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Lead Stories

A motorist fled a traffic stop on Interstate 35 near Milford, Texas, in February; during the ensuing 15-mile chase officers watched him open nearly 20 bags of what they believed to be marijuana and try to empty them out the window. Car-window aerodynamics being what they are, when the driver was finally forced to stop and arrested he was, authorities said, "literally covered in marijuana."

In January police in Anchorage put out a description of a man who had just tried to rob a Super 8 motel: early 20s, thin build, short blond hair, blue face. Twenty minutes later, officers investigating at another hotel about a quarter mile away arrested 19-year-old Daniel Clark after he ran by the front desk with bright blue ink all over his face, ears, and neck.

Unusual Careers

In February Richard Kreimer, a 55-year-old homeless man, announced that he'd reached a settlement (the terms remained undisclosed) in his lawsuit against a New Jersey bus company that had allegedly denied him service because of his body odor and irritating behavior, but he dropped his suit against the city of Summit, New Jersey, which he claimed had wrongfully kicked him out of its train stations. In 1991 Kreimer received a total of about $230,000 in his suit against Morristown, New Jersey, where he'd received similar treatment at the public library.

Cultural Diversity

Health authorities in Bangkok announced in January that they would implement new laws to punish the manufacturers and suppliers feeding a fashion trend among teenage Thai girls: do-it-yourself braces. Girls have been attaching fake braces to their teeth, then accessorizing with colored rubber bands chosen to match their outfits.

Reuters reported from China in January on the estimated 120 million city workers who would be returning via train to their rural homes for the lunar New Year. Overcrowding on the trains--travelers pack all standing room on journeys lasting up to 24 hours--makes trips to the bathroom impossible; understandably, supermarkets in the southern city of Foshan said that sales of adult diapers were up 50 percent.

In February, the foreign minister of Bolivia--where the government is trying to promote legal uses for the coca plant--suggested that coca leaves, rich in calcium and other nutrients, ought to be a part of school breakfasts.

The mayor of Appalachia, Virginia (population 1,774), and 13 others were indicted earlier this month on 269 counts of election fraud and corruption. The investigation into the alleged rigging of a 2004 election began after residents reported that a supporter of one candidate tried to buy their votes with offers of beer, moonshine, cigarettes, and, in one case, a bag of pork rinds.

Questionable Judgments

In January at Canada's University of Prince Edward Island, Professor David Weale offered a B-minus grade to any of the 95 students in his overcrowded History of Christianity class who would just leave and not come back; about 20 accepted. The administration found out, however, and rescinded the offer; Weale, who had come out of retirement to teach the class, was suspended.

New York developer Ryan Pedram was ordered in February to stop work on a three-story apartment building going up in the Bronx. Pending resolution of a dispute involving an oak tree on an adjacent lot that crosses the property line, Pedram had gone ahead and built right up to the line anyway, resulting in a cinder-block wall with a live tree growing through it; he said he figured he'd just fill in the holes later once he successfully sues to have the neighbor's tree cut down.

People Different From Us

Gregory Wheal, 42, of Coventry, England, was sentenced in January to four months in jail after his eighth conviction for stealing the eggs of rare birds. He admitted to possessing 75 rare eggs plus "items capable of being used for egg collection" (an egg-blowing kit and maps showing the location of nests); his lawyer told the judge that Wheal needed professional help. According to a wildlife officer, Coventry is the capital of British egg collecting, and Wheal is only one of eight known obsessive collectors in the area.

Recurring Themes

More places where people have recently claimed to see an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary: Jesus, plant pot at resort, Cozumel, Mexico, October, no eBay listing. Jesus, dust on tailgate of pickup truck, Laredo, Texas, November, no eBay listing. Virgin Mary, bark of 50-foot tree, Dallas, November, listed on eBay. Jesus, tray used to warm nachos, Jacksonville, Florida, December, no eBay listing. Jesus, wood grain of door at church, North Vernon, Indiana, January, no eBay listing. Virgin Mary, charred wall burned in house fire, Mexico, Maine, January, no eBay listing. Virgin Mary, potato chip, Jet Blue flight from New York to Florida, January, no eBay listing. Jesus, oil mark on sheet metal, Manchester, Connecticut, February, listed on eBay. Jesus, pancake, Beachwood, Ohio, February, listed on eBay.

Readers' Choice

Alan Patton, 54, was arrested in February at a movie theater in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, after a parent reported him to security. Patton allegedly told police that for over 40 years he's been surreptitiously collecting and drinking the urine of young boys; his modus operandi, authorities said, is to find a public bathroom with a child-size urinal, shut off the water to the urinal, place a small cup in it, and wait in a stall nearby. Police quoted Patton as saying, "I like it because it makes me closer to them--like I'm drinking their youth." A detective told reporters that hearing him talk was "like listening to a crack or cocaine addict. He's addicted to children's urine."

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

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