Monday, November 30, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 30, 2009
mystifying and/or derisory news from November 21-28)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

A news leak from the Vatican's file nominating Pope John Paul II for sainthood had a high-ranking nun saying she had heard him in the next room a few times self-flagellating [No snickering!], i.e., lashing himself in remorse as bodily penance. She said he mainly did it just before ordaining bishops and priests. Daily Telegraph (London) /// BBC News [background on Catholic self-flagellation]

Pregnant Sara Foss, 39, keeps a spotless house because she doesn't want people to think she's a mooching slob, since she takes £50,000 per year ($82,000) in assistance from the government for raising her 13 kids. Nonetheless, she's adamant. If her current pregnancy does not yield twins, she'll try, try again, and again. (Bonus: Her story caused quite a stir in the British press, for the names of the first 13, which are mostly tributes to her favorite film and literary characters, such as Frodo, Morpheus, Echo, Malachai, Rogue, and Voorhes.) Daily Mail

The high-end fashion store Valentina announced that it had reached a settlement on an out-of-control tab run up by Oprah Winfrey . . 's mother (Vernita Lee of Milwaukee), who owed $155,000 as of July 2008. Their dispute came because Valentina had taken Lee to court in 2002 over a separate, $174,000 tab, but then once again extended her credit. Lee refused to pay, accusing Valentina of exploiting her absence-of-willpower disability. Journal Sentinel

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Kevin Derks, 53, Kenosha, Wis., looks like a regular guy but is actually highly irregular. He swears up and down that he has never touched, or even approached, an underage girl. It's just that his apartment is arranged as, according to one detective, a "shrine" to little girls: pictures and posters of famous girls, snapshots of clothed little girls, a bed full of stuffed toys, adolescent-sized mannequins in provocative positions, and traditional child pornography. "This was my own world," he told detectives. "I knew what I was doing. I took a gamble. It's like going to Vegas, except I lost everything. [N]ow my ass is gonna fry." Associated Press via Post Crescent (Appleton, Wis.)

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


Guilty? Randy Willgues, 32, is charged in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with stalking a woman. Akron Beacon Journal

What Randy Cliett is charged with is No Longer Weird according to News of the Weird standards. He might have tried to burglarize a business by coming in through a vent but got stuck . . overnight. The fellow who runs the delightful Weekly Vice blog has collected Cliett's previous mug shots, which are presented here for evolutionary insight. Orlando Sentinel /// TheWeeklyVice.com

Sub-Prime Americans

Michael Sampson, 41, chose to go to trial in Salina, Kan., for the crimes of littering and driving on a suspended license, but before it was over, he was facing serious felonies. When the Mafia needs to influence witnesses, they tend to do it behind the scenes, but Sampson, sitting at the defendant's table, allegedly made point-and-shoot gestures, and throat-slashing gestures, at a woman on the witness stand. KSAL Radio (Salina)

Vincent Salters, 46, "shopping" in Knoxville, Tenn., at the Shoe Show on Tuesday, impulsively grabbed seven shoes on display and fled the store, outrunning security. However, they were all "lefts." He was arrested on Wednesday when he returned to the scene of the crime (possibly to grab some "rights"). Knoxville News Sentinel

Things People Believe: (1) Kyung Song Kil was arrested in downtown Washington, D.C., after tossing two Molotov cocktails into the street, which he thought was a good way to convince the government to give him the $200 million he says it owes him for "harassment." (2) James Kromer, 36, was arrested after crashing his car into the Physicians & Surgeons Capital Corp. building in Minneapolis. He explained that he did it because the FBI was inside reading his thoughts and sending him obnoxious messages. WTTV (Washington) /// WCCO-TV (Minneapolis)

From the Clovis News Journal (Clovis, N.M.) Police Report: "The woman . . . said the 38-year-old man had come into the bathroom while she was using it and had grabbed and twisted her nose until she could hear the bones and cartilage cracking. The man was arrested for aggravated assault." Clovis News Journal [3rd item]

The Nampa, Idaho, police are looking for the man who robbed a convenience store Sunday. That's he in the surveillance video, wearing the plaid bathrobe and flip-flops. And here's this guy, who robbed the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and who appears to be . . crying. [There's no crying in bank robbery!] Idaho Statesman /// KTLA-TV (Los Angeles)

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

It's a bad year to be an animal in Nepal. Every five years, in the village of Bariyapur, Hindus behead 250,000 critters to honor Gadhimai, a goddess of power. "Thousands" of buffalo were up first. A cab driver explained to a reporter for London's Guardian: "If we want anything, and we come here with an offering to the goddess, within five years all our dreams will be fulfilled." The Guardian

Must . . Obey . . Rules: The prime minister of the south Pacific island-nation of Vanuatu was bounced from the parliament only because he had missed three consecutive sessions without bringing a note from home. (Seriously.) Parliament will elect a successor this coming week. The Times (London)

A 72-year-old pig farmer in Craigmuir, Scotland, has gone to a lot of trouble over the last seven years to protest his local council's refusal to make repairs to his home (apparently, the plumbing). Lately, he has been saving up his sewage (not the pigs' but his own) and leaving it around town, with 80 barrels' worth on reserve on his property, which bothers the neighbors more than it bothers him. BBC News [with photo of the kind of man who would save his own sewage, for years on end]

There Will Be Lashes: Twelve people were arrested in Tehran, at a wife-swapping party. (Actually, under sharia, there may also be stones!) Australian Associated Press via Sydney Morning Herald

Eyewitness News

Fox News last week dropped this bizarre slide show on us, from the ongoing Census of Marine Life (Univ. of Rhode Island/National Geographic), featuring 22 candidates perhaps for the next Aliens movie or perhaps to showcase "intelligent design" in action. [But to their mommas, they're beautiful.] Fox News

More Things To Worry About

Breast-reduction surgery . . for dogs: They are retired Labrador rescue dogs that have sagging folds of skin after years of "overbreeding," and a kennel near Brentwood, England, is springing for cosmetic surgery to improve their looks, for adoption. Daily Telegraph

It's Good to Be a British Prisoner (continued): The warden at Kirkham prison near Preston came up with a fund-raising idea: sell tickets for £1 each to the inmates, from their allowances, and the winner of the raffle gets a day off, i.e., "See ya back here tonight, OK?" (The warden changed his mind a few days later.) Daily Mail

Government-Sponsored Sex Education in Thailand: Not only do men need to always wear condoms, but the condoms must fit properly. Consequently, the government's passing out disposable paper measuring tapes (49mm width to 56mm width) (though without instructions on what 48s and 57s should do). Asia One (Singapore)

A farmer in Axedale, Australia, called firefighters to report a gas leak, but the arriving firemen immediately sensed the source: a 265-lb. sow. Said one, "I don't know what they were feeding this thing, but we certainly heard it." [Link Fixed] Sydney Morning Herald

Upon Further Review . . .

Life magazine called them 30 "dumb inventions" that had run in its pages, as dynamic breakthroughs, in the years before 1970. Dumb? All are quite remarkable, but try these for 5-star status: Curved Barrel Machine Gun (for firing around corners) /// L. Ron Hubbard's Electrometer (to detect whether tomatoes feel pain when sliced) (They do!) /// Rainy Day Cigarette Holder (a parasol over the lighted end to keep it dry) /// Cigarette Pack Holder (smoke all 20 at once) /// Cigarette Holder Built for Two /// Baby Cage (to hang the tot out the window of a high-rise, to get some fresh air) /// Beating Breasts (they look like breasts and have a "heartbeat," to help lull babies to sleep)

Editor's Notes

(1) A website called Tableseed.com, which provides e-mail birthday clubs to promote restaurants, went off-label last week for publicity and released its findings on 2,000 stories that ran on the Associated Press Strange News wire over the past 12 months, so that it could anoint (per capita) the weirdest state and the weirdest city. Winning state? You need to ask? Second, though, was New Hampshire, and third, Alaska. New York City won, followed by Lincoln, Neb., and Madison, Wis. The top two things "wrong" with this report are: (1) AP editors' ideas of "strange" are often pretty tame for us Pro Weirdos, and (2) The origin of a story depends heavily on the availability of weird-qualified AP stringers, and some locales are dry. (News of the Weird's network is so-o-o-o much better.) Tableseed.com/strange/

(2) All over the news this week was the saga of Mr. Rom Houben of Brussels, Belgium, who was in a coma for 23 years and now "says" that he was conscious the whole time but just couldn't express himself. The Pharyngula blog points out, though, that we only "know" that because an attendant guides Houben's fingers over a keyboard and somehow detects sensations on which keys Houben wants pressed to form his words. There is also the issue of whether he's responding in English or Belch—er, Flemish. Medical "miracles" (i.e., occurrences that science cannot yet explain) happen all the time, but that doesn't mean they happen all the time. The jury is still out. Daily Mail (London) [first report] /// Pharyngula

Newsrangers: Steve Dunn, Eugenia Schenecker, Eric Swanson, John Wildenthal, Tom Barker, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 23, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

Unclear on the Concept: For two years, until recently, U.S. Marines being treated at Camp Lejeune for post-traumatic stress disorder from the war were housed in thin-walled trailers close to a firing range and bomb-testing. In fine government tradition, the story only became public when a civilian contract doctor was fired for complaining about it too much. Associated Press via WNCT-TV (Greenville, N.C.)

Jury Duty Extra: Of course, the U.S. legal system is derived from English law, so here's an accused bank robber from Whitefield, Manchester, Mr. David Holyoak, 33 [and pay no attention to the impertinent editorial comment from Metro.co.uk]. Metro (London)

Coolest Parents: Sherri and Tom Milley, lawyers in Calgary, Alberta, brought their two kids' local school authorities to their knees. They actually worked out a complex legal document that frees their kids from having to do homework. Awesome! There's more to the story than that, but still –. The Globe & Mail

Chutzpah!: An ex-cop and his ex-chief filed for compensation from the city of Stoughton, Mass., after they were fired following their convictions for attempted extortion. They demand their accrued vacation time and sick leave, plus all that overtime they put in preparing to defend themselves against the extortion charges. Brockton Enterprise.

Government Failure: When the treasury was fat back during the real estate boom, the Florida legislature thought it crucially important to keep experienced bureaucrats from retiring and so passed a super-generous incentive plan that now doesn't look so good. A community college president, Ann McGee, 60, is the latest beneficiary. She makes $230,000 a year and will retire at the end of the year — for 30 days, after which she'll be back at work collecting her salary. The 30-day layoff entitles her to collect $390,000 in advance retirement pay, which only docks her original retirement pay period for 32 months. News 13 (Bright House Cable News, Orlando)

Police Blotter (from the 11-18-2009 Minneapolis Star Tribune (reporting a crime in Apple Valley on 10-13-2009): "Officers responded to a report that a man was sitting on the curb in front of his house talking to himself. When officers arrived they found a very intoxicated man who wanted officers to drive him to Washington, D.C., so that he could discuss the country's military involvement in the Middle East with President Obama. Instead he was taken to detox." Star Tribune

Update: The Dept. of Corrections police dog handlers in Powhatan County, Va., who were caught intimately fondling their best friend/colleague for as-yet-uncertain reasons (kinky? hazing? just being friendly?) [NOTW/Pro, 11-2-2009] will not be prosecuted for the obvious reason that it's against the law only to be "cruel" to animals. WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Can't Possibly Be True: For 13 years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been milking undercover work by illegal Salvadorean immigrant Ernesto Gamboa in securing drug convictions (contributing to 90 convictions and the seizure of weapons, money, vehicles, and at least 282 lbs. of cocaine). He now has a modest request: He'd like to be sponsored for citizenship. No can do, said ICE and the U.S. Attorney in Seattle. In fact, said ICE, prepare to be deported. Seattle Times

Mean Streets: Jamar Pinkney Sr., 37, of suburban Detroit is a piece of work. The mother of his 15-year-old son told Jamar that the kid had confessed to having had "inappropriate contact" with his 3-year-old half-sister. That was enough for Jamar. He took the kid to a vacant lot, had him kneel, and executed him with a single shot in the head. ABC News

Additional Newsrangers: Gary Goldberg, Dave Wickstrom, and Justin Bennett

Monday, November 23, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 23, 2009
(ludicrous and/or disquieting news from November 14-21)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

And Gen. McChrystal Thinks He Has a Tough Job: "We want [buzkashi] to become an Olympic sport," said the head of the Buzkashi Foundation, who is the promoter-in-chief of Afghans' traditional national sport. The main problem, though, is that the game is basically anarchy. One horseback rider needs to hand-carry a goat carcass the length of the field, around a flag, and back before other riders, using any tactic short of homicide, stop him. The time limits vary, and frequently the boundary lines are disrespected, sending spectators fleeing. The Foundation wants to corporatize the sport, with businessmen entertaining clients at matches like U.S. executives do in stadiums' luxury suites. USA Today

(Totally) Unclear on the Concept: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded money for bonuses (up to $3,000 each) to excellent teachers, including about 200 in Boston, but the Boston Teachers Union says the 200 can't take the cash. The union's rationale goes something like this: Oh, we're for excellence, too, but if you're basing that on whether students succeed, and thus reward their teachers, you have to understand that successful kids have had many other teachers, too. Therefore, bonuses must be given to all teachers. Boston Herald

The State of Scholarship, 2009: "Experts" at England's Leeds University, fastidiously documenting their observations, can now conclude, as cutting-edge academic research, that women seeking to attract men socially should dress baring about 40 percent of their bodies. More than that, too slutty; less than that, priggish. 40 percent. Daily Telegraph

The Way The World Works (why the African people are still dirt-poor despite the continent's rich natural resources): (1) The president of Senegal has decided the best way to help his people is to build a huge bronze statue in Dakar that celebrates "African renaissance" and is so impressive that tourists and businesses will flock to it, creating commercial opportunities. And even though he came up with the idea, President Wade selflessly is only going to take 35% of the income the site generates, in perpetuity. (2) U.S. law could not be clearer that any foreigner whom we strongly suspect of corruption affecting natural resources (conviction not necessary, just good evidence) cannot get a U.S. visa. The Justice Department has a super-compelling dossier on the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, but the State Dept. still lets him come kick back at his $35 million coastal estate in Malibu. Equatorial Guinea . . has oil reserves. BBC News /// New York Times

People want to be accepted to the best schools, so, of course there are prep courses for law school admissions tests and for College Boards. There are even prep courses on how to impress admissions officers at elite high schools and elite grade schools. Now, in New York City, there are prep courses for 3- and 4-year-olds, to get into elite kindergartens. Seriously. New York Times

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Charles Hersel, 39, was arrested in Thousand Oaks, Calif., by police who were responding to complaints from Westlake High School boys that a man was roaming the grounds offering them money if they would spit in his face. (The fee the time the police were watching was $31.) Some students said he was also offering money if they would expel even grosser bodily fluids on him. Los Angeles Times /// KEYT-TV (Santa Barbara) [mug shot]

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


Amber Foster, 21, might have called in a false rape report on her ex-boyfriend, which is what the Muncie, Ind., police are charging. Or she might actually have been assaulted by the man, but if so, it was following an apparently consensual game of "Strip Yahtzee." The Star Press (Muncie)

Sub-Prime Americans

The Cook County (Ill.) Commission approved a settlement of $14,000 to janitor Mary Lait, who works in the sheriff's office and has twice thrown her back out of joint "reaching around to pick up a piece of toilet paper." Chicago Sun-Times

Chutzpah!: Mallory Ewart, 18, kindly organized a charity car wash on behalf of the family of a man killed in a hit-and-run collision in Vancouver, Wash. She raised hundreds of dollars. She presented some of it to the family. According to police, she siphoned off $500, herself, in order to post bail for her boyfriend — who is the driver accused of the hit-and-run. The Columbian

Sounds Like a Joke: The city of Salinas, Calif., 20 miles from idyllic Monterey, has a murder rate three times that of Los Angeles, fueled by feral gangs, but help is on the way. "Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield," according to a Washington Post dispatch. "This is our surge," said Mayor Dennis Donahue. Washington Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Minnesota language software company with traditional translation platforms (Spanish, German, etc.) also does English-Klingon, with the assistance of linguist d'Armond Speers, who knows of what he speaks because, in a personal test of children's legendary language-learning ability, he spoke to his newborn only in Klingon for the first three years of his life. He said he learned a lot. (Bonus: Speers never cared that much for Star Trek.) Minnesota Daily

Irv Rosenfeld, 56, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stock broker, was scheduled last week to smoke his 115,000th marijuana joint. He's one of the original Federal experimental medicinal patients in pain, allowed to buy huge quantities for 27 years. (The Federal program has been criticized for growing low-dose weed, but when you buy in Rosenfeld's quantity, that may not matter.) WTVJ-TV (Miami)

Oh, Dear! Joe Laiacona, 62, is running for the Illinois General Assembly's 40th District, from Chicago, against the open-lesbian daughter of a powerful Chicago ward boss. Laiacona, too, is gay and out. But Laiacona trumps her because he also happens to be a prominent figure in Chicago's leather community. The lady opponent complained, "We can't get a civil unions bill passed, and here's a guy who's . . . into bondage and sex slaves?" So far, Laiacona has no public position on the touchy issue of detainee torture. Chicago Reader

British actress Rita Marcalo, who has suffered a couple of epileptic seizures a year for 20 years even though she takes the best medication, believes epilepsy doesn't get enough attention from the public and so in December will give a one-woman show in which she hopes to induce her own seizure, right there on stage. She'll stop taking her meds and stare into the strobe lights to see what happens. Daily Telegraph

More Chutzpah!: At least three people were arrested in Canoga Park, Calif., when police found a sophisticated marijuana grow house with an advanced ventilation system to prevent the escape of dope scents into the neighborhood. That probably helped but did not eliminate the odor, and police got a whiff — because, for some reason, the perps had chosen a house located about 25 feet from the Topanga police station. KTTV (Los Angeles)

Inexplicable: The Readers' Choice this week was the arrests in Peru of suspects who supposedly killed people just to claim their body fat, which they could liquify and sell to international traffickers to make various cosmetics. The suspects thought the fat they had harvested could bring up to about $60,000 a bottle. [That is preposterous, given the supply curve nourished by U.S. obesity. Nothing would be better for the U.S. trade deficit than to be able to export what might be our greatest natural resource.] The Guardian (London)

Eyewitness News

Briton Jason Ripley, 39, was the toast of the Internet last week for (a) surviving an impossible injury and (b) doing it with Pythonesque style. The first thing he did when his car accidentally rammed an iron pole, completely impaling his chest, was call his boss to tell him he'd be a little late. ("I've had a bit of an accident. I'm in a spot of bother.") Daily Mail (London)

Almost as big a celebrity was Kevin McCarthy, whose home in Santa Rosa, Calif., is pictured at this link with a toppled, 90-foot-tall crane lying right in the middle of it. Oops! (No one was home, though.) Daily Mail (London)

More Things To Worry About

Asheville, N.C., physician Earl Sunderhaus is in trouble, though he was only doing his part to reduce the obesity epidemic. A patient reported him to the state medical board because he told her she was too [and apparently this is the technical term Sunderhaus used] "fat" to have another kid, and that made her feel bad. (Also, he told her she needed to get a job before getting pregnant again, instead of raising another child from the taxpayers' trough.) Citizen-Times (Asheville)

James Condren, 44, was brought to court in the Sydney suburb of Sutherland, to answer charges that he had called in bomb threats the day before to 10 different schools. Naturally, what's the first thing Condren did when he got to court? Yell "Bomb in the courthouse!" Cleared the room. Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

Who better to convince 200 young Italian women, specially selected for their beauty, that Islam is the one true way, than Col. Muammar Gaddafi? [see sexy photo of Gaddafi at link] He invited them to a posh party in Rome while he was in town for the UN food conference and lectured them for two hours. [Given Gaddafi's history, they got off light.] BBC News

Nicolas Cage filed a big lawsuit against his former business manager after finding himself in the embarrassing position of having spent money like he was the U.S. Congress or something. The business manager has fired back, saying he tried many times to tamp down Cage's spending, to no avail. He claims that Cage's purchases in 2007, alone, included three homes, 22 cars (including 9 Rollses), and 47 pieces of art. By 2008, the manager said, Cage owned 15 houses, four yachts, a Gulfstream jet, and an island in the Bahamas. New York Post

Upon Further Review . . .

Evangelical Christians seem to have a variety of indicators showing why America is headed for ruin, but Pastor Steven L. Anderson has one you may not be familiar with. We are bound for hell because men . . pee sitting down. Founding Fathers, standers. Original King James Bible authors, standers. New King James authors, sitters. Europeans, sitters. (Bonus: According to Anderson, the OKJ contains several iterations of the verb "to piss," such as "pisseth.") YouTube

Editor's Note

CORRECTION (I believe): A news story I relied on for NOTW/Pro, 10-26-2009, suggested that the Waiau, New Zealand, rabbit-carcass toss had been canceled this year as being a poor influence on young minds regarding the treatment of animals. But it says here that it was indeed held, that 70 people entered, and that Lisa Lutz, a German tourist, won it. Waikato Times via Stuff.co.nz

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Hal Dunham, Alex Courtade, Peter Hine, Kathryn Wood, Angel Rodriguez, Justin Warner, and Roger Meiners, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 16, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

Latest Religious Message: Lufkin, Tex., school teacher Pam McLaurin says the government can give her a reaming-out background check if they want, but no way will she submit her fingerprints, which the Book of Revelation says would be a bad thing. KLTV (Tyler)

Update: The Italian heavy-metal Franciscan monk, Cesare Bonizzi [celebrated in News of the Weird M070, 8-10-2008], is retiring as front man for Fratello Metallo, acknowledging that Satan made him too much of a celebrity. Reuters via Canada.com /// YouTube performance video

A turtle turned up at a Hindu temple in India's Orissa state, supposedly with markings of Lord Jagannath, meaning it's now humbly worshiped by villagers — except it might just be that whoever found the turtle made up the part about the markings so he wouldn't have to give up the rare, endangered animal. BBC News

A 12-year-old girl in Chesapeake, Va., sneezes 12,000 times a day, and neurologists are mostly stumped (with the only available remedy, apparently, being the standard, "Appear on morning network news show"). WAVY-TV (Hampton Roads, Va.)

"A man whose bowel was damaged in a motorcycle crash has been fitted with a bionic bottom that enables him to go to the toilet using a remote control," writes London's Daily Mail. The remote acts as a sphincter, opening and closing by sensor. (But, asks an NOTW Board Member, what if the remote falls into the wrong hands? Plus, he asks, can't they make a remote that'll just scratch your butt?) Daily Telegraph

Update: Michael G. Dick, 47, the man arrested in December [NOTW Daily, 1-2-2009] while naked, menacing the 88-year-old Oregon woman, until she grabbed him by the handiest appendage at her disposal and yanked, was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Gresham Outlook

Our new generation of leaders (continued): Blake Hall, 56, a St. Anthony, Idaho, deputy prosecutor and member of the national committee of one of our two major political parties, lost both posts after charges that he took a romantic break-up especially hard . . by, for example, tossing his used condoms onto his ex's lawn (19 condoms collected on 10 different dates). AlterNet.org

Without a mug shot, how can we possibly decide guilt or innocence? The Winnipeg, Manitoba, woman admitted raking her disabled boyfriend's credit card for $21,000, but she said she only did it to make him dump her because she couldn't bear to do the dumping, herself, because of his disability. As evidence, she quickly gave back all the money, which she said she had saved in order to return. As other evidence, though, she had just been on probation for stealing from another boyfriend to pay gambling debts. Winnipeg Sun

The government of the Extremadura region of Spain is the latest to take the creative approach to sex education by touting teenage (14 to 17) masturbation. "[P]leasure is in your own hands." BBC News

How to respect the spread of H1N1 virus while allowing Catholics to properly bless themselves with holy water: Instead of dipping their fingers in the church's communal pool, parishioners can run their hands under Luciano Marabese's holy water dispenser, which operates, hands-free, like a sensored restroom faucet. New York Daily News

One Minute: Wake Forest's Institute of Regenerative Medicine grows functional organs in the lab by extracting cells and doing the equivalent of putting them under a grow lamp. So far, they do rabbit organs, like bladders, but now they've had success with penises. (But, Chuck, what's the "one minute" reference to?) (Oh, that. "All rabbits with bioengineered [penises] attempted copulation within one minute of introduction [to a female rabbit.") Wired.com

Additional Newsranger: Larry Seltzer

Monday, November 16, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 16, 2009
(curious and/or absurd news from November 7-14
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But please forward this issue to your pals.)

Weekly Gold

If you were a California lifer, why wouldn't you want to be on Death Row? The condemned get individual cells, better telephone access, nicer contact-visit arrangements, more personal-property privileges — and in fact, the state budget for each is $138,000 a year (compared to $49,000 a year for all other inmates). California now has 685 on death row but has only executed 13 in the last 32 years (versus 71 who have died of causes other than execution). (As reported here two weeks ago [NOTW/Pro, 11-2-2009], one just-convicted murderer is so anxious to get there that he volunteered confessions to two more murders that no one knew about.) Los Angeles Times

More Inconsistencies About U.S. Health Insurance: (1) A Harvard Medical School study revealed that, of all the Americans who passed away last year without health insurance, 2,200 were military veterans who had served their country but did not qualify for free veterans' benefits. (2) An analyst for the pet marketing industry told the Washington Times that "hundreds" of companies now offer supplementary pet health insurance for their employees. More than a million people pay about $400 a year for coverage. (3) As part of the new labor pact agreed to by Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell to keep the trains and buses operating in Philadelphia: If the Rx is for one Viagra a day, workers' insurance will pay for one Viagra a day, no longer just the stingy "10 per month" allowance. New American Media (Pacific News Service) /// Washington Times /// Daily Finance [link from Salon.com]

Chicago firefighter-turned-arsonist Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle (so nicknamed by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass), who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2006 (served less than two) after pleading guilty to setting eight fires, was officially approved for his $50,000/year pension from the Chicago Fire Dept. Cook County Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. (euphemistically referred to as a "veteran" of "Chicago politics") concluded that Matches was off the clock when he set the fires. Chicago Tribune

The animal kingdom's most underrated intellect is . . the pig. With the completion of the pig genome, scientists who study that kind of thing remark on human-pig similarities: We're both quick learners, slow to forget things, have similar hearts, similar teeth, metabolize drugs the same way, stare at ourselves in the mirror (though for the pig, it appears to be curiosity more than vanity). Said one biologist, "I look at the pig as a great animal model for human lifestyle diseases. Pigs like to lie around, they like to drink if given a chance [and] smoke and watch TV." New York Times

A New Jersey judge overruled the police chief in the town of Manville and said prospective hunter James Cap, 46, was indeed qualified for a firearms license. Cap had last hunted while in his teens, but then had his neck broken in a high school football game and has been a quadriplegic for 30 years. His gun will be wheelchair-mounted, fired by Cap's blowing into a tube. Associated Press via Philly.com

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

David Roberts, 68, who apparently is no longer excited by Mrs. Roberts, 61, struck up online flirtations with much younger females, including one "14-year-old girl," who happened to be online-chatting with him from the next room. That is, Mrs. Roberts had discovered David's secret life and was twisting him slowly in the wind. The Welsh couple are divorcing. BBC News

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


There's never a good time for a DUI, but this is among the worst: Mr. Tracy Tredway, 43, principal of Riddle Elementary School in Argos, Ind., got his DUI arrest while driving home from a Halloween party that he attended in pink dress, heels, and wig. The Smoking Gun

Bonus: Also from The Smoking Gun, three particularly interesting chaps from its current weekly collection of mug shots. (As always, we don't know what they're charged with. And as always, it doesn't matter.) Not a People Person /// Coming to the End of a Bad Hair Year /// The Neighbor You Dare Not Disturb

Sub-Prime Americans

The partially-submerged car in this photo (on Galveston Island, Tex., so it's in salt water) is a French-built Bugatti Veyron (the world's most powerful), which the driver had just purchased for $1.25 million before momentarily losing control when surprised by a pelican flyover. Houston Chronicle

Kevin W. Dunigan, 46, was convicted of murder in Sacramento, 14 years after the fact, when DNA was matched to him while he was in prison for being a 20-year bad guy. Kevin solidified the prosecutor's case by acting as his own lawyer. The jury seemed unimpressed by his assertions that he "[ran] the country" for the last few years, that George W. Bush did "everything I told him to." (Bonus: Bush's middle name is not the classic one, but Dunigan's is.) Sacramento Bee

No Longer Weird (but still irresistible): (1) In Holtsville, N.Y., four men were arrested for soliciting prostitutes outside a massage parlor during the middle of a raid of the parlor on prostitution charges. (A female plainclothes cop was apparently so hot that the four potential johns had ignored all the squad cars and flashing lights.) (2) Lloyd Barclay, 51, knocked off the KNBT bank in Bethlehem, Pa., but left his wallet and ID on the counter. (3) Michael Noyer, 45, burglarized a house in Manchester, N.H., but left his planner and his unemployment check stub behind. (4) Inept burglar Juventino Sanchez Jr., 57, tried to hit a Highland Park, Kan., business overnight but wound up stuck, upside down, in an air-conditioning vent. Newsday /// Morning Call (Allentown) /// Manchester Union Leader /// Capital-Journal (Topeka)

Well, it's a sub-prime American deer: In Viroqua, Wis., a seven-point buck apparently lost a head-butt contest with a same-size concrete statue of a buck, staggered off, and collapsed, dead, a few yards away. La Crosse Tribune

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Government Officials Get Snippy: (1) Nepal's deputy agriculture minister, Ms. Karima Begam, miffed that a local official at a regional airport had sent only a second-string car to pick her up, slapped the poor guy in the face . . four times. (2) Chris Jackson, a city council member in Plattsburgh, N.Y., spit in the face of constituent Patrick Girard. Alcohol was involved, in that the incident occurred during a barroom analysis of the Boston Red Sox. Agence France-Presse via Google News /// Press Republican (Plattsburgh)

A team of researchers roaming the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland, looking for You-Know-Who, encountered a monstrous . . collection of golf balls, "hundreds of thousands" of them. A recent Danish Golf Association report said the balls will be there for from 100 to 1,000 years before decomposing. A UK legislator called golf balls "humanity's signature litter." CNN

Another Hardy Thief: Recently reported here was the 70ish bank robber who has to tote his oxygen tank around with him on the job [NOTW/Pro, 9-21-2009]. Now there's Shanae Harston, 19, whom police say they caught red-handed burglarizing a house in Vallejo, Calif., and who was so very pregnant that upon arrest, she immediately went into labor (and gave birth a short time later). Vallejo Times-Herald via San Jose Mercury News

If there is one thing you'd think we in Western capitals excel at, it's in having governments skilled at lying and "spinning." However, this sad report in The Times of London says the raggedy Taliban are actually vastly outperforming us, propaganda-wise, in Afghanistan. The Times

The director of the University Catholic Center at Duke University criticized his own business school's recruiting for a research study on sex-toy use by female students. Father Joe Vetter said he's worried that the study might encourage young women to "just sit around and masturbate" instead of forming relationships. Raleigh News & Observer (11-6-2009) /// WRAL-TV (update, 11-13-2009)

Eyewitness News

British soldier Shaun Clark has taken the ol' leave-no-one-behind adage super-seriously. Here he is having the name of yet another fallen UK troop from Afghanistan fighting . . tattooed on his back. Daily Mail [only about 110 out of the 232 are visible in this shot, but still–]

Mr. Lin Ma, 66, of Yuji in southern China, decided his wife had jumped on him one time too many for his drinking, and chose The Only Way Out. He is pictured here with the 8-inch nail sticking out of his head following an unsuccessful suicide attempt with a hammer. CEN/EuroPics via The Sun (London)

More Things To Worry About

A former TV weatherman, John Fredericks, had to leave his Las Vegas gig last year over some strangeness about his dog, but that's not worth sorting out because there's new strangeness: He had a brief meet-and-greet with a woman, fell in love, wouldn't stop calling her, and finally brought out the vicious-threat artillery . . before lapsing back into lovey-dovey. Fredericks must have been unaware that telephone answering machine messages are savable. KLAS-TV

Christians should love their enemies and do them good, said military veteran Dan Moss, 61, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., so after the Fort Hood massacre, with America oozing contempt for Major Hasan, Moss ordered a dozen yellow roses for the guy from a Killeen, Tex., florist. Moss's message quoted, "Koran 2: 190-3. In God's eye, and those who submit, you are a hero." Moss said he can't understand why the florist would call the FBI on him. Naples Daily News

Hyperactive Seniors: (1) London's Daily Telegraph caught up with the recent divorce of Bertie and Jessie Wood, who were 98 when the decree was granted last year. (The ex-husband died shortly afterward, and the ex-Mrs. Wood isn't doing too well, herself, but apparently the pair were certain they needed a fresh start.) (2) In Los Angeles, John Scott was arrested for tagging-vandalism. He is 74 (more than twice as old as the previous oldest arrested tagger.) Daily Telegraph /// Los Angeles Times [with mug shot]

In another sad piece, Sweetbay supermarkets of Florida has certainly freed up some space in Thanksgiving news stories. It is selling frozen pre-fried turkeys, thus probably reducing the usual number of Thanksgiving-morning house fires (and first- and second-degree burn admissions to ERs). Tampa Tribune

Upon Further Review . . .
Herewith, a major time-waster: 5½ hours of e-mail exchange between two married-to-other-people colleagues at Cornell University's business school. They may have a better sex life than you, but you're probably more careful when you click "send" on your e-mails. GuestofaGuest.com

Newsrangers: Richard Hunding, Stephen Taylor, Paul Vogt, James Hoban, Peter Swank, Sam Gaines, Peter Hine, Thomas Wyman, Hal Dunham, Kathryn Wood, Eugenia Schenecker, Sandy Pearlman, John Ellwood, Gregory Payne, and Russell Bell, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 9, 2009
(juicy and/or disturbing news from October 31-November 7)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

Solemnly communing with the Holy Spirit on the Day of the Dead (Nov. 2) worked out just swell for Jose Andrade of Des Moines, Iowa. He left the candles burning in his bathtub, leading to a minor inferno in the john, melting the tub. Des Moines Register

Good to know: Australian National University researchers have learned that male fiddler crabs lurk close to home, hoping to get the chance to protect females from intruders so that they can get rewarded, with sex. Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

David Napodano, 42, was arrested in North Naples, Fla., for exhibiting his naked self while in his truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot. When two women chose to be alarmed rather than stimulated, and called police, the best Napodano could do to explain having removed his clothes was that he was experiencing "explosive diarrhea" (but that condition always produces evidence, and none was present). WBBH-TV (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Both Bishop Rick Painter of the Cathedral of Christ the King, and his Phoenix, Ariz., neighbors, think the other's position is outrageous: Painter: Of course God approves our ringing the church bells every half-hour, 24/7. Neighbor Sam Jensen: "I can't imagine . . .." ABC News

Not Supposed to Happen: In Enid, Okla., a motorist on U.S. 81 collided with an elephant, but Becky Field, traveling on Interstate 89 in New London, N.H., was probably unimpressed. Her car collided with a boar. Associated Press via The Oklahoman /// Concord Monitor

Sneakers are getting way-too expensive: The pair that University of Central Florida basketball player Marcus Jordan wears costs $3 million. (Marcus is Michael's son, and insists on wearing Nike Air Jordans, which caused Adidas to cancel its 6-year contract with UCF.) Orlando Sentinel

It was "divine intervention," she said. The life of motorist Christine Challinor, 70, of Cheltenham, England, was spared when the tree crushed the front of her car as she was driving by. (If she'd been a few more inches along on the road, she'd be a goner, but on the other hand, genuine divine intervention would've ordered her onto an alternate route.) Daily Telegraph

Again! Just Once More! Please! A civilian riding with a South African air force aerobatic team "braced himself" but inadvertently tripped the ejector lever and was popped 100 yards straight up (and landed safely). The Guardian (London)

Did he marry the lady for love, or because he wanted a canvas on which to ply his plastic surgery trade? He's sculpting his masterpiece. The Sun (London)

And finally, a guy who knows how to get attention on the Internet. (1) Wear a Halloween outfit of a makeshift breathalyzer (with suggested location for blowing into). (2) Drink. (3) Drive. (4) Get caught (.158 actual reading). (5) Make sure there's a mug shot. The Smoking Gun

Monday, November 09, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 9, 2009
(juicy and/or disturbing news from October 31-November 7)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

Attorney Lawrence Reich, 69, finally threw in the towel, giving back his lifetime New York government pension that he "earned" by working a loophole to claim full-time-employee status in five school districts — simultaneously — while also operating a private practice. Several lawyers had nibbled at the loophole, though Reich was the biggest biter, having one year clocked 1,271 days. ABA Journal

Hear the Scranton (Pa.) Catholic Diocese's confessions: First, Father Edward Lyman, during an early Mass, used his personal computer to display information on an upcoming charity drive . . and accidentally clicked on photos of four bare-chested young men posing provocatively. Then, the Diocese disavowed Father Virgil Tetherow's behavior for offering Mass at an off-message church in York and also too-aggressively protesting at a Planned Parenthood clinic, especially after he was discovered to have pleaded guilty 4½ years ago to an offense that was originally child porn possession but downgraded in a plea deal. And yet another Diocese priest, Father Robert Timchak, waived a preliminary hearing last week on charges of having child porn on his computer. Times-Tribune (Scranton) /// York Daily Record /// Pocono Record

Why "government" is unpopular: On the one hand, it can't manage to keep tabs on predatory mortgage lenders, or compile a useful no-fly list, or find Jaycee Dugard in sex offender Phillip Garrido's house. But the government does other things very well . . . like catching $200 tax cheats (in Detroit) and bringing its "A" game to the job of shutting down a massage parlor (in Harrisburg, Pa.). Detroit News /// Associated Press via CBS News

What does a sect do when the only person with a direct line to the Lord dies? The Church Universal and Triumphant of Bozeman, Mont., still has an executive board, but it has been busy disapproving would-be successors to the late Jesus-channeling Elizabeth Claire Prophet (finding the pretenders insufficiently omniscent). The Church still has "thousands" of followers, it says, despite the hit it took in 1990 when the world failed to end as Prophet warned. (The several well-stocked, concrete-and-steel shelters inside a mountain north of Yellowstone Park are still ready, just in case.) The most exciting work ahead for the board? Someone gets the "pleasure" of transcribing 22,000 hours of audio and video narratives that Prophet left behind. Associated Press via KTVB-TV (Boise)

Ouija Warriors: Which of these characters more deserves Absurdity Gold? The UK firm ATSC Ltd. is getting quite rich selling worthless dowsing rods that purportedly point to explosives (at up to $60,000 a rod, mostly to the underdeveloped countries' underdeveloped police forces). The other contestant is the Iraqi police commander, who loves the rods and ridicules the Pentagon for denouncing them — and is embarrassment-proof, in that when the device fails test after test before his very eyes, he attributes it to testers' lack of "training." The commander would ordinarily just be silly, but these magic wands are the first line of "protection" at 400 Baghdad checkpoints. Sniffer dogs would be much more effective, but the commander recoils at the thought of running a "zoo." (Physics sage Bob Park said the Pentagon, too, fell for the devices in the early 1990s but was spared public humiliation because the project was "classified.") New York Times

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Officer Alan Vigiard, 45, had full access to the evidence room in Adams, Mass., including the child porn, and he knew enough to know when nobody would bother him there, but he didn't know about the surveillance camera, which caught an "unidentified" seated man at the edge of the frame, hand flapping. The hand just happened to have the exact tattoo that Vigiard has. Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield)

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


Clinton Watkins, 23, may or may not have shot his girlfriend, as Chicago police charge, but it's beyond a reasonable doubt that he needs fashion advice. WLS-TV

Sub-Prime Americans

He couldn't see this coming? A Portage, Ind., motorist blew a blood-alcohol reading of about .30 but told the state trooper that that couldn't be right because, "Dude, I do this every night. I'm straight up." Arrested for DUI was Mr. Zachary Duis. ChicagoBreakingNews.com

Update: The Jericho, Ark., police department was already reeling, as you may recall [NOTW M130, 10-4-2009], for promiscuously ticketing motorists, including the local fire chief, who was then shot by a cop in the courtroom when the chief complained. The latest: One of its squad cars was repo'd for being behind on payments, and case evidence that shouldn't have been in the car went missing. WPTY-TV (Memphis) /// NOTW M130 (second story)

Least Competent Criminals: (1) Andrew Burwitz, 20, was arrested for a drive-by shooting that failed because Andrew forgot to roll down his window before firing. (2) Calvin Hoover, 21, is just the latest fellow to call 911 to report that his illegal marijuana was stolen (but it took a while for the dispatcher to understand anything because Calvin, possibly inebriated, kept putting her on hold while he vomited). Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wis.) /// Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.)

Kane Kellett, 24, is facing multiple charges, which won't be addressed until Kane serves 170 more days in jail for contempt of court, which he received because he could not resist taking the witness oath in court by raising only the middle finger of his right hand. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Update: The Large Hadron Collider, which basically will attempt to recreate the "big bang" (and destroy the universe, according to one theory), and which was shut down for further work last year but which is set to finally launch in December, will be delayed another few days . . . because a bird dropped a piece of bread through the LHC's outside grill. The Register (London) /// New York Times (10-13-2009)

Peter Koenig, 46, a Buddhist convicted of bank robbery in Werl, Germany, will not be permitted prison visits from his cat, officials ruled, despite the fact that the cat is actually his mother, reincarnated. Daily Telegraph (London)

The Austin American-Statesman reported that a local hospital official had warned an otherwise-healthy potential kidney donor that giving one up would risk his insurance coverage because it would leave him with a "pre-existing condition," i.e., only one kidney. Austin American-Statesman

Attempted rewrite of a law of physics fails: He didn't steal Beatles' music to sell online . . . because he's actually selling "different" music, which just sounds like Beatles' music, but which he recorded by "psycho-acoustic simulation" of the original. Hank Risan thought this was a brilliant strategy, and he paid lawyers to argue it with straight faces in court. The judge, after rubbing his eyes once or twice, ruled against him. Wired.com

And the week before last in Mount Airy, N.C., birthplace of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for Mayberry . . . there was a quadruple homicide. Associated Press via USA Today

Eyewitness News

In a Tampa jail, an inmate went nuts and attacked a lone guard on desk duty, and had him in a lethal choke hold, but the guard was well-liked, and five inmates beat down the attacker. Here is video of the attack and rescue . . . and alarming mugshots of the rescuers. Tampa Tribune

The next time you're tempted to complain about all this health-care mess, think instead of this cringe-inducing collection of surgical instruments of years gone by. Wired.com Raw File

More Things To Worry About

What's worse than temporary total amnesia brought on by sex (so that you don't even remember how good it was)? (It's called Transient Global Amnesia, and you can get it by any intense activity or injury. (Answer: Maybe this is worse: a woman who just got married and discovered that she's allergic to her husband's sperm. Burning, itching, swelling, blistering!). CNN /// Daily Telegraph (London)

Small-Town Police Records: (1) Findlay, Ohio ("A woman called the police early Saturday morning during an argument with her husband after he claimed that the woman's daughter performed oral sex on him, and the daughter was better at it"). (2) Steamboat Springs, Colo. ("Police were called to a report of a suspicious incident in the 2900 block of West Acres Drive where a woman reported that she found feces in her toilet that she did not think she put there.") (3) West Union, S.C. ("When the male victim went outside to avoid further assault, he told officers, a naked [Daria] Woods ran outside to attempt to attack him again, but ultimately grabbed his keys from him and walked back inside, where she began to touch herself with a jar of mayonnaise and a flashlight."). The Courier (Findlay) /// Steamboat Pilot (Steamboat Springs) (5:38 p.m.) /// Daily Journal/Messenger (Seneca, S.C.)

Ms. Cha Sa-soon, 68, finally passed the written exam for her driver's license in Jeonju, South Korea, on her 950th try. Now, it's on to the driving test! Agence France-Presse via Google News

Upon Further Review . . .

On sale now, for drivers tired of having to lean over the passenger seat to reach the keyboard, the Laptop Steering Wheel Desk. Amazon.com

Newsrangers: Sandy Pearlman, Rob Steiner, Tom Barker, Jerry Maple, Don Peck, Jennifer Norcross, Sam Gaines, Peter Hine, Paul Krause, Dave Melcher, Hal Dunham, Bruce Leiserowitz, Peter Wardley, Kathryn Wood, Jamie Wells, David Gregory, Lucien Jacquet, Lynn Berdan, Debra Taylor, Thomas Mills, and Cindy Hildebrand, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 2, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

He just knocked off his fourth southern California bank in two months: a 70-ish gentleman, well-dressed . . . and on oxygen, carrying his tank around with him. KSWB-TV (San Diego)

Venezuelan Mega-Church: As many as 30 percent of the country's paisanos have gone to meetin' at a Maria Lionza event, which a New York Times dispatch calls a "malleable" religion (creating new, useful spirits and rituals, meaning if one thing doesn't work, think of another one). Some of the devout "lie within [elaborate chalk designs on the ground] awaiting cleansing before spirits possess them. Then they prick their faces with razor blades" or "writhe in apparent agony, or ecstasy . . ." And they dance on burning embers and put them in their mouths. New York Times

The Casket Store in Hamilton, Ontario, has vowed to seal up those lockets customers bought (to carry around their loved ones' ashes) but which started leaking specks into the mashed potatoes. Hamilton Spectator

Where we're headed: Britain's Watford Borough Council has banned parents from the playground (unless they have "play ranger" licenses). They have to watch their urchins play from behind a fence. Daily Telegraph

A delightful story of Poland's court system: It took a year and a half, but a man convicted of damaging a neighbor's plastic bucket (value €3) ($4.40) has been exonerated. Along the way, he "proved" his innocense with video of the neighbor continuing to use the bucket as before, but the neighbor "proved" his own case by bringing in an "expert" to examine the bucket (and he said it was quite possible that the bucket was damaged). In the end, justice. Polskieradio.pl [link from Arbroath.blogspot.com]

A free-lance feminist avenger is loose in British Columbia, to the dismay of Anthony Clark, 22, the latest victim, who is minus one testicle from a random kick. The Province (Vancouver) via Calgary Herald

It says here, anyway, that a woman in Madison County, N.C., tried to burn down her ex's house, and got the fire started, but she didn't count on his plastic spittoon being full, and melting, dousing the flames. News-Record & Sentinel (Marshall, N.C.)

In Somalia, where the average male's life expectancy is 47, Ahmed Mohamed Dhore is not an average man, being age 112. He recently married a 17-yr-old girl. It was his sixth marriage (but the first in about 75 yrs). "I believe that I can give her the kind of love that not any young man can offer." Agence France-Presse via Google News

Update: For the fourth time, Florida investigators have shown that a forensic dog-handler from the 1990s was probably just making up his testimony that put a couple dozen people away. This is the guy from News of the Weird in August, who claimed his dog had miracle smelling ability — until a judge actually tested the mutt in court and found it a disgrace to dogs everywhere (olfactorily speaking). This fourth poor schnook has been in lockup for 25 years. Orlando Sentinel /// News of the Weird M122 [lead story]

Florida's Vampire-American community is apparently no more dangerous than a bunch of furries, taking only "energy" (no blood) from others, and then only with their permission. [Actually, Yr Editor is perpetually a quart low on energy and maybe needs to attend the monthly Vampire gathering in Tampa.] Dentist Julio Hernandez of Miami is cleaning up, though, at $150 a pop implanting serviceable fangs (even though they're hardly strong enough to break skin). Miami Herald

Monday, November 02, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 2, 2009
(alarming and/or delicious news from October 24-31)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved.)

Weekly Gold

Sex-accessory sellers are discovering the rich market for environmentally-pleasing lubricants, vibrators, and whips, according to a Time magazine report. Good-bye, lubes that contain the same ingredients as antifreeze; plastic (phthalate-made) vibrators; leather whips. Hello, vegan condoms, organic lubes, mahogany vibrators (not run by batteries but . . . "hand-cranked"). (If operated "by hand," there will be no battery "emissions.") Time

What happens when a severely-disturbed, multiple-personalitied, laser-beam-controlled patient meets a psychologist who believes every word of it but actually taunts her into "recovering" even more "memories" of Satanic cults, etc.? And even furnishes dark glasses to shield the client from those menacing lasers. The Minnesota psychologists' board investigated, and was properly appalled, but did not pull the shrink's license. Star Tribune [with grandmotherly photo of the shrink]

Why is this a crime? Five Los Angeles homeowners, nearing foreclosure, were charged with kidnaping, beating, and torturing two agents who had sold them loan-modification services that proved worthless. KTLA-TV

The latest model doll from the Mattel Barbie collection: the nattily-dressed Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken (not a parody, a genuine Mattel). Due April 2010, but pre-orders accepted. Entertainment Earth [link from ToplessRobot.com]

Five Virginia Department of Corrections officers were charged with intimately fondling a K-9 dog. The investigation continues, and we don't know yet if it was just kinky, or a hazing, or as one report had it, a belief that the dog would be more receptive to training if he was made to feel good. Star Exponent (Culpeper, Va.)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Jaime Aguirre, 42, Brimfield, Ohio, stopped on a traffic violation, also happened to have, police said, four counts' worth of child porn, but even more disturbing, he had a stash of mammograms and x-rays of females that police believe he used for sexual gratification. Plain Dealer (Cleveland) [with mug shot]

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


Robert Rousseau, 37, a teacher at Christian Academy of San Antonio, Tex., allegedly formed a "secret society" that is "geared to help mankind," and gave two of his 8th-grade girls the honor of joining (with a third girl declining). According to the girls, sex was involved. "He said" versus "she said (and she said and she said)." We'll have to look at the mug shot to see who's telling the truth. San Antonio Express-News via Houston Chronicle

Sub-Prime Americans

Latest male confrontation about something or other but which is obviously just about comparative penis size: Scott Elder, 24, and Brian Matison, 24, started arguing over a mis-dialed text message, which naturally led to a fistfight in a parking lot, and from there, Matison was hospitalized with a gunshot wound, and Elder is in jail. [LINK CORRECTED] Savannah Morning News [mug shot of Elder appearing quite satisfied with himself]

Homeless (but not friendless): Rodney Bolton's new pal is a ferret that he shoplifted in Jacksonville Beach and stuffed down his pants. People chased him, but he swung his new friend at them and was arrested. WJXT-TV (Jacksonville)

Sub-Prime (Alleged) Criminals: (1) Matthew McNelly, 23, and Joe Miller, 20, Carroll, Iowa, charged with burglary and being so unimaginative that their "disguise" was to paint their faces (badly) with black Magic Markers. [classic mug shots] (2) Another robber who got things in the wrong order: Tried to armed-rob the Taco Bell in Haverstraw, N.Y., and then walked into the manager's office and asked for a job application. (3) Gary Ensor's car got stuck on railroad tracks near Baltimore-Washington airport, necessitating a Plan B (steal another), but he muffed four consecutive car-theft attempts over the next hour or so. KCCI-TV (Des Moines) /// Journal News (White Plains) /// Washington Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

The Guardian reported that British hospitals are now allowing nurses to create patient care plans to assist people who purposely cut themselves. Better to have a health-care pro alongside when self-slicing. Nurses can make sure the blade is sterile, stanch the bleeding, dress the wound, etc. The Guardian

A corporation squirms: Two Wisconsin men filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo for violating their patent on purified water, asking damages of $1.26 billion. The lawsuit was properly served on the company's registered agent in North Carolina, but the PepsiCo bureaucracy buried it, and PepsiCo never responded. Judgment for the men. National Law Journal via Yahoo

Democracy is expensive: The 2006 Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Carl Romanelli, not only lost big but is being charged $80,000 for trying. He (his "supporters") turned in 99,000 signatures to get him on the ballot, but in the end, at least 40,000 were bogus, and thus he never should have been listed. Republicans wanted him on (to dilute Democratic votes); Democrats didn't. Hence, Republican operatives almost certainly helped pad the total, yet only Romanelli (and his lawyer) are being billed, and the state Supreme Court has ruled. By day, Romanelli is an environmentally concerned auto mechanic with modest assets. Philadelphia Inquirer

Billy Joe Johnson, 46, a white supremacist convicted of murder in Santa Ana, Calif., begged for the death penalty — because death row is pretty calm compared to "prison," and by the time his death-penalty appeals run out, he'll be too old to raise hell anymore, anyway. To impress the judge, Johnson confessed to two additional murders that no one has discovered yet. Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News

Only in Ireland: A debate is roiling the Irish Parliament over lowering the blood-alcohol reading for presuming drunkenness. Opposed: MP Mattie McGrath, who pointed out that a lot of drivers are "jumpy" and actually benefit by a little nip before getting behind the wheel. The Guardian

Eyewitness News

From a surveillance camera of a store in downtown Naples, Italy: an actual Mafia hit, gunshots to the head, right on the sidewalk. Daily Mail (London)

Joel Waul set himself up for post-partum depression, as he just sold his five-year obsession (to a Ripley's museum): a nearly-five-ton rubber-band ball. Miami Herald

Modern Smuggling: If you need to sneak 14 royal pythons and 10 albino geckos into Norway, you duct-tape them to your body and hope for the best, and here's what you look like. (The best didn't happen. He aroused suspicion when customs agents found a tarantula in his carry-on.) Daily Mail (London)

More Things To Worry About

God As Micromanager: David Silva, 30, was arrested for breaking a car window at Freedom Dodge in Lexington, Ky., after telling a security guard that God needed him to steal a Charger. [mug shot] On the other hand, even divine management could not save the Riverview Community Bank in Otsego and Anoka, Minn., which had explicitly touted not only its financial safety but its commitment to prayer. FDIC took it over last week. Too many unholy real estate loans. WLEX-TV (Lexington) /// Star Tribune

Headlines from nowhere: "No Major Incidents Reported in West Tennessee This Morning" (Jackson Sun, Jackson, Tenn., 10-29-09). "Burglary Reported in North America" (Daily Register, Harrisburg, Ill., 10-28-09). Jackson Sun /// Daily Register

The latest gun violence fatality in Buffalo, N.Y.: the 23-year-old Mr. Mister Rogers. That's his name. Buffalo News

Upon Further Review . . .

Chinese scientists have reported that female Cynopterus sphinx fruit bats "prolong sex" with their mates by performing fellatio. Good to know. New Scientist

Editor's Note

It's about time that Yr Editor settles into a fixed format for these weekly posts, and this looks like it. I'll do what I believe are the best stories in various categories, in 23 bites, and that will be the version of Pro Edition that is distributed to any of my syndication clients that want it instead of (or in addition to) the standard News of the Weird column. That will be posted on Mondays, on WeirdUniverse.net and on NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com, and distributed to the Google Groups ProWeird list on Mondays. (It will not be distributed to the Google Groups NewsoftheWeird list, which is reserved for those who wish the standard News of the Weird column, on Sundays.) But then, on Tuesday mornings, I will do a Pro Edition overrun, of stories that I would have been running in Pro Edition but now cannot because of my desire to shorten the Monday version for syndication clients. The title of the Tuesday post will probably just be Pro Edition / Still More Things to Worry About. The news boundary for both posts will be the previous 8-day period from Saturday to Saturday, as now. The Tuesday post, as well, will appear on WeirdUniverse.net and the blogspot page and will be mailed to the Google Group ProWeird. As always, if you need to unsubscribe from the ProWeird group, please follow the link at the bottom of every ProWeird mailing. If you need to change your address in a Google Group, unsubscribe the old address and subscribe again with your new address. Over and out.

Newsrangers: Brian Shogren, Brian Hennefeld, Nick White, Matt Rushing, Stephen Taylor, Kathryn Wood, John Ellwood, Hal Dunham, John Votel, Tom Barker, Matt Hillman, Michelle Ihringer, Kiki Yablon, Jonah Pezeshki, Craig Ellis, Jonathan Austin, and Sam Gaines, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors