Lead Stories

In December in Singapore, neurosurgeon Keith Goh and his colleagues announced that they would decide by the first of the year whether to attempt the life-threatening separation surgery requested by 28-year-old Iranian conjoined twins Laleh and Ladan Bijani, who are attached at the backs of their skulls. Both women are law school graduates, but they claim they’ve grown apart psychologically and need to be separated: “We have different lifestyles,” says Ladan, the more extroverted of the twins. “We think very differently about issues.”

The Web master of the Internet site that hosts Kaboom: The Suicide Bomber Game (the more bystanders you wound or kill, the higher your score) told the New York Times in December that the game has been played about 875,000 times since its introduction in April; other offerings on the site include Extreme WTC Jumper, Sniper’s Revenge, and Pico’s School (modeled after the Columbine shootings). The Web master explained that Kaboom contains no specific references to Israelis or Palestinians, and added that “people…need to lighten up and realize there are far worse problems in the world than what games people are playing.”

Questionable Judgments

In October in Bennington, Vermont, 18-year-old Nicholas Perotta was charged with several traffic violations after his pickup truck collided with a utility pole, causing minor injuries to his three passengers. Perotta told police that one of his stereo speakers had shorted out, and that he’d deliberately run off the road hoping he’d hit a bump and jar it back into working order.

According to testimony given in October at the murder trial of Anastazia M. Schmid in Lafayette, Indiana, Schmid stabbed her boyfriend, Tony Heathcote, 39 times because she “snapped” during a consensual bondage session; Heathcote had allegedly suggested that he be the “daddy” and she be the “little girl.” Unfortunately, two days earlier Schmid’s mother had told her Heathcote had been accused of molesting Schmid’s six-year-old daughter. (Schmid was convicted and sentenced to 50 years.)

Unclear on the Concept

In September in San Francisco, John Perkyns, 48, pleaded no contest to charges of slashing, defacing, or destroying over 600 homosexual-themed books, many of them rare or out of print, at two public libraries; he also allegedly vandalized books by journalist Gay Talese and historian Peter Gay and a book of poetry named after the airplane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (the Enola Gay).

Creme de la Weird

In an unfolding story from Kassel, Germany, a man identified only as Armin M., who was already in police custody, turned over a video in December that allegedly shows him killing a 42-year-old man who’d answered a chat-room notice reading “Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter.” Armin, 41, has confessed to eating his victim’s flesh and to freezing parts of the body for later meals. (He reportedly told police that he’d never eat a woman, because “they are too important for the survival of mankind.”) The victim, a computer chip developer, had written his will (and had it notarized) the morning before he left his Berlin home to meet Armin; the video shows both men eating the victim’s penis after he’d consented to its amputation. The victim then climbed into a bathtub and waited to pass out from blood loss–Armin had agreed not to cut his throat and butcher him until after he’d lost consciousness. Investigators who’ve watched Armin’s video have reportedly had to undergo psychiatric counseling.

Thinning the Herd

In September in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a 19-year-old man was shot in the forehead and killed by his brother after sneering that the 17-year-old didn’t have “the guts” to pull the trigger (and mock-seriously commanding him, “Shoot me, you [expletive]”).

Our Civilization in Decline

In November in Bedfordshire, England, an official at Sundon Lower School prohibited parents from videotaping the school’s nativity play because she feared that the tapes might somehow fall into the hands of pedophiles. In December in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a Serbian Orthodox pastor, feuding about administrative policy with the lay president of his church, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol (and accidentally shot himself in the foot in the ensuing scuffle). And in December in Seattle, Washington, an investigation by the local Fox News affiliate found that 347 fugitive felons in King County receive state welfare benefits because law enforcement’s computers can’t access the computers at the department of social and health services.

In the Last Month

The World Bar (in New York City’s Trump World Tower) introduced a $50 cocktail, the ingredients of which include Remy XO cognac, white Pineau des Charentes, freshly pressed grapes, and a splash of 23-karat edible liquid gold….In Twin Falls, Idaho, a 29-year-old man was arrested for possession of three homemade bombs, which he said he’d been carrying around in case he ran into Al Qaeda terrorists….And in Faisalabad, Pakistan, a 45-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for following a false prophet.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.