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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In July a tractor-trailer collided with an AMC Hornet near Ruston, Louisiana, killing at least six and injuring six others. The truck driver was among the injured; the other 11 victims were riding in the car.

The Continuing Crisis

In India, Moloy Kundu, 32, and his wife, Tapati, 27, reported in May that each had sold a kidney to get the money for a desktop-publishing machine so they could resume issuing the weekly newspaper Bela. They said they could find no other financing.

Inmates at a prison in New South Wales, Australia, taking advantage of a wardens' strike in May, broke into an office and telephoned an order for 18 tons of concrete to be delivered as a prank. While they were at it, they called out for 312 pizzas. (The concrete was sent back, but the prison had to pay for the pizzas.)

A Camden County (New Jersey) grand jury declined in May to indict a 102-year-old woman for having shot her granddaughter last December in a dispute over a radio. In July in New York City, Oliver Barre, 95, was indicted in the death of an 88-year-old neighbor. He had accused the woman of poisoning people in the building and of putting a voodoo hex on his roommate. (Barre died three weeks after being indicted.)

An annual festival at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo was called off in April after revelers got out of hand. At one point, police officers (who eventually arrested 100 people) quelled the partiers by shouting over bullhorns, "Assault on police officers will not look good on your resumes!"

The New York Post reported in April that Powerules, a gang in the Bronx, requires prospective members to shoot someone at random in the leg as proof of fitness to be a member.

Greg Weiler resigned in April after five years on a citizens' advisory committee (to the Orange County, California, transportation commission) studying traffic problems, saying he was constantly unable to get to meetings on time because of freeway gridlock.

A ninth-grade boy went into intensive care in May after a pole-vaulting accident at a track meet in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He had cleared the bar when a gust of wind blew him past the landing pit onto the concrete.

Shortly after her brother's body was buried in Florida after a 1989 motorcycle accident, Patricia Lawrence began complaining of nightmares that the body was "empty." Subsequently she learned that medical authorities had removed the brain before the burial for further study. In March she complained that the brain still had not been returned to the body, but officials replied that they are not obligated to return it under Florida law.

A federal judge in Portland, Maine, handling challenges to the Georgia Pacific Corporation's takeover of Great Northern Nekoosa Corporation in January, ordered that legal papers be copied at a local store rather than in the courthouse. The judge believed that the quantity of legal papers generated by the nation's two largest paper companies would unduly tie up the courthouse copying machines.

Carl Williams, 22, was indicted in Cleveland in December for having made 32 phone calls to 911 because he was bored and needed conversation. His mother had recently had their telephone service fixed so that Carl, who had been running up huge bills, could no longer dial 900 numbers for conversation.

Ralph Armstrong, a retired fire fighter in Santa Rosa, California, complaining that a construction company had reneged on its promise to build a noise shield between its site and his home, erected his own shield in January--a solid wall made of horse manure.

A rumor in England in December that the McDonald's Corporation was supporting the Irish Republican Army, the Economist later reported, emanated from some Britons' picking up on their satellite dishes Cable News Network reports that McDonald's was lobbying heavily in the United States for tax-free individual retirement accounts.

The Santa Clara County (California) Planned Parenthood chapter announced recently it was having trouble finding people, even for pay, to take condom reliability tests. Spokeswoman Michelle McDevitt said many married couples doubted they could meet the frequency criterion for the tests: "A lot of people said, 'Six times in one month? Forget it.'"

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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