Wide World of Weird

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

Power Steering, A / C and . . . : A man buying an abandoned car at a New York City police auction found a handcuffed dead man in the trunk.

Wish They'd Serve Our Congress: The menu at the restaurant in Mexico's lower house of Congress could be dangerous, according to a university study. Food and water from the restaurant contained dirt, bacteria, fungus, amoebas and traces of soap.

2001: A Hair Odyssey: A rocket full of human hair will be launched into space in 2001 by a company that advertises the project as a cheap alternative to having your cremated ashes sent into orbit. For $50, your hair and a personal digital message will head for the stars, possibly to be recovered by aliens who will use the DNA to re-create you, the company says.

The Mike Tyson School of Driving?: A 63-year-old Contra Costa County school bus driver fed up with his unruly passengers allegedly pulled a knife on the children and threatened to "cut their ears off" if they did not quiet down, police said.

Bureaucracy Thwarted: Two South Wales youngsters lost their school bus privileges after officials ruled that the distance from the school to their garden gate was just inches short of the minimum 1 1/2 miles needed to be eligible. But they found a solution. Their dad plans to lay a new garden path and move the gate so it's 1 1/2 miles plus three yards from the school.

Cow Cops Come to Midwest: An Iowa county is cracking down on escaped cows. Farmers known to have allowed livestock onto highways three times in six months will have the offending animals rounded up and put in a "cow pound." The owner will have to pay a $10-a-cow fee, plus room and board of up to $25 a day.

Luxury Movie Theater: A cinema that pampers patrons with champagne and appetizers opens soon near Chicago--and the popcorn is free. For $15 a ticket, guests will have their cars parked by a valet, go to a lounge where they can buy alcohol and appetizers, then be seated in extra-wide leather seats.

Boy Mayor?: Robert H. Banning III can't drink, stay out past midnight or even vote for himself--yet. But the 17-year-old high school junior, whose idol is Newt Gingrich, is running for mayor of Gresham, Ore. "Gresham kind of has a bad rap," he explained. "I'm like, 'Maybe I can change that.' " He will register to vote when he turns 18, the minimum age for mayors, a month before the election.

Anti-Clinton Bill: A New Jersey legislator is so angered by President Clinton's alleged sexual exploits that he wants to change the name of Clinton Township to Reagan Township. Residents of the hamlet, which was named after DeWitt Clinton, architect of the Erie Canal, aren't amused.

Quick Hits:

* Two British dogs went joy riding in their owner's car and smashed into a historic building, destroying it. They apparently chewed the hand brake loose, sending the car into a 400-year-old barn.

* An Indonesian farmer battling forest fires near his garden was beaten up by a 220-pound orangutan.

* The lights of a Uganda discotheque fooled residents of a nearby Kenya town into thinking Jesus had returned to Earth, according to a report by the Internet news service http://www.tabloid.net/.


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

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