News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*According to an October Reuters news report, a man who mooned German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in a political protest two years ago near Vienna has decided to appeal his fine of about $357. The man has asked a court to require Kohl to come back to Vienna, take a look at his bare bottom, and certify that he was not among the mooners.

*The King's continuing influence: Voters in Tornved, Denmark, have a chance to vote for Birger Niels Petersen as city councilman this month and possibly enjoy the fulfillment of his campaign promise to rename the town's main street Elvis Presley Boulevard and the town hall Graceland.

Questionable Judgments
*A recently completed work by well-known sculptor John Waddell to commemorate the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing that killed four black girls, offered for free to several museums and churches in Birmingham, has been turned down by all. While other statues depict police dogs and officers' brutality against civil rights demonstrators, Waddell's piece shows four nude black women in a fountain, representing the adulthood the girls were never allowed to reach. A committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church said the sculpture shows what one might see at a "slave auction." (The black mayor of Birmingham and the father of one of the bomb victims said they liked the piece).

*In June Kenyon Bowe was picked up by the Coast Guard after drifting fifteen hours in the Atlantic Ocean on his Jet Ski, on which he had intended to ride from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Bahamas, about 100 miles away. He said he lacked the patience to wait for the next cruise ship. And in August Lawrence Tervit was picked up drifting in the English Channel after he had set out for the 30-mile trip to England from Calais, France, on a three-by-three-foot wooden pallet. He said he had run out of money in France and couldn't afford a ferry back.

First Things First
*Mary Samuel, age 34, a food seller in Monrovia, Liberia, quoted in the New York Times in July supporting eventual winner Charles Taylor in the national elections that were to end years of vicious civil war: "He killed my mother, and he killed my father, and I don't care. I love Charles Ghankay Taylor."

*David Ash, age 21, was arrested in August in Northport, Alabama, and charged with robbing a Speed Mart. As David entered the store with a knife, he was apparently so focused on his goal that he passed right by his father Frankie, who was walking out after making a purchase. Frankie shrugged and told his wife, waiting in the car, that David was probably in a hurry to use the bathroom. The couple watched as their son wielded the knife, grabbed some money, and ran out. When David's car broke down a few minutes later, he called his parents for help. They urged him to surrender, which he did.

Oops!
*Cary L. Rider, age 43, was arrested for burglary in Wood River, Illinois, in September after police found him in a hospital. The burglar had attempted to move a safe but it fell on his hand; his glove, containing the top of his left middle finger, was found underneath it. Said one officer: "He admitted it. What can you do if your finger's there?"

*John and Margaret Ruppel's new, $3.5 million mansion near Tampa burned to the ground in May after a maid accidentally closed a kitchen cabinet door in such a way that a toaster was activated. The Ruppels had recently decided not to insure the house.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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