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News of the Weird

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Decaf, please: Even with a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez is having trouble attracting pancreatic-cancer patients for his Columbia University study (only 25 of 90 slots filled), perhaps because the treatment's most prominent component is twice-a-day coffee enemas. A Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center doctor called the regimen "ludicrous," but Gonzalez said the caffeine stimulates nerves in the bowel, helping the liver with detoxification, according to an October Wired magazine report. His initial pilot program reported significant benefits of the treatment but was regarded with skepticism in that it included only 11 patients.

Education burden: The for-profit school administration company Edison Schools Inc., reportedly low on cash but with 20 particularly troublesome Philadelphia high schools to manage, tried to cut some corners in September until reined in by the school board. According to an October dispatch in Toronto's Globe and Mail, Edison ran low on cash and (1) had to send back newly ordered textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments; (2) tried to move its Philadelphia executives out of their downtown offices and into vacant school-system rooms to save on rent; and (3) suggested to the school board that students could acquire valuable experience if they were assigned various work projects (for free) for Edison. The latter two ideas were thwarted by the school board, but the students were still making do with old books and equipment.

Names in the News: Scheduled to marry in December in Flint, Mich.: Ms. Laura Kah and Mr. Scott Boom (although she plans be just plain Laura Boom). And in May, the prosecutor in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., charged four men with stealing tires: Edgar Spencer, his son Edgar Spencer (Jr.), the older man's brother Edgar (W.) Spencer, and his son, Edgar (W.) Spencer (Jr.) And the Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel, in an August story on the town's shrinking 1960s-'70s hippie population, interviewed among others (legal names) Mr. Climbing Sun, Mr. Shalom Dreampeace Compost and Mr. (no last name) Chip; other recent residents such as Darting Hummingbird Over a Waterfall, Moonbeam Moonbeam and "XXXXXXXX X" were not available.

Great Art!: Sculptor-painter Antonio Becerra's government-funded "Oils on Dogs" exhibition opened in Santiago, Chile, in August, consisting of the artist's paintings (e.g., Pope John Paul and a cross, blue and orange butterflies) on the embalmed cadavers of a dozen roadkill dogs Becerra had found on the city's streets. Becerra called the work a reflection of society's violence and cruelty, but animal rights activists were appalled at his lack of respect for the dogs. Retired graphics designer J. Jules Vitali has created more than 1,000 pieces of small art in his preferred medium, foam polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups (some with flourishes of acrylics or bronze), according to an October Boston Globe profile. He took up his craft with a carry-out coffee cup and a Craftsman knife 20 years ago, inspired, he said, by boredom. A display of his "Styrogami," with pieces priced at up to $800, is housed at the Freeport (Maine) Public Library.

Least Competent Criminals:Chattanooga, Tenn., police told the city's WTVC-TV in October that they had arrested Rudy Raines for possession of about a pound of marijuana, after Raines allegedly walked nonchalantly into a Fast Food and Fuel convenience store, past officer David Ashley, and uninhibitedly placed a stash of marijuana into the store's microwave oven because, he said, he needed to dry it out. Raines was arrested, along with another man sleeping in Raines' car in the parking lot.

Also, in the Last Month: James F. Welles, author of the book Understanding Stupidity and an authority on dumb decisions, was arrested for soliciting sex on the Internet from a "15-year-old girl" who was really a 40-year-old policeman (Lantana, Fla.) Mr. Besh Serdahely, 58, and his wife vacated the tree house on San Bruno Mountain (just south of San Francisco), which, for the last 12 years, they have called home (to the consternation of county officials). And health officials in Tororo, Uganda, warned prospective (but impoverished) brides that they are ruining their valuable, malaria-stopping white mosquito nets if they use them as bridal gowns. And a bold bank robber was arrested in Tehran, Iran, even though he thought he was invisible (thanks to a special piece of parchment he had bought from a man on the street for about $550).

Send your Weird News to newsweird@aol.com, or go to www.newsoftheweird.com.
2002 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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