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Wide World of Weird

January 30, 1998

A weekly roundup of unusual news stories from around the globe, compiled from Times wire services:

Clueless Crooks Report: Missouri police say Jimmy Duane Eason took a taxi to a house, robbed the occupants, then used the cab as a getaway car. To top things off, he stiffed the unwitting driver on the fare. But wait, there's more. Eason cleans homes for a living, and the house he allegedly targeted belonged to one of his clients. He was arrested two days later.

Shopping Mall Plans Day Care . . . for Men: A British retail center has decided that guys are like small children, so it will open a "nursery" to baby sit husbands while their wives shop. The Bluewater mall, scheduled to open in 1999 in Kent, will feature an area with beer, televised soccer and video games for wayward men, a spokesman said.

Odor in the Court: A New York man was arrested Monday for spraying the state's high court building with liquefied chicken manure, police said. Charles Collins III said he was protesting what he calls rampant corruption in the courts. Firefighters hosed off the building, and the area was sprayed with disinfectant. But it still smells "like a Hong Kong chicken farm in July, not a court in winter," a court spokesman said.

German Road Rage: A German court has banned a 22-year-old man from driving for 4 1/2 months for shouting "typical woman" at a female driver who failed to let him pass on a narrow street. The man, who was not named, was also fined $980. A Cologne judge rejected the man's plea that he had been provoked after the 36-year-old woman called him a "young whippersnapper."

That Sinking Feeling: North Korea has turned the Pueblo, a U.S. Navy intelligence ship captured 30 years ago, into a tourist attraction to bring in badly needed foreign money, a Japanese scholar said. Shinobu Oe, professor emeritus of contemporary history at Ibaraki University, told Reuters that North Koreans have been showing the ship to Japanese tourists since August.

The Pueblo and its crew were captured by North Korean patrol boats off Wonsan in January 1968, which led to a months-long standoff with the U.S. The crew was released in December 1968, but the ship stayed behind.

'Beefcake' Lawsuit: A fired butcher from the Owens Valley has sued Vons and three former co-workers for libel and slander, saying he was wrongfully sacked after the employees claimed he was cutting meat to resemble female genitalia. Neither the supermarket chain nor the three employees had any immediate comment. The suit, filed by Kenneth Black, said the allegedly suggestive cut of meat was made using standard butcher methods.

Canned Hot Tea: British tea drinkers will now be able to savor ready-to-drink hot tea in a can. Britain is the first European country to launch the drinks commercially, although canned hot beverages are being test-marketed in Austria, Germany and Spain.

Quick Hits:

* Like something out of a James Bond flick, the rifle storage room at next month's Winter Olympics village will check IDs by scanning people's irises.

* Arizona, land of indicted governors, now has a Republican candidate for secretary of state, Frances Emma Barwood, who promises to get to the bottom of a UFO sighting in Phoenix.

* North Americans account for 44% of the world's ice cream consumption, but sales in Asia doubled between 1993 and 1997.

* Scientists have discovered fossilized ants dating back 92 million years, proving that the industrious insects have been around since the age of dinosaurs.

* Wide World of Weird is published every Friday. Off-Kilter appears Monday through Thursday.

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