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Section Gee! | Wide World of Weird / A roundup of unusual
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What Some Guys Will Do for Beer

November 22, 1998

A New Olympic Event?: Two Estonian men, each seeking to win his wife's weight in beer, carried their partners through an obstacle course to win first and second place in the Wife Carrying World Championships in Helsinki. The men lugged their mates upside-down and over their shoulders, a departure from previous years when the piggyback method triumphed.

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Weirdest Lawsuits of the Week: A German bank robber was arrested recently after a teller realized the robber was hard of hearing and tripped an alarm. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the robber is now suing the bank for exploiting his disability.

Meanwhile, in Japan, a court has ordered the organizers of the Nagano Winter Olympics to pay damages for mental anguish to a spectator who missed an event because of heavy traffic.

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Dog Do Afternoon: Paris officials are reporting a "20% reduction in dog turds on the sidewalk," thanks to an experimental canine toilet program. The fenced enclosures are designed to complement the existing system of paid street cleaners and vacuum-toting motorcycles battling against the 5.6 tons laid down by Paris' 200,000 dogs each day.

In Belgium--where surveys show dog waste is considered one of the nation's biggest problems--the city of Ghent has launched a similar program in a densely populated, 19th century neighborhood near the center of town. It built dog toilets into the ground with a layer of gravel at the top, shielded by wooden screens. The canine commodes are cleaned six days a week and disinfected twice a week.

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Crawling for Literacy: A Utah principal crawled nearly a mile on his hands and knees through deep snow, making good on a promise that spurred his students to read more.

Ken Luke, 42, vowed that if his students reached a goal of reading 150,000 pages, he would crawl to school. During the three-hour trek, he went through four or five pairs of gloves and kept the community advised of his progress using a cellular telephone patched in to a local radio station. "Kneepads helped also," he said.

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E-Mail M.D.: A Boston doctor used e-mail to tell a solo sailor thousand of miles away how to operate on himself, probably saving the sailor's arm and possibly his life. The sailor was able to complete a leg of an around-the-world race and arrived safely in Cape Town, South Africa.

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News McNuggets:

* Salvador police are hunting for thieves who cleaned out computers and other equipment from inside their criminal investigation headquarters.

* Male infants who experience a traumatic birth may be more likely to commit suicide by violent means as adults than men whose births went smoothly, according to a new study.

* An Iranian grape grower has offered a vineyard as a new bounty on the head of British author Salman Rushdie, a newspaper reported.

* A man who allegedly slashed the throats of at least four homeless people, killing one, has told San Francisco police he is a 2,000-year-old vampire who thrives on drinking blood.

* It's a Romanian custom for guests to "steal" the bride, but not for the bride to steal her wedding dress. Cristina Barcea, 28, was arrested during her wedding for failing to pay for her gown.

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Wide World of Weird is published on Sundays. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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