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News of the Weird


Flight risk:
On June 28, as Orange County, Calif., sheriff's deputy Owen Hall was standing beside a car he had stopped, he was shot in the leg with an arrow. After Hall pulled the arrow out and reported to a hospital, deputies combed the neighborhood and finally located archer Tri Thanh Lam, who had apparently been practicing in his back yard when an arrow got away from him. Lam was arrested, but he went free two days later when authorities realized that he had committed no crime, since the state's negligent-shooting law applies only to guns.

When a pair of bald eagles at Kentucky's game farm in Frankfort produced an extremely rare (for in-captivity eagles) egg in April, officials destroyed it because to allow it to hatch would have violated their federal permit. A federal official said the Kentucky officials should have just shipped it to them.

Cali's got issues:
According to an April New York Times report, California has spent $13 million in education money since 2001 defending its deteriorating school facilities against a class-action lawsuit. The state argues that it is providing as best it can on a shrinking budget (which of course has shrunk by $13 million just on this lawsuit). And a California Senate committee revealed in May that misconduct investigations of prison employees proceed so slowly that an accused worker could be on paid leave for more than two years before ultimately being fired when the charges prove true.

Smell you later:
In Shutesbury, Mass., seating at the town meeting was divided by those wearing perfume or aftershave, those who never do, and those who never do but forgot and wore some that day.

Full throttle:
The Speaker of the New Zealand House ruled in May that, though laptop computers are forbidden in the chamber, one member could bring in his carburetor and work on it, as long he didn't make noise. And the Green Party in Granada, Spain, for the country's May elections, offered a comprehensive platform that included issuing "sex vouchers" to give adults under age 25 local hotel-room discounts to encourage couples' intimacy (and safe sex and contraception) because most people that age still live with their parents.

Sex drive:
In Easton, Pa., in June, Richard James Clader, 38, was sentenced to at least seven months in prison for a series of episodes on state roads 22 and 33 in which eventually 27 people contacted authorities to report that a motorist (identified as Clader) had driven nude, with the horn blasting, while vigorously masturbating. Clader told the judge that he believes his behavior stemmed from feeling neglected as a child and later by his wife, but said he is making substantial progress.

Least competent people:
In Racine, Wis., in January, city and state officials knocked on Angie Anderson's door to inform her that they were about to capture a sickly owl in a tree in her yard, but she explained that the reason it appeared immobile was that it was a fake owl, purchased two years earlier from Wal-Mart for $14.99. And a consciousness-raising stunt by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hit a snag in March at the Palm Springs Middle School in Hialeah, Fla., when PETA was informed that its sign in Spanish on its life-size cow prop, reading "Echar la Leche" (translation of their slogan, "Dump Dairy") was also slang for "ejaculate."

Recurring themes:
In 1996, U.S. Republican political strategist Roger Stone was forced to leave Bob Dole's presidential campaign when a magazine revealed that Stone and his wife had placed ads, with kinky photos of themselves, in swingers' magazines. In June 2003, British Conservative Party think-tank executive Dougie Smith was revealed to be the founder and coordinator of the 5-year-old Fever Parties, upscale orgies held periodically in fashionable townhouses and country mansions. (However, Smith appears to be secure in his job.)

Undignified deaths:
A 36-year-old woman in Kyoto, Japan, drowned in a fast-moving river after jumping in to rescue her golden retriever, which paddled ashore with relative ease while rescue efforts for the woman were under way. A 26-year-old Colorado man was killed after he asked his uncle to stab him in the chest to see if a bulletproof vest would protect him. And in Brackley, England, a veteran skydiver accidentally crashed into a veteran hang-glider at about 4,000 feet, killing both men.

Also, in the last month:
A 67-year-old German woman, outraged that Guinness recognized only an 831-gallstone-removal surgery as the world's record, said she would submit her 3,110 stones (from a 1981 surgery), which fortunately she has saved. In land-scarce Japan, the Tokyo city government started selling small cemetery plots for the first time since 1960, at prices ranging from $30,000 to $86,000. And in Cambridge, England, career criminal Gary Cowan, whose latest sentence was up, confessed to three more crimes with the hope he would be allowed to stay in prison to finish a restaurant management course.

2003 Chuck Shepherd

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