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According to a Reuters story last month, a small but growing number of people in Pakistan blunt their despair by drying the stingers of scorpions, grinding them up, and smoking the powder. "When I smoke scorpion," said Ghulam Raza, "then the heroin is like nothing to me." Addicts in the city of Quetta tend to hang out at a local cemetery, where they occasionally fall into partially dug graves.

Last month in Wichita, Kansas, a 33-year-old man was taken to Via Christi Regional Medical Center with a coat hanger stuck in his throat. The man told hospital staff that someone at a party had slipped into his drink a bag containing what he heard was cocaine, and after accidentally swallowing it he decided to fish it out with the coat hanger. Surgeons dislodged the hanger and police recovered the bag; prosecutors said they would probably charge the man with felony drug possession.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, addressing the Society for Neuroscience last month, reported on a recent study in which one group of people had strengthened their muscles by 13 percent, and another group by 35 percent, merely by imagining they were exercising.

Breakthroughs in Artificial Body Parts

In August the Food and Drug Administration approved the Neosphincter, a prescription-only pump for hopelessly incontinent people; the device caused too many "adverse incidents" in trials to be marketed to the general public, but patients specially trained in its use enjoyed a success rate of 90 percent....And in October cosmetic surgeon Robert Stubbs of Toronto told the Edmonton Journal that he's enlarging his thriving practice in silicone testicle implants; in addition to treating men who are missing one or both testicles, he'll now accept clients who merely want bigger ones.

The Litigious Society

In 1998 a homeless woman named Dionne French was sleeping on the tracks of the Santa Fe Southern Railway with a brown blanket draped over her when she was hit by a train. French has now filed a lawsuit in federal court charging the railway, a conductor, and a brakeman with negligence.

In October, Scott Bender sued U.S. Airways after the crew on his February flight from North Carolina to Birmingham, Alabama, parked the plane at the gate, closed it up, and left him sleeping in his seat. Bender said he deserved some money from the airline because the plane was pitch black when he woke up and for a few seconds he thought he was dead.

Sex Crimes on Trial

In October a jury at Preston Crown Court in England heard the case of gynecologist Darwish Hasan Darwish, accused of having raped a woman after placing her under hypnosis. The woman later gave birth to his child, assuming it had been fathered by her husband. A few years later the husband was installing a sauna in the Darwish home when he noticed a resemblance between one of Darwish's daughters and his own. After a DNA test proved the woman's child had been conceived by Darwish, the doctor said that he and the woman had engaged in consensual sex. The judge did not permit the prosecutor to reveal that Darwish was currently serving a jail term for having assaulted nine other women under similar circumstances, and the doctor was acquitted.

In July, Dr. Richard Dye of Half Moon Bay, California, was acquitted of sexually assaulting female patients, despite his admission that during his years as a family practitioner he had therapeutically brought at least four women to climax on his examination table. (Police said he told them the total was 100 women.) Dye was supported at the trial by a large and enthusiastic contingent of his female patients.

People Different From Us

Last October police in Daly City, California, impounded an RV that had been involved in a minor accident. In protest the vehicle's owner, 49-year-old Alan Martin, sat down in the middle of a busy street and refused to budge. Officers blocked one lane with a cruiser to shield his body from traffic, but then 37-year-old Kevin Domino, fleeing police in his car, accidentally rammed the cruiser, drove over Martin's body, inadvertently drove over it again as he was trying to straighten out his vehicle, and took off. Police caught Domino after his car stalled; Martin was hospitalized in fair condition.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported several times on spurned lovers in Japan who harass their former suitors for years, some phoning dozens of times a month. But in October, Masashi Kimura of Nayoga was arrested after calling a young woman 220 times in less than a month to ask for a first date.

Least Competent Criminals

In October, 20-year-old Stephen Millhouse was convicted of burglary in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for breaking into the apartment of a 21-year-old woman. According to her testimony, Millhouse awakened her and politely asked her to have sex with him, which she declined, and then asked her for a date. She gave him her phone number, and when he called her back she arranged to have him arrested. The defense attorney told the jury that his client was too stupid to be dangerous and asked him on the stand, "Did you really think she wanted to see you again?" Millhouse replied, "I didn't know for sure. That's why I called."

In the Last Month

Lee Teng-hui, former president of Taiwan, warned citizens that if they didn't vote for the candidates he's endorsing, he would kill himself....In Sarasota, Florida, the 270-pound president of a group that helps steer kids away from crime was arrested for punching the referee during a children's flag football game....And two weeks after the House of Representatives shut down during the anthrax scare, its members voted themselves a $12,000 pay raise.

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

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