News of the Weird
*In May the Russian press reported that 76 top aviation officials flying to the U.S. declined to take the national airline Aeroflot because of safety concerns, flying Finnair instead. And in March a rusty Stavropol Airlines passenger jet literally fell apart in the air and crashed, killing 50. Also in May courageous U.S. astronaut Michael Foale took his turn on the aging Russian space station Mir, which has been in orbit for eleven years despite a predicted life of three, and which in 1997 alone has experienced a fire, a breakdown in the main oxygen system, a partial power loss, the overheating of one of its air purification systems, and the recent catastrophic collision with an unmanned supply ship.
*Connecticut police academy: Robert Jordan filed a lawsuit in May against the New London, Connecticut, police department for illegal discrimination, claiming he was rejected for training as an officer solely because he scored too high on an intelligence test, which the department claims is evidence that Jordan would get bored on the job and therefore be a bad officer
I've Got My Rights
*In February the student government at Oxford University in England appointed a person to patrol the grounds and stop public displays of affection. Petting was banned from the dining hall, and another area was divided into heavy- and light-petting-allowed zones. The government also banned sexual intercourse in libraries between 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. (although no student leader claimed to have actual knowledge that such acts had ever occurred). The actions were taken because some students who did not have dates found the behaviors offensive.
Not My Fault
*According to police in Mesa, Arizona, Jean K. Dooley opened fire with a handgun in Valley Lutheran Hospital in 1995, intending to kill her husband, who was a patient there. (She missed but managed to accidentally hit a nurse and a paramedic.) In January 1997 she filed a lawsuit against the hospital for negligently failing to stop her from taking the gun inside.
*Frederico Perales, age 52, was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, in April and charged with stabbing his wife to death in front of their two kids because he was angry that the three of them started dinner without him. According to the couple's son, Perales's last words to his wife were, "You pushed me to the limit. You did this to yourself."
Creme de la Weird
*In April Mary Durante, the inheritor of a house in Newark, New Jersey, found 133 neatly stacked boxes upon her first visit to the attic, each containing the remains of a cat wrapped in newspapers dating back to 1945. She was startled by the discovery but said she knew the house had once belonged to the late Newark Star-Ledger pet columnist.
*Sandra L. Archer, age 35, was sentenced to two years in jail in April in Omaha, Nebraska, for disorderly conduct and cruelty to animals after videotapes surfaced of her having sex with her boyfriend (Mark W. Williams, age 36, who is awaiting trial) atop groups of dogs, including sick ones, that had been obtained from local shelters.
*In addition to the perennial rash of young Japanese girls being groped and fondled by men on mass transit, the Mainichi Daily News in Tokyo reported in April that a 24-year-old man was charged with assaulting a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl. According to police, the angry man rubbed saliva in the girl's hair because her socks were too loose around her ankles. Police quoted him as saying, "When I saw those socks, I went crazy."
-- By Chuck Shepherd
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