News of the Weird

To settle a discrimination lawsuit by transsexual men in October, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority agreed to open all of its restrooms on the basis of individuals' "gender expression," meaning that, for example, any man dressed serious...

To settle a discrimination lawsuit by transsexual men in October, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority agreed to open all of its restrooms on the basis of individuals' "gender expression," meaning that, for example, any man dressed seriously as a woman could choose the ladies' room. And the New York City government is currently considering adopting a rule to permit people to switch genders on their birth certificates, regardless of whether they've had surgery, as long as they've lived in the new gender for two years and a physician and a mental-health counselor approve.

Can't Possibly Be True

* Karen Madden, 38, goes on trial in December in Harrisburg, Pa., after allegedly confessing to stealing $550,000 worth of jewelry and handbags from the residence of her former boss, who is the chancellor of the state's college system. The chancellor, testifying at a July hearing on the charges, said Madden had called her recently and apologized but then went on to say, "I hope you and I can still be friends, and I would like to use you, can I use you as a reference, just for the work part?"

* Britain's Home Office announced in November that it had agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit by 197 heroin- addicted prisoners that it was "assault" and a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights for them to have been almost immediately denied all drugs when they were arrested. For forcing the inmates to go "cold turkey," the government agreed to pay each the equivalent of about $7,000.

(1) Britain's Channel 4 public television announced in July that it would soon schedule a week of documentaries on masturbation, including one by self-designated "orgasm coach" Betty Dodson, "Masturbation for Girls," teaching hands-on techniques to three women. (2) The pendulum swung the other way in October, however, when Britain's Tesco stores agreed that a kit for learning pole dancing (advertised on its Web site), to "(u)nleash the sex kitten inside," with a garter and suggestive DVD, was perhaps unsuited for its "toy" section, where it might have been appealing to adolescent girls. (Tesco moved the listing to its physical fitness section.)



* Two men in a Dodge Neon were seriously injured in a rollover accident on Interstate 75 near Toledo, Ohio, in October after a red bra flew from the radio antenna of another car, startling the Neon driver and causing him to swerve and lose control. The Ohio Highway Patrol later learned that the owner of the bra had hung it from the aerial after she realized that it had broken due to her dog's having chewed on it earlier that day. A prosecutor said a misdemeanor littering charge would be filed against the woman, but was exploring whether there had been out- the-window socializing between the cars' occupants before the rollover.

* After shooting video undercover in 10 Army recruiting offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, ABC News released in November an episode of recruiters telling a prospect that no one is going to Iraq anymore. "No, we're bringing people back," he said, and his partner followed with, "We're not at war. War ended a long time ago." In a separate on-camera interview, Col. Robert Manning, who is in charge of Army recruiting in the Northeast, generously told ABC News that he disagreed with the recruiters. "We are a nation and Army at war still."

Unclear on the Concept

* Race-separatist cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh is awaiting a decision on release from parole (after serving 11 years of an 18-year sentence on racketeering charges in connection with as many as 23 gruesome murders, some involving beheadings) and is dying of cancer. His lawyer asked a federal judge in October to approve his immediate release so that his client could "die with dignity."

* Washington, D.C., council member (and former mayor) Marion Barry was charged in September with DUI and other vehicle violations but told the Washington Post that authorities were just trying to "embarrass and discredit" him.

* An investigation by a state agency is under way in Revere, Mass., of a residence condemned by local officials as (according to a neighbor) "worse than any Stephen King movie" because it reeked of garbage, feces and cockroaches. It is the home of Andrea Watson, a child-rights advocate who lived there (until the condemnation) with her two children and two grandchildren. Watson's colleagues told the Boston Herald that she is a tireless activist for children who put her "heart and soul" into Parents for Residential Reform.

Election Roundup


An apparently poorly trained Kentucky election worker physically tossed a voter out of a polling station in Louisville on Election Day because he hadn't marked all the offices on his ballot.

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