News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Officials at the Central Penitentiary in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, revealed in October that they are encouraging male inmates to marry each other in order to hold down HIV infections. Eight couples have taken the plunge so far. The marriages are valid only in prison because Honduran law does not recognize same-sex unions.

*Ontario College of Art student Jubal Brown told the Associated Press in November that it was he who vomited publicly on two masterpieces last year and that he plans a third episode. At the Art Gallery of Ontario in May, he regurgitated red food coloring on a Raoul Dufy work; at New York City's Museum of Modern Art on November 2, he threw up in blue on a Piet Mondrian painting. His third work will be in yellow. His goal, he said, is "to liberate individuals and living creatures from [art's] banal, oppressive representation."

Latest Rights
*In August the parents of Alexandra Taylor, age five, received an undisclosed settlement from Continental Airlines because the airline permitted another passenger to bring a six-foot-long python into the cabin of a 1994 flight, allegedly causing Alexandra to have severe nightmares. The snake's owner was carrying the animal as a "support snake," prescribed by her therapist to help her overcome the trauma of being sexually harassed by a professor.

*After four months of increasingly violent attacks on them by vigilantes, South African criminal gangs began lobbying for police protection in November. More than a thousand gangsters stood outside the gates of parliament in Cape Town, begging for "justice" and "peace" in the wake of news that one gang leader was shot 72 times by a vigilante and his body set on fire. The gang members claim they are basically good people and that their own murdering, thievery, and drug dealing were merely attempts to cope with apartheid.

*In November a federal appellate court turned down Albert Johnson's lawsuit against the Cook County (Illinois) Jail asking that female guards be reassigned away from the showers and toilet areas, saying their presence was "humiliating" to his religious belief in "Christian modesty." A dissenting opinion agreed with Johnson that permitting observation by females was "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Weird Science
*British doctors writing in the Lancet in November announced they were stumped and asked for help worldwide in diagnosing a man's infected hand, which for five years has emitted an incredibly putrid odor that is "almost intolerable" in a closed examination room. The man nicked his finger while dressing chicken carcasses.

*German physicians from Eberhard-Karls University in TYbingen reported in November in the New England Journal of Medicine that a 53-year-old surgeon accidentally transplanted a patient's malignant tumor cells into his own hand when he cut it during surgery.

*Knoxville, Tennessee, dentist Stephen Cobble, who made "News of the Weird" a year ago when patients and former employees described alleged unorthodox treatments (such as transferring C-section scar tissue to treat a jaw disorder and prescribing a diet of beef, salt, and at least two eggs and a quarter-pound of butter daily), had his license revoked in November by the state board of dentistry after protracted hearings about whether his unconventional anesthesia methods might have contributed to a patient's death.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd