News of the Weird

STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE HEADLINES
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Hard Times

Texas: Perhaps John Lawrence's neighbours in Houston really did see an intruder; perhaps they were being mischievous. When police burst into his apartment, they found him enjoying a spot of buggery with Tyrone Garner. In Texas, this is illegal, even with the drapes drawn and the horses tranquil. Each man was fined $125 but neither has paid.

Unholy Calling

Northants: Do not ring up Michael Eden, vicar of St Columa's, in Corby, for an earful of Paradise. The former telephone engineer creates a new message on his answering-machine every couple of months. Right now, callers are treated to Lionel Ritchie: "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" Mr Eden cuts in, then the Spice Girls take over: "So tell me what you want, what you really, really want". After a few words from Mr Eden it rounds off with James Taylor: "You've got a friend". Eden, known as the Rocking Rev, is unrepentant: "Some may think I'm daft, but most people know what I am like anyway."

Vatican City: PCs are certainly correct here: three of the Holy City's computers are known as Raphael, Michael and Gabriel. Raphael maintains a firewall to prevent hackers posting subversive material on the Pope's website.

Extra Curricular

Wisconsin: Mass-murder has been narrowly averted in the small town of Burlington. Several 15-year-old pupils at the High School, upset by derision of their black shirts, Devil's bible and heavy metal, laid detailed plans to kidnap staff and demand pupils to be brought to them for killing. They have been suspended.

Boston: A 13-year-old boy, annoyed at being transferred from the William Howard Taft school for disciplinary reasons, became even more out of hand: intercepted notes reveal a plot to spread gasoline in the basement and set fire to it. Said his mother, "He's a good kid."

Burning Love

Tennessee: There is to be an Elvis Presley cigar "because of his impact on popular culture". Moreover, "like the man, the cigar will make a lasting impression with its strong sense of individuality and distinctive taste."

Philadelphia: The Monell Chemical Services Center reports that the breast milk of women who smoke tastes of tobacco and gives infants who are fed on it a propensity to smoke in later years.

Florida: Judge Steven Shutter, of Plantation, is even more of a hardliner since the state brought in new anti-smoking laws. Anybody aged under 18 who is caught smoking faces a $25 fine or 16 hours' community service. "I think the law is outrageous," snarls one offender. "I don't even really like cigarettes. But sometimes I just want one."

Snacking

Colorado: Will Jordan, of Lefthand Canyon, left some fast-food wrappers in his car overnight. He was woken when the vehicle began rattling and shaking. A 300lb bear, attracted by the smell, had opened the door, got in and become trapped. Said a police officer, "You could see in his eyes he wasn't a happy bear." A wildlife officer crawled to the car, opened the door and retreated; the bear nervously got out and headed for the woods. Do bears relieve themselves in automobiles? Yes, choked Mr Jordan.

Texas: Lance Pope, of Terrell, a rural town near Dallas, keeps three lions. He was feeding them when a playful one, the 500lb Queen, mauled him for 45 minutes. He would have died had not the even larger Slappy jumped on Queen.

Florida: James Curren, 77, of Palm Harbor, has a sleepwalking problem. He woke up the other night when his perambulation ended in a pond full of alligators. His walking-stick came in handy until his screams alerted a neighbour.

Some Mistake

Rhode Island: Scott Hanson walked out of prison in Providence and robbed a bank. He had posed as a federal marshall and convinced a prison official to sign forged papers.

Justice

Chicago: earlier this autumn we noted that a judge, Fe Fernadez, dismissed charges of child abuse because the alleged perpetrator was Sicilian and probably didn't know any different. An appeal court has overturned this ruling. Fernadez has been transferred to the Traffic Court and given sensitivity training.

Philippines: Romeo Jalosjos kept his congressional seat despite raping an 11-year-old girl and being sent for life to jail - where he had a private house and tennis court built, and recently celebrated his 59th birthday with two roast calves, four roast pigs and a children's choir.

Living Dead

Florida: John Konicek died a year ago and was buried at sea. The other day, a man and his dog found the body on the shore at Marineland. Officials blame Hurricane Mitch.

Bureaucracy

Kentucky: in Louisville, fireman Mike Mudd has been suspended, for wearing a bullet-proof vest. These are deemed infra dig among emergency workers: they also deludewearers into feeling invulnerable.

New York: Edward Aragi, of Pound Ridge, was disgruntled by People's Bank when it bounced one of his cheques. So he decided to show them how slowly a buck could move in their system. He shot a male deer and dragged the corpse into the bank. "He did end up getting attention," said a policeman. Aragi's charges could now include six months' jail and a $1,000 fine.

So Far So Bad

Ohio: Sofas continue to be a subject of controversy in America. This September, in North Carolina, Wilson's fogeyish authorities attempted to banish shambolic, bursting sofas from verandas; now Athens has applied the same order to students in off-campus housing.

Albania: A couple of villagers thought that they had got a bargain when they bought a second-hand sofa. As they pushed it home on a barrow it blew up and injured them. A grenade had been trapped beneath the cushions.

Dogged Pursuit

Vermont: The rapist of a 26-year-old woman told her that he had a dog Obie, short for Obidya, and that his own was an unusual first name. It was not long before police knocked on the door of Hazard Campbell.

California: Jeremiah Gerbracht used to have a dog called Jenny who could climb trees. Now he has Lady Harley, a Siberian husky who is happy to curl up on the petrol tank of his motorbike as he speeds along the freeways. They have been hauled up before the judge for this three times but always got off because the law was not framed to apply to animals.

Many Extras

Utah: "It's a nice little runner." Motor-car salesman Charles Lopez of Ogden denies going even further in his patter and offering to overlook bad-credit records if the applicant had sex with him.

Ark and Sore

Tennessee: Despite protests by animal-lovers in Murfreesboro, the unstaffed drop-off center for unwanted pets will continue. Animals are put through one of three doors, according to species, and fall via a chute to the appropriate depository.

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