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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The London newspaper the Guardian reported in October that Great Britain's Department of National Heritage is likely to outlaw the December 18 start-up of a new satellite TV service, "TVs on TV," an all-transvestite channel that originates in Germany. A spokesperson said the voyeur audience would probably be at least ten times the cross-dresser audience.

The Continuing Crisis

In June an administrative-law judge ruled that former dishwasher Tom Schneckloth was entitled to unemployment benefits because he had "good cause" for quitting his job at a restaurant in Glenwood, Iowa. The restaurant's owners, Kathy and Dan Smith, often had marital fights on the premises and would sometimes throw kitchen knives at each other, endangering Schneckloth and other employees.

A hospital in Birmingham, England, came under fire in August for its attempts to defray the cost of an expensive sophisticated scanner by renting it out during downtime to local farmers, who used it to scan pigs' bodies to assure that only the meatiest ones were allowed to breed.

On the morning of May 12 most of the 36 inmates jailed in Mason City, Iowa, started a hunger strike to protest the quality and portions of meals served to them. The strike went well at breakfast, but inmates became weary and dropped all their demands by lunchtime.

USA Today reported in October that two soccer coaches were asked to resign at Smith Academy in Hatfield, Massachusetts, because they'd permitted the older players to haze younger ones by pulling up their underpants to give them "wedgies."

In January Robert Williams, a University of Tennessee neurobiologist, reported that the brains of successive generations of house cats are getting smaller, probably attributable to their association with humans.

In April Arkansas governor Jim Guy Tucker vetoed a bill that would have encouraged the state's public schools to use important public documents in class. He said he specifically objected to students being exposed to the Congressional Record, which he said contains "bizarre polemics on religious and political positions."

In September warrant officer Gregory S. Crandall was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery over the protests of his family. The Pentagon believes Crandall died in Laos in 1971, but the family continues to hope he survived, because the only part of his body recovered was a tooth. That tooth was placed alone in a full-size steel casket for the burial.

In Grand Junction, Colorado, in July, fire fighters called to a potential suicide scene successfully talked a 42-year-old man down from the courthouse roof. As a backup in case their negotiations failed, they'd borrowed a huge inflatable hamburger from a nearby Burger King to break the man's fall.

Abraham K. Krupinski, 19, and a 17-year-old housemate were arrested in Milwaukee in February on drug-distribution charges. Recovered from their home, according to police, were 17 marijuana plants, gardening supplies, two books on marijuana cultivation, and a hand-lettered board game they'd created. The game, which resembles Monopoly, is called Dealing in Dopesville: two to four players toss dice and make drug deals in different neighborhoods, and in place of "chance" and "community chest" cards they pick up "passport" and "car-alarm" cards.

With police closing in on him, Thomas Joseph Cummings, 24, shot himself to death in August in Norfolk, Virginia, five hours after he'd killed a man in a doughnut shop in Severna Park, Maryland. Cummings had borrowed the 21-year-old victim's inexpensive ballpoint pen five times to make notes, returning it each time, and finally offered to buy it for $2. When the owner declined, because the pen had sentimental value, Cummings pulled out a handgun and shot him five times.

In September Richard Ramirez, the notorious "Night Stalker" mass murderer, failed a metal-detector test at the San Francisco county jail; X rays then detected items in his rectum. A subsequent stool search revealed a small handcuff key, an empty syringe, the cap of a pen, and a small piece of cellophane on which was printed "I like chocolate."

The Weirdo-American Community

Houston, Texas, police officer Anthony Scism was fired in July for a December 1992 incident. After stopping a female motorist, Scism allegedly told her he was a baby and would take her to jail if she wouldn't feed him milk from her breasts. The woman said she told Scism he could buy Enfamil formula at a nearby convenience store, but he insisted on breast milk.

Least Competent Person

Norman Alafriz Toro, 32, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was arrested in October and charged with counterfeiting. Toro allegedly tried to pass 12 $100 bills to undercover police officers, who found 5,000 more $100 bills at his home. The bills, made on a copying machine, were lime green.

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

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