News of the Weird July 11 2007

Lead Story: People can develop intimate, romantic relationships with objects (beyond mere fetishism, which produces only short-term arousal), according to one of Germany's most renowned sexologists, Volkmar Sigusch, interviewed for a May report in Der Spiegel. A reporter claimed to find individuals infatuated with a Hammond organ (who feared infidelity when a technician performed repairs), New York City's Twin Towers (whose lover bathed with a miniature version) and the Berlin Wall (which a woman ceremoniously "married" in 1979 and legally changed her name in acknowledgment). Sigusch said this objectophilia was another indication of society's increasing "neo-sexuality."</
Weird Japan: Sachio Kawabata, 61, was awarded the equivalent of about $5,000 by a court in Kagoshima in January because the police abused him during interrogation over possible violations of election law. The judge found that Kawabata suffered "great mental anguish" when police wrote his family name and derogatory messages on pieces of paper and forced Kawabata to stomp on them.</
Latest Religious Messages: While the California Assembly debated an open-hand-only spanking bill for parents this spring, the Bethel Baptist Church in El Sobrante continued to demand that spanking by flexible rod is the only punishment acceptable to God and that will produce wisdom in the child. No sturdier weapon may be used, nor the open or closed hand, nor even mere yelling, according to a church pamphlet cited by InsideBayArea.com for a May report. Said one parishioner/parent, "With my girls, the spanking relieved them of their guilt, which allowed them to be happy in a very short time afterward." Said another, "We disagree with timeouts. ... That's an attack on spanking."</
In May, the Times of London, interviewing witnesses in Diyala province in Iraq, described scenes from the hardcore Salafist version of Islam being enforced (similar to what the Taliban imposed in Afghanistan), including breaking the fingers of those who repeatedly smoked cigarettes, prohibiting grocers from displaying bananas (as "obscene"), and requiring them to screen cucumbers from tomatoes (as the latter are "feminine vegetables"). One local man said he assumed that another restriction that farmers modestly cover their goats' "nether regions" was just a rumor, until he saw a goat wearing boxer shorts.</
Rough Religion: In April, rival factions of nuns brawled, along with priests, in an Old Calendarist convent in Avdellero, Cyprus, leaving a church floor covered with blood. One faction said that a recently deceased bishop's will gave them control of the convent, but Mother Superior Markella and her nuns had been living there for decades and feared removal.</
Defense Exhibit A: In a Palmerston, New Zealand, court in March, lawyer Janet Robertshawe was called as a witness on behalf of an "alternative health" practitioner who had been charged with taking indecent liberties with female clients, and Robertshawe (a longtime client) agreed to help demonstrate the man's massage technique. Just feet from the jury, she removed her top and lay on a massage table while he gave her a vigorous, deep mashing, which shook her chest-covering towel off several times. Robertshawe later testified (while clothed) that the man's treatments had worked wonders for her: "I guess the treatments aren't for the faint-hearted."</
Update: The international movement to anoint apes with "human rights" suffered a slight setback in April when an Austrian judge refused to declare a chimpanzee a "person" (which, under Austrian law, would have entitled it to a legal guardian and allowed individuals to donate money to it). The chimp, Hiasl, and a companion are in limbo after their sanctuary went bankrupt, and their supporters say a guardian is necessary to keep them out of zoos or research labs. Said one activist: "We mean [by human rights] the right to life, the right not to be tortured, the right to freedom under certain circumstances. We're not talking about the right to vote." Austria's neighbor, Germany, prohibits using apes for research.</
Fine Points of the Law: Benoit Derosiers, 51, who police said was so inebriated that he could barely speak when stopped for DUI, and who had trouble standing, beat the charge in Provincial Court in Sudbury, Ontario, in April when he proved to the judge a "legal necessity" for driving drunk: He had just attempted suicide and thus was forced to rush himself to the nearest hospital in order to get psychiatric care to head off another attempt.</