Monday, August 31, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 31, 2009 (news from August 22-29)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Yr Editor will not publish Pro Edition next week (but will return Sept. 14) (and the standard News of the Weird column never skips a week). This will not be a "vacation." I will be working furiously, shaping up yet another attempt to glide this News of the Weird franchise into the digital age. The task is frustrating, but let's face it: After all these years, and despite a stellar résumé and two professional degrees, I'm no longer qualified for anything except News of the Weird.]

Update: Looking More 'n' More Like Texas Executed a Slam-Dunk-Innocent Man
Cameron Todd Willingham got the needle in 2004 after jurors believed the expert who told them that the 1991 fire that killed his 3 babies just had to be arson. In the years since, a parade of prominent national fire scientists (the latest, last week), re-examining the evidence, have concluded that the Texas fire warden was fulla crap, that the fire was an accident. Sorry 'bout that, Cameron. (Fire marshals are not nearly the only Texas forensic "experts" to be found fulla crap.) Austin America-Statesman

"Yo, yo, yo, Shalom, y'all. 'Sup?"
Stand-up comic Sunda Croonquist (a black-Swede mix) married into a Jewish family in New Jersey and naturally started to weave the family circus into her act. Funny at first. No longer, they said. Ruth Zafrin and her daughter and son-in-law have actually filed a lawsuit against Sunda for defamation. [You're right; there're no lawsuits in comedy!] Associated Press via ABC News

British Kids Can Legally Buy Porn for the Next 3 Months . . .
Seriously. The gov't forgot to include its 1984 child-porn regs on the list of laws it filed with the European Commission, and a Fine Point of the law means the statute can't be enforced until the EC has been "consulted" about it for 3 months. Reuters

Don't Say Yr Editor Never Publishes Good News
A study of scans on 16- to 19-yr-olds revealed that marijuana use actually reduces the brain damage normally done by binge-drinking. (On the other hand, the researchers were all from UC San Diego, and results on non-California dope-users may differ.) KTVU (Oakland)

Update: The Rubber Room
Quick, now, which is the primary function of the school system? (a) that every child gets diligently-applied educational opportunities or (b) that every teacher gets diligently-applied due process from a 100-page, single-spaced union contract? You say (a)? ROTFL! The New Yorker checks in this week on the topic (addressed in NOTW a coupla times). It costs New York City more than $40m/yr to keep 600 teachers accused of terminable misconduct or incompetence on full salary awaiting hearings that by contract take 2 to 5 yrs to schedule and then typically last longer than capital-murder trials, plus $60m/yr more for 1,000 others whose schools closed but whom no other principal wants. The 600 "rubber-roomers" clock in every day and sit around getting even more pissed off (comparing themselves to Gitmo detainees). Their favorite victim phrase is "performance evaluations," as in "We don't need any." Said one rubber-roomer, "We can tell [by ourselves] if we're doing our jobs." The New Yorker

A Woman Way Different from Us
Angela Simpson, 33, was indicted, but it hardly matters because she calmly confessed the whole murder on camera to Phoenix's KTVK-TV, patiently setting out her reasoning. She stabbed the wheelchair-confined man 50 times, pulled some teeth, beat him with a tire iron, drove a nail into his head, then dismembered the body and burned it. (Bonus: She did it all in front of a mirror so he would see as much of it as he could.) Reason? She wanted to improve the ethical standards of her neighborhood for her "family" and the "children." The man was a snitch, and that's what snitches deserve. Child molesters, too, but mainly snitches. KTVK-TV

News That Sounds Like a Joke

Allen Stanford, one of those masters-of-the-universe guys (now under indictment because, the Justice Dept. says, it was all a $7bn Ponzi scheme), got rich with the help of the chief financial regulator of Antigua and secured the regulator's loyalty by taking an actual blood oath with him. Grown-ups. Mashed their blood together. Just like in the movies. (That's according to Stanford's number-two guy, who has pleaded guilty.) New York Times

Update: Roy Pearson, the $54m-dry-cleaning man [You didn't think it was over, did you?], was unanimously and scathingly turned down in December by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and recently by a federal court when he sued to get his local judgeship sinecure back. (He said the reason D.C. turned him down was to [illegally] retaliate for the dry-cleaning lawsuit. The real [legal] reason, of course, is that the man is an embarrassment to Anglo-American jurisprudence in general.) So he filed a federal-court appeal. When he loses, that'll pretty much leave only SCOTUS and The Hague on his To-Do list. Legal Times

The owner of Lynch Hummer in Chesterfield, Mo., told that he's happy he converted part of the space in his showroom (after Hummer sales fell last yr) to a gun market. One-stop shop. Makes dicks feel twice as long. Autoblog

Athena Sidlar, 28, pleaded guilty in Allentown, Pa., but it's hard to decide which way to look at her "crime." She was an aide at Allentown State Hospital and was caught teaching one of her patients the correct way to swallow nails. Turns out she's a swallower, herself, who either wasn't screened very well by Human Resources . . or . . was specially hired for her expertise. The Morning Call

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Taking a bad idea and making it worse, and then worse than that, and finally, even worse, still: A medical journal this month reported the predicament of the fella who first decided that the thing to do was to insert a ball-point pen into his urethra. That didn't feel as good as he originally thought, and so he decided, second, that the thing to do was push it further in to see if that made him tingle. No, OK, forget the whole thing. But it was now in too far to pull out. He decided the thing to do, third, was push it in even further because then it might get to be accessible through his rectum. (Anatomy tip: They're not connected.) Neurotopia blog /// Canadian Journal of Urology (abstract)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]

Sara Kellum, 29, Merced, Calif., was charged with robbery, but to judge her properly, you'll just have to peer down the front of her shirt. No way around it. Merced Sun Star

Katherine Patterson, 58, dropped trou and mooned a guy in a courthouse elevator. That, everyone agrees on. But was that a sex offense? One way to tell: Would you be sexually aroused seeing part of Katherine's bare ass? Stockton (Calif.) Record

Raymond Roberson, 70, is here . . just because he's a mess. He might also have been armed and naked, but mainly, he's a mess. KTVL (Medford, Ore.)

Recurring Themes

In Charleston, W.Va., a 57-yr-old man was hospitalized after trying to make a keychain charm from a live, .30-06 rifle round by drilling through it. And in Joliet, Ill., a 27-yr-old woman was hospitalized with 2nd-degree burns incurred as she was filling up a gas can inside her car and wanted to see whether it was full yet . . and the handiest light source was her cigarette lighter. And in Santa Barbara, Calif., a driving-test-taker accidentally plowed into the DMV building and redecorated an office. WSAZ-TV (Charleston) /// Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) /// Santa Barbara Independent

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

The project manager on a nuclear plant cleanup in Dounreay, Scotland, told reporters his go-to radiation cleanser was the Scottish equivalent of Easy-Off (Cillit Bang). Daily Telegraph (London)

Hell's totally waiting for Aurelio Vallerillo-Sanchez, 39, Omaha, Neb. He was convicted of rape . . of an underage girl . . and financing her abortion . . by stealing a church's painting of the Virgin Mary. Omaha World-Herald

Unclear on the Concept: San Francisco's Dept. of Public Health recently endorsed, for stress-reduction . . drum circles. "Repetitive patterns influence brainwave activity," said a shrink. He's surely right about that. San Francisco Examiner

Ian Stafford, 58, was arrested as the prolific panty bandit running around Preesall, near Fleetwood, England. (Bonus: He's the mayor . . or was, until his arrest.) Daily Telegraph

It says here that the Mermaid Medical Ass'n, in Brooklyn, N.Y. [Yeah, yeah, but New York reporters vouch for it], is threatening to go to the Int'l Court of Justice in The Hague, outraged that the city of Kiryat Yam, Israel, doesn't believe in mermaids. (The city is offering $1m to anyone who can prove they exist, a challenge that MMA finds insulting.) YnetNews (Tel Aviv) /// Gothamist /// New York Daily News

So . . if the police, say, in Longmont, Colo., find a photo attached to a cow's tongue, i.e., could be a hoodoo ritual . . do they have the duty to go find and warn the person in the photo . . or do they just keep doing their other (unimaginary) projects? KMGH-TV (Denver)

Britain's Nat'l Farmers Union warned, on the heels of four recent deaths of people trampled by cows, to watch out, especially if you're walking your (cow-magnet) dog. At the same time, over in the picturesque Swiss village of Lauterbrunnen, 28 cows in a three-day period took The Only Way Out off a cliff. The Independent (London) /// Daily Mail (London)

More Sub-Prime Americans

Michael Williamson said (during his trial in Cincinnati after which he just received 80 yrs in prison) that the real reason he raped those three pre-teens for several years was to protect them from the girls' mother, who was abusive. (Bonus: His judge said Williamson's excuse "is almost unbelievable." Almost.) Cincinnati Enquirer

A brand-new way for a robber to be stupid: For a disguise, Thomas James, 24, just spray-painted his face. [You are correct. That can be toxic. And in fact, Thomas is no longer with us.] WLTX-TV (Greenville, S.C.)

Too Much Time on Their Hands: Animal photographer Ren Netherland, Clearwater, Fla., shoots total, full-dress makeovers. For instance, here's some of his dog work . . poodles trimmed and colorized and padded so they look disturbingly like (a) a panda and (b) a camel. Daily Telegraph (London)

A woman dropped off her car at the Tires Plus service center in Winona, Minn., to get a belt replaced, and said, "Oh, by the way, I have a goat in my trunk." And she did. Alive. And painted purple and gold. And with the number 4 shaved on its side. Unknown whether she was for ol' Brett or against him. Winona Daily News

You never want to be in as much trouble as this guy: He was stopped by a sheriff's deputy after cutting him off while making a lane change. Oh, and he was driving a big rig with 14 tons of marijuana, which now no longer belongs to whatever cartel was moving it. Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)

A 30-yr-old warrant for sex abuse of a minor had caught up with William Evans, 57, who was finally standing trial in St. Augustine, Fla., and the jury had just retired to deliberate, and an apprehensive Evans disappeared on a break. Yes, he killed himself. And of course, the jury (which didn't know that) came back, Not Guilty. St. Augustine Record

Teddy Brisseaux, 26, was arrested in New Haven, Conn., after he wandered, extremely drunk, into a stranger's house, undressed, lay down in a child's bed, with the child in it, and passed out. He was still asleep when the cops got there and arrested him. According to the Connecticut Post, "He claimed that his arrest was the result of racial profiling, police said." Connecticut Post (Bridgeport)

Eyewitness News

Among the recent selection of WTF, ick-quality creatures comes the Speleonecies atlantida, which has no eyes and lives in burrows on the ocean floor near the Canary Islands (in other words, you'll have to take completely on faith that there is such a thing).

And if that's not enough, here's a 19-slide show of the "World's Ugliest Animals." New York Daily News

Newsrangers: Carl McGlore, Craig Cryer, Dan Bohlen, Chuck McGill, Lu Stanton, Mike Schmahl, Jim Dukes, and Tom Barker. Also, the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey Egan, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, John Cieciel, Harry Farkas, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Monday, August 24, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 24, 2009 (news from August 15-22)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

If Zombies Attack for Real, We're Toast
Two math professors in Canada modeled a zombie outbreak as a major infectious disease, to predict whether we non-necros could fight back. Not a chance, they conclude. After all, this is one "infection" that would just keep reviving itself every time we killed it, unless we killed it in just the correct way (however that is, which is unclear now because movies keep altering the rules of zombie biology). (Bonus: The lead researcher, from the University of Ottawa, is, and I quote, "Robert Smith?," and there is no typo there.) BBC News

The Subtleties of Gender
"Extremely complex" is how a world amateur athletics spokesman described gender verification testing (commenting on the suspicions raised about the champion South African runner Caster Semenya, who is, said her daddy, his "little girl," even though she appears to some like daddy's little boy). Complex? Hey, just pull her pants down, huh?. Or measure her androgen and estrogen levels? Or see if she's got a Y? Well . . no. For athletic-unfairness purposes, those things are indicators but aren't conclusive. Some genitalia are actually in conflict or inactive, and anyway, it's not the dick itself that improves female athletes' performance. It's the hormones, but men can still tilt high on estrogen and women tilt high on androgen. Even the chromosome thing doesn't always work out right. And the hormone deal, itself, gets you into a gray area because so much of superior performance emanates from the body one acquires at birth. World-class athletes are (and I use the term lovingly) freaks of nature, as are sexually-confused transgenders. [On the other hand, just because I'm sympathetic doesn't mean I'm necessarily for letting trannies decide, all to themselves, which restroom they're gonna pee in.] New York Times

That's . . Howard . . Awand
Fortune magazine exposes a massive conspiracy among a Las Vegas doctor and a Las Vegas lawyer, and associated cronies, to inflate legal settlements with superfluous medical tests. Strongest evidence: Clients are sworn to secrecy about the name of the fixer who puts the doctor and lawyer together for them. That would be Howard Awand. Oops. Anyway, I read somewhere that people are innocent until howardawand proved guilty in a court of law so let's not jump to conclusions. After all, Fortune's only interviewed 40 howardawand players, including two who say they were in on the whole thing. Howard Awand. Fortune

Can't Possibly Be True
Michael Sesera of Blairstown, N.J., needed a little zoning love from the town of Hanover so he could build a convenience store and so did the natural New Jersey thing and offered a $20k bribe to the mayor to make it happen . . and the mayor turned his ass in! The nerve! Associated Press via WCBS Radio

People with Worse Sex Lives Than You
Randall Giesbers (who came into the news the week before last, sorry) is at least an authentic serial panty burglar. According to police in Salem, Ore., he was discovered rummaging around a lady's garage, wearing only her underthings. During booking, he was found to be wearing even more of her underwear, underneath the outer underwear. But he might be innocent; ya can check the mugshot to be certain. KPTV (Portland, Ore.)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]

Mr. Kay Fotheringham, 52, might possibly have misfired his shotgun so that he accidentally hit two people at a nearby gas station. The Smoking Gun /// KSL-TV (Salt Lake City) [story]

Robert Cook, 58, is unlikely, perhaps, to have done anything so stupid as to call 911 just to report that his wife had hidden his booze from him. (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Recurring Themes

Health Care That Works: Roger Martin, 71, with a 30-yr rap sheet on pedophilia, is the latest old fart to be routinely prescribed Viagra by Britain's Nat'l Health Service. Police say there's nothing they can do. Daily Mail

The annual Gotmar festival has finally been banned, after centuries of tradition in two Indian villages (and about 15 yrs of tradition in News of the Weird). Residents of Saargaon and Pandhurhna had been coming together once a yr to throw rocks at each other all day long. Last yr's toll was typical: one dead, 400 injured, lots of blood. Every damn year, that happens. They tried one year to limit the arsenals to fluffy stuff, but too much testosterone was involved, and the next year, it was back to lethality. Agence France-Presse via

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

Two musical beggars in Moseley, England, will get only an Anti-Social Behavior Order for 2 yrs when they obviously deserve a much, much harsher fate, in that, for tips, they were playing the same two songs, over and over and over and over, days at a time, over and over (Wonderwall by Oasis and Faith by George Michael). Over and over. The Independent

The chairman of a big Italian bank said they'll start accepting inventory from food producers as collateral for loans. Wine. Prosciutto. Parmesan. The Guardian (London)

It says here that Veracruz, Mexico, is honoring Edgar Hernandez, aka the Patient Zero kid in the swine flu deal, with a statue. It also says that some people follow Edgar into public restrooms to try and collect some of his now-therapeutic urine. True/Slant /// [en espanol, mis amigos]

Britain's Guardian found a credentialed person to say he thinks "orthorexia nervosa" is on the upswing. Orthorexics are people ("righteous eaters") who get all pathological about consuming only "healthy" crap. The Guardian

A theme park in England has issued an official "please-don't" policy to stop roller coaster riders from raising their arms in the summertime, because their fetid pits are grossing out their seatmates. Daily Telegraph

Sounds Like a Joke: A 19-yr-old student drowned near Osaka, Japan, testing out his brand-new "concrete canoe." Mainichi Daily News

Police in a Dallas suburb put out an APB for a car they suspected as the getaway vehicle in a fast-food drive-thru-lane-rage incident. (Bonus: It was a Bentley.) Dallas Morning News

The natural order of things: (1) After Britain denied asylum to an Afghan immigrant for using a fake passport, the immigrant sued because the rejection made him all depressed. (2) Julie Greenleaf filed claims against the Ventura, Calif., police for $680k, for medical care and damage to her home. The police had shot up the place after Julie's husband holed up inside in a standoff and fired 50 shots at the cops. (3) Allecyn Edwards visited the Brookfield (Ill.) Zoo, and took in the splashing dolphin performance, but never realized how wet the walkway around the pool was . . until she dorked out and slipped, which is not her fault. Daily Mail /// Associated Press via The Record (Stockton) /// Chicago Tribune

More Sub-Prime Americans

Piece of Work: Birmingham, Ala., school board candidate Antwon Womack is staying in the race despite setbacks, which so far include lying six times on his bio. The important thing, however, is that his campaign "is not based on a foundation of lies. My values are not lies. It's just the information I provided to people is false." He needs to stay in the race, he said, because the school board shows "a lack of leadership." Birmingham News

Add Jessica King to the list of people who somehow manage to get run over by their own car. In fact, ya can add her . . twice. Lawrence Journal-World (Lawrence, Kan.)

Some day soon, Damien Cole needs to catch a break. Things are going badly. His pal, with a gun, signed Damien up as wing man for a robbery. Pal demanded the money. Victim also had a gun. Victim shot pal dead. In Anglo-American justice, Damien's now guilty of the "felony murder" of his pal. Could do 50 yrs. WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee)

Readers' Choice
A long-time customer of Penny Lane Records in Sydenham, New Zealand, picked out a CD, asked the clerk to reserve it for him, and even wrote his name and address on it to make sure they held it. Only then, apparently, did he decide to grab cash out of the cash register and run off. The Press (Christchurch)

Newsrangers: Don Ferguson, Albert Clawson, Kathryn Wood, Brian Cunningham, Kate Kawiti, Tim Kirby, Jon-Paul McGowan, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 17, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 17, 2009 (news from August 8-15)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

Diaper Man Is Legal
'Twas a Fine Point of the Law, indeed, that the Brevard County (Fla.) sheriff couldn't arrest the 40-something man after he tricked a woman into changing his diaper for three weeks. His gig: pretending to need total baby care. Her gig: needing to make $600/week by caring for the supposedly disabled man with no bladder control and a mental age of five. Because he paid her in full, and she agreed to the tasks, there was no crime. And Sacha Baron Cohen would be proud because diaper man never broke character. Florida Today

Joie de Mort
Elsie Poncher is looking to sell a cemetery crypt space she owns, with bids starting at $500k. Her husband's in it now, but a lower-rent neighborhood is in his future, since Elsie's behind on her home mortgage. The space once belonged to Joltin' Joe D., and it's right above the space now holding Joe's ex-wife, Marilyn. When Richard Poncher originally bought into the crypt, he made Elsie promise that for all eternity he would be lying face-down above Marilyn Monroe's body. Los Angeles Times

Lawyers with Big Balls
(You wouldn't have the guts to make these claims.) (1) The Stamford (Conn.) Marriott Hotel is being sued by a woman who was raped in its "unsafe" parking garage. Nonetheless, the Hotel's lawyer said, the victim was careless, and that's why she was raped. (2) Mrs. Achumba decided to take the kids for a spin in her Honda right after hearing an ominous announcement about tornados in the area. Sure enough, one twister zapped the car, lifted it up, carried it a few feet, and dropped it, with the only damage being a blown-out side window that cut everybody. Honda should've made a more-tornado-proof car, the Achumbas' lawyer said. $10 million, please. Hartford Courant /// Courthouse News Service

Discussion Question: How has inmate Michelle Kosilek avoided being shanked? She was convicted of killing her wife in 1990 when she was Robert Kosilek, and sent to the male prison in Norfolk, Mass. Shortly after that, she announced she would be, hereinafter, "Michelle" and that she wanted gender surgery (paid for by the state, of course). Neither has happened, and this year, she's demanding (free) electrolysis. (Wife-killers sometimes get shanked just on gen'l principle.) Boston Herald

Another Discussion Question: Is ol' George Sodini (the date-deprived man who killed three and wounded nine in the Pennsylvania dance class before killing himself) in heaven now? Pastors at Sodini's Tetelestai Church are split. Of course not, said one. Once saved, always saved, said another. Deacon Jack Rickard split the difference: Sodini's in heaven, "but he won't have any rewards." Associated Press via

Your Moment of Weird-News Wisdom
Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky of Kiev, Ukraine (whose governing style varies from somewhat-unorthodox to what several opponents called "crazy"): "The thing is, crazy are the people who don't understand that the future belongs to those who are not standard." New York Times

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
Danny Brawner, 46, Albuquerque, was indicted for indecent exposure. Witnesses observed him with his pants down, humping the trunk of his car. (Bonus: He was screaming, arms akimbo, just like he was gettin' the real thing.) KOB-TV

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]
Here's Edward Pretzer, 59, who is either nuts (calling 911 to report an unbelievably horrible, bloody plane crash) or, as he said, just a guy with sleep problems who dreamed the crash but dialed 911 in his stupor, thinking he was talking to a relative. Durango (Colo.) Herald

Recurring Themes

It's the oldest stunt in the Least-Competent-Criminals book: Jarell Arnold, 34, robbing the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union but showing his ID to a teller first (he wanted to know his balance) and then jotting down a holdup note. (New Bonus Twist: Arnold is a recidivist, having robbed the same credit union a few yrs back, and he was a customer then, too.) Anchorage Daily News

For at least the third time in this decade, geography-challenged people bought airline tickets for their Australian vacation but failed to notice (until they landed in "Sydney") that the tickets took them to Sydney, Nova Scotia. (Although . . perhaps it has happened other times, but the travelers, rather than acknowledge that they're as dumb as crowbars, decide, whoa, sure, Nova Scotia was what we had in mind all along.) Daily Mail (London)

Humans possess only a nanoparticle of all knowledge, but at least we know (thanks to yet another batch of scholarly research) (1) that female sand goby fish are fickle (their preference in mates varies) and (2) why flamingos stand on one leg (to conserve body heat). Australian Broadcasting Corp. News /// BBC News

Another deformed baby (4 arms, 4 legs) was born in India (well, this time, Nepal), thus splitting neighbors and family members as to whether the little tyke is cursed . . or is the rebirth of the multi-limbed god Ganesh. The Guardian (London)

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

Coming Soon to a Network Near You: The host of a TV crime-fighting show in Brazil is suspected of masterminding the murders of five more-or-less scumbags, in part so that his reporters would get exclusives. Associated Press via New York Daily News

Instant karma: (1) Arguing with his girlfriend in front of a store in London, he pushed her into the window, launching both of them through it, cutting her but yuckily killing him (carotid impaled on a large shard). (2) Motorcyclist (a 57-yr-old Californian), spittin' mad for some unknown reason [frightened about Obama's place of birth? pissed about death panels?] passed an RV while shouting and finger-saluting, then pulled ahead of it, then purposely slowed down, apparently believing that that would surely show his existential superiority to the RV driver. But, he slowed down too much. Unavoidably, the RV gobbled him up, dragging the biker about 75 ft. Daily Telegraph /// Ventura County Star

Update on that alpha-dog pick-up artist Mazen Abdul Jawad, who went on TV in Saudi Arabia to brag about his conquests (including showing which sex toys he employs): The TV station is now officially out of business. (And speaking of Saudis and sex toys, the week before that, a businessman in Jeddah commissioned a solid gold penis enlarger, with diamonds and rubies, from a Canadian medical device manufacturer, for $47k [US]. He said he was counting on the "medical device" label to get it into his country.] CNN /// Agence France-Presse via Yahoo

Visit the lovely central Philippines highland . . and ya might get a glimpse of a new species of carnivorous pitcher plant just discovered . . and so large that it eats rats. BBC News

Girls Sure Are Different from Boys: Britain's first eyelash transplant was performed, for a reconstructive medical purpose. The U.S. has done them for a while now, increasingly for cosmetic reasons. [That's correct: four-hour microsurgery on the edge of your eyeballs just so your lashes will be longer!] Besides, gals in the U.S. can use the Rx drug Latisse ($120/month), which the FDA says will bulk up lashes. The Independent (London) /// New York Times Magazine

Good to Know: A Phoenix-area substance abuse counselor told KNXV-TV that parents need to be aware of their kids' creative drug delivery systems, e.g., "snorting vodka shots," "soaking tampons in vodka," and . . "anal beer bongs." KNXV-TV

More Sub-Prime Americans

Why would the 22-yr-old guy in Kitsap, Wash., start tossing rocks at a group of people? Simple. He is preparing to enter the Ultimate Fighting Championship but hadn't ever been in a fight before and said he wanted the experience of getting beat up. Kitsap Sun

In Severn, Md., David Perticone, 46, was charged with burglary of his neighbor's house when, a few days later, he ran a yard sale with the loot he scored. WJZ-TV (Baltimore)

Fred Hiestand of Sacramento is the big dog of California tort reform, railing against class actions and especially against the unique state law that allows enterprising individuals to sue small businesses over trivial law violations and then demand four-figure settlements not to go to trial. Hiestand's car got towed by a small business with a city contract. Solution: class-action lawsuit! The Recorder (San Francisco)

Readers' Choice: John William Moyer, 60, was convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Minnie Mouse at Orlando's Disney World. The judge spared him jail, ordering community service plus a mental evaluation and an apology to the woman playing Minnie (which will be difficult for John, since he sounds still totally in denial). Minnie said he was all over her breasts, laughing, but she couldn't scream because it's against Disney rules to break character. Orlando Sentinel

Eyewitness News

You are there, two weeks ago, as the Dalai Lama grapples with swine flu.

Newsrangers: Catherine Georg, Chris Wray, Eric James, Gil Nelson, Jon Lindstrom, Frank Smith, Mark Zogas, Eric Swanson, Bekah Waltuch, Lyle Mariam, Tom Sullivan, Kathryn Wood, Sam Gaines, Dana Richter, Peter Swank, Jenny Aus, Mike Mendenhall, Perry Levin, Ken Vermette, Joseph Erickson, and Luke Roan, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 10, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 10, 2009 (news from August 1-8)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

Iran, North Korea Emergencies Overshadowed by International Sonar Crisis
All week long in Glasgow: the International Piping Live! festival, with 200 bagpipe bands from 16 countries among the 16,000 performers, building up to the actual World Pipe Band Championships on Saturday. Sound waves probably will not make it across the Atlantic, but you might keep your windows closed, just in case. The Herald (Glasgow)

More Tex-Ass Justice . . from Ohio
Derris Lewis only had to spend a mere 18 months in a Columbus jail (awaiting trial for killing his twin brother) before the gov't decided to test out its "evidence." The bloody "palm print" (a one-inch by one-inch smudge) said to match Derris's wasn't bloody after all, and it could have been placed on the wall of his family home at any time. Eighteen months. Columbus Dispatch

Yr Governments in Action!
(1) Remodeling of the Port of Seattle terminal was put on hold because the contractor built a trench, for an important crane cable, to a width of 2.50 inches. Shoulda been 2.52 inches. $200k for the re-do, maybe $800k in lost fees in delaying the terminal's opening. (2) Heath, Ohio (pop. 8,500), concluded it might have overreached, in that its new, six-intersection traffic camera ticketing system wrote 10,000 citations in the first 4 weeks. (3) Hey, no hard feelings toward the two construction companies being sued for contributing to that Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 (killing 13 motorists). Between 'em, the companies have won $50m in new contracts since then. Seattle Times /// Columbus Dispatch /// Minnesota Public Radio News

(1) This first one's probably make-believe, but who knows, 'cause it's Mongolia. But the Gobi dwellers widely fear the Mongolian death worm (known locally only as the "intestine worm"), which is reputed to be almost five feet long and to spew either (a) deadly acid or (b) lightning . . er . . from its rectum. A New Zealand TV crew is on location. (2) Legit, though, is a 3-ft-long, log-like thingy that washed up on a shore in Wales, consisting of hundreds of writhing snake-like strips. Scientists say, Oh, that! That's just "goose barnacles," nothing special, but they usually hang out in the deep, and this one got carried away. But it underscores the reality that if we could know about everything that was deep in the oceans, we'd be messing up our pants. Courier-Mail (Brisbane) via Herald Sun (Melbourne) /// Daily Mail (London) [yucky photos]

Sometimes Ya Know Who's Officially Mentally Ill, and Sometimes Ya Don't
Last week in Minneapolis, doctors and patients attended the annual conference of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. Supply your own jokes (e.g., Restroom lavatories were tied up all day because the hand-washers wouldn't leave). Also, it's likely that Chinese bride Lin Rong hasn't been diagnosed with anything, even though she thought she had to have a wedding dress that was 1.3 miles long (rolled up). Also, maybe Terence Loyd, 32, Mansfield, La., was just high on drugs when he rolled around on all fours in the mud, barking, then alternately eating mud and vomiting it. Also, we don't know about Daniel Phelan, 27, who apparently drove around with a pile of rocks in the passenger seat, in case he had occasion to become road-raged. And finally, we know Walter Paulson is a loony, but he's our loony, or rather, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors's loony, getting up at open-mic time at almost every Board meeting in the last four yrs and crooning a brief song parody about the Supervisors' issues of the day. Associated Press via MSNBC [Obsessive-Compulsive] /// BBC News [wedding gown] /// Associated Press via Houston Chronicle [Loyd] /// Chicago Sun-Times via WBBM [Phelan] /// San Francisco Chronicle [Paulson]

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
The fella with the week's worst sex life, of course, is that mass/spree murderer George Sodini, 48, who killed three women and himself in the dance class because he hadn't been laid in 19 yrs and had no prospects. However, here are three other guys, in Greensboro, N.C., and six more in the Winston-Salem area, who were so desperate for studliness that they bought themselves direct penile-enhancement injections. Said a local director of public health, "Don't trust individuals who are going to inject things in you from out of a car." ABC News [dance-class killer] /// Greensboro News & Record [injections]

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]
Keith Griffin, 48, Jensen Beach, Fla., might possibly be guilty of downloading child porn, but maybe he's innocent—that it was, as he says, his cat's fault, in that Keith left his computer on, and the cat probably jumped on the keyboard, somehow clicking 1,000 pictures onto his hard drive. WPBF-TV (West Palm Beach)

And then there's this fellow, from The Smoking Gun collection, crime unknown, who looks like he has almost completely made the transition from Cro-Magnon. The Smoking Gun

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

Two men from Tampa drowned in separate incidents to kick off lobster-hunting season in the Florida Keys. A sheriff's spokesman said 10 to 15 divers drown every year hunting lobsters. [Yes, that's 10 to 15 . . dead . . each year . . because they wanted to catch lobsters instead of buying them.] Tampa Tribune

A woman bought up every seat in business class on an El Al flight from Paris to Tel Aviv just so her dog could sit next to her instead of with the cargo. (Bonus: It's a full-grown boxer.) United Press International via USA Today

A Brazilian environmental group, SOS Mata Atlantica, is running a TV ad campaign encouraging water conservation, claiming a household could save 4,000 gallons a yr if only the family all peed in the shower instead of the toilet. Associated Press via Discover Magazine

Least Competent Cops: Spain's Supreme Court overturned an assault conviction and 10-yr sentence because the police lineup might have been unfair: asking the victim to pick out the black man who attacked her from among a lineup in which the other stooges were white. Reuters

More Sub-Prime Americans

A 20-yr-old woman was injured in Boulder, Colo., when she fell from a 5th-floor window, right beside which was the bed she was sleeping in. Alcohol Was Involved, and there's a good chance she just rolled out the window. Colorado Daily

After finally paying off a $45k state income tax lien covering 1998-2005, Jeanette Jamieson of Toccoa, Ga., finds herself charged again, for ignoring her state taxes for 2006 and 2007. (Bonus: Jamieson is a professional tax preparer.) (Double Bonus: She was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives all that time.) Toccoa Record

Christopher Anson, 23, allegedly robbed the White Rock Bank (Cannon Falls, Minn.) and drove away with $2,600, but was caught speeding nearby. The officer copied down all Anson's info but said he'd have to mail him the ticket since his radio just then blared out, ordering him to go investigate a robbery of the White Rock Bank. The cop later realized the robber in the bank's video was the guy he needed to mail the ticket to. Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.)

Six motorcycle cops, escorting funeral-goers to the cemetery for burial of a prominent Florida Harley-Davidson dealer, crashed into each other, sprawling out in the road. Associated Press via Miami Herald

Houston police failed, too, following the arrest of George Vera, 25, who weighs nearly 600 lbs. Vera managed to make it past three jail checkpoints, still carrying his 9-mm handgun . . which was tucked inside one of his belly rolls. KPRC-TV (Houston)

Ella Orko of Chicago remains spry at 86. She was busted last week for shoplifting from a grocery store (including wrinkle cream). (Bonus: It was arrest number 61 for her.) Chicago Tribune

Readers' Choice: What happens when a wife discovers that her husband has three side squeezes, and when notified, each side squeeze professes to be the main squeeze? They work out some payback. The man gets tricked into a motel room, where all four descend, slap him around, and apply Krazy Glue to a sensitive part of his anatomy. They are under arrest. ABC News [mugshots]

Newsrangers: Kathryn Wood, Gerald Croll, Sam Gaines, Barry Rose, Bruce Leiserowitz, Steve Nicoulin, Megan Tracy, Charles Smaistrla, Kenneth Camp, Jeff Hagge, Tom Barker, Stephen Taylor, Heather Forsyth, and Dave Pierson, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 03, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 3, 2009 (news from July 25-Aug 1)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

This Is Not a Stephen Glass Story
A New York Times Magazine writer spent some time in Japan with a live-chick repellant named "Nisan," 37, accompanying him on a "date" with his new girl, "part of a thriving subculture [called otaku] of men and women in Japan who indulge in real relationships with imaginary characters." "The less extreme might have a hidden collection of figurines based on anime characters that they go on 'dates' with during off hours. A more serious 2-D [obsessed with two-dimensionals] lover, like Nisan, actually believes that a lumpy pillow with a drawing of a prepubescent anime character on it is his girlfriend." "He takes her out on the weekends to sing karaoke." One of the more wistful 2-D's admitted he wanted to get married to a 3-D, "but look at me. How can someone who carries this [gal] around get married? People are probably wondering what psychiatric ward I escaped from. I would think the same thing if I saw me." OK, so . . is there a defense to all this? Try this out: "If, as some researchers suggest, romantic love can be broken down into electrical impulses in the brain, then why not train the mind to simulate those signals while looking at an inanimate character?" New York Times Magazine [URL carries a dateline of 7-21-09, but it appeared in print 7-26-09]

Next to Nisan, Jerry Lowery Is Normal
Jerry's obsession is . . eyewear. He was arrested in Milwaukee on three counts of armed robbery of designer eyeglass frames and is a recidivist. He said he's had this "problem" for 15 yrs. Typically, he said, he ogles himself in the mirror when he gets home and decides which frames to keep or trash or give to his friends. Journal Sentinel

Things You Never Thought Would Happen
(1) "Multiple [Connecticut] law enforcement agencies" busted a gambling ring based on fighting songbirds (canaries, saffron finches). (2) An outfit in Brazil has supposedly created an anatomically correct "love doll" (i.e., it has an aperture) . . for dogs. CNN ///

The Crown Vs. Theresa Winters's Uterus
The 36-yr-old in Luton, England, has had 13 kids and has done a bad job raising them, according to the Luton gov't, which has spent "millions" of £ in assistance. One died, one is blind, one has cerebral palsy, and three have something called Pheo Syndrome. She and her fellow-welfare-sucking boyfriend Toney, 36 (who would "love" to go to work, he said, but only for "the right reasons"), are mad that social workers have taken all her kids away, and now she vows to keep having babies until she gets to keep one. The Sun

NOTW Goes Tabloid
Phil Spector, in major lockdown at Corcoran State Prison in Los Angeles, supposedly got a note from Charlie Manson, who's housed in an adjacent hospital down the road, suggesting why don't they make some music? One tale has it that Manson wrote two songs in the 1960s that the Beach Boys recorded. [Ed. You'll have to research that one yourself.] ABC News said the note probably didn't happen. More credible is the Nat'l Enquirer stringer's sitdown with Shelley Duvall, who moved to tiny, dusty Blanco, Tex., in 1994 after the California Northridge earthquake opened up the ground to alien creatures. Turns out that maybe Jack Torrance drove Mrs. Torrance nuts, too, 'cause Shelley is a talk-to-herself loner who sends messages to extraterrestrials by blinking her headlights and is still covering up portals in her yard that aliens can come out of. On the other hand, she's never looked better [Ed. well, in a photo in the print edition; not online]. ABC News /// Nat'l Enquirer

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
Not only was Leon Schiavi, 74, wearing a miniskirt and lady's wig into a Yorktown, N.Y., building (looking for a "shoe store," he said), but the miniskirt didn't fit, being too short to cover his low-hanging stuff. The Journal News (White Plains)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]
Once again, we don't know what this guy was accused of, but it's likely that he's not cooperating with the police. The Smoking Gun [Not Safe For Work, maybe]

Recurring Themes

Every Day Is Safety Day in Britain: (1) Essex's Dagenham Swimming Pool is very popular. New Rule: To make it easier for lifeguards, swimmers can no longer do "lengths" but rather just "widths." (2) The UK's bigfoot department store Marks and Spencer enforced its age-25 policy on a woman who tried to buy a pizza-cutter (because it has a blade; 25-and-older only). Daily Telegraph /// Derby Evening Telegraph

The Way The World Works (i.e., You Get Screwed)

The Therapeutic Glories of Physician Ownership: August 2005: Urological Associates on Iowa-Ill. border ordered 9 patient CT scans. October-November-December 2005: 121 CT scans. Intervening variable: In September 2005, it purchased its own CT scanner. Washington Post

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

Greg McKinnon (one of those Asperger's geniuses) lost his extradition case and will be shipped to the U.S. from Britain to stand trial for big-time hacking of NASA and DoD computers, but he says he deserves praise, not lockup. He's pretty sure that extraterrestrials have come with the secrets of clean fuel, but that the U.S. is covering it all up, and he tried to get to The Truth. And, Chrissie Hynde is on his side! (The fuel problem in Zimbabwe was resolved, momentarily, anyway, when a "medicine woman" named Rotina Mavhunga convinced Mugabe that she could produce unlimited gasoline for a $1m bounty (U.S. dollars only, none of that Zimbabwean stuff). She showed a "task force" a big rock out somewhere that was spewing refined diesel fuel. Last week she and her henchmen were convicted. No telling what fate befell the super-gullible "task force" members.) CBS News via WBBM (Chicago) /// South African Press Association via (Cape Town)

Good News: An ordinary blue food dye may have a tricky chemical component that can cure spinal cord injuries. Bad News: Patients may turn blue. (The lab rats did, but only for a week, but humans metabolize more slowly than rats.) Los Angeles Times

Close Enough for Gov't Work: The Nat'l Institute of Standards and Technology, testing out some ideas about "dirty bombs," had a boo-boo, but it announced last week not to worry, that it had recovered "86%" of the plutonium it spilled. Denver Post

"Accidental Rape": That's the claim by stripper Linda Naggs at a bachelor party in Melbourne, Australia, now on trial for penetrating the best man's wazoo against his will. The dildo just slipped, she said. On the other hand, asked the stripper's lawyer, what would cause the best man "to place himself in proximity to the dildo?" The Age

Squatters 1; Landlords 1: (1) In Kenai, Alaska, a conscienceless squatter won three preliminary rounds to stay put, despite dotted-i/crossed-t proof of ownership by the resident. (Fine Point of Alaskan Law: If the squatter just makes up a "lease," not signed by the "landlord," the sheriff has to regard it as valid until a court rules otherwise.) (2) Leslie Smith III, 62, Raleigh, N.C., did not have that problem. Smith (to 911): "I shot this girl who been living in my house. She won't get out. So I shot her." (Dispatcher: "Is she beyond help?") Smith: "She should be. I shot her point blank in the chest." Peninsula Clarion (Kenai) /// Raleigh News & Observer

Christine Speliotis, 42, Salem, Mass., is being sued for her role in Brandon Pereira's auto-crash injuries. The role: She failed to avoid being hit head-on by Pereira's speeding cousin (with Brandon as his passenger). Ya see, if Christine had sorta olé'd out of the way as the cousin barreled straight at her, no one would have gotten hurt. Christine was hampered by the fact that she was traveling 50 mph slower, i.e., the "speed limit," than Pereira's cousin was. Salem News

Ah, Democracy! For the Afghan elections on August 20th, the gov't plans to use 3,100 donkeys to transport ballots to the far regions that aren't accessible by trucks or even helicopters. Associated Press via Washington Post

More Sub-Prime Americans

How to tell if you need professional help: You managed to sneak a little meth powder into the cell when you were arrested, and the surveillance video shows that when it fell on the floor, you got down on all fours and licked it up. Associated Press via Houston Chronicle

Terrance Dancy, 20, and Cortez Richardson, 28, were arrested in East St. Louis, Ill., after a home invasion that turned into an 11-victim hostage crisis. Using a little Stockholm Syndrome thinking, the victims suggested the perps exchange clothes with two better-dressed victims so they wouldn't look so much like perps, and then they'd all walk out together and tell the cops that the perps had already escaped. Movies arrange clever escapes like that (Inside Man, The Professional, Albino Alligator), and maybe the perps thought, "Cool!" So they all walk out together . . at which point the victims merely pointed at the perps, and cops arrested 'em. Belleville News Democrat

Jeffersonville, Ind., is quite a town. In June, Yr Editor reported that the principal city attorney was discovered with his head inside an overturned trash can, sleeping off a bender. Now we get Mr. Stephen Thompson, a night-shift janitor at the county gov't building, caught on video peeing (not peeping, peeing) directly onto workers' chairs . . five times. WLKY-TV (Louisville, Ky.)

Readers' Choice: Nicholas Sparks, 25, multitasking (holding one phone to talk, steering with his other hand, texting with his other two hands) in his flatbed tow truck in Lockport, N.Y. (towing two vehicles and carrying two others), sideswiped a car, injuring two, crashed through a fence, then into a house, then into a swimming pool. Witnesses said he was full speed all the way, right up to the splash. Buffalo News

More Things to Worry About

An official in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg was outraged about brothels' recession-fighting "all-you-can-screw" pricing (but not about the name of that bar?) . . . . . In Saudi Arabia, where they lash people for sex outside marriage, Mazen Abdul Jawad went on a TV talk show and bragged about what an alpha dog he is . . . . . Essex University in England graduated a woman with a Ph.D in figure skating . . . . . The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation put up a big highway sign in which every word, except "exit," was misspelled [photo] . . . . . In Britain's Chelmsford Crown Court, the changing-room-stall voyeur's defense (that he had a toothache and was forced to place his cheek on the floor under the stall to ease the pain) was unsuccessful. The Times (London) /// BBC News /// University of Essex press release /// Wausau Daily Herald /// Gazette-News (Colchester)

Newsrangers: James Ord, Louise Elsea, Noah Collins, Craig Dillon, Gil Nelson, Sam Gaines, Michael Ravnitzky, and Kathryn Wood, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors. And by the way, there were an awful lot of delicious stories last week, leaving Yr Editor conflicted and exhausted. Thanks to all the other Newsrangers, too.