News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*A German television station reported in January that as many as 50,000 former Nazi soldiers (including more than 3000 who live in the U.S.) might be receiving up to $600 a month in German government pensions for World War II injuries, while no comparable government benefit exists for concentration camp survivors. One example cited by the Washington Post was that of Heinz Barth, age 80, an SS officer serving a life sentence for his part in a 1944 massacre in France; he gets $450 a month because he lost a leg.

*In May a San Francisco Chronicle article reported the phenomenon of people addicted to lip balm, especially Chap Stick. According to one addict who studied the problem, Chapstick's ingredients fuse with the skin, requiring constant re-application. Another source cited a better, non-addictive lip balm: one's own nose mucus, which has supposedly been used by watchmakers for years to lubricate tiny gears.

*Sexual Rejuvenations: The Hong Kong Standard reported in February on the thriving business of a Dr. Liu, who runs a hymen restoration practice in Ghangzhou province, China, charging about $500 per procedure. "So many Hong Kong girls come to us just before their wedding," she said. "They don't want their husbands to know they had many boyfriends in the past." And New Scientist magazine reported in January that the German government, fearful of immune-system reactions and the spread of "mad cow" disease, has banned the popular sheep-fetus injections that men and women have been receiving to firm up their buttocks.

Police Blotter
*Peter Lerat, age 33, was arrested in Toronto, Ontario, in May and charged with two robberies, one in a doughnut shop while he was carrying a goose and one on the street while he had a raccoon. In each case he threatened to kill the animal unless someone gave him money. He cleared $60 from a woman in the doughnut shop, but a prospective victim in the second robbery ran to call police, and Lerat was captured nearby.

*Richard Lee Hamrick, age 28, was picked up in Longview, Washington, in February, suspected of being the guy who robbed a Safeway a few minutes before. Not only was he wearing bikini briefs on his head, backward, with eye holes cut in the derriere, but, according to the officers who had to book the evidence, they were soiled.

Cliches Come to Life
*Life imitates prison movies: Joshua John Jaeger, age 25, housed at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in Toronto in January, and David Anderson, detained at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville in April, became the latest inmates to escape by tying bedsheets together and lowering themselves from their windows to the ground. (Anderson even left a pillow-and-blankets dummy in his bed as a decoy.)

No Longer Weird
*Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (19) The person easing into the parking lot of a driver's license office -- either arriving for the exam or just completing it -- who accidentally crashes into the office's storefront, as a woman in Hillsboro, Oregon, did in May and a man in Barrie, Ontario, did in March. And (20) the burglar attempting to enter an establishment from its roof via a vent pipe who gets stuck and must be rescued by the police, or -- as with a twenty-year-old man in Dayton, Ohio, in December -- who suffocates.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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