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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Shortly after tighter air-travel restrictions were implemented on August 10, British Airways required that New Zealand runner Kate Horan check her prosthetic leg as luggage--not as a carry-on, which she had long been allowed to do. She was flying from London to Amsterdam to compete in the Paralympic world championships, but the leg was lost among 20,000 items in a Heathrow Airport warehouse. The manufacturer of the prosthesis scrambled to make Horan a new one, but the leg was found a week later, just in time for Horan to compete; at press time, she had won at least one medal. Also in carry-on news: the Transportation Security Administration's ban on liquids, gels, and ointments does not apply to small quantities of "personal lubricants"--such as gels popular as sex aids.

Cultural Diversity

A harsh winter has reduced Colombia's exports of the hormiga culona, or big-butt queen ant, prompting a spike in prices for chocolate-dipped ants in London and ant-based sauces and spreads at home, according to an Associated Press dispatch in August. And a July Reuters story calls New York's Explorers Club virtually the only place where gourmands can enjoy such delicacies as scorpion, cricket, tarantula, and maggot, as well as the eyeballs and testicles of livestock.

In August police arrested five strippers who were performing at a funeral in China's rural Jiangsu province to boost attendance; many there believe that a well-attended funeral leads to a successful afterlife. Village officials established a "funeral misdeeds" hotline shortly after the arrests. And Chinese in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia recently celebrated the "hungry ghost" festival, a period during which the gates of hell supposedly open and ghosts forage for food on earth. To help appease them, Buddhists create paper effigies of items they would like to make use of after they die, such as maids and TV sets.

Problem Solving

In August Darrell Rodgers, 40, was treated at Bloomington Hospital in Indiana after shooting himself in the left knee because he felt he had to do something to end the pain there. And in Clay County, Florida, in August, 51-year-old electrician Paul Trotman was charged with aggravated child abuse after rigging a device that would deliver electric shocks to a three-year-old boy in his care. Trotman was reportedly attempting to teach a lesson about electricity to the toddler, who had been urinating on wall sockets to watch sparks fly.

In an attempt to raise awareness about groundwater pollution, two concerned citizens of Walpole, Massachusetts, hosted a "pump-out party" in June to teach neighbors how to keep their septic systems in good running order. Wine and cheese were served, though the eating and drinking came to a halt during the cleaning demonstration, according to the Daily News Transcript of suburban Boston.

Faith-Based Initiatives

In August Sarah Yule was fired from her job as an emergency-room receptionist at Saint Mary's Hospital in Troy, New York, because she refused to remove her lip ring. Yule claimed that the ring, along with the rest of her piercings, was integral to her religion, the Church of Body Modification. And in February Joseph Butts was arrested after a traffic stop in Franklin County, Missouri, where he was caught with 338 pounds of marijuana. According to a report in the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, Butts told the officer that his arrest was a hate crime because he was a "special courier" for the Church of Cognizance, which considers marijuana a "deity and a sacrament."

Recent Alarming Headlines

"Shooting Reported at Firing Range" (an August story about an apparent suicide at Shooter's Choice, in the State of Columbia, South Carolina); "Hong Kong Man Found Being Eaten Alive by Maggots" (an August story from the Sydney Morning Herald about a 67-year-old man who was discovered just in time and is recovering); "Asheville Corrections Official Sent to Prison for Sex With Inmate" (an August story in the Winston-Salem Journal).

Creme de la Weird

A recent documentary produced by Britain's Channel 4 (and described in a July story in London's Daily Telegraph) caught up with Oxana Malaya, a 23-year-old Ukrainian woman who was abandoned by her parents as a toddler and raised by dogs until she was eight. One of about 100 known "feral children," Malaya has a tested mental age of six, stilted speech, and an uncoordinated gait. The documentary shows her barking, running on all fours, panting, and drying herself off by shaking.

Least Competent People

Kaleb E. Spangler, 21, suffered severe burns, lacerations, and a concussion in August when, according to his girlfriend, he duct- taped a large "mortar-style" firework onto a football helmet, put it on, and lit it. According to the Herald-Times of Bloomington, Indiana, Spangler had been drinking.

Recurring Themes

In 1993 News of the Weird reported that a nude dancer in Tampa had been spared more serious injury (according to a police officer) when a gunshot to her chest was deflected by her breast implant. In August Agence France-Press reported that an Israeli woman's silicone breast implant saved her from more serious injury from shrapnel when a Hezbollah rocket exploded in Nahariya during the recent fighting.

No Longer Weird: A Look Back

Continuing a review of frequently recurring stories that have been retired from circulation: No Longer Weird number 40 is the person (usually a woman) who hoards animals (usually cats), followed by the carjacker forced to abandon a car because he never learned to drive stick, the criminal suspect who attempts to swim to evade capture and then drowns, and the pervert who hides a tiny video camera in a public restroom.

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

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