News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In April the Unique Recoveries collection agency in Bombay, India, hired six eunuchs to go to the homes or offices of obstinate debtors to embarrass them into paying up, by dancing around and threatening to lift their saris to expose their "genitallessness." Unique's director said he expects his business to expand and that he will hire 100 more eunuchs. Many Bombay eunuchs earn money by crashing weddings and hanging around until they are paid to leave.

*The devastation of Kosovo this year by Serbian forces also disrupted another part of some Kosovars' lives: their extensive international crime network, which, according to a May report by the San Francisco Chronicle, "dominated" the narcotics business in Europe. The Kosovar network has now been supplanted by more vicious Albanian crime organizations, sometimes in conjunction with Sicilian Mafia families just across the Adriatic Sea, supported by a corrupt Albanian parliament. In March the Albanian crime "boss of bosses" was arrested in Milan, Italy, en route as an Albanian diplomat to an International Crime Tribunal meeting in France.

*In April the Great Floridian Marker Program's deadline was extended again, to September, because it is far short of its millennial goal to officially recognize the 2,000 all-time greatest Floridians. Though the program has been in operation for more than a year, municipalities have nominated so few people (170) that program personnel may finally be realizing that there simply have never been 2,000 great Floridians.

Leading Economic Indicators
*In January, officials in Chelyabinsk, Russia, imposed a 5-ruble (about 20 cents) monthly tax on domestic dogs, based on their use of electricity and water. And in May the owner of the Letostrui antiques shop in Sofia, Bulgaria, told reporters he hoped for a quick end to the bombing in neighboring Yugoslavia so that his missile debris (from NATO misfires that hit Bulgaria) would retain its high value and not be diluted by further debris from more NATO misfires. And a May Knight-Ridder News Service dispatch reported that Chile has covered for its lagging copper business with such dynamic exports as disposable diapers made from swamp moss and aftershave lotion made from snail slime.

Compelling Explanations
*Ten U.S. representatives this decade gave absolute pledges not to serve more than eight years in office, and six are keeping their promises. Of the others, the best promise-voiding explanation was by Republican Tillie Fowler, elected from Jacksonville, Florida, in 1992 under the slogan "Eight [Years] Is Enough." Fowler said in December 1998 that she might run in the year 2000 anyway, because "my problem was, I was too honest [when I made the pledge]."

*Roy Hopkins, 32, speaking to a Toronto Star reporter in March about having recently stepped forward to admit to a 1995 murder for which another man had wrongly been serving a life sentence: "I may be a criminal, and I may be a thief, and I may be a robber, but I ain't a low-life."

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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