News of the Weird 

Lead Stories

Hard times for Canadian strippers: According to December news reports, Mexican authorities have decided that Canadian and U.S. nude dancers will no longer be permitted into the country to work under the special "high technology" skills category of NAFTA. And in Winnipeg, Manitoba, stripper Carole Levesque filed a lawsuit against the local police because officers forced her to raise her hands over her head during a drug raid despite her protest that recent breast-enhancement surgery had made such a movement painful.

What goes around, comes around: Since taking control of most of Afghanistan in September 1996, the religious Taliban army has enforced strict, conservative Islamic codes of behavior, especially regarding the work, recreation, and dress of women. Now, according to a November report in the London Daily Telegraph, a Muslim splinter group about 200 miles north of Kabul has begun to train a women-only battalion to fight the Taliban. Women from the Hazaras, a Turkic Mongol ethnic group, have been training at a secret location and will soon begin a major recruiting campaign.

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 defenseman Dave Manson underwent surgery to remove a Christmas tree needle that had gotten stuck in his ear.

Compelling Explanations

David S. Marion, 36, and Michael C. Ahorn, 35, were discovered having sex in a car in a public parking lot in East Saint Louis, Illinois, in November and were charged with public indecency. According to the arresting officer, Marion said, "I know it was wrong, but I just couldn't wait."

William Garland, father of the late rap singer Tupac Shakur, is suing for a share of Shakur's multimillion-dollar estate despite his having had no contact with his son since Shakur was five years old. At a hearing in Los Angeles in August, Garland said he was a good father, pointing out how he would often tuck in little Tupac, a bed wetter, with another of Garland's sons who was also a bed wetter: "They could pee with each other."

In July Toronto courier Alan Wayne Scott, 47, lost a three-year battle when a court ruled that he had taken improper business deductions. Scott, who makes deliveries on foot and by bicycle, had claimed that his body is a professional vehicle and that operating expenses (shoes, knapsack, $13 a day in high-calorie food) should be tax deductible just like an automobile's expenses are, especially since his vehicle is environmentally friendly.

In November in Wasilla, Alaska, Duane Carr was sentenced to 28 months in prison for sexually molesting his children's 15-year-old baby-sitter. Carr maintained that he did not know the girl was under the legal age of 16 because he and the girl are Jehovah's Witnesses, who do not celebrate birthdays.

The Continuing Crisis

Crisis at Nike: In September Cirildo Chacarito, 52, a Mexican Tarahumara Indian, won the annual Angeles Crest ultramarathon in California with a time of 19 hours and 34 minutes. Chacarito ran the race in sandals made from old automobile tires.

Robert Kong, 13, was arrested and charged with manufacturing a destructive device after he presented a female classmate in Corvallis, Oregon, with a gift-wrapped five-and-a-half-inch homemade pipe bomb for her birthday. He said he made the bomb following instructions he found on the Internet.

In September officials at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration changed their minds and decided it was OK for male employee Dale Robb, who had been hired as a counselor in 1996 after 20 years in the military, to come to work every day dressed as a woman and answering to the name of Sabrina. And in an August story, the Washington Post focused on tourist Larry Goodwin, 51, of Douglas, Wyoming, who went sight-seeing around town in his usual outfit, a dress. Said Goodwin, "I really love the feel of women's clothing."

According to a June police report in Colerain Township, Ohio, a conscientious restaurant manager turned over a homemade bong that he found in his building. The bong was actually a hollowed-out potato rigged with masking tape and aluminum foil, with marijuana residue inside. Because of its perishable nature, it was destroyed rather than kept as evidence.

City council member Ed Walker of Brier, Washington, was charged in September with spitting on a neighbor who had put up a yard sign supporting Walker's opponent in the upcoming election. Said the neighbor to a reporter, "We've got him dead to rights. All we need is a sample of his spit [for DNA testing]."

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 had been sent airborne when it was hit by another car.

In October a court in Darwin, Australia, sentenced Christopher Sean Payne, 34, to 54 months in prison for causing the drowning of a 25-year-old woman at a local beach. The judge found that, though the intoxicated woman had voluntarily gone underwater to perform fellatio on Payne, he deliberately held her head down too long in a "selfish" desire to "gratify yourself, to prolong your pleasure" and showed a lack of remorse afterward.

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 had paid them for sex with a check from an out-of-state bank that the girls couldn't get cashed. And in June a judge in Salt Lake City dismissed Kathleen Ferguson's lawsuit against her bank for repossessing her truck. Ferguson had claimed she could keep the truck because she worked out a deal by having sex with the repo man.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration by Shawn Belshwender.

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