Atrocities, starvation and disease continue in the Darfur region of Sudan as humanitarians try out inventive strategies to get the world’s attention. Nashville, Tenn., clothing designer Deborah Denson, for example, sells purple “Panties for Peace,” earmarking half the proceeds for Darfur relief. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has written tirelessly since 2004 on the brutality in Darfur, lamented in a May column that Americans still seem less concerned about the rapes and murders of thousands of children there than, for example, about the 2005 plight of the “Pale Male” hawk evicted from a ledge on a luxury high-rise in New York City, and pointedly suggested that Darfur’s victims adopt a puppy as their symbol. Citing research collected by the University of Oregon’s Paul Slovic, Kristof imagined a picture of a lovable, tortured, Darfur dog as having a better chance of bringing donations and a demand to stop the killing.
Fake police officers have graced News of the Weird (most recently in 2006) for pulling motorists over for officious scoldings on traffic safety, but a March 20 stop in Boca Raton, Fla., by an imitation, off-duty sheriff’s deputy was special. He was riding with his girlfriend when he decided to stop a discourteous motorist, and when a real cop later showed up, the “deputy” was revealed to be not a cop and also not a “he.” Rachel Otto, 21, wore her hair short on top and shaved on the sides, and her outing as a woman apparently shocked the girlfriend, who had been living with Otto for a week. Police said Otto’s rap sheet included nine arrests for impersonating police officers.
Men accusing women of “stealing” their sperm appeared in a pair of 2005 stories, including that of a Chicago doctor who impregnated herself with her doctor-boyfriend’s sperm (from oral sex). He sued her for theft, but an appeals court called the sperm a “gift.” In a less spectacular lawsuit filed in March 2007 in New York City, Quoc Pham charged that girlfriend Neli Petkova had exploited him to father a baby, and that as soon as she was pregnant, she discarded him, publicly terming him sexually inadequate and allegedly announcing that she had met another man, who “could make her cervix orgasmic just by thinking.” Pham wants $1 million and visitation rights to the now-3-year-old.
It was only three months ago that News of the Weird reported that a man vandalizing a church cemetery in Lilburn, Ga., by knocking over gravestones had one fall on him, crushing his leg and causing him to wail for two hours in the middle of the night before he was rescued. On May 6, at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Ind., Michael Schreiber, 22, couldn’t wail because he was unconscious, with two broken legs, the victim of a half-ton gravestone that fell on him after he had knocked 14 over.
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Medical literature reports, from time to time, patients with spiders nesting in their ears, and in May in Albany, Ore., Dr. David Irvine said that he chased a spider the size of a pencil eraser from the ear of 9-year-old Jesse Courtney (and then recovered a dead spider from his other ear.) In a 1993 News of the Weird story, a British machinist with bad earaches was found to have a pregnant spider living in his ear, but he told a reporter afterward that he had grown fond of the spider and intended to keep her as a pet. MTW