News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORIES

-- Highway Patrol officers in Spearfish, S.D., arrested a 17-year-old boy on Feb. 19 and charged him with stealing a car in his hometown of Madison, S.D. According to police records in the Madison Daily Leader, the troopers were merely finishing up a meal at a Perkins Restaurant when the boy, in an adjacent booth, suddenly approached them, spread-eagled himself on the floor, and said, "Please don't shoot me," and "The car is in the parking lot."

-- In February, Union City, N.J., prosecutors began looking into the dental practice of Kevin P. Ward, 42, after a 5-year-old boy emerged from a routine office visit with a broken leg. The boy told his mother that Dr. Ward had reacted after the boy kicked him because of pain. Also, in January, Dr. Ward was sued by the parents of an 8-year-old girl who suffered a broken wrist while having a tooth pulled in 1996.

Latest Adventures in Democracy

Ernesto Alvear, 74, told reporters in Valparaiso, Chile, in December he would never again try to vote after being ruled ineligible for the third time in 10 years because records indicated he was dead. And Islam Karimov was re-elected president of Uzbekistan in January; opponent Abdulkhafiz Dzhalalov got 4 percent, not including Dzhalalov himself, who voted for Karimov. And Mary Fung Koehler, 65, lost for mayor of Lake Forest Park, Wash., in November, despite a divination of victory from reading her pendulum. (Koehler admitted to short-term memory loss from an auto accident, but said, "You can't tell because my I.Q. is so much higher than the average person's.")

Unclear on the Concept

-- According to international police statistics, South Africa has the world's highest incidence of reported rape, and in draft legislation circulated in January, the South African Law Commission proposed to criminalize "any act which causes (any) penetration to any extent whatsoever." According to a researcher, that would cover "simulat(ing) sexual penetration by putting your finger in a guy's nose," which "some people have told us (is) a serious problem."

-- Malone College of Canton, Ohio, announced in October that it would offer an eight-week exercise-and-fitness class entirely online. Instructor Charles Grimes said he was confident that he could detect whether students were really doing the exercises (through online chats and by requiring students to keep journals).

-- In December in Eugene, Ore., Eric E. Wray, 35, was sentenced to 24 years in prison after being convicted of assaulting the teen-age boy who had been living with him. According to the prosecutor, Wray had sexually abused the boy for years and had grown jealous that he had acquired friends, including girls, and one day came after the boy with a pistol. Said Wray at sentencing (ignoring the abuse and focusing only on the incident with the pistol), "(The boy) makes it seem like I am a criminal. It was one day in my entire life."

Bright Ideas

-- Kind-hearted Lee Ming-chi, 31, was sentenced to five years in prison in Hong Kong in December for two taxicab robberies totaling about $220 (U.S.). Lee had taken pity on one victim and given him back about $12 of the loot, but wary of leaving fingerprints, he removed the money from the stash with his teeth and dropped it in the cabbie's hand. However, police matched the DNA from the saliva on the money with DNA from Lee's blood.

-- East Penn Township (Pa.) police officer Shawn Phillips was charged in December with conspiracy to commit assault after a Little League pitcher said that Phillips (the well-known "Officer Phil") had paid him $2 to hit a batter with a pitch in a game in May 1999. The pitcher complied and was paid, but so far, Phillips has been silent about a motive.

-- In Boston, chemical engineer Glenn Elion was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in February on a federal charge that he defrauded investors of $3.8 million by claiming to have duplicated the potentially incredibly lucrative genetic code of spider silk. According to the prosecutor, Elion needed the money because he himself had just been ripped off for at least $700,000 in a familiar Nigerian scam in which a man claims he found millions in U.S. currency that has been ruined by indelible ink applied by the Nigerian government, but that he knows an expensive process to remove the ink and will split the proceeds with whoever funds the cleaning.

-- Love Schemes: Police in New Albany, Ind., said that Charles E. Adams, 28, convinced buddy Clifton "Scooter" Foster in January to stab him, so that Adams could see if his ex-girlfriend would visit him in the hospital. (Adams survived.) And Frederick Alex Hunchak, 35, pled guilty in Wynyard, Saskatchewan, in January to puncturing the tires of three cars driven by women; he said he wanted to "rescue" them, hoping to find true love. And an Arizona State student let football player J.R. Redmond use her cell phone, then convinced him that that was an NCAA rules violation unless they got married. (They did, but annulment was scheduled for March.)

Getting Dangerous Felons off the Streets

In February, a Mohave County, Ariz., judge sentenced Deborah Lynn Quinn, 39, to a year in prison for violating probation on a marijuana-sales charge; Quinn has no arms, no right leg, a partial left leg, and is almost totally dependent on others for care. Also in February, a federal judge in Atlanta sentenced quadriplegic Louis E. Covar Jr., 51, to seven years in prison for violating the probation he had received on a charge of possessing marijuana. (It is estimated to cost about five times as much to house them as to house able-bodied prisoners.)

Recurring Themes

More Evidence that Cigarettes Are Bad for You: In Cleveland, Charlene Smiley, 44, was charged in February with fatally stabbing a 40-year-old woman in a dispute over smoking in Smiley's boyfriend's house. And Michael Raines, 20, was charged with fatally shooting a 41-year-old man in Benton, Tenn., in October because the man would not return the cigarette lighter Raines had loaned him.

Least Competent Criminals

February Negative-Cash-Flow Robberies: In Albuquerque, an unidentified man asked for change of a $10 bill to get the Keva Juice shop clerk to open the register, then announced a robbery; the clerk locked the register instead, and the man fled, leaving his $10 behind. The same thing happened at Larry's Quick Stop, Spokane, Wash., but the robber was not as dumb, asking only for change of a quarter, which he also left behind when the clerk told a phone caller he was being robbed.

Also, in the Last Month ...

A new law requires Mongolia's many one-name people to adopt surnames to differentiate themselves, but more than half have chosen Borjigon, Genghis Khan's family name. A British Airways plane that made an emergency landing in Manchester because of smoke was carrying four women in the final act of a six-week course to overcome fear of flying. Charges were filed against a Norwalk, Conn., woman for giving her kids, ages 5 and 7, a hammer and a screwdriver in their school bags for use on bullies. A group of sexually frustrated women stormed a police station, demanding either that the taverns their husbands hang out in be shut down or that the cops themselves service the women (Kandara, Kenya). The Swaziland parliament's speaker of the house resigned under pressure, two months after he was caught stealing manure from ruling King Mswati III.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600