News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In January The New Yorker wrote about the latest body ornamentation in the city: small jewelry charms inserted under the skin, producing boil-like bulges. The "subcutaneous jewelry" can be inserted in the forehead, the back of the hand, or any other place near bone that the skin can be pinched.

*Through what a company spokesman later called "human error," the front door of a bank in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, remained unlocked through the Veterans' Day weekend. No one noticed until a customer, who had forgotten it was a holiday, innocently walked in at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, setting off a silent alarm that alerted the police.

*The wise judiciary: In December a Bloomfield, Iowa, judge sentenced two men who had clubbed 23 cats with baseball bats (killing sixteen) to one day in jail per cat, but then he suspended even that measly sentence. Also in December a judge in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, sentenced the men who beat a man to death on the eve of his wedding to sixteen months each in prison.

Police Blotter
*In September a federal judge in West Palm Beach dismissed the disability lawsuit filed by police lieutenant Ed Wagner against the department, ruling that Wagner was merely denied a special assignment rather than discriminated against for having a disability. Wagner was removed from the SWAT team because of a sensitive neck; an old neck injury flared up after a colleague got him in a headlock and gave him a "noogie."

*Hours before the December 5 inaugural speech of Mexico City's new mayor, who was expected to announce stern measures to deal with rampant crime and police corruption, the mayor's top assistant was mugged in a taxi. He lost his wallet and his briefcase, which contained the speech.

*In September workers delivering crates to a museum in the Hague, Netherlands, accidentally dropped one containing a 75-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton recovered in Montana, breaking it into 188 pieces. And in January during a robbery at the Yammonoke Museum in Ito, Japan, a thief being chased by a guard dropped a 600-year-old Ming Dynasty platter worth about $400,000, shattering it.

*The November 7 edition of the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano contained statements declaring that homosexuals "do have the right to adopt children and to live together as couples," attributed to staunch moralist Father Gino Concetti. After several days of panic, editor Gianfranco Grieco located the problem: A computer glitch had removed the word "not" from the story.

*In August British mountain climber Alan Hinkes, who has already conquered nine of the world's fourteen highest peaks, had to postpone his ambitious quest to climb the other five in one year when number ten failed. He was at the base camp of the 26,600-feet-high Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, eating a piece of the local bread, when the wind blew the flour topping in his face, causing him to sneeze, which resulted in a slipped disc.

Not Bloody Likely
*Peter Sansom began work on January 19 at his new two-day-a-week job with the big Marks and Spencer department store in London. For the next six months, under a government program run by the Poetry Society, he will earn about $1500 per month as the store's poet in residence. He said he hoped to raise employees' and customers' level of awareness of poetry.

-- By Chuck Shepherd