News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In March stories by Knight-Ridder news service (in Honduras) and The Wall Street Journal (in Russia), the latest United States disaster relief efforts were revealed to be rife with ill-conceived aid. Honduran hurricane victims still need cooking utensils and medicine but are receiving old clothes, cans of largely unappreciated foods such as artichoke hearts, and items such as microwave popcorn, dog food and dental floss. Food commodities donated for starving Russians tend to lower the prices of similar Russian food, angering farmers, and, even so, the American food usually winds up being sold on the street rather than given to the poor.

*In March a federal judge in Syracuse, New York, rejected the latest lawsuit by Donald Drusky of East McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in his 30-year battle against USX Corp. for ruining his life by firing him in 1968. Drusky had sued "God ... the sovereign ruler of the universe" for taking "no corrective action" against Drusky's enemies and demanded that God compensate him with professional guitar-playing skills and the resurrection of his mother. Drusky argued that under the federal rules of civil procedure, he would win a default judgment if God failed to show up in court.

Leading Economic Indicators
*In March retired Russian army Colonel Dmitry Setrakov, 69, was arrested after a brief standoff at a downtown Moscow bank; he had pulled a shotgun in an unsuccessful attempt to withdraw about $22,000 from his own account, which, like nearly everyone else's, is frozen. And the London Daily Telegraph reported in March that Russian soldiers in Chechnya had sold off at least 100 of their colleagues to the other side for as little as $17 each; the Chechens ransom the Russian soldiers back to their families.

Compelling Explanations
*Among the reasons given by an unidentified Buffalo, New York, police officer in February in his request for full disability pay based on psychological injury was his having walked into a stationhouse in 1997 to find other officers celebrating an Easter Sunday mass. According to the officer's lawyer, visualizing the stationhouse now causes him such emotional turmoil that he is not able to perform his duties.

*After All, He's an Olympic Athlete: According to records released in January by the world track and field organization IAAF, United States medal-winning sprinter Dennis Mitchell denied he had taken performance-enhancing drugs, despite a positive test result. Mitchell said his testosterone was high only because he had had sex four times the night before.

*Alaskan gubernatorial candidate John Lindauer, during a debate in Ketchikan in October, tried to explain why he had been inconsistent as to when his wife had donated to his campaign. (If given in 1997, the donation would be legal; if given during the campaign, illegal.) According to Lindauer, "I said, and [my opponents] took this shot through a radio station mirror, I believe, and took one sentence I was saying." (Lindauer never explained what a radio station mirror was, lost in November and as of March was facing an ethics investigation about the gift.)

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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