Stalking stupor 

Municipal employee George Pavlovsky stalked through his shop in April, drunk, carrying a loaded, sawed-off shotgun 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.

Got 'em by the short hairs

Recently arrested on sex charges: 1) in August, a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge whose job was to administer Megan's Law for Camden County, for possession of child pornography; 2) in November, the vice chairman of a Louisville, Ky., anti-pornography group, for patronizing a prostitute; and 3) also in November, a politically conservative Richmond, Texas, radio-show host who is regularly critical of lax moral standards, for indecent exposure to a child.

Is it cold in here?

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."

Animal-rights blues

The city of Bartow, Fla., amid complaints about stray chickens, repealed in August a 1922 ordinance that made it illegal to kill, capture or "annoy" birds.

The 10th annual cockroach races -- and "tractor"-pull -- were held at the Indiana State Fair in August, with separate events for American roaches (on an oval track) and the stronger Madagascar hissing cockroaches (on a straightaway).

Among the less-publicized charges against the Russian oil giant Yukos -- whose chairman, Russia's richest man, was arrested in October -- was that a farm it owns in Siberia was illegally allowing rabbits to mate "unsystematically."

Out of the frying pan ...

In September, James Perry, with four DUI arrests in Florida, feared rejection if he tried to get a driver's license in his new home state of Connecticut and so pretended to be Robert Kowalski (the name of his neighbor in Florida), but a routine computer check revealed "Robert Kowalski" to be a Michigan sex offender, unregistered in Connecticut. And in Chillicothe, Ohio, in November, Mr. 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.

Move it or lose it

About 40 percent of U.S. elementary schools have eliminated recess over the last 20 years, according to a September story in New Times Broward-Palm Beach, so that schools could squeeze in more classroom time. In addition to the problem of overweight students, Florida school psychologist Marvin Silverman referred to children's "chemical need" for recess, pointing out that even psychiatric institutions give recess to help with "mood and movement." A complicating factor is that in some schools, playground equipment has already been removed because of safety concerns and fear of lawsuits.

Cutting-edge research

Prof. Trevor Cox, University of Salford in England, and his fellow acoustics researchers concluded in September that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, a duck's quack does have an echo.

Biologist Nette Levermann of the Copenhagen's Zoological Museum, whose team monitored 100 walruses near Greenland, concluded in October that the animals use their right flippers more than their left.

It was reported in November that, an aerodynamics expert at Britain's Open University, aided by an Oxford engineering student, designed and machine-tested a beer coaster to produce the ideal model and conditions for winning at the British pub game of coaster-flipping.

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."

In the last month ...

"Thousands" rioted in Freetown, 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 (Chicago).

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."

Speaking of News Of The Weird

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