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Unclear on the Concept

Israeli police announced in September that they had arrested a gang of eight young Israeli neo-Nazis from the city of Petah Tikva (near Tel Aviv), who had been attacking and harassing religious Jews (and also gays and foreigners), beating them and videotaping the attacks. A police search turned up weapons and also Nazi materials such as uniforms, portraits of Adolf Hitler and symbolic references to Hitler’s Third Reich. Reportedly, the gang members hail from Russia and emigrated under Israel’s policy of admitting anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.

Retired assistant school principal Nelson Winbush, 78, of Kissimmee, Fla., is an African-American who has become a passionate promoter and historian of the Confederate States of America, even though it was that entity’s secession from the Union that sparked the Civil War. Winbush told the St. Petersburg Times for an October profile that his grandfather had fought for the South, not to retain slavery but because he thought the South was being overtaxed. Winbush became more aggressive in the 1990s, opposing campaigns to remove Confederate flags from government buildings in the South. He has declined to be drawn into the racial implications of the Confederacy, telling the Times, “Black is nothing other than a darker shade of rebel gray.”

A federal judge ruled in September that New York’s College of Staten Island (a public school) could deny formal recognition to a men-only campus fraternity. The Chi Iota Colony sponsored various programs open to women, but not membership, and the college pulled its funding, citing gender discrimination.

Can’t Possibly Be True

The city of Toronto is campaigning with posters and a Web page to urge citizens to vote a 1-cent set-aside tax for municipal services, but in October received a bill from Canada’s mint for about $47,000 in licensing fees. The mint cited the posters’ use of a photograph of a penny and the campaign’s use of the phrase “one cent” (as in the Web site address, which a spokesman said are “registered trademarks of the Royal Canadian Mint.”

The 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard returned recently from extended duty in Iraq, which was reportedly the longest consecutive deployment of any outfit (22 months, counting extensions). However, the Guardsmen still do not qualify for government education benefits. The law allows the benefits only for those on “active duty” at least 730 days, but the Minnesota Guard’s orders (as well as some other outfits’ orders), were specifically written for “729 days.”

Names in the News

Convicted of murder in a home invasion, Mr. Andrew S. “Junebug” Warrior (the “S” stands for Sweetie) (Tucson, Ariz., June). Discouraged by school officials from attending a Catholic school because of his name, the 5-year-old Max Hell (Melbourne, Australia, July). Arrested for stealing three rolls of toilet paper from a courthouse, Ms. Suzanne Marie Butts (Marshalltown, Iowa, June). Leading a fight in the Kenai Peninsula Borough (Alaska) Assembly to defeat a term-limit rule, Assemblyman Gary Superman (Soldotna, Alaska, September). Arrested on more than 30 counts of child pornography facilitated by peering through bedroom windows, Mr. Jeffrey Ogle (Vallejo, Calif., August).

Crises in Men’s Nipples

(1) William R. Cohen filed a $1 million lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in May against a family after their Jack Russell terrier bit his left nipple, causing him (according to the lawsuit) medical expenses, loss of income, pain, disfigurement and “loss of sexual comfort and desire.” (2) In June, Ronald Barrett, 68, a longtime school administrator in Bucks County, Pa., was suspended after he punched a 15-year-old student who had touched his chest. Barrett said there had been a long-running problem of boys at the school engaging in “titty-twisting,” and Barrett said, “I didn’t want anyone touching my nipple.”

Smooth Reactions

(1) Po Shiu-fong, 58, was sentenced in July to six months in jail in Hong Kong for stabbing her boyfriend, 49, in his eyes with a chopstick because she thought he was cheating on her. (At the hearing, Po admitted that she had already blinded him in the left eye six years earlier by poking him with her finger because of alleged cheating.) (2) Allen Beckett, 53, was charged with assault in Oklahoma City because, in June, he had allegedly become enraged at a patron who had entered Henry Hudson’s Pub wearing a University of Texas T-shirt. Eventually, the two men brawled, during which time Beckett grabbed the man’s crotch and would not let go until he tore the scrotum, requiring more than 60 stitches.


Australian Les Stewart holds what the Web site calls the “third most bizarre” of all Guinness Book world records: having typed out the written numbers “one” through “one million,” over a period of 16 years from 1983 to 1998, according to an August story in his local newspaper Sunshine Coast Daily. He said he typed for 20 minutes at the beginning of every waking hour during that time because he “wanted something to do.” “It just came naturally to me.”

In May at Boston’s Howard Yezerski Gallery, photographer Karl Baden displayed contact prints of the 7,305 images he took of himself, one a day every day for more than 20 years, beginning Feb. 23, 1987. Baden admitted, though, that on Oct. 15, 1991, he was late for a class he was teaching at Rhode Island School of Design and promised to do the photo when he returned but then forgot. He says it’s his only blemish, but in fact proves the humanness behind his art.

Recurring Theme: In August, News of the Weird wrote about 12-year-old Kyle Krichbaum’s lifelong obsession with the sound and feel of vacuum cleaners and his collection of 165 machines and his five-a-day vacuuming habit. In September, two Georgia Tech researchers told a conference in Austria that many owners of the Roomba vacuuming robot seem to ascribe human qualities to it, including giving it a name and, in some cases, dressing it up. Professor Beki Grinter and her colleague said part of the Roomba obsession was because a robot qualifies as a gadget, which means that males can be expected to do more of the household vacuuming.

The District of Calamity

(1) The Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections fired three jailers in August after finding that they had locked up Virginia Grace Soto, 47, in the men’s detention unit following her July arrest, despite her protests and despite a formal strip search and despite observing her in the shower. Their reasoning: A paperwork error listed Soto as a male, and they could not change that. (2) Two high-ranking D.C. school officials were charged in recent months with stealing money from the school system, including Brenda Belton (who pleaded guilty in August), who stole almost $650,000 while she was in charge of all charter schools in Washington, D.C., and Eugene Smith, who allegedly stole $46,000 just after he left the job as the schools’ director of internal audit.