News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In April the town council of Cambre, Spain, conferred legal, marriagelike status on nontraditional unions, but controversy still raged over a couple that was not even of the same sex. The precipitating event was the recent nuptials of Daniel Pena and his sister Rosa Moya Pena, who have lived together as a couple for eighteen years and who have two kids, ages five and eleven. The council's decision provoked outrage almost everywhere else in Spain.

*On April 3, less than 24 hours before he was due to be executed for beating three people to death with a bowling pin in 1991, Phillip Wilkinson was taken off North Carolina's death row and sent for mental evaluation because guards found two suicide notes in his cell. And on April 1 in Texas, convicted murderer David Lee Herman slashed his throat a day before his scheduled execution. He was patched up and given his lethal injection a day later.

The Litigious Society
*Valerie Nicolescu filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department in April for letting her son (one of the two heavily armed, armor-clad men in that February 28 bank robbery and shootout) bleed to death by failing to give him immediate medical care after he was shot by officers. (Nicolescu herself is also in court these days -- police learned that a mentally retarded woman in her care had been locked in a room in Nicolescu's basement along with several toilet buckets.)

*Chris Steen filed a $55,000 lawsuit against the town of Ipswich, South Dakota, in February after he fell on a sidewalk that had rough edges. He claims the town failed to maintain the sidewalk in good condition -- not an unusual gripe, except that Steen is the mayor of Ipswich.

*Carolyn Strauss filed a one-million-dollar lawsuit against the New York lottery in March because she was offended by its Lotto subway advertisements. Strauss is five feet seven and weighs 200 pounds; she felt insulted by the ad that suggested the lottery was a less onerous way to make money than marrying "the client's big-boned daughter."

*Five people filed a lawsuit in March in Nagoya, Japan, against Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto for about $950 in damages, claiming his support for smoking causes them mental anguish and deprives them of the healthy life they are entitled to under Japan's constitution. Hashimoto had promised the nation that because cigarettes are heavily taxed, he would continue to smoke frequently while in office.

Great Time to Be Silver
*The Associated Press reported in March that Mario Dulceno, age 81, of New Orleans believes he can continue his vocation as a stripper for another "two, three years." According to the dispatch, "Although time has wrinkled his skin, there's little flab, his legs are nicely shaped, and he sports an even tan." Said a club owner, "The women went crazy over him. I call him Super Mario."

*In Ashdod, Israel, a 93-year-old woman was arrested in March for peddling heroin to police officers who had knocked on her door. According to police, the woman's eyesight was failing, and she thought they were her regular customers.

Least Competent Criminal
*Jeffrie Allen Thomas, age 35, was arrested and charged with robbing a bank in Baltimore in April. An employee called police during the robbery; two officers arrived quickly to find Thomas still in the bank, standing beside a teller's station counting his money. (Thomas was also charged with robbing the same bank a month before.)

-- By Chuck Shepherd