THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS OF 1988
Reprinted from the San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle
Nearly one in three American adults queried by the National Science Foundation said the sun revolves around the earth.
In another survey, youngsters between 8 and 12 were able to name more brands of alcoholic beverages than former presidents. One 11-year-old boy who named eight brands of beer and wine said there are 16 inches in a foot.
A gerbil was elected president of the student union at the University of East Anglia in England.
An animal rights group bought seven lobsters from a Chinese restaurant in Maryland and flew them to Maine, where a Coast Guard boat took them back to the ocean.
The president of New England's largest electric utility was killed by lightning.
Two men in Sierra Leone dug up a 307-carat diamond--one of the largest ever found--and then broke it into three pieces while arguing over whether it was really a diamond.
Rhode Island's Small Businessman of the Year was indicted on federal charges of racketeering and illegally dumping hazardous waste.
On her tour of America, Queen Silvia of Sweden asked heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey why Americans are so fat.
A bystander watching a despondent man prepare to leap to his death from a bridge above the Los Angeles River approached the jumper to ask for his car since "you're not going to need it any more."
More than 20 Little Leaguers in St. Petersburg, Fla., quit the organization in disgust after watching continuous brawls among their father-coaches.
President Reagan commissioned a Salt Lake City firm to create a jelly-bean-flavoured ice cream.
The White House proclaimed October as National AIDS Awareness Month on November 1.
The Department of Education refused to fund a Holocaust ducation programme for public schools because the curriculum did not take into account the Nazi and Ku Klux Klan points of view.
In confirming that Nancy Reagan consults an astrologer to shape the president's appointment schedule, a White House aide said Reagan approved of the practice, but wanted it "kept very, very secret because he feared the public might misunderstand.
In a speech at the College of Southern Idaho, President-elect Bush said of Reagan: "I'm proud to be his partner. We've had triumphs. We've made mistakes. We've had sex." Bush later said he meant to say "setbacks."
Mother Jones magazine revealed that Reagan, who has opposed laws guaranteeing safer meat, keeps a private herd of organically-fed, hormone-free cattle near his Santa Barbara ranch from which his table-meat is drawn.
A Toronto man was found not guilty of killing his mother-in-law when the jury accepted the defense theory that he drove 14 miles to her house, hit her with an iron bar and stabbed her while sleepwalking.
In San Jose, Calif., a woman was jailed for refusing to clear her small two-bedroom home of 25 tons of rotting, rat-infested garbage. Members of the woman's family said she hated to throw trash away because, "in the future, she might be able to use it for something else."
A San Antonio man arrested for hiring an assassin to slay Mayor Henry Cisneros said he believed the U. S. constitution gave him the right to kill the city's mayor if his policies were unsound.
A judge in Santa Ana, Calif., levied a $58 fine against a driver for a mortuary transport service who failed to convince the court that four frozen cadavers in his van were legal car-pool passengers.
A ten-year-old Tucson boy stole his mother's car and drove it 65 miles to the Mexican border where he tried to sell it.
A Houston man, paralyzed from the neck down, killed his wife by mounting a pistol on his wheelchair and pulling the trigger by tugging on a string held in his mouth.
A Denver man, dissatisfied with the haircut he had just received--a total scalp-shave that left a bloody three-inch scar on the back of his head--returned to the salon and killed the barber.
In Ottawa, a man killed 22 neighborhood house cats, telling police he was distraught because his own cat had rejected him.
A jury in San Luis Obispo, Calif., awarded $6 million in damages to a woman whose jealous ex-husband, a gynecologist, sewed her vagina shut while she was undergoing a hysterectomy
performed by another doctor. Meanwhile, in Hong King, a woman went to jail after cutting off the tip of her sleeping husband's penis with a pair of scissors and flushing it down
the toilet. In both cases, the perpetrators were convinced their victims had been seeing other people.
A spokesman for the California Board of Dental Examiners revealed the board's enforcement personnel carry guns because "There are some dentists out there who have a criminal kind of leaning."
Herbert Connolly of Newton, Mass., got to the polls minutes late on Election Day and was unable to cast his ballot. He lost his seat on the Massachusetts Governor's Council by one vote.
The FBI said it had conducted six years of surveillance on a 17-year-old New Jersey student ever since, as a sixth-grader, he wrote to the Soviet Union asking for scientific information for a school project.
The city of Honolulu paid $100,000 to a man who had been forced by two police officers to bob for toads in a drainage ditch.
The Centers for Disease Control gave Baltimore a $48,000 grant to scoop up used condoms at a sewer treatment plant to count how many city residents use "safe sex" measures.
Michelle Corwin, San Francisco's registrar of voters, quit abruptly three weeks before November's election, which featured the longest ballot in the city's history. An "astonished" Chief Administrative Officer Rudy Nothenberg said, "Her letter
indicated that, since she was planning to leave in January and because there was a lot of unpleasant work to be done between now and then, she would just leave now and save herself the trouble."
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox Television Network was presenting "The Late Show" hosted by comedian Arsenio Hall, was approached by Hall in the parking lot of a Los Angeles restaurant. Murdoch handed Hall his valet parking stub and said, "It's the green Jaguar."
Giving new meaning to the term "white sale," a chain store in Newark was found to have a memo posted by the cash register that read: "If any black person returns any sheet sets, deny a cash voucher or exchange or credit for any reason."
Touring Ireland, Michael Jackson refused to kiss the Blarney Stone, saying, "No way am I going to kiss that thing. I might get AIDS or something worse."
Nevada Gaming Control Board agents found a printing plate used by the Imperial Palace Casino in Las Vegas to print bumper stickers saying "Hitler Was Right." The agents also found a private room at the casino where owner Ralph Engelstad held private parties amidst his collection of Nazi war memorabilia.
In a TV interview, House of Representatives Republican leader Robert Michel bemoaned the end of black-face minstrel shows, saying, "I used to love to imitate Amos 'n Andy."
During a meeting with gay leaders in Garden Grove, Los Angeles County, the wife of U.S. Rep. Robert Dornan yelled, "Shut up, fag!" to a member of the audience. She later apologized, saying she was distraught because her brother was dying of AIDS. The brother volunteered for an HIV test arranged by the Los Angeles Times. It was negative.
After a 19-year old black woman was found beaten to death with the letters "KKK" carved in her body, the Kingston, N.Y., district attorney said, "One investigative lead we are pursuing is that the murder may have been racially motivated."
Federal agents in New York seized 5,000 pounds of pure cocaine and $2 million in case stuffed into bags labeled "Just Say No To Drugs."
Mexican drug smugglers reportedly put out $30,000 contracts on Rocky, Duko, and Barco--three narcotics-sniffing dogs working the U.S.-Mexican border. The dogs were thereupon fitted with bulletproof vests.
An Oakland woman was charged with assault after shooting her 16-year-old daughter because the youngster refused to sell her $20 worth of rock cocaine.
Coors paid a six-figure settlement to an Austin, Texas, police officer who seven years ago found the headless body of a mouse in a bottle of Coors beer he was drinking. Since the incident, the policeman has been unable to watch television shows with beer commercials in them, has developed a fear of rodents that ended his hunting career and becomes physically ill when arresting driving-while-intoxicated suspects who have liquor on their breath.
Los Angeles astrologer Rockie Gardiner said the planet that rules television is Uranus.
In the ultimate answer to those who think professional wrestling is faked, a 336-pound British grappler named Big Daddy killed his 350-pound opponent, King Kong Kirk, by executing his famous "splashdown" maneuver on the prostrate Kirk during a match in Great Yarmouth. It took eight men to lift Kirk's stretcher into the ambulance.
A 51-year-old Peoria woman went into her house, grabbed her husband's souvenir bayonet and ran it through the head of a man who'd dropped a beer can in her yard and refused to pick it up.
A $300 million B-1B bomber crashed, killing three crew members,
after being hit by a pelican.
A man getting a haircut in a Boston barber's chair was paralyzed from the neck down when a carpenter working on an adjoining building fired a high-velocity stud gun through a
wall, hitting the victim in the neck.
A 34-year-old Pontiac, Mich., man who lost an eye after a skyrocket exploded in his face during a backyard July 4th celebration sued his parents because, he said, they didn't have
a permit for a fireworks display and should have stopped him from using fireworks because he was obviously drunk.
A bored pediatrician from Redlands, Calif., admitted he faked his own attempted murder, including inserting a spent bullet into his abdomen and burning his penis to fake a sexual attack. The doctor burned and bruised his skin with a grinding tool, anesthetized his head and abdomen and jammed a rod into those areas to simulate being shot and then pushed a spent .32-caliber projectile into his stomach. After that he burned himself to make it appear he'd been sodomized with a flaming object. Then he injected himself with Demerol, bound his own legs, wrists and neck and lay down on the sidewalk, where police found him unconscious and injured.
Because the groom "looked very feminine and was heavily made up," a court officer in Copenhagen asked him to drop his pants to prove he was a man before the wedding ceremony could proceed.
A Florida woman whose appeals for public help generated $689,000 in donations for her son's unsuccessful liver transplants refused to pay the boy's hospital bill after his death and allegedly spent much of the money on herself and her boyfriend, buying jewelry, property and a BMW.
Nine days after Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda hosted a celebration party at his restaurant for the World Series champions, Los Angeles County health officials closed
Tommy Lasorda's Rigs & Pasta for "one of the worst rat infestations" the health inspector had ever seen.
The widow and two children of a Knoxville, Ill., man tended his body for eight years after his death, changing his clothing and putting fresh sheets on his bed in the apparent belief that he was just sick. The widow and her new boyfriend, a dentist, told police they were using potent herbal healing techniques on the mummified corpse.
A woman in Louisville, Ky., tried to submit as a contest entry a display of nine dead animals--four squirrels, two opossums, two house cats and a chicken--wired to a board in the shape of a radio station's call letters. She was cited by the local animal protection agency.
A defense attorney in Sonora, Calif., appealed his client's burglary conviction on the ground that the prosecutor disrupted the four-week trial by repeatedly passing gas. The defense lawyer charged "misconduct" on the part of the prosecutor, who, he said, "farted about 100 times during the trial. He even lifted his leg." The lawyer said the tactic was particularly disturbing to the jury during the defense's closing argument.
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