News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*According to a May Boston Globe report, the town of Sydney, Nova Scotia, is the country's most polluted place (arsenic, naphthalene, lead, PCBs, oil, raw sewage) but is hopeful of exploiting the situation to become a research facility for environmental technicians and possibly a tourists' center to showcase its spectacular levels of contamination. The mining industry, however, is opposed, and its continued operation adds to what the Globe termed the "mountainous slag heaps" and "rivers of toxic ooze." Last year, the rest of Cape Breton Island, on which Sydney is located, was named by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as the world's most beautiful island.

*Practicing Up for Yugoslavia: In April an Air Force pilot training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in New Jersey missed his target by a mile and a half, landing in a state forest preserve and starting a fire that burned more than 18 square miles.

Cliches Come to Life
*In March the Burlington Homes housing development near Bakersfield, California, rejected the application of attorney Timothy Liebaert and his wife for a five-bedroom home, citing the company's aversion to lawyers, which the company believes are quick to litigate and thus impose higher legal and administrative costs, which frustrates Burlington Homes's efforts to keep its prices down. Of course, when Burlington Homes rejected his application, Liebaert sued.

*In March John Killick, 57, who was being held in a maximum-security prison in Sydney, Australia, on armed-robbery charges, was sprung from the exercise yard by a helicopter, which his girlfriend had hijacked at gunpoint. The couple are still at large.

Low Unemployment in the Hit-Man Profession
In October Brandon Lund, 16, was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his father because, according to the prosecutor, "he just didn't like the way [he] was running the household." And in March landlord Alvin Weiss, 46, was sentenced to seven years in prison for hiring a hit man to kill two of his tenants so he could re-lease their apartments at higher rents.

Well, Sure...
*A 27-year-old man in Springfield, Illinois, admitted to the local newspaper in April that he is the one police have been calling "Sock Man." He promised to stop his antics if editors would not print his name. According to police, he approached two women and promised them $100 each if they would go home, get some socks and leave them for him at designated points. One took him up on the offer, but he reneged on the payment. Lieutenant Carl Sprinkel said he would not be charged: "It's no crime to be weird."

*According to a March report in the London Daily Telegraph, Saddam Hussein has delayed deploying his planned 60-member suicide-pilot task force, saying he does not trust the recruits. (Saddam's strategy is for pilots to lure U.S. and British pilots into range of Iraq's air defenses so he can shoot the planes down and show the world that he has inflicted the first casualties of the Desert Fox confrontation.)

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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