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Bats In The Belfry 

* High school baseball pitcher Daniel Hannant, after being hit in the head by a line drive, filed a lawsuit in Chicago in April against the makers of Louisville Sluggers, claiming that the company's aluminum bats are "unreasonably dangerous" to pitchers because they are designed to hit baseballs very, very hard.

* Kinder, Gentler Revolutionaries: In May, leaders of a Colombian right-wing paramilitary, the AUC, publicized an e-mail address for reporting complaints about their forces' mistreating of civilians; senior leader Carlos Castano admitted that he has killed many people himself, but that he is concerned about his organization's "excesses.". . .In Nepal in April, American Raymond Coughron told reporters that his mountain-climbing party had been robbed by revolutionaries devoted to the philosophies of Mao Tse-tung; the rebels first negotiated with the victims about what property they would take (finally settling on money only) and then wrote out a crude receipt for the amount taken.

New Wave of Female Protests

Four women bared their chests in downtown Eugene, OR in December, protesting society's use of child-unfriendly pesticides (and in favor of legalized hemp). . . "Hundreds" of women bared their chests in Lusaka, Zambia, in January, protesting the allegedly fraudulent election victory of president Levy Mwanawasa. . . .In a protest in Helsinki, Finland in April, "hundreds" of women publicly vowed to refrain from bearing children for four years unless parliament stops authorizing nuclear power plants.

Questionable Judgments

* Inmate Charles H. Hankerd, 39, was arrested on contraband charges in Valparaiso, IN in April after authorities discovered he was selling cigarettes (a prohibited item) at $2 each to cellmates. To produce his inventory, Hankerd allegedly had swallowed several plastic bags of tobacco just before turning himself in at the jail and, once inside, patiently waited for nature to take its course.

* Patience Owens, 17, whose 2-year-old son had just accidentally drowned in a filthy backyard swimming pool, was arrested in the February incident despite two separate warnings by the Tampa, FL 911 operator that Owens should not jump into the pool after the kid because it was too dangerous for her.

* In Montreal, Keri Wilson, 17, who seconds before had saved the life of an elderly man on subway tracks by jumping down to pull him up, was publicly chastised by transit police, who recited company policy to first notify authorities to cut power to the tracks (but which in this case probably would not have stopped the next train in time to save the man's life).

Cliche Come to Life: Voters in laid-back Sausalito (Marin County), CA turned down construction of a $7.8 million police station in March, in part on the advice of a feng shui consultant who said the proposed building was not harmoniously designed in that it would block the positive flow of energy to other places in town. Said the consultant, Ms. Sidney Nancy Bennett, the building would "cut off the mouth of chi" and compromise "the arrows of sha."

Just Like On "I Love Lucy": Graham Wright, 51, who was sentenced to eight years in jail in January for several bank robberies in Southport, England, told the court that his girlfriend never knew he was a wanted man because, when he sensed a crime report with his picture about to come on television, he started dancing in front of the TV set to distract her. . . .In May in Uniondale, NY. a gold Mercedes-Benz sports sedan was delivered by mistake to Ruth Shepard's driveway, causing her to believe it was a surprise Mother's Day present; a short time later, she was arrested for resisting police officers' attempts to get the car back for its rightful owner.

People Different From Us: In May, Trenton Veches, 31, resigned from his job with the Newport Beach, CA after-school recreation program when he was arrested on multiple counts of sucking the toes of boys age 6 to 10. Police said as many as 45 kids may have been involved, with several appearing on videotapes recovered from Veches' home. There was no evidence of anything beyond toe-sucking, but any touching of a child for sexual gratification is a crime in California.

Least Competent People: Police in Slidell, LA were looking for Henderson Stephen Palmer, 23, and Brian Parker, 24, suspected of a drive-by shooting in March that badly missed the target house, with half of the bullets hitting only the interior of their car and one shattering the kneecap of Palmer's sister, who was in the back seat. Police said the suspects fired as Parker sped down the street (perhaps not realizing that when professionals do a "drive-by," they actually stop the car in front of the target so they can aim better).

Civilization in Decline

According to a Los Angeles Times story, a handful of school districts in six states have banned dodgeball, intending to save kids from the violence and hurt feelings that result from humans throwing objects at other humans (March). . . .People who watch TV and relate to the characters tend to believe they have more friends and a more lively social life than they really do, according to a study by a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (May). . . .A 20-year-old suspected holdup man, fleeing police in Baton Rouge, LA while holding his 18-month-old son, tossed the kid at a police dog in an effort to buy a few more seconds in his escape (May).

Also, in the Last Month. . .

Eight British tourists were sentenced to three years in jail after being caught practicing their hobby of "plane-spotting" in Greece because authorities would not budge from their belief that anyone writing down airplane numbers must be a spy (Kalamata, Greece). . . .Police sought a man who was making offers to women to clean out their septic tanks in exchange for sex or guns (Camden, AR). . . .A 46-year-old man, under orders to clean the junk off his property, instead created a giant sculpture of a bare human torso, bent over, with the back end aimed at the street, but was then arrested for disorderly conduct (Altamonte Springs, FL). *

Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, PO Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679 or, or go to

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