News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In February Eastern Illinois University officials declined to refund $364 in tuition to April Hixson for the course "Nonwestern Music," which Hixson said was little music and much pornography, seemingly designed to draw reactions from female students. According to professor Douglas Di-Bianco: "You have to understand the extremes of art to appreciate art in general." Hixson (who received an A) said DiBianco's themes in lectures and visuals included enemas, penis-amputation, incest, and the advocacy of student orgies. The university acknowledged at least one ongoing state complaint over a DiBianco course.

*Last year News of the Weird ran an announcement that an Australian scientist was working on growing human sperm cells inside mouse testicles. And in February 1999 a team at Tottori University in Japan announced it had actually succeeded in growing some that way. But just when science was about to render men's sperm-producing abilities obsolete, prominent British fertility researcher Lord Robert Winston told reporters his soon-to-be published book would show how an embryo could be planted in a man's abdomen, develop to full term by a massive infusion of female hormones and attachment to certain organs for nourishment, and be delivered by cesarean section.

Leading Economic Indicators
*In December a telephone company in the Ukraine cut off service to the Russian naval fleet patrolling the Black Sea because of about $150,000 in unpaid bills. Additionally the fleet owes about three million dollars for heat and electricity to the port city of Sevastopol. And in December, the chief surgeon at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn Hospital told reporters that Thailand is now the preeminent country in the world for sex-change operations, an industry which, if exploited, could help the nation's anemic economy. More than 35,000 transsexuals worldwide are now on Thai surgeons' waiting lists.

Latest Work-Study Programs for the Gifted
*A top Columbia University law student, Zolton Williams, age 29, was convicted in December of running a cocaine-smuggling operation to help finance his studies. And in January, University of California at Santa Cruz National Merit Scholar Emma Rose Freeman, age eighteen, was charged (along with her philosophy-major boyfriend) with robbing a beauty salon and a Costco store at gunpoint. And Berkeley, Michigan, honor student and athlete Sarah Plumb, age sixteen, was charged with the armed robbery of a gas station in December (on her way to gymnastics practice), allegedly to feed a two-year-old heroin habit.

Crises in the Workplace
*Brian Mills, age twenty, was charged with malicious destruction of property in December after he returned to the fast-food restaurant where he once worked in Lincoln Township, Michigan, and urinated into the deep-fryer. (Local health officials said the risk to the public was minimal because the frying temperature is so high.)

*In January a union filed a complaint on behalf of a male civilian employee who was recently barred from wearing earrings, makeup, and a bra to work as an airfield management specialist at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. On the other hand, the Canadian armed forces last year approved the application of a 35-year-old male combat leadership instructor to continue his career as Sgt. Sylvia Durand after undergoing hormone treatments and surgery.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd