-- Brandon Clifford, 27, pled guilty in May in Bucks County, Pa., to attempting via the Internet to lure an underage girl for sex, but apparently Clifford's perversion of choice is merely to experience pain by having someone kick him in the testicles. This fetish, named (according to the prosecutor) "Asian Ball Busting," would also have been practiced by the girl's smashing Clifford's scrotum violently with her hand from underneath. After his arrest in January, Clifford was fired from his job as an inspector with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
-- Ignorance on Parade: In March, the principal of Stony Brook School in Branchburg, N.J., ordered a 12-year-old, hearing-impaired girl to stop using sign language on the school bus because it was somehow causing a disturbance. And in April, a National Park Service ranger at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., ordered a visiting group of high school patriotic-essay contest winners to stop singing the National Anthem because they did not have a permit for a demonstration. (In both cases, the orders were rescinded several days later, following protests.)
-- On April 29, Carla Renee White, 17, beat out 10 other women in casual wear and evening gowns to win a Berkeley County, S.C., beauty contest now in its 30th year: Miss Hell Hole, named after the Hell Hole Swamp, the local community's "defining body of water," as a May Boston Globe dispatch labeled it. White will not compete in the Miss South Carolina Pageant because the entry fee is too steep, but the pageant director said, "We'd love to have Miss Hell Hole."
In March, this year's Miss Brazil admitted to four plastic surgeries and 19 other cosmetic procedures (including ear reductions) in her quest for perfection, but perhaps she merely reflects the obsession of her country, which has the world's highest per capita rate of plastic surgery. Meanwhile, in the United States, an April raid in New York City closed down an unlicensed, makeshift liposuction/implant shop that had been serving (at cut-rate, but still high, prices) dozens of largely dissatisfied customers, many of whom were spotted by neighbors staggering out the door, bleeding. And in Miramar, Fla., a woman died in March from illegal silicone injections to her buttocks by a man whose day job is house cleaner, and authorities warned of neighborhood, Tupperware-style, silicone-injection "parties."
-- Women in villages and small towns across Slovakia continued this year to endure the hundreds-years-old tradition of Easter Monday, though not with the pain and humiliation suffered as recently as the 1950s. Historically, unmarried men ritually threw cold water on, and then whipped, single women, and the women in turn rewarded the men with hard-boiled eggs and chocolate and bragged about the number of men who visited; nowadays, except in the remotest villages, men gently spray scented water on women.
-- In Indonesia in February, young Dayak tribesmen in Borneo slaughtered more than 400 job-stealing immigrants from the island of Madura in the renewal of a centuries-old rivalry that had largely been relaxed in recent decades through Dutch and Christian missionary influence. As their ancestors had done, the Dayaks beheaded their victims and displayed the skulls for their alleged magical powers of increased security and rainfall. According to a March Washington Post dispatch, Dayak elders were shocked by these youthful rampages because Borneo is relatively modernized (satellite dishes, designer clothing, motorcycles).
-- As the time nears for the International Olympic Committee to select its 2008 site, China dogged Paris' bid, primarily because of the city's notorious canine poop problem. An April Boston Globe dispatch reported on the city's casual approach to cleaning the 16 daily tons of droppings (and average of two hospitalization injuries a day from people slipping on them), with a Paris Olympic official shrugging off the criticism: "It's just that there are no dogs in China, because they eat them."
-- The land of the matriarchal Mosuo people, in southern Tibet, has become a popular in-country tourist destination recently for newly rich Chinese because of its tradition of females choosing which males will be their sexual partners. According to a March London Daily Telegraph dispatch, a woman typically "lamps" her choice by shining a flashlight into the man's face (a switch from the traditional tickling-the-palm method), but prostitutes have begun to flood the area and impersonate Mosuo women, in order to serve visitors' fantasies.
During the last five years, nearly 28,000 fugitives have received Supplemental Security Income disability payments, in violation of federal law, money which has undoubtedly contributed to their ability to evade capture, according to government reports disclosed in April by the Associated Press. And the German government announced in April a program to persuade neo-Nazis to renounce their philosophies and memberships; about 10,000 of the most violence-prone could claim incentives worth up to about $50,000 each.
In January, the Columbia, S.C., City Council was informed that the land for the almost-completed municipal golf course primarily for youth was formerly a graveyard in which as many as 1,400 bodies of indigent black mental health patients had been buried in the early 1900s; some fearful officials want the project stopped immediately and are seeking help from a major funder of the course, the Tiger Woods Foundation. And in Palatine, Ill., according to a February Chicago Sun-Times report, funeral director Doug Ahlgrim celebrated the 35th anniversary of the basement miniature golf course in the Ahlgrim & Sons funeral home, which is apparently a community institution that Ahlgrim believes cheers up his customers.
A Vancouver, British Columbia, apartment complex was evacuated and condemned in April after a dentist died inhaling toxic vapors while engaging in his at-home hobby of fooling around with his large collection of mercury. And in Cardington, Ohio, after chemist Thomas Beiter died of apparently natural causes in his apartment in February, authorities found 17 pounds of mercury and two containers of uranium, with which, according to a brother, he liked to conduct various experiments in his home laboratory.
Michael Johnson, 37, and Sung Taek Park, 67, were arrested in Toronto in February and charged with several counts of fraud for attempting to obtain a line of credit from a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce branch by leaving collateral of $25 billion in U.S. government bearer bonds that turned out to be fakes. The bonds, picturing President Grover Cleveland, appeared to have been issued in the 1930s, supposedly to have helped fund Chinese nationalist Chiang Kai-shek. The men's scheme might have been too ambitious, however, because in the 1930s, the entire U.S. national debt was only about $30 billion, and $25 billion of that would not have been tied up in a single set of bonds held by one entity. Also, the Federal Reserve addresses on the bonds had ZIP codes (which were only introduced in 1963).
A 36-year-old man who fell asleep in a garbage bin was automatically loaded onto a truck and compacted before being rescued and treated for multiple fractures (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). The new owner of a bungalow in northwest Chicago, inspecting his property, found the corpse of the previous resident, in a chair, apparently dead of natural causes and unattended since February 1997. Five 2001 Rolls-Royce lines, including the three most expensive models in the world (led by the $353,000 Corniche), had to be recalled to the factory when the power window switch ignited the car's fuel line at a Michigan dealership and blew out the windows. A city welfare agency contractor was revealed, in brochures in service for several years, to have been recommending to welfare recipients that they regularly check Dumpsters to help make ends meet (Eugene, Ore.).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)