News of the Weird

Lead Stories

The city commission of the border town of El Cenizo, Texas, voted in August to establish Spanish as the town's official language and to prohibit municipal employees, under penalty of firing, from cooperating with the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service on undocumented aliens. Mayor Rafael Rodriguez has acknowledged that he entered the United States illegally many years ago (though he is now a citizen).

Scottish psychopathic murderer Noel Ruddle, who has been in the Carstairs mental hospital in Glasgow for eight years, was released in August because no treatment is currently available for his paranoid schizophrenia, and British law prevents a prisoner's hospitalization if it does not result in the improvement, however slight, of his condition. Various officials and psychiatrists quoted in the British press were aghast at the decision, for nearly 2,000 seriously disturbed prisoners are in situations similar to Ruddle's.

Everyone's Favorite Understatement

"I know I'm not perfect" (recidivist drunk driver Donald Branch, sentenced to 49 years in prison for killing a pregnant woman and her daughter, Memphis, Tennessee, June). "I'm not perfect" (Steven Carmichael, 39, with convictions for burglary, theft, drug trafficking and two rapes, Portland, Maine, July). "I'm not perfect" (convicted murderer Raymond O. Nichols, placing a singles ad from his Massachusetts prison cell, May). "[She's] not perfect" (The Salt Lake Tribune reporter writing a sympathetic article about a once-drug-crazed mother asking for custody of the daughter she abandoned, June). "He's not perfect" (Monica Turner, wife of boxer-rapist Mike Tyson, May).

Awesome, Duuude!

The San Francisco Examiner reported in June that one-third of outdoor rodents at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge have both male and female reproductive organs, a finding attributed to a nearby reservoir of selenium, which is a byproduct of agricultural runoff. The lead investigator said the rodents are male on the outside and female on the inside.

Latest Survived Plunges

Allen Frith, age 45, 75 feet off a cliff at his home near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (February); 27-year-old man, 80 feet off a construction platform, Washington, D.C. (July); Leung Man-chun, eight, 17 floors from a Hong Kong apartment (with four clotheslines and a canopy breaking his fall) (April).

Spectacular Crashes

Piedmont, Missouri, teen driver Rory Dale Smith survived a collision with a train even though he was ejected from his truck and slammed through the rolled-up passenger window of another truck (March). A one-vehicle crash on the Capital Beltway in Alexandria, Virginia, vaulted the chihuahua Tito over a four-foot-high median barrier and four lanes of traffic safely to the grassy shoulder (April). Olivier Faure, 21, was knocked off his motorcycle by a car in the village of Upaix, France, but walked and hitchhiked, in shock, to his home six miles away before he realized that his forearm had been severed (February).


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