News of the Weird

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In September Italy's highest appeals court ruled that a spouse's obsession with another person was grounds for divorce even though she never had a relationship, sexual or otherwise, with the other man. A lower court had ruled that the wife, identified publicly only as Anna, was not at fault because there was no "carnal betrayal"; however, the Court of Cassation wrote that her constant thoughts about a bus driver whom she knew had broken her marriage's "trust and intimacy" just as surely as if the two had had sex.

Earlier this year Mayor Dan Gibson of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, decided to run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and, with the support of his wife and son, resigned and liquidated his assets to finance the campaign, including the couple's five-bedroom antebellum home, antique furniture and two Cadillacs. He finished fourth, and the Gibsons now live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment with one used car for transportation. Gibson told the Associated Press in August that he has no regrets and agrees with the voters: "I need more maturity (before holding office)."

Eclipse Madness

During the August 11 eclipse: A baby born during the blackout was killed by its 31-year-old mother, who feared it was thus cursed (Strahotin, Romania). Abdel-Nasser Nuredeen was charged with killing his wife because she was too fascinated by the eclipse to make him a cup of tea (Cairo, Egypt). Bulgarian TV apologized for missing eclipse coverage because its camera crew was delayed at an erotic film shooting. A police superintendent released three prisoners under the assumption that the eclipse meant the world was ending (Picui, Brazil).

Oops!

Latest highway truck spills: 20 tons of dog and cat food on I-70 near Denver (March); 1,800 liters of caramel (which required a hazardous materials cleanup crew) in Calgary, Alberta (April); thousands of cases of Anheuser-Busch beer on I-55 in St. Louis (August); a tractor-trailer full of vodka, tequila and Scotch on Candora Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee (June); 60 toilets being hauled on I-25 in Albuquerque (June).

Two Canadian astronomers admitted in June that they made a serious error the month before in their 23-page message beamed into outer space designed to inform extraterrestrials that there is intelligent life on Earth. One section was to show, via symbols, that Earthlings have mastered mathematics, but two different "equals to" symbols were used. The Dutch researcher who found the error was chagrined that aliens will now believe Earthlings are "a sloppy species."

In June, during a British Airways flight from London to Los Angeles, a pre-recorded emergency-warning message was accidentally transmitted to the cabin, horrifying the 400 passengers, but it was quickly turned off by the captain. He knew to act quickly because it was the third straight month that such an emergency tape had come on during a British Airways flight. In the first glitch, in April, a voice on the tape actually told passengers that the plane was about to ditch into the Atlantic Ocean.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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