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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

While the Lorena Bobbitt trial was making news in December and January, at least five assaults on men's genitals were reported. A 55-year-old man in Wooster, Ohio, and a 23-year-old man in Arcadia, Florida, removed their own penises (with a knife and an electric saw respectively) because they were dissatisfied with their gender. A Toronto woman shredded her husband's penis with a pair of scissors during a domestic fight. In Los Angeles a man reconciled with his wife a month after she was charged with cutting off his testicles in a domestic fight. And in Jefferson, Georgia, a 35-year-old woman was charged with ripping the skin off her ex-boyfriend's testicles with her bare hands in a domestic brawl.

Government in Action

A Philadelphia Inquirer analysis in December questioned military rulings that suicide was the cause of at least 40 recent deaths of U.S. servicemen. The newspaper quoted former military investigators who said they were "stunned" or "astonished" at how shoddy some of the 40 investigations were and at how the military often calls hard-to-solve cases suicides just to close them out. One military policeman's death had been ruled a suicide two days after he was found shot to death in the head--with his hat stuffed in his mouth, his handcuffs attached to his wrists, his holster wrapped around his ankles, and a car-radio cable tied around his neck.

The Austin American-Statesman reported in December that Texas treasurer Martha Whitehead hired a psychologist for $1,000 to counsel several employees of her office who were despondent about her recommendation to abolish her agency.

In recently released Department of Energy records, notes U.S. News & World Report, the amount of plutonium now in the U.S. stockpile has been declassified and made public, but the amount of plutonium in the stockpile ten years ago remains classified.

The protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Cincinnati's new human rights ordinance was repealed in November 1993. But the ordinance retains the nation's only provision forbidding discrimination against "Appalachian Americans."

According to a recent note in the British medical journal The Lancet, a man attempting suicide in England was rescued after he'd spent more than an hour inhaling automobile exhaust fumes. Doctors attributed his survival to the relatively low carbon-monoxide content of the exhaust, the result of new catalytic-converter standards in the European Community.

A December Associated Press dispatch from Australia reports that members of that country's parliament traditionally address each other much more aggressively than members of Congress do in the U.S. Among the names recently heard on the parliament floor: perfumed gigolos, brain-damaged, harlot, sleazebag, scumbag, mental patient, and dog's vomit.

In December FBI agent John Wellman was fined about $1,000 for an October incident in which he was charged with disobeying traffic signs in Keokuk County, Iowa. While trying to locate a man during an investigation, Wellman ignored the directions of a construction crew to drive along the shoulder of the road, circumvented barricades, and continued to drive on the pavement. Minutes later he drove into six inches of freshly poured cement, which cost the state $70,000.

The North Carolina legislature recently voted to set aside $170,000 for a Swine Odor Task Force, whose members will report back in 1995 with recommendations on reducing the smell from pig farms. A task-force paper rejected the idea of taking measurements with a machine, claiming "the human nose is the primary element in most attempts to gauge odor."

In October the Air Force revealed that it had once again lost an $18 million F-16 fighter plane because the pilot was unable to control the aircraft while using his "piddle pack" during in-flight urination. The previous F-16 crash was in March 1991. Both pilots ejected safely.

The Weirdo-American Community

Diana Brook Smith, 37, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1990 in Kinsey, Alabama, was charged in December with tampering with the victim's grave. She allegedly started to dig up the casket to prove that the man wasn't really dead.

Least Competent Person

In November in Labouchere Bay, Alaska, Cairl D. Cothren, 50, accidentally shot himself in the shoulder with the shotgun he was holding between his knees in the cab of a truck when he leaned over to spit tobacco juice into a can on the floor.

Least Justifiable Homicide

In January in Toledo, Ohio, Jacqueline Clinton, 29, was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of her boyfriend. According to her, the shooting occurred during an argument over differing interpretations of the Bible.

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

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