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News of the Weird

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DOWSE THIS:
Two American Legion posts and two other veterans' groups in Pleasanton, Calif., sponsored a class on dowsing in March to study whether domestic terrorists could be identified by pointing sticks at suspicious people to see if the sticks move. One of the veterans' leaders (who vouched that "the government" and oil and mining companies regularly use dowsing) told the local Tri-Valley Herald, "You can't wait for the FBI and police to come up with solutions when you have the bad guys living among us." Following the 9-11 attacks, some Pleasanton veterans received training in so-called "remote (psychic) viewing" and are now reportedly bringing local families up to speed on their missing-in-action relatives from past wars.

The Things People Believe:
Brian J. Samdahl, 41, charged with stabbing a stranger 15 times at a Wal-Mart, told police he thought the problem was that his government-implanted computer chip was broken (Bridgeview, Ill., February). And Jesus Santana, charged with marijuana possession, told the arresting officers, "I guess God got y'all to get me," since Santana had been rolling his joints using pages torn from a Bible (Athens, Ala., February). And William Veach, charged with scamming friends and family members in a securities scheme, insisted that he truly believed (albeit erroneously) that, as per his sales pitch, he had indeed sold a high-tech keyboard idea to Microsoft for $17 million (Provo, Utah, March).

SEEING THREE:
In March, London's Daily Telegraph reported that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is so terrified of triplet babies that the government places them all in special orphanages. Quoting diplomats who have visited North Korea, the Telegraph said Kim might feel threatened because the number 3 in Korean mythology is associated with rapid rises to power. However, a North Korean official told the United Nations Human Rights Commission that Kim is actually helping the triplets by raising them in better circumstances than the parents could (because of the country's dire economy).

Impossible journey:
A house cat named Princess survived after being stabbed in the head with a knife whose blade penetrated the skull down to the frontal sinus (Green Township, Ohio, February). And another cat, Fila, taken out of a family home in Yuba City, Calif., in December by a daughter who wanted Fila to live with her in Sacramento, escaped and made the 60-mile trip back to Yuba City five days later, winding up on the parents' doorstep. It was not known if Fila took one of the three roads from Sacramento to Yuba City (state roads 99/70 or 65, or Rio Linda Boulevard) or just walked across farms.

Scat man:
Michael J. Corbett and his wife, Sharon, were arrested in Beckley, W.Va., in March and charged with peddling copies of 53 different obscene videos on the Internet. The Corbetts' specialty: nude women answering nature's call. According to Justice Department and Postal Service investigators, customers bought 100 or more tapes a week (such as Outdoor Pooping Paradise or tapes using the Corbetts' inventive "bowl cam") at around $50 each.

Firestarters:
Luis Chavez, 33, was arrested in Cypress, Calif., in February after he allegedly set off aerial fireworks in his condominium bedroom (motive unknown), leading to a $135,000 fire. And Patricia Martin burned down her Kings Mountain, N.C., house in February after she lit a piece of paper, then extinguished the flame, to create smoke to get rid of a nest of spiders in the house but failed to completely extinguish it. And a Massapequa, N.Y., high school student inadvertently set a fire that gutted the second story of the family home in January after he, in frustration, tried to burn some school papers on which he had done badly (and tossed them out a window, but an ember blew back in).

Also, in the Last Month ...:
Officials of the prestigious Crufts dog show began an investigation of whether its current Supreme Champion (the Pekingese, Danny, which beat out 20,000 challengers) had had an illegal facelift (London).

2003 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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