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News of the Weird

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KMJ radio station in Madera, California, fired weatherman Sean Boyd in April. Boyd said the precipitating incident was his refusal to forecast good enough weather for the station's annual public picnic in honor of Rush Limbaugh. Boyd, an 18-year veteran, had forecast "partly cloudy" instead of "partly sunny," which KMJ executives wanted him to say so he wouldn't discourage attendance.

Inexplicable

In October the U.S. Department of Justice received a $5.6 million check from the late Stanley S. Newberg, who had no surviving blood relatives and who'd bequeathed his estate to the government as thanks for having allowed his family to immigrate in 1906.

In March President Clinton invited sidewalk protestor Todd Ouellette, 27, into the Oval Office for a meeting. Ouellette had requested the meeting on February 19, 1993, after returning from a seven-month walk across the U.S. during which he'd collected signatures demanding action on Vietnam War POWs and MIAs. After a five-minute chat with the president, Ouellette announced he was satisfied and was ending his 25-month protest and moving on to other issues, such as the war with China that "will be coming up around the year 2000." Ouellette, who had no friends or relatives serving in Vietnam, said he didn't know why he was so obsessed with the POW-MIA issue.

In March in Syracuse, New York, fire chief James L. Cummings announced that his firefighters were injured last year more often in the fire station (28 times) than while putting out fires (25 times).

In March in an all-white neighborhood in Columbia, Pennsylvania, vandals damaged several cars and wrote "KKK" and various racial epithets on the houses of three families.

In February Odalys Toledo, 30, was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted bank robbery. Last August she'd telephoned the FBI in Newark and said that a woman fitting her own description and wearing what she was wearing would soon try to rob the City National Bank. She was arrested later when she entered the bank. Asked Toledo's motive, her public defender said, "I have no good answer."

In December the town of Bexley, Ohio, granted a construction permit for a McDonald's on a main street, despite many complaints that a fast-food restaurant was not appropriate for the neighborhood. The complainants said they preferred the site's occupant, an adult video store.

People Unclear on the Concept

At a March press conference in Beijing that was called to announce China's participation in the United Nations World Conference on Women, 11 of the 14 winners in the song and poster contests were male, and 8 of the 9 people at the head table were men.

In December the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Wilmington, North Carolina, made a public announcement that a valuable piece of technology had been stolen. The head of the office asked for the public's help in finding it and offered a reward for its return, but refused to identify the object except to say that it was palm-sized. Said the supervisor, "For security reasons, I can't say what it looked like."

Joseph Bertolino, 37, said he's been in severe pain since 1993, when his arm was pulled into a woodworking machine at the Sierra Pacific Industries mill where he worked in Red Bluff, California. In April 1995 Bertolino, distraught with pain, rushed into the mill with a gun and fired 20 shots at the machine, resulting in some dents and chipped paint.

James Musgrow, 31, filed a lawsuit in August against the police department in Davenport, Iowa, charging that he was unconstitutionally arrested earlier in the year. Musgrow had come to the station for help finding his mother's car. According to the lawsuit, police Sergeant Dave Holden was offended by Musgrow's T-shirt, which had about 30 drawings of marijuana leaves on it, and ordered Musgrow to leave. When Musgrow insisted on inquiring about the car, he was arrested for trespassing, a charge that was dismissed two months later.

Second Amendment Blues

In Salem, Ohio, in January, Robert E. Pugh, 24, accidentally shot himself in the leg while crawling on the floor of his girlfriend's home tracking down a mouse he'd seen.

In New Orleans in May, tourist Freddie Harrison reached into a bag for his video camera while walking through the French Quarter, accidentally causing his gun to discharge and killing his 31-year-old daughter.

In Youngstown, Ohio, in March, Andre Adkins, 23, accidentally shot himself in the groin. After firing a few shots at a target, he put the gun into his waistband while his finger was still on the trigger. And Al Rodrigues, 24, accidentally shot himself in the penis as he stood at the side of a road in Hawthorne, California, in March after supposedly unloading his new gun, which he'd planned to return because he and his wife had decided it was dangerous.

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

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