News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In May a Plainfield, Connecticut, religious sect called God's House filed a $200,000 lawsuit against the state's Department of Children and Families for sending the young daughter of sect leader Sister Rachael to foster care. The little girl is very important to the sect: She is considered to be the result of Rachael's impregnation by God.

*Jim Gordon, a candidate for the office of agriculture commissioner in South Carolina, told an audience in Greenville in May that one of the most important issues endangering the family farm is "the homosexual agenda." "How does that relate to agriculture?" he asked rhetorically. "We can't have Bob and Bob being married" without hurting the concept of the family farm.

*In May Bobby S. Hidalgo, age 34, who renamed himself "Kern" on the ballot, won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Dan Burton in November for Indiana's sixth congressional seat. According to an Indianapolis Star report, Hidalgo has impersonated a local female judge, was imprisoned for altering a check, was arrested (but acquitted) for offering oral sex to an undercover policeman (Hidalgo maintains that he is a virgin), and has often used the name of former Charlie's Angels actress Tanya Roberts to attend various events.

Cultural Diversity
*In March, according to an Associated Press report, there were once again demands in Thailand to prevent the women of the ex-Burmese Padaung tribe from wearing as many as two dozen metal coils around their necks. A typical set of rings can weigh eleven pounds; they severely elongate the neck by pressing down on the collarbone and ribs. The practice is continued largely for the six dollars per photograph that tourists pay.

*In March a representative of the former Soviet Republic of Ingushetia made a formal plea to Boris Yeltsin for the Russian government to stop interfering with the Ingush tradition of a man's selecting a wife by kidnapping a woman and carrying her away. Said the Ingush lobbyist: "This practice should be [regulated] by local authorities who understand local needs."

*Obeid Hajj Ali, the chief justice of Sudan, issued a decree in April to halt the flogging of women, after an outcry about the recent government beatings of 40 females who had merely hand-delivered a note protesting Sudan's military involvements. The chief justice said there were exceptions to the decree and that women could still be flogged for drinking alcohol or committing adultery.

*The French Health Ministry disclosed in March that it had produced five short sex-education films, so graphic that they could be called hard-core pornography, supposedly for the purpose of remedying a major gap in sexual knowledge in France. As one film director described it: "I had to show that if a man has sex with two women together, he must use a different condom with each one." Men's ignorance in that circumstance, said a ministry spokesperson, is "a big problem."

Least Justifiable Homicides
*Cheung Tat-kwong, age 76, was found guilty in March in Hong Kong of murdering his roommate, Wong Fai, age 75, after Wong complained one time too many about Cheung's habit of scratching his posterior. And in a two-week period in March, a twenty-year-old man was shot and killed in New Orleans, allegedly by his brother, and a Baton Rouge man was sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of a friend. The cause of both incidents was a fight over the TV remote control.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd