News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*While Joe Camel-type ads lose favor in cigarette promotions in the United States, ads in other countries are stepping up their use of distasteful sales images, according to an April San Francisco Examiner report. A Marlboro ad in Cambodia features girls around eight years old; in Poland, the backdrop of a Camel ad is a school; in the Philippines the tobacco industry association used the Virgin Mary, along with packs of Winston and Camel, on its 1998 promotional calendar.

*An April Associated Press story from Decatur, Alabama, reported about the reclusive mother and daughter, Evelyn and Marilyn Arnold, who died of natural causes within a week of each other in December. According to neighbors and relatives, Evelyn, age 85, controlled every aspect of Marilyn's life, which may have rendered her daughter unable to survive after Evelyn's death. Among the pair's idiosyncrasies: Marilyn's abject fear of the telephone; Evelyn's need to record in a notebook every wrong-number phone call she received; their fear of the bathtub because of the previous owner's germs; and their use of a bucket instead of a toilet even though the plumbing worked fine.

Husbanding Your Resources
*In March, after four hours of questioning and waiting, police in Springfield, Illinois, served a search warrant for the mouth of Mr. Eunice Husband, age 27. Husband had stuffed three marble-size bags of crack cocaine in his mouth and refused to open up, though he continued to talk to officers through clenched teeth. After getting the warrant, police took Husband to a hospital, where he was sedated and the bags removed.

Maybe India and Pakistan Could Have Done This
*In April Malaysian skydivers escorted a Proton Wira, the national car, on its parachute drop to a landing at the North Pole; the engine started right away. Prime Minister Mahathir Mahamad said the drop "bolstered our spirits," but critics said it was a stunt by the government to distract people from the dismal economy.

Recent Protests
*As the U.S.-Iraqi conflict heated up in February, two members of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors attempted to revive the pacifist sect's tradition of protest in Burnaby, British Columbia. They went on a 25-day hunger strike in jail, where they are serving two-year sentences for setting fires to their own homes. They said Doukhobors frequently do this to protest evils such as taxation and public education. Doukhobors often appear in public nude to show their disdain for wealth and status.

*Charles Collins III was indicted in Albany, New York, in April for his January protest at the court of appeals building over a child custody case. Shortly before dawn, according to the indictment, he hooked a spray gun to a 55-gallon drum of chicken manure and covered the front of the building.

Least Competent Criminals
*In April indictments were returned against New York City inmates Hector Muniz, Carlos Martinez, and Troy Jennings for an alleged get-rich scheme at Riker's Island prison. Authorities said Muniz, who had a day job on the outside, smuggled a gun inside so that, at Jennings's request, Martinez could shoot Jennings in the leg. He did. The plan was for Jennings to then sue the city for "millions" for negligently allowing the gun inside.

-- By Chuck Shepherd