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News of the Weird

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Police in Little Rock, Arkansas, charged Michael Wyatt, 29, with assault in June after he pushed a woman to the ground, took off her shoes and socks, and began sucking her toes. Several other victims identified him as a "podiatry student" who, said a police detective later, would meet them at a shoe store and "next thing you know, he'd have a toe in his mouth." Police suspected Wyatt even before the June incident because he had been arrested on similar charges several years ago but was released when he agreed to seek therapy.

Least Competent People

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation accused Emory University student Sabrina Collins, 19, of making up racist threats against herself in May after they discovered various similarities between her handwriting and that in the threatening notes, including the propensity to misspell "you're" as "your."

A Macon County, North Carolina, man, showing off in front of friends in May, grabbed a rattlesnake out of the back of a truck and began kissing it on the body and head and slapping his hand with the snake's open mouth. When his hand began bleeding, he threw the snake back in the truck and drove off in his own truck. Police, who arrived at the scene later, alerted the local hospital to be ready.

In June, a man who had donned two pairs of pants at Dayton's department store in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and left without paying for them, dashed down the street with security guards in pursuit and price tags flapping in the breeze. To give the guards the slip, he ducked into a building, realizing too late that it was the Saint Paul Police Department.

Police arrested Kenneth Lang, 32, for robbery of a 7-Eleven in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, in May. Lang had entered the store in a black nylon mask but took it off when he realized he couldn't see. After he'd forced the clerk to put the money in a paper bag, the bag broke, sending coins all over the floor. Lang ordered the clerk to kneel down and help him pick them up. Then, while the two argued about whether the store safe could be opened, Lang ordered the clerk to wait on customers who were coming to the register with their purchases. When the clerk complained that Lang had taken all his coins, Lang fished around in his bag several times to make change. When Lang finally made his getaway, he inadvertently kept turning and eventually arrived back in front of the store, where he was arrested.

In January in Miami, 18-year-old Antwan Robinson and his 16-year-old brother were charged with kidnapping after abducting an 18-year-old woman. They took the woman at 8:30 at night, but by 9:30 they realized they had taken the wrong woman and that the ransom would not be paid. Robinson then abandoned the plan because he had to be home by 10 so as not to set off the alarm on his ankle beeper, which he wore as a condition of his release from jail for another crime.

Government in Action

Five Miami fire fighters were disciplined in December for hazing a visiting fire fighter by tying him to a chair and playing "scrotum on the head," in which one man drops his pants and steps over the sitting victim so that his genitals graze the man's face. The practice came to light after the visiting fire fighter broke free and squeezed the man's genitals.

Alabama state representative Jack Biddle's bill making it illegal to interfere with game hunting was approved in committee in February. The bill was aimed at animal-rights activists who stake out goose-hunting country and then shout and flap their arms, driving geese away. Biddle said he had planned to buy his wife a weed eater last Christmas, but to punish the animal activists, "I decided to go buy her a fur coat."

The Culver City, California, school board recently removed a version of "Little Red Riding Hood" from the first-grade reading list because her picnic basket contains wine.

Pilots of the Army's "all-weather" Apache helicopter told congressional investigators in February that the $14 million vehicle cannot be flown in the rain, malfunctions an average of every 54 minutes, and uses up spare parts at a rate of $100 a minute. During the Panama invasion, mechanics had to use kitchen ovens to dry sensitive parts of the helicopter after heavy rains.

To raise money for a new copying machine, administrators at Nashville's Overton High School recently allowed students to buy their way out of as many as five classes for $2 per class.

Tokyo police proposed in May that the maximum fine for illegal parking be raised from about $200 to about $1,340.

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

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