News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In March Alan and Christine Davies of Rhondda, Wales, were awarded about $200,000 from the driver who caused the collision that, according to doctors, left Alan with a rare brain condition. Alan developed Capgras's syndrome, a separation of connections between visual perception and emotion that causes the victim to imagine that a person whom he recognizes (in this case, Christine) is actually someone impersonating her. Alan is convinced that the real Christine died long ago and refuses to become intimate with the "impostor." A court psychiatrist called Alan's condition permanent.

*Prominent Christian conservative psychologist Paul Cameron told Rolling Stone magazine in a March interview that he feared gay sex would supplant heterosexual sex unless a vigilant society repressed it. "Marital sex tends toward the boring," he said. "Generally it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does." If all one seeks is an orgasm, he said, "the evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women. [H]omosexuality seems too powerful to resist."

Teachers from Hell
*In August the mother of high school student Justin Burnett filed a lawsuit in Chicago against the school board and shop teacher Philip Rush, who had admitted shocking disruptive students by hooking them up to a spark plug and a current-producing crank, sometimes, according to the lawsuit, for as long as 30 seconds. According to the school superintendent, Rush said the disciplinary stunt was a "teaching tool" for kids to see how electricity worked.

*In Wichita Falls, Texas, former elementary school principal Terry Hitt said in October he would challenge the state's attempt to revoke his teaching certificate. He said he had a teaching ability that was a "gift from God," despite his having admitted earlier in the year that he had stolen his students' prescription Ritalin, melted it down, and shot up with it.

Unclear on the Concept
*In December Gina Tiberino, age 32, a secretary for the Spokane, Washington, sex-crime prosecutors, was fired, one month after she reported that she had been raped. She attributed a work slowdown to typical post-traumatic effects of the assault, pointing out that she had never received negative job evaluations before the incident. Her superiors, though, said she had become "too focused on [her] personal tragedy."

*In December Great West Casualty Company filed a $2800 lawsuit against the estate of Ms. Gertie Witherspoon, who was 81 years old when she was struck and killed near Harrisonville, Missouri, by a Vernon County Grain and Supply tractor-trailer insured through the firm. Great West contends that Witherspoon was negligent in walking in front of the truck and seeks to recover from her heirs the money it had to pay out in front-end damage.

Recurring Themes
News of the Weird reported in January 1998 on a motorist killed by a flying cow (propelled through the air and through the windshield after being hit by another car). In February 1999 the same thing happened to the driver of a pickup truck near Vacaville, California, after a car hit a cow on Pleasant Valley Road. (Five days earlier, near Prattville, Alabama, a nineteen-year-old motorist was killed in the same way by a 300-pound flying hog.)

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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