News of the Weird November 14 2007

Nipple crises, a chopstick to the face and more

Lead Story: Junior New York City hedge-fund trader Andrew Tong charged in October that his boss forced him to take female hormones to dampen his aggressiveness, which the supervisor said was leading him to make bad trades, according to a CNBC report. In his lawsuit against Mr. Ping Jiang (a big-time trader who reportedly earns $100 million a year) and employer SAC Capital (one of the biggest hedge-fund names on Wall Street), Tong claimed further that he was harassed and even sexually attacked, and had started wearing dresses.

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."

Can't Possibly Be True: 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."

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.

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.