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Wide World of Weird

July 10, 1998

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

Outlaw Monkeys! Japanese TV stations dumped live coverage of the prime minister's news conference about the state of the economy in favor of the tale of a monkey that kidnapped a kitten.

The saga started Tuesday when a wild monkey came down from nearby wooded hills into the outskirts of Japan's second largest city, Osaka. After numerous sightings and news bulletins, the monkey was cornered by 50 police officers in the backyard of a home. With capture imminent, the monkey grabbed a kitten belonging to the homeowner.

"There was a stare-off for about 15 minutes between officers who didn't want to injure the kitten and the monkey cradling her," an Osaka police spokesman said.

When police let their attention wander, the monkey sprang to freedom, still carrying the kitten. Its next stop was a nearby primary school, which was swiftly evacuated. At last report, the monkey hunt continued, despite regular sightings by residents.

In a related story in West Virginia, mail carrier Arthur Warden was chased out of his mail truck Monday when a monkey leaped through the passenger window. The monkey's owner said it just wanted to play. The simian is very sociable and "has no idea he's a monkey," she said.

X-Rated Weeping: Grieving relatives have been getting an earful of lively sex chat due to an error in Perry, Okla.'s Yellow Pages.

The toll-free number for Perry Monument was printed wrong by one numeral. Instead of being connected to Perry, callers are put through to the "Penthouse Live Sex Line," and told how they can talk to "uncensored phone mates" for $4.95 per minute.

Kitty Litter Party: The town of Cassopolis, Mich., celebrated the invention of Kitty Litter this week with a parade and other events honoring local hero Ed Lowe, who created the product. Lowe, who died in 1995 at age 78, made his first batch of Kitty Litter out of absorbent clay in 1947 and sold it out of the trunk of his Chevrolet. In 1990, he sold the business to Ralston Purina Co. It was just one of his 126 patents, but it turned into an $800-million-a-year business.

She Wants to Sue the Pants Off Herself: A female member of a Pentecostal church has filed suit in Nashville, claiming she was fired for refusing to wear pants at her factory job. The lawsuit, which was filed last week on behalf of Charlene McCormick, 37, alleges that her dismissal violated her civil rights.

News McNuggets:

* A man opened fire on a crowded fairground midway in Pleasanton, Calif., after fighting with another man over the last stuffed Tweety Bird carnival prize, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

* A man punched his girlfriend in the face and broke her nose at the start of an anti-domestic-violence rally in Spain, officials said. Police in Vigo, northwest Spain, chased the 35-year-old man and arrested him.

* Indians in Honduras said they will stage a symbolic trial and execution of Christopher Columbus, whose discovery of America opened the New World to Spanish conquest.

* Newly rediscovered archives reveal that some soldiers cheered Abraham Lincoln's assassination 133 years ago. Not Confederate soldiers--his own Union men. The anti-Lincoln diatribes were found by historians indexing Army court-martial records in the National Archives in Washington.

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

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