News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*A California pro-prostitution organization called the National Sexual Rights Council began a fundraising appeal in April for its campaign to get teenage hookers off the streets. For a $250 donation, the Council's Pretty Woman Committee gives the donor a T-shirt and a membership card, but for $150,000 (which it points out is the price of a White House fundraising sleepover), the seven prostitutes on the committee promise to sleep with the donor, in Nevada. (Critics note that the campaign, ostensibly to save wayward youth, would also result in less competition for the council's constituency.)

*One aspect of Israeli-Palestinian relations is running smoothly, according to a May Boston Globe story: car theft. Israel has the highest per capita car theft in the world, and police say several Israeli-Palestinian car-theft rings operate almost effortlessly, fencing cars and parts to dealers on both sides of the border.

Just Can't Stop Myself
*Lewis Ecker II, a diagnosed sexual sadist, was turned down in his bid for release from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., in December despite showing considerable improvement during his stay -- he even won elective office in D.C. in 1990 (and was re-elected twice), as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. But according to hospital officials, Ecker hurt his chances of release by secretly composing 21 sexual-sadist narratives that featured himself as the protagonist who humiliated and injured female victims.

*The executive director of the New York State Council on Problem Gambling told the New York Times in May that printing its 800 telephone number on lottery tickets in case gambling addicts need to call for help has resulted instead in many calls from players desperate for help in selecting winning numbers. And operators of the Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, told the Ottawa Citizen in April that customers urinating around slot machines has become a severe problem. Reluctant to leave machines that they are certain will pay off, some customers urinate into the plastic coin cups supplied by the casino, some wear adult diapers, and some simply let fly on the floor.

People with Too Much Time on Their Hands
*In December a man from southern England named Nigel paid about $128,000 at a London auction for the personalized license plate "N1 GEL." Eighty other plates brought in $2.7 million. A month before that, in London, the much less wealthy Dave Parker spent about $40 for a plate matching his name: He paid a filing fee to legally change his name to C 539 FUG, which is on his current license plate.

*In a poll of Ontario residents commissioned by Global Television and reported by the Toronto Star in December, it was revealed that a majority believe in miracles, although the Star pointed out that some respondents' standards are lower than others. One man's example of a miracle: "I went to someone's house and got a good deal on a power tool that I had wanted for a long time."

Well Put
*Patricia Walsh, Carmel, California, defending in May her decision to spend $6000 to dress up a rock to look like Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "I'm an old lady, and I can amuse myself doing whatever I like."

*Philip Morris president James Morgan, in a lawsuit deposition released in May, pointing out why he believes cigarettes are not addictive: "I love Gummi Bears [candy] ... and I want Gummi Bears and I like Gummi Bears and I eat Gummi Bears and I don't like it when I don't eat my Gummi Bears, but I'm certainly not addicted to them."

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd