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News of the Weird

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At a January runway show in Milan, Italy, British designer Vivienne Westwood introduced several new fashions from her "Man" collection: her male models wore frilly cuffs, bloused sleeves, and bonnetlike scarves, as well as form-fitting knit turtlenecks and jumpers over fake breasts. Westwood--who in the 70s helped popularize "punk" fashion like ripped T-shirts, safety pins, and dog collars--explained that her designs had to do with "how men are so attached to the breast of their mother, a symbol of eternal warmth."

In January a Montana district judge handling the case of attempted-murder suspect Tessa Haley ruled that Miranda rights apply to all of a suspect's multiple personalities. As "Martha," Haley called 911 to say she'd stabbed her roommate, but when police arrived she denied knowledge of the call (or of anyone named Martha). After being arrested and advised of her rights, she requested that an attorney be present before further questioning; before one could be provided, however, she turned back into Martha and confessed again. Judge Thomas Honzel threw out the confession because it was made after Haley asked for a lawyer.

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In November in Marked Tree, Arkansas, 33-year-old Michael Brown was charged with burglarizing a bank lobby after security cameras caught him making off with a clock radio and a fistful of Dum Dum suckers, which the bank keeps on hand for customers' children. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, police followed a trail of Dum Dum wrappers down the street, across a set of railroad tracks, and into the trailer park where Brown lives.

Latest Cutting-Edge Research

In August, Glasgow University psychology professor Barry Jones reported that men and women who've had two pints of beer perceive people of the opposite sex to be 25 percent more attractive than before they started drinking.

Latest Rights

In November in Hawthorne, California, convicted rapist Jaime Garcia Padilla, 42, lost his state appeal; he'd argued that his girlfriend had unlawfully seized his sperm, which had been used to convict him. The girlfriend's sister had claimed Padilla had surprised her in bed and raped her in the dark; to find out if Padilla had done it, the girlfriend had sex with him and handed the semen over to authorities (it matched a sample taken from the sister). The court ruled that because Padilla hadn't "express[ed] any further interest" in his semen after he ejaculated with his girlfriend, he "lost all possessory interest in [it]."

In November in Recklinghausen, Germany (near Cologne), managers of the local zoo learned they'd broken the law by summarily dismissing a zookeeper who'd been caught barbecuing and eating seven animals on park grounds (five Tibetan mountain chickens and two Cameroonian sheep, all from the petting zoo). After a labor court hearing, the zookeeper was awarded six months' severance pay.

People Different From Us

In December the Boston Globe profiled homeless philosopher Donald Keaney, 61, who lives in a forest preserve in the middle of Boston, less than a mile from the home where he grew up. Keaney sleeps under a plastic tarp with several heavy blankets; his other "furniture" consists of tens of thousands of newspapers dating back to 1991 (among his favorites are the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Investors Business Daily), which he uses as insulation or stacks neatly in plastic bags around his makeshift home. A political conservative, Keaney attends protests, lectures, and concerts; he is also the beneficiary of a large trust fund that he has so far ignored. "Living in the woods, you can see life is very tragic," he told the Globe. "I don't know if I'm a misanthrope, but [people] have a lot of limitations."

Unclear on the Concept

In November in New Britain, Connecticut, police confiscated a 50-foot-long heap of contraband, including mailboxes, political signs, and pumpkins--the spoils of a scavenger hunt held by the 42 girls on New Britain High School's drill team, the Canettes. Despite the shock expressed by parents and school personnel, the Canettes seemed to have a hard time understanding they'd done anything wrong. According to the Hartford Courant, a girl who'd helped pull a mailbox out of the ground explained: "I just thought it was a custom...kind of like a camaraderie thing [and] if the seniors said it was OK and they were in charge, then it was OK."

In the Last Month

Officials in Rankin Inlet, Canada, on the northwest shore of Hudson Bay, began installation of an artificial ice rink, because global warming over the past three decades has shortened hockey season to five months....In Camden, England, a murdered woman who'd been decapitated and dismembered was identified when the coroner checked the serial numbers on her breast implants....And the city council in Bend, Oregon, banned spitting and defecating on its transit buses, adding that riders are also prohibited from producing "a grossly repulsive odor."

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

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