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Fashion victim



After a brief chase, T'Chacka Mshinda Thorpe, 25, was arrested in Lynchburg, Va., in May and charged with possession of cocaine. Police caught up to Thorpe after he tripped on his low-riding baggy pants, fell and fractured his femur. And in Philadelphia in March, Edney Raphael, 39, was captured while running from the scene of a stabbing with a bloody knife in his hand; Raphael had turned his head to monitor the progress of the police officers who were pursuing him, and ran smack into a parking meter.

Watch out for the tourist traps

In August, entrepreneur Adam Bilski received a license from the city of Oswiecim, Poland (a.k.a. Auschwitz), to open a disco on the spot of a World War II-era tannery that "employed" concentration-camp workers and became a gravesite for many of them. And in September, "Stalin's World," a tourist attraction devoted to themes of the World War II-era Soviet police state, is scheduled to open near Gruta, Lithuania. Gruta was a gateway through which 200,000 Lithuanians passed en route to Siberian labor camps. The developer said he eventually plans to have visitors enter the park on cattle cars and eat oat gruel and fish broth, just as the prisoners did.

Keeping us in suspension

The same engineering firm responsible for the notoriously wobbly Millennium Bridge in London, England -- which has been closed as unsafe -- was identified as the consultant for the soon-to-be-released Bioform brassiere, according to an August report in the London Daily Telegraph. The Ove Arup company found that replacing the bra's underwire with plastic bands would more comfortably distribute the load and reduce stress; the company is also working on shock absorbers that will make the Millennium Bridge safe for reopening.

Hot-button issue

In May, the Food and Drug Administration approved a prescription product called the Eros Clitoral Therapy Device, a suction-pump instrument that increases blood flow for the purpose of improving sexual responsiveness. (Similar devices for men, though rudimentary and unapproved by FDA, have long been on the market, selling for far less than Eros' $359 price tag. They are illegal to possess in Alabama, Texas and Georgia, which ban devices sold for the purpose of stimulating sex organs.)

Fight like a chicken

News of the Weird has reported several times on the "sport" of cockfighting, which is still legal only in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana, and is under constant criticism from state legislatures and animal-rights activists. However, according to a June New York Times story, the cockfighting infrastructure is flourishing, encompassing a 33-state breeding industry and a roster of developers whose designer drugs enhance roosters' fighting performance. Cockfighting bouts continue to be staged illegally in many locales, with police raiding events this year in Philadelphia and New York City. Furthermore, the Washington Post reported in July that an anti-cockfighting bill with broad bipartisan support in Congress has been derailed due to the influence of the breeding industry.

Crossing kids with arachnids

In June near Plattsburgh, N.Y., Nexia Biotechnologies began nurturing about 150 goats that had been specially bred with a gene from a spider. The ultimate goal: to create silk fibers ("BioSteel" ) strong enough for use in bulletproof clothing and fit for aerospace and medical applications. Spider silk has long been admired for its lightweight strength and elasticity.

The street value of slugs

Police in Durham, N.C., said that three 15-year-old boys who were rushed to Duke Hospital on the evening of July 28 after suffering gunshot wounds to their legs had actually shot one another voluntarily. Said a police spokesman, "They wanted that status symbol of telling their friends they were shot."

Petrol market goes thigh-high

In July, engineer Roman Kunikov gave a public demonstration in Ufa, Russia, of gasoline-powered boots that he said enable their wearer to jump around at about 12 feet per stride and run at a pace of about 25 mph. Not yet on the market, the boots weigh about 2 pounds each, including fuel.

God watches CBS

A 49-year-old man who wounded five people when he shot up a bar in Topeka, Kan., said his orders came from "the Lord" -- the same God who had allegedly promised him that subsequent instructions would come from TV's "Nash Bridges." And a 30-year-old Danish soccer fan who was returning in a fans' bus from a recent Copenhagen-Viborg game peered out of the vehicle's skylight during the night and was decapitated by an overpass.

Searching for a sole mate

On July 12 in Columbus, Ohio, Lester DeBoard, 36, was sentenced to five years in prison for luring an 11-year-old girl to a far corner of a public library and fondling her feet. DeBoard faces a similar charge stemming from a library fondling in nearby Worthington, Ohio.

NOTE: Two weeks ago, News of the Weird contained an item about a strip-club owner who had never heard of Rev. Billy Graham. To my embarrassment, that story was fabricated by the reader who submitted it. My apologies. -- Chuck Shepherd.

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