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Wide World of Weird

June 12, 1998

A weekly roundup of unusual news stories from around the globe, compiled from Times wire services:

Hell's Granny: With her skintight black pants, leather jacket and Harley-Davidson tattoo, Katie Boyett was the favorite to win the title of Biker Babe '98. Never mind that she's 93. She won hands down. The Albemarle, N.C., contest was part of nursing home Stanly Manor's 10th anniversary party, an annual event at the home that this year attracted a number of motorcycle fans.

Fido Goes Postal: Houston canines made their city the dog-bite capital of the nation for postal workers last year by sinking their teeth into 65 mail carriers, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Chicago dogs came in second with 55 bites, followed by Miami with 36, Los Angeles with 29 and Cleveland with 25.

Church Stock Rises on Viagra: The Church of England has received a major financial boost from the success of the anti-impotence drug Viagra. The value of its stock in the drug's U.S. manufacturer, Pfizer Inc., has almost doubled since the end of 1997, when it was worth $1.6 million, the Daily Mail said.

When Animals Cure: Hundreds of people are flocking to a spot on Cambodia's Tonle Sap river every day in the belief that a turtle that regularly emerges from the murky waters has special healing powers. Meanwhile, in India, hundreds of thousands of people have been jostling to swallow medicine stuffed inside a live fish, a treatment believed to cure asthma and other respiratory ailments. Eager patients line up to have an herbal formula placed inside a small fish and thrust into their mouths as part of an annual event in Hindu astrological tradition.

Diploma Tied Up by Silly String: Nick Zahasky, 19, has been denied his high school diploma for celebrating graduation with Silly String. As the last senior to file out of his McCamey, Texas, high school auditorium, he pulled a can of the gooey streamer from under his robe and sprayed a colorful jet into the air. Principal Jerry Stinson told him his diploma wouldn't be released unless he completed eight hours of community service.

Adolf Hitler, Ex-Honorary Citizen: The east German town of Wurzen struck Adolf Hitler off its list of honorary citizens after a historian unearthed evidence of Hitler's distinction while examining old files about the town. A city spokesman said Wurzen, like thousands of other German towns, had granted the Nazi leader honorary citizenship during the Third Reich.

News McNuggets:

* Thieves stripped about 5,000 cobblestones, worth at least $16,300, from an entire street in the English port city of Liverpool, British newspapers reported. The Express said the raid, which occurred last weekend, triggered jokes about the level of street crime in Liverpool.

* A flying column of grasshoppers seven miles long swarmed into the capital of Madagascar, the world's fourth-largest island, on Monday.

* The English National Ballet has urged its dancers to have sex before a performance to put more pep into their dancing. "They need to get passionate to get reality into the show," said a company spokesman.

* A fishing boat captain who threw a crewman into a pack of sharks because he hadn't caught enough fish was sentenced to nine months in jail, Australian media reported. The crewman escaped injury and managed to climb back on board.

* A Portland jury issued a $900,000 malpractice verdict against a urologist accused of keeping a car salesman addicted to painkillers to get free tune-ups, tires and gasoline.

* Wide World of Weird is published every Friday. Off-Kilter appears Monday through Thursday.

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