News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Professor Kevin Warwick of Reading (England) University told the Times of London in May that "several" firms had approached him about surgically implanting transponder microchips into their workers as a way of tracking their hours and whereabouts. Cybernetics expert Warwick last year put a chip into his own forearm to demonstrate the technology, which will be further exhibited in England beginning in 2001 to keep track of pets and might, he said, be used to keep track of people who are granted licenses to carry firearms.

*Jose Lopezes in the Operating Room: In May Jose Maria Lopez, age 33, had a foot amputated at Whittier (California) Hospital Medical Center. He still has two remaining; what was taken was a six-inch, footlike growth inside his left ankle that has always hampered his walking and limited his shoe selection. And a few days earlier, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, surgeons removed a miniature bottle from the rectum of a Jose Lopez, age 43. He said he got drunk, passed out, and has no idea how the bottle got there.

*No More Inhumane Punishment: In May controversial Phoenix tough-guy Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he would institute bedtime stories at the Maricopa County jails, consisting of audiotapes of classic novels (e.g., Little Women) to be read at lights out every night. The novels will replace the previous nighttime fare, which ran for four years: a videotaped lecture series by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

*According to an April Tampa Tribune story, the following fates have befallen young men who in recent years have recovered the submerged, religiously blessed cross in annual diving competitions during the Epiphany festival in Tarpon Springs, Florida: One died in a car accident; one suffered a severe spinal injury; one was arrested on burglary charges; and, this year, two former winners and a third diver were charged with attempted murder for bashing two people's skulls with shovels because their car was going too slow.

*In Montreal, Quebec, in December, convicted serial killer Allan Legere announced he had increased the amount of his 1994 lawsuit against the prison for its failure to stop inmates from beating him up. Legere is serving life for five murders, including the rape and torture killings of three women and the beating death of a Catholic priest. One witness against Legere said she once remarked to him: "You like to torture." Legere allegedly responded, "Yes, I do."

*In the election campaign of 1998, Fred Morgan, the new Republican leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, personally embraced the party's proposal for reforming motor-vehicle regulation, including cracking down on residents who drive with out-of-state license plates. In December Morgan admitted that the car with the Arkansas tag in his parking space at the capitol was his (but that he would register it in Oklahoma as soon as his late mother's probate was settled). And in February Katrina Clark, director of housing-code enforcement for the City of Boston, was evicted from her apartment for failure to pay more than $3500 in rent and for reneging on her repayment plan.

Undignified Deaths
*In incidents one week apart in April, in Morristown, New Jersey, and Bloomfield Township, Michigan, construction workers became trapped in sandpits. In both cases quick-thinking co-workers attempted to pull them out with backhoes, accidentally decapitating the workers.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd