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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Because of increasing national alarm at sexual harassment in the workplace, several Tokyo strippers' clubs have recently set up special areas that look like offices where female employees dress in office attire and men can fondle them.

Government in Action

The Chinese government executed 12 male and 6 female factory managers by firing squad at a refrigerator plant just outside Beijing in October because the poor quality of their products constituted "unpardonable crimes against the people of China." Customers had complained for years about waiting five years for refrigerators that were unusable when delivered.

In an ongoing battle to give a popular name to the B-1 bomber, Representative Robert Dornan prefers "Excalibur," but the Air Force objects to it because of potential trademark overlap with a car wax, a condom, and an X-rated film service.

In order to blunt the prodemocracy demonstrations in Moscow on February 25 by keeping people at home, the government scheduled a phone-in lottery and several feature films on television that day. The Sex Mission, a story about two men in a world of topless blond women, was aired at 9 AM.

In February, in its first major decision, the newly established U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals ruled in favor of a widow whose appeal the government had failed to come to a decision on for ten years. The court gave the Veterans Administration another six months to decide.

California State University officials, criticized last year for giving themselves fat raises, this year purchased luxury automobiles costing a total of $99,998.70--just avoiding the $100,000 threshold. A CSU officer called the amount "a coincidence." Meanwhile, Lorain County (Ohio) Community College had its request for new chairs turned down by a state board because it had paid too little--$95, instead of the minimum $100 needed to tap into the proper account.

The U.S. State Department held a six-hour seminar in April for "employees who answer phones," to "enhance your ability to answer calls, put callers on hold, transfer, and screen calls and place calls."

Sweden's parliament and its foreign trade minister debated in April whether to place import curbs on bras and underpants. The minister argued for building up domestic production, but critics in parliament feared jeopardizing free trade with China and Malaysia.

Least Competent People

Three roommates in Madison, Wisconsin were charged with vandalism in February after police found a "play-by-play" audiotape: "We are now leaving the apartment with the explosives. Matt's holding the recorder, and Dale's following faithfully behind him. So what's the target today? I figure a string of mailboxes should do."

Paul Kuhl, 23, was arrested in March after robbing a bank in Bradenton, Florida. When he heard a police report naming him, he called them from a tavern to say he didn't do it, allowing police to trace the call and arrest him.

Police arrested a 22-year-old man for the theft of a five-foot-high, wheeled arc-welder in February by following the huge tire tracks for five blocks down dirt streets of Hutchinson, Kansas, to his garage.

Donald M. Thomas, 34, escaped in March from a jail in Cranston, Rhode Island, after serving 89 days of a 90-day sentence for disorderly conduct. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Philadelphia police report that two young men attempted four downtown robberies within a two-block radius within two hours on March 12. After fleeing a McDonald's and a convenience store when cashiers became too nervous, they attempted to rob a vitamin store, but the cashier raised her hands immediately and began reciting Bible verses. Their fourth try netted $20 from a candy store.

Lawry Adams, 27, was arrested in Harrison, New York, in January when he was stopped in a routine traffic check and could not produce a driver's license. He gave his brother's name, which he was unable to spell, and his brother's date of birth, but was not able to give the age that corresponds to it.

Thomas Lee Jones, 24, was arrested last September for robbing a restaurant in Santa Barbara, California, with a note threatening "to shot" (sic) employees. Police set up a roadblock asking people to spell "shoot" and soon apprehended Jones.

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

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