News of the Weird

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The Independent Culture

Sussex: The Heartline pages of the Brighton edition of Friday-Ad contain this item: "Gosport, date 07/02/98, shared a cab to my car. You - Elson, me - Rowner. Name the car, colour and where parked. You've got a daughter." Any Elsons in Brighton or thereabouts had until midnight on Wednesday to reach Rowner on 0640 698 073 and hear her recall the one-night stand. She is not after anything - "I can cope on me [sic[ own" - but thinks any grandmother would like to know.


Rhode Island: Philip Girard, who runs a tattoo parlour in Tiverton, has told the Knights in Swansea that he took the cement frog from their garden on a world tour. The original plan had been to reunite them on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, but this was cancelled. To prove his claim, he has duplicates of the photos he sent from exotic locales.

Political Science

Texas: At Ernie's Car Wash in Lake Jackson there are two lanes, now designated for use by those in favour of impeachment (1,571) and those against (749). Said Ernie Davis (neutral): "A lot of people are very adamant. They will back out of one lane to go into the other."

Nature Notes

Australia: Protected bats in your attic? Beware the case of Monique Todhunter of Queensland, who was bitten two years ago by a flying fox. Though vaccine was sent to her doctor, the state's public-health manager thought "it wasn't necessary. Even when another woman died of lyssavitus [rabies] we didn't worry because we thought that if Monique had it she would already be sick." Monique's husband, Clint, was told that the vaccine was also a matter of $600 and a trip to Townsville. Meanwhile, the doctor went back to England, and Monique's cold and joint-pains turned into a fatal swelling of the brain.

Legal Circuit

Minnesota: Seneca Foods of Rochester told its Muslim workers that they were going to have to pray outside in the severe cold during Ramadan; a crowd would be in danger close to the heavy industrial machinery inside.

Florida: Rev Gerald Bennett told his probation counsellor that he had taken a sip of ceremonial wine during Communion; this violated the probation and he has lost his driving licence until 2005.

Way to Go

Los Angeles: A study shows that "suicide by cop" is on the increase. Those who taunt the police into shooting them now account for 27 per cent of officers' firearms incidents - more than double that of previous years.

Michigan: Seven workers at the Independence Professional Fireworks factory at Osseo cannot be identified after an explosion.

Singapore: Lawyer Abbas Fakhruddin's wife was deeply asleep with flu medicine when he returned home. He could not open the door, so tried to get in through the kitchen window. We've all done that - but not when we live on the 13th floor, as he did. He slipped and fell to his death.

Michigan: Fremeka O'Steen had given birth to her eighth child two days earlier, and now switched on the hospital television set - and fainted: on the screen was her house, burning. She had left the other children there, with her mother. Six of them died. Their grandmother survived, as did Fremeka's two sisters, one of whom miscarried after jumping from the building.

On the Job

Australia: Dr John Wilson, a psychologist in Hawthorn East, not only turned a session with a female patient into a picnic, the successful aim of which was to seduce her, but he billed Medicare $98 for his time, just as he had done when smoking dope with the patient's brother. The woman complained to the Medical Practices Board that, after they had showered together, she thought that a professional relationship had become a personal one - but Wilson then refused to treat her.

Whirligig of Time

New York: A teacher, Simpson Gray, has fallen foul of regulations at Public School 5 in the Bronx. He gave the library and students six copies of the Bible and four of his own commentaries upon it. He is now suing for $400m. This is not the first time that the law has played a part in his life; before finding God, he was jailed for stealing $22,000 from legal clients.

Tokyo: The wartime leader Hideki Tojo, who issued instructions to bomb Pearl Harbor, was hanged by the Allies - and has now been honoured by a congregation of 600 at the Kudan Kaikan Hall.

Life and Art

Kiev: Four schoolchildren had just seen Paris being exterminated in Armageddon, when they were crushed to death upon leaving the cinema: in a narrow corridor, they ran into a crowd of students impatient for the next showing.

Maryland: The trial began in Easton of Kimberly Hricko, who took her husband Stephen on a murder-mystery weekend, during which he died in a bed fire - while she had gone in the early hours to see a friend because, she said, Stephen had become drunk and wanted sex. The $200,000 insurance pay-out has not been made; a cigar was missing from a box and there was poison in Stephen's body. His friends say that he did not smoke or drink; the defence counters that the poison could have been a result of his working with toxic pesticides and, moreover, he was depressed; as well he might have been, for his wife wanted a divorce, and had offered a colleague $50,000 to have him murdered. Failing that, she considered paralysing him. Their daughter is nine years old.

Cash Flow

China: The controllers of many a NHS Trust drool at the initiative shown by Futia District People's Hospital in Shezkev, which sells human bones from amputees for grafts and transplants. Some people even donate their skeletons; one man had no sooner died from a heart attack than he was turned into 100,000 yuan.

Los Angeles: The IRS is insisting upon immediate payment of $,546,253 by the estate of Nicole Simpson - 55 per cent of the money due from OJ. The family does not dispute this - but has yet to receive anything at all.

Australia: Pacific Power, Sydney Water and the Department of Public Works and Services have an annual bill of $32.1m for workers who do not do anything - but it is too expensive to make them redundant.

Hose in the Know

Australia: The Tasmania Fire Service is protesting that the Rison Prison's fire brigade - staffed by inmates - is being used for fires outside its precincts. Attorney-General Peter Patmore insists it's "a positive contribution to the community".


California: Thao Huynh was jailed for 180 days after a hit-and-run incident. But he was incarcerated for 10 weeks longer as a result of a paperwork problem. He has been offered $9,000 compensation, but is taking the matter further.

New Jersey: Bus accidents are so frequent on the Atlantic City Expressway that officials have decreed that bouquets and wreaths can stay at the roadside for only 10 days.