News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in May, housepainter David Maas, age 31, was arrested and charged with the theft of eleven statues and figurines from several churches and is suspected of having taken eighteen others. According to police, he said he wanted to furnish a new version of Noah's ark that he planned to construct; the ark would house Christians newly saved between now and March 1999, when, according to Maas, either communists will destroy all Catholic churches or a giant asteroid will wipe out much of Earth.

*The Department of Energy announced in May, after reviewing project records from the 1950s, that some inspectors at a uranium processing plant near Cincinnati used the somewhat unscientific method of measuring the substance's metallic strength by sprinkling some on their tongues to see if it tasted right. The inspectors feared that if they did not submit samples of a high-enough grade, the government would regard their uranium as useless and shut down the plant.

*In May the New York Times reported that Aspen, Colorado, apparently desperate for residents other than millionaires, offers public housing assistance even to those whose income is as much as $115,000 per year.

Jewish Husbands in Peril
*In Brooklyn, New York, four Orthodox Jewish men charged that several local rabbis had arranged for them to be beaten up to get them to agree to religious annulments of their marriages. According to the charges, which were being investigated by the district attorney, the rabbis collected fees from the men's ex-wives, who, though they are divorced under state law, still cannot remarry within the faith unless their ex-husbands agree to a "get," which is a religious divorce. (Some Orthodox Jewish men refuse to grant the get in order to obtain leverage in child custody disputes.)

Ways to Beat the Breathalyzer
*Robert A. Milefski, age 58, who was driving a car that killed a woman in 1996, avoided a DUI charge that day by smearing excrement all over himself before the Breathalyzer test. (He was immediately hospitalized for psychiatric observation and the records surrounding his tests were not released until April 1998.) And in Lincoln, Nebraska, in March, James B. Johnson, age 34, was about to be breath-tested when he emerged from the men's room with blue foam oozing from his mouth; he had sucked on a sanitizer disc from the urinal. Johnson was later charged with DUI anyway, based on a blood test.

Those Sensitive Germans
*New York Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn ruled in May that calling a woman a bitch is not necessarily defamatory. The term, Cahn wrote, is "too imprecise and open to speculation" to allow the plaintiff to win her slander lawsuit. But in January a court in Cologne, Germany, imposed a four-month license suspension and an 1800-mark fine on a 22-year-old man because, during a traffic altercation, he had insulted a female driver by yelling, "Typical woman!"

Weird Science
*Apparently crabs are like guys: Researchers at the University of Wales told the Times of London in February that, using the right sexual scent, they had induced a male crab to attempt to mate not only with a female crab but with a stone and a tennis ball. Researchers also said that crabs have well-developed vision but still approached the three bogus targets with great vigor.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd