News of the Weird

Lead Story
*Tough guys: In Paris in December, just before being convicted of the murders of two counterespionage agents, international terrorist Carlos the Jackal was sentenced to ten days' solitary confinement for calling a prison guard a "gnu." Two weeks later, Montreal Canadiens' defense man Dave Manson underwent surgery to remove a Christmas tree needle that was stuck in his ear.

Compelling Explanations
*William Garland, the father of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, is fighting for part of Shakur's multimillion-dollar estate in Los Angeles despite having had no contact with his son for years. At a hearing, he pointed out that he had been a good father; for example, he said he would often tuck in little Tupac, a bed wetter, with his brother, also a bed wetter: "They could pee with each other."

*In November in Wasilla, Alaska, Duane Carr was sentenced to 28 months in prison for sexually molesting a fifteen-year-old. Carr said that he did not know the girl was under the legal age of sixteen because he and the girl are Jehovah's Witnesses, whose members do not celebrate birthdays.

The Continuing Crisis
*Crisis at Nike: The winner of September's annual Angeles Crest ultramarathon, which started at the Wrightwood Resort in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles and ended in Pasadena, was Mexican Tarahumara Indian Cirildo Chacarito, age 52, in a time of nineteen hours and 34 minutes. Wearing sandals made from old automobile tires, Chacarito beat all the guys in $200 running shoes.

*Robert Kong, age thirteen, was arrested and charged with manufacturing a destructive device: a pipe bomb that he made, gift-wrapped, and presented to a female classmate in Corvallis, Oregon, for her birthday. He said he followed instructions he saw on an Internet site.

*In September officials at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration changed their minds and decided it was acceptable for employee Mr. Dale Robb, hired as a counselor in 1996 after twenty years in the military, to report for work every day dressed as a woman named Sabrina.

Undignified Deaths
*In September a basketball player for Southeastern Oklahoma State University was killed near Paris, Texas, when a flying cow hit the car in which he was riding, causing the driver to lose control and crash. The cow was airborne after being hit by another car.

*In October a court in Darwin, Australia, sentenced Christopher Sean Payne, age 34, to 54 months in prison for causing the drowning of a 25-year-old woman at a local beach. Justice Sir William Kearney found that, though the intoxicated woman had voluntarily gone underwater to perform fellatio on Payne, he deliberately held down the victim's head too long in a "selfish desire to gratify" himself and showed no remorse.

Recurring Theme
*Latest attempts by women to use the law to enforce prostitution "contracts": In November three teenage girls were arrested after they called police in Oneida, New York, to ask for help because a man who had just had sex with them paid with a check for $1500 drawn on an out-of-state bank; the girls couldn't cash it. And in June a judge in Salt Lake City dismissed Kathleen Ferguson's lawsuit against Zions First National Bank for repossessing her truck. She thought she could keep the truck because she had worked out a deal by having sex with the repo man.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd