News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*And Perrier and bowls of red M&Ms: When authorities raided a cockfighting operation near Gadsden, Alabama, in July, they found not only a restaurant and 250-seat theater for patrons but two air-conditioned trailers in which the roosters hung out before their matches; one trailer offered piped-in country music.

*According to a Reuters wire service report in August, lobbyists in Bonn, Germany, called the Working Group for the Unemployed held a series of rallies to demand six weeks' annual paid vacation for people out of work, pointing out that those looking for work are often under greater stress than the employed and thus need longer holidays.

*In September federal, state, and local authorities raided a field near Salinas, California, and seized about 1000 khat plants, which produce a controlled substance that is still fairly new to the United States, probably having been introduced by soldiers who served in Somalia. Khat is said to produce clarity of thought, euphoria, and abundant energy. And the Chicago Tribune reported in August that Abbott Laboratories has just completed successful human trials of ABT-594, a drug said to be 200 times as powerful as morphine, yet nonaddictive. The drug comes from a tiny Ecuadoran frog whose highly poisonous secretions have long been used to coat darts used in blowguns.

Husbands' and Wives' Intimate Moments
*In August a couple from Silver Spring, Maryland, was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult cinema in Baltimore after the husband had arranged for four men to have sex with his wife on the premises. According to police, several other males in the theater complained, apparently because the live sex interfered with their watching sex on the screen.

More Police Chiefs and Their Guns
*John Grotluschen, police chief of Clarksville, Iowa, accidentally shot himself in the hand in August while cleaning his gun. Bruce Seal, sheriff of Claiborne County, Tennessee, accidentally shot himself in the foot in July while reaching into his pocket for his car keys. And Chuck Lewis, police chief of Coggon, Iowa, revealed to reporters in July that because of his 1995 assault conviction, Sheriff Don Zeller won't give him a license to carry a gun.

I Don't Think So
*In July a 28-year-old man was ticketed for speeding in Great Falls, Montana, allegedly doing 104 in a 45 mph zone. According to Cascade County Sheriff John Strandell, the man said he had just washed his car and needed to drive fast to dry it off.

Least Competent Criminal
*James L. Liddell was arrested in Granite City, Illinois, at his home about an hour after police say he robbed a bank. Police said Liddell apparently decided to rob the bank while in line to cash his $12.19 payroll check, which was recovered at the scene, as was the identification he intended to use to cash it.

Undignified Death
*In September in Lanham, Maryland, a 26-year-old man lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, killing himself. Police said the accident was alcohol-related. Four hours earlier the man had been driven home from his part-time job of getting drunk at a police training class so officers could practice doing sobriety tests on him. When he left work, his blood-alcohol level was 0.12.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd