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News of the Weird 

Those crazy Canadians: Municipal employee George Pavlovsky stalked through his shop in April, drunk, carrying a loaded, sawed-off shotgun (sending colleagues fleeing in fear), and looking for the two supervisors who had recently passed him up for promotion. As a result, he was fired by the city of Moncton, New Brunswick, and went to jail in November. But he said through his union (Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 51) that he wants his job back when he gets out, and the union has filed a wrongful-firing grievance on his behalf. Several of his colleagues are still on stress leave from witnessing the incident.

Questionable judgment: According to the arresting officer, Devikia Donise Garnett, 20, was calm when he stopped her for speeding in Hampton, Va., in November. However, after accepting the ticket, she quickly had second thoughts and lit out after the officer, slamming her car into the back of his cruiser, then stopping and accelerating again, smacking the car three more times. After the officer avoided her fifth pass, Garnett spun around and headed straight for him, but he managed to pin her car before it struck his. ... After Norm and Darlene Scott's Montana farm burned in 1996, they collected $75,000 from Mountain West Farm Bureau insurance but weren't satisfied and demanded more, finally getting another $52,500 in 1999. However, they wanted still more money and sued the company, claiming it was dealing with them in bad faith. In November 2003, a jury in Helena not only rejected the claim for more money but found that it was the Scotts who had started the fire (a finding that probably never would have been made had the Scotts quietly accepted the first $127,500). (The statute of limitations prevents criminal charges against them, but the insurance company will sue to get its money back.) ... In October, Toni Lynn Lycan, 44, in a shouting war with a downstairs neighbor in Vancouver, Wash., over his loud music, stomped up and down on the floor, eventually breaking both her legs about four inches below the knee.

Recurring themes: Once again in October, panic spread through some African cities about black-magic men who could, with a mere touch, make penises shrink or disappear. In alleged incidents in Khartoum, Sudan, and Banjul, Gambia, these sorcerers would shake men's hands and then extort money in exchange for removing the evil spirits they had just incited. As word spread and fears heightened, vigilantes would chase down the suspected sorcerers and beat them up or kill them. (Academics who study this folklore refer to the communities' hysteria as "genital retraction syndrome.")

Least competent criminals: With four DUI arrests in Florida, James Perry feared rejection if he tried to get a driver's license in his new home state of Connecticut in September. But after he pretended to be Robert Kowalski (the name of his neighbor in Florida), a routine computer check revealed "Robert Kowalski" to be a Michigan sex offender, unregistered in Connecticut. ... In November, Chillicothe, Ohio's Chance Copp, 15, who was on probation for arson and who feared testing positive for marijuana, submitted the urine of a relative, instead, only to find out later that that urine tested positive for cocaine.

Dignified death: Prominent author and filmmaker Timothy Treadwell, much of whose work was devoted to his love of brown bears and a campaign to make people more tolerant of them, was killed and partially eaten by bears in October near Kaflia Bay, in southern Alaska. Treadwell carried no weapons in the wild, and according to friends, was unmoved by brown bears' ferocity. He told one friend, "I would be honored to end up in bear scat."

Also, in the last month: In Sierra Leone, "thousands" rioted in Sierra Leone when a prominent pair of Nigerian dwarf comedians no-showed a performance and promoters tried to substitute two local dwarfs. In Chicago, a brother and sister who had thrown away a winning $10.5 million Illinois Lotto ticket recovered it, only because their garbage had remained uncollected due to a nine-day sanitation workers' strike. ... Dog-Plus K-9 Water went on sale in Australia (for about $2.10) in flavors like "bacon and beef" because, said the inventor, "dogs get bored with plain water."


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