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News of the Weird

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LEAD STORY: The agency that oversees Spain's stock market announced that it will implement a rule starting in July to require each director of an exchange-listed company to disclose not just names of family members but of any other "affectionate relationship," straight or gay, that the director may have. The purpose is to help monitor insider trading. (Also, in Nanjing, China, municipal officials were ordered in May to disclose any extramarital affairs, as a way of reducing officials' payoffs to mistresses, according to Xinhua news agency.)

Can't Possibly Be True: Official guidelines issued in May by Britain's Joint Council on Qualifications, directed to agencies that administer high school and junior-high standardized tests, call for students to receive extra points on the test if they have experienced pre-exam stress due to selected circumstances: death of a parent or close relative (up to 5 percent extra), death of other relative (up to 4 percent), death of pet (2 percent if on exam day, 1 percent if the day before), witnessing a distressing event on exam day (up to 3 percent), just-broken arm or leg (up to 3 percent), headache (1 percent).

Suspicions Confirmed: 1) The Florida Supreme Court in March disbarred attorney David A. Barrett for violating the state's professional conduct code, including paying for an assistant to attend a chaplain's course at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in order to offer prayers in the rooms of accident victims and solicit business for Barrett. 2) In County Cork, Ireland, in December, Dane Ring, 13, was suspended from school for two days after he ignored what schoolboys know is the cardinal rule of bodily functions, which is to never admit that you're the person, in a crowded room, who just passed gas.

Unclear on the Concept: 1) A man identified as David Connor (by Boston police) or Timothy Connor (by Providence, R.I., police) was arrested after allegedly robbing the Beacon Hill Wine and Spirits in Boston in April of about $1,000, and according to the surveillance video, he appeared to ask for a head start of "60 seconds" before police were called and then to shake the clerk's hand as if cementing the agreement. 2) In May, Jim Stelling, the Republican Party chairman in Seminole County, Fla., won a lawsuit for defamation against an intraparty official who had accused him of being married six times, which Stelling said he found particularly insulting, since he "believe[s] in family values." Stelling said he has been married only five times. (The judge ruled that Stelling was not defamed enough for money damages.)

News That Sounds Like A Joke: 1) In April, police in Buffalo, N.Y., said Thomas L. Hunter, 55, ran off with a case of brandy from the Eastside Liquor store, but during the getaway, he dropped the case, and the bottles shattered. He was arrested when he returned to the scene of the spill and started sucking up brandy with a straw. 2) At a train station in Ogori, Japan, in May, a seeing-eye dog apparently misunderstood a spoken command and led a blind couple off of a platform and tumbling onto the tracks. The couple and the dog had been headed for a workshop for assistance dogs.

Creme de la Weird: Four former patients of clinical psychologist Letitia Libman sued Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, Ill., in March and April for malpractice, including claims that Libman's hospital treatments for neurological disorders included tarot cards, love potions, DNA-based hexes, and patient nudity and self-mutilation. Libman also allegedly bragged of her travels among aliens. In May, the lawsuits were amended to include Libman herself as a defendant, a move that the plaintiffs initially resisted because they feared Libman's witchy retribution.

Recurring Themes: Former caddie Gary Robinson recently filed a lawsuit against pro golfer Ms. Jackie Gallagher-Smith, claiming he was made an "unwitting sperm donor" in their brief romance since he believes it was he who fathered her child born in March. His lawsuit is for intentional infliction of emotional distress, which is the same claim that has been successful in the early stages of another lawsuit, reported in News of the Weird in March, in which a male doctor in Chicago sued a female doctor who had his child during their affair. (Gallagher-Smith maintained that her husband is the father, and DNA tests cannot be forced on a married woman in Gallagher-Smith's home state of Florida.)

Least Competent Criminals: Police in Hackettstown, N.J., charged Juan Vargas, 29, with public intoxication at a Dunkin Donuts shop after spotting him speaking into his wallet as if it were a cell phone (February).

© 2005 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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