wearing orange socks instead of white at the 2001 Tournament of Roses parade. (Cole allegedly grabbed LeBlanc by the throat, shook him, and said, "I ought to wring your [expletive] neck.")

Awesome!

In September in Fulton, Kentucky, officers investigating a complaint by William Hainline's neighbors found marijuana burning on a backyard grill; Hainline had placed a large fan on the other side of the house to suck the smoke through the building, which in effect "turned the house into a large marijuana bong," according to police chief Terry Powell. It was Hainline's 52nd birthday, and the officers who raided his "party" seized four pounds of pot and a cache of weapons and explosives.

Latest Religious Messages

In October in Parramatta, Australia, 19-year-old Farhad Qaumi was arrested and charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in the backseat of a car; according to the police report, before the assault Qaumi removed an Islamic pendant he was wearing, telling the girl, "I have to take it off as it is disrespectful."

Creme de la Weird

In October in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 55-year-old Rosaire Roy was sentenced to a year in jail for hiring Tracy Bannab to pretend to rob his store with a pellet gun as part of a complicated sexual fantasy; after making sure that a particular female acquaintance of Roy's was in the store, Bannab forced the two of them to undress and tied them to each other in a compromising position. (Bannab was not charged, on the grounds that she hadn't known the other woman wasn't in on the scheme.)

Recurring Themes

In January more than 60 refugees at the Woomera detention center in Australia, many of then Afghans, lobbied for asylum by going on a hunger strike, sewing their mouths shut to demonstrate their seriousness; a smaller group of immigrants followed suit during a second protest in June. In May in Estonia, a 34-year-old man charged with setting a Mercedes-Benz on fire showed up in court with stitched lips; he'd used a needle and thread provided to inmates for mending their clothes. And in September in Zurich, Switzerland, a 39-year-old Iraqi man, foaming at the mouth and with bright red stitching through his lips, was picked up by police in a city square; he was unable to explain what he was protesting, if anything.

In the past News of the Weird has reported on men who shared ill-advised cuddles with their pet rattlesnakes. In November in Yacolt, Washington, Matthew George, 21, was hospitalized in critical condition after a rattlesnake he'd found in Arizona in October bit him on the lip as he tried to kiss it. (He was showing off for a friend.) When a reporter for the Oregonian asked snake expert Richard Ritchey who he thought was responsible for the incident (George or the snake), he answered, "The one with the bigger brain," but did not say which one that might be.

In the Last Month

A leading British plastic surgeon said that human face transplants will be possible within a year (although the recipient will not look like the donor)....In Palmetto, Florida, a redevelopment agency announced it was evicting 40 families of Latino migrant or blue-collar workers the week after Christmas, so that Habitat for Humanity could tear down their duplexes and build low-income housing on the site....In Charleston, West Virginia, an inmate returning to jail from his day job at a recycling center tested with a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.20--he'd been drinking the last drops from all the liquor bottles he sorted.

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

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