Monday, December 21, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 21, 2009
(alarming and/or delicious news from December 12-19)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Health Care Follies (continued): (1) In Scotland, veterinarians felt sorry for "Eskimo," the reindeer, who was constantly bullied by his zoo mates because his "retained testicle" blocked hormones and made him less masculine. Hence, he has received the world's first reindeer laparoscopic surgery, to remove the testicle from his abdomen and set the chemicals free again. UK vets do 600,000 abdominal surgeries a year on pets. (2) One of the riskier jobs in the world is "interpreter" on U.S. payrolls in Iraq (about 8,000 Iraqis have been hired; 360 killed, 1,200 wounded). Thus, the U.S. buys life insurance on them for their families, but since the plan is administered through private U.S. companies, many claims get held up by company finger-waggers, looking to save money, according to a Los Angeles Times-ProPublica investigation. The companies won't pay unless they see documentation of exactly how the interpreter died. U.S. Army officers told the Times, basically, We don't always have documentation. It's a damn war zone! The Courier (Tayside and Fife) /// Los Angeles Times

Things Government Is/Isn't Good At (continued): Back in the U.S., controllers can direct a drone airplane halfway around the world to deliver a bomb on a certain house within the 168,000 square miles of Iraq (well, mostly, except for the collateral damage–), but six years later haven't gotten around to encrypting the signals from the drone, thus allowing Iraqi insurgents to pinpoint drone locations by using off-the-shelf computer programs like SkyGrabber ($25.95 from Softpedia.com). (And Wired.com's Danger Room blog reports the problem might even be more serious than that.) Wall Street Journal /// Wired.com

Bad Week for Justice: Two inmates who between them had spent 63 years in the slammer received "Oops, My Bad"'s from the justice system when DNA overcame obviously-shaky eyewitness ID on one and ridiculous hair-fiber "evidence" (perpetually overrated by forensic "experts") on the other. James Bain, released 35 years after a jury of Florida's finest declared it beyond any reasonable doubt that he raped a kid, said, Ehh, "Everybody had a job to do. The police needed a suspect. The prosecutor needed a conviction. The wheels turned." St. Petersburg Times [quoted in the print edition; quote missing from the archived online edition] /// Washington Post

"Old Media" / "New Media": In New Bedford, Mass., the public library imposed its maximum fine for a book that was 99 years overdue: $361.35. In Hayward, Calif., a 13-year-old girl over-data'ed during one month on her dad's cell phone, and he was billed $22,000. Boston Globe /// KTVU-TV (Oakland)

Sounds Like a Joke: U.S. surgeon Mark Weinberger, who had been on the lam for five years avoiding a flood of malpractice lawsuits, was spotted in Italy and about to be captured. However, rather than face justice, he tried to check out by stabbing himself in the throat, but as befitting an incompetent surgeon, he missed the key artery and is now in custody. The Guardian (London)

And another: The Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in Norfolk, England, has lowered the water level in its giant aquarium for Christmas because the big turtles (herbivores) are getting their annual holiday treat of brussels sprouts. Officials know from experience that if they don't lower the water level, the gas bubbles from the powerful turtle emissions will raise the level enough to trigger the emergency tank-flooding buzzers. Daily Telegraph

It's Good to Be a British Criminal (continued): Three knife-wielding home invaders burst in on businessman Munir Hussain, his ill wife, and their three children, forced them to the floor, and enconstipated them with fear, but Hussain eventually gained the upper hand, chased them away, and beat one with a pole and a cricket bat. Hussain got 2½ years' hard time. The burglar (the one who got caught) got probation. The Independent

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

A female art teacher at W.T. White High School in Dallas, Tex., called the police on her student, Martin Guerrero, 17, whom she caught in the middle of class in full masturbatory mode. As she approached, he "began to moan and said 'aye mami,'" and kept right on going. Dallas Morning News

Japan Today reported that truck driver Yuuki Oshima, 22, was arrested for a November 19th incident in which he allegedly urinated though the mail slot in a woman's apartment door. Police said Oshima told them he did it out of unrequited love, that "I absolutely went crazy for her the first time I saw her." Japan Today

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


Jason Burrelli, 29, was arrested in Tampa on a marijuana-possession warrant (from April). If you can get a close-up on the lower part of his whole-head tattoo, you'll see that it reads in script (seriously): "Everything happens for a reason." Indeed. St. Petersburg Times

People Different From Us

James Snell, 27, got a 10-year sentence as the wheel man for a gang of bank robbers when a witness noted that the getaway car had James's personalized license plate J4 MES. Daily Telegraph

Bad Lawyers! Bad! (1) Memphis trial lawyer Mark Lambert was charged with biting off part of a man's nose in a men's room fight, coming to the aid of two other men who were allegedly monopolizing a stall for non-excretory purposes. (2) Aaron Biber, in line to become president of the Minnesota Bar Association, was arrested for alleged sexual assault on an underage boy. Commercial Appeal /// Star Tribune

Over-the-top DJs at WFLZ-FM in Tampa, attempting to deep-fry a turkey on the air, set up a fryer in the station's van and helicopter-lowered a turkey into it. (If things had turned out well, the story wouldn't be here.) St. Petersburg Times

A clumsy New York City hit man killed three, apparently for a drug debt, but botched his escape and is no longer with us. First, while running away, he tripped over his baggy pants and fell, and was thereby forced into Plan B, which was the fire escape, but he fell three stories and landed "very dead," according to a woman on the ground. New York Daily News

Russell Vanderwerf, 44, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms official, faced several charges after making himself at home in a Residence Inn in a New Orleans suburb. Police said Vanderwerf, among other things, modified a room door to install a glory hole padded with duct tape. Times-Picayune

Recurring Theme: Comes now ex-South Dakota state representative Ted Klaudt (and currently long-time-to-be resident of the state corrections department after a rape conviction), who warned in a formal notice to the Associated Press and other media outlets that any use of the name "Ted Klaudt" without his permission would cost them $500,000 each time, for copyright violation. Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Holiday gift suggestion from the Lloyd Platt law firm (specialty: divorce) in London: vouchers for a half-hour consultation. Cost £125 (compared to £170 street price). Agence France-Press via The Independent

Defining Academia Down: (1) A math professor at London's Royal Holloway College published a formula (with square roots!) for when to turn, and how sharply, to squeeze into any parallel parking space. (2) A professor at James Cook University in Australia, experimenting on 65 medical students, determined that it's almost twice as painful to remove a Band-Aid slowly than quickly. Daily Telegraph /// Australian Broadcasting Corp. News

Land-challenged Singapore is now down to one working cemetery, having already imposed burial limits (e.g., after 15 years, the body comes up) and "columbarias" (warehouses for urns). Next: Die in Singapore, get buried in . . New Zealand! New York Times

Left-wing radicals were convicted in Turkey (39 of them, at least, out of 1,223 originally charged) after a trial that lasted, all told, 27 years. The 39 were sentenced to life in prison for trying to topple the government in 1980. (NATO's been saying that Turkey should do something about that legal system.) BBC News

Australian jeweler Colin Burn announced plans to create the world's most luxurious personal vibrator (made of smooth platinum, with 1,500 diamonds). He thinks it'll retail for about a million bucks, give or take. Forbes

Eyewitness News

Jude Stringfellow of Oklahoma apparently won the dog custody battle described in News of the Weird in March [NOTW M102, 3-22-2009] and now owns Faith, the amazingly nimble two-legged dog. Los Angeles Times /// FaithTheDog.info

Jamie Cap is the quadriplegic fellow in Pro Edition [11-16-2009] who was judicially granted a gun permit so he could go hunting. He's pictured here with his wheelchair-mounted rifle and the tube he blows into to discharge it. Associated Press via YouTube [link from Nothing to Do With Arbroath blog]

More Things To Worry About

More "Intelligent Design": Nicholas Coke, of Pueblo, Colo., just celebrated his first birthday, but he wouldn't know how to celebrate it at any age because he has no . . no . . brain. All babies born with nothing at the end of their brain stem die right away, but not Nicholas. He's really a shell of a human being: nothing works. (Poor-taste comment on Fark.com: At least he's immune from zombies.) KOAA-TV (Colorado Springs)

Truck Spill: An 18-wheeler ran off the road on Interstate 24 in Nashville, spreading its cargo of adhesive all over the road. Dozens of drivers . . were stuck in traffic. WSMV-TV (Nashville)

Upon Further Review . . .

Here, for your Christmastime pleasure, is a 20-slide show of "caganers," which are, to refresh your memory of the NOTW story from last Christmas [NOTW M088, 12-14-2008], the ubiquitous icons that have populated most Nativity scenes in northeast Spain's Catalonia region for the last 300 years or so. "Caganers" are "always portrayed with pants down answering a call of nature (and often so obscured in the scene as to popularize where's-waldo-type guessing by children). The origin of the caganer (literally, "pooper") is unclear, but some regard it merely as symbolic of equality (in that everyone has bowel movements). Catalonia is now home to artists who craft statuettes of religious figures poised to relieve themselves, and the franchise extends to renditions of sports figures and celebrities (and even a squatting President Bush). One family in Girona province sells about 25,000 a year, according to a November 2008 dispatch in Germany's Der Spiegel." Daily Telegraph (London) /// Der Spiegel

Editor's Note

Pro Edition will not appear next week but will return bright and early on Monday morning, January 4, 2010. The standard News of the Weird column will be published as usual.

Newsrangers: Gary Hammond, Blake Palmer, Tom Barker, Rich Pevey, Pete Randall, Hal Dunham, and Becky Nelson, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
December 14, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

Still More Things to Worry About

Theodore Sypnier is about to be released from prison, and Buffalo, N.Y., is in a tizzy. "Mr. Sypnier is the personification of evil and should be removed from civilized society permanently, until the day he dies," said the local prosecutor. Sypnier has a long rap sheet as a child molester, yet is unrepentant. Nothing about himself needs changing, he says. (Bonus: He's 100 yrs old.) (Double Bonus: At least Sypnier didn't murder anyone, as this 98-year-old woman allegedly did.) Buffalo News /// Associated Press via Fox News

Update: Your Editor has reported before on the baby blessings at the Sri Santeswar temple in India's Karnataka state, in which good health and good luck will be dispensed to tots (mostly under age 2) who get tossed from the top of the 30-foot-high building. They always manage to catch the kids, but opponents are on the verge of having the ritual banned. Daily Telegraph (London)

Yitzhak Ganon, 85, finally went to see a doctor, in Petach Tikva, Israel, because of a life-threatening infection. It was his first doctor visit in 65 years, since he once had a bad experience (in Auschwitz, Germany, when Dr. Joseph Mengele removed one of his kidneys without anesthesia). Spiegel Online

Fine Points of the Law: Fast food restaurants can still keep mobility-scooter people out of the drive-thru lanes, on safety grounds, even though Ms. Ariel Wade, a 60-ish former stripper with a rough edge to her, disagrees [on the video]. City Pages (Minneapolis) /// Dlisted.com [video]

Gerald Cellette Jr., 44, accused of running a $53 million Ponzi scheme in Minnesota, must've had a sense of doom at the charges. He was found knocking on the door of a judge's chambers in Minneapolis, ready to go to prison, i.e., pre-arrest, pre-plea, pre-judgment, pre-sentence. Star Tribune

The District of Calamity: The D.C. Jail is so unsecured that guards just recently found a handgun lying around and have concluded that it has probably been lying around since 2003, when it was stashed as part of a notorious scheme in which guns were smuggled to inmates, who agreed to shoot themselves, in order to set up a big damages payout from the District. Washington Post

Here is the Med-ucation Blog's 25 Oddest Objects Ever Eaten (by Humans), and it looks like a pretty good job (and not a slide show!). Med-ucation

Daniel Shilts Jr., 36, Waldo, Wis., was sentenced (again) for DUI, but this one got him hard time, in that he pressure-peed the back of an officer's head in the squad car. Sheboygan Press via New York Daily News

Additional Newsrangers: Thomas Goodey, Jimmy Atkinson

Monday, December 14, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 14, 2009
(mordant and/or stupefying news from December 4-12)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The power of personal belief continues to trump common sense. A U.S. Treasury agent told a reporter that many more deluded people continue to believe in all sincerity that, to get out of debt, they can merely compose their own "private offset bonds" or "bond promissory notes" and send them off to a grateful Bank of America et al. It never occurs, even, to ask why the sellers of the seminars and guidebooks on how to do these thing accept only cash. One guy who used such a "bond" on a federal tax lien was hauled into court by IRS but patiently explained to the judge that the main problem here was that "your clerks may not be familiar with these type of instruments and do not know how to handle them." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Hustler creator Larry Flynt was in court last week testifying against his nephews Jimmy Flynt and Dustin Flynt for producing pornography under the family name. Larry said their product didn't measure up to the exquisite quality of porn that consumers have come to expect from "Flynt." Explained Larry, they're "focusing on the boob element, so to speak. I just think that's sort of passé" Similarly(?), the world-famous Lincoln Center (for the Performing Arts in New York City) formally threatened litigation against the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Facility in Brookhaven, Miss. (pop. 9,800), for referring to the facility locally as the "Lincoln Center." Los Angeles Times /// Daily Leader (Brookhaven)

Things Government Is/Isn't Good At (continuing series): The SEC couldn't catch Bernard Madoff, but IRS nailed Rachel Porcaro, who makes $19,000 a year cutting hair, which IRS auditors said was too little taxable income for her demographic. (She and her kids live in her parents' house, but in that case, IRS said she paid the parents below-market rent and therefore shouldn't have claimed the kids as dependents. So, she's toast. IRS levied her the equivalent of a year's wages.) And while many people had their time wasted at an airport last week, pulled out of line for random searches, someone at the Transportation Security Administration accidentally posted TSA's entire airport screening procedures manual online (leading, of course, to the totally implausible reassurance by the agency that no harm was done). Seattle Times /// ABC News

And while state and local government employees (the people who most affect Americans' quality of life) get laid off and furloughed, with consequent reduction of services, the number of federal employees making $100,000-plus salaries has rocketed up (e.g., Defense Department, from 1,800 such employees in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009; Transportation Department, from 1 person making $170,000-plus in December 2007 to 1,690 in June 2009). (And the numbers don't even include overtime or bonuses.) USA Today

Taking a break from the world's other crises, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education last week issued a major policy pronouncement: The "mythical status" of the hymen "has caused far too much harm for far too long," and from now on, it shall be known not as the hymen but as the "vaginal corona." The Local (Stockholm)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

"Green Balloons": That was, claims former Missouri Speaker of the House (of Representatives) Rod Jetton, the "safe word" that his alleged S&M sex partner was supposed to utter to get Jetton to stop "S"-ing on her poor "M" body. Not hearing the words, Jetton claims, he beat her up something awful. She says she doesn't know what Jetton is talking about and that he knocked her unconscious because he likes his sex rough. (Bonus: As a legislator, Jetton condemned homosexuals for practicing "deviate" sex.) Kansas City Star

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


Andrew Wirth, 24, was charged with murdering two people (one an off-duty cop) who he thought were playing non-consensual grab-ass with him at a bar. Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

People Different From Us

Elise Egan, 53, was charged with assaulting her boyfriend in the face repeatedly with a raw steak "so that he could learn" not to be so obstinate in demanding a bread roll instead of sliced bread. Associated Press via Fox News [with mug shot!]

Charles Irving, 27, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which he tried to justify by pointing out that he needed to protect his mother from vampires. Plus, he was naked. Kansas City Star

Recurring Themes in Incompetent Criminality: (1) Michael Hamilton, 30, called the cops on his landlord for confiscating his pet fish, even though Michael was sitting on five outstanding arrest warrants. (2) Douglas Lloyd, 57, was discovered stuck in a ground-floor window at a Seattle museum, half-in, half-out, and was arrested for burglary. (3) Three people were arrested for marijuana trafficking in Parkersburg, W.Va., when their car engine caught fire (because that's where a duffel bag of dope had been cleverly stashed). (4) Tita Nyambi, 25, of Franklin, N.J., became the latest guy to dress up as his mother, use a bad high-pitched voice, and try to withdraw money from mom's checking account. Ann Arbor News /// Seattle Times /// News & Sentinel (Parkersburg) /// Newark Star-Ledger

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Taiwan politician was indicted because last year in a heated argument, he yanked the wig off of a fellow politician and then, this year, bragged about it during his campaign for Tainan City council. Agence France-Presse via Sydney Morning Herald

To hold a United Nations climate-change summit in Copenhagen requires a 41,000-ton carbon footprint: 1,200 limousines, 140 private jets. On the other hand, the Inuit communities of Greenland and Canada want quick action, specifically, a shipment of electric freezers to store their fresh-catch caribou, since it's too warm to leave them outside as usual.) Daily Telegraph (London) /// Reuters via New York Times

Federal officials held a day-long seminar in Washington on how to administer the Freedom of Information Act. It was closed to the public. WJLA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

The Ganja Gourmet opened in Denver—the nation's first full-service restaurant serving marijuana-baked dishes (provided you have a prescription; otherwise, you get the shirley-temple version). KCNC-TV (Denver)

Cecil Bothwell, running for city council in Asheville, N.C., is a self-described atheist. Opponents point out that it's unconstitutional in North Carolina for an atheist to hold public office. However, supporters point out that it's unconstitutional in the entire United States for North Carolina be that way. Opponents say they don't care. Citizen-Times (Asheville)

Life Is Too Long: Mathematicians discuss, on and on, the "perfect" way to slice a pizza. New Scientist

It's Good to Be an Underachieving British Schoolkid: Most of the state schools surveyed admitted they rig the curriculum so as not to make the academically ungifted feel bad. Daily Mail

Below The Fold

"Foster Kids Treated to 'Slapstick Orgasm,' Swearing in Christmas Play" Herald Sun (Melbourne)

"Boise Firefighters Rescue Boy Whose Tongue Was Stuck to Metal Pole" Idaho Statesman

"No More Endangered Eel at Top Supermarket" Reuters

"The Only Two Men in the UK Named Geraint Woolford End Up in Adjacent Hospital Beds" Daily Mail

"Pie Eating Competitors to Be Drug Tested" Lancashire Evening Post

More Things To Worry About

A 46-year-old man in Eerbeek, Netherlands, reported that his house had been broken into and 2,400 (illegal) Ectasy pills had been stolen—but that he is not a user or dealer, but merely a collector. He likes the colors and the various brand names. However, he warned that about 40 of the pills (the "red & whites") were probably exceptionally toxic by now. Australian Associated Press via Australian Broadcasting Corp.

True or false, you can make a decent living cashing in discarded winning tickets off the floor at a New York City OTB store? How does $45,000 a year sound? New York Times

Your Editor is following several suspicious stories that cannot quite be vouched for yet: (1) 'Ukrainian Student Killed by Exploding Chewing Gum" (A student in the habit of dipping his gum in citrus juice for flavoring accidentally dipped it into another chemical in the lab, which blew his jaw off and killed him.) [The NOTW Science Editor says it's not totally impossible but just highly unlikely that any lab worker would leave a chemical that unstable out in the open.] (2) "Chinese Man Gets Remote Control Stuck in Bottom After Drunk Prank" (London's Mirror is there, with x-rays.) (3) Another special that only the Austrian Times has: Chinese truck driver Sing Li's windshield got blown out, forcing him to use a sheet of cardboard (as you can see) to keep rain and debris out and for him to drive while peering out the driver's side window. RIA Novosti (Moscow) /// The Mirror /// Austrian Times

Upon Further Review . . .

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, so this Mursi tribeswoman from Ethiopia's Omo River Valley must be highly desirable—either a hot chick or an elegant lady. The same must be true for the hunk-like men). [Some images Not Safe For Work, in a National Geographic-kind of way] Life magazine

Newsrangers: Peter Hine, Larry Seltzer, Matt Rushing, Steve Whipple, Jenny Morlan, Hal Dunham, Michael Ravnitzky, and Jim Snedden, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, December 07, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 7, 2009
(bewildering and/or outrageous news from November 28-December 5)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

Capitalism is eternal, even in Somalia, where a "stock market" for investing in the pirate industry might be the only thing in that anarchic country that actually works. People bring their venture capital (including guns and pirate accessories), lay it down among the 72 companies on the big board, and cash out their tickets if their ship comes in. In fact, befitting this era, there even seems to be a Bubble! As the exchange has grown, pirates' ransoms have doubled, to about $4 million per ship. One savvy Somalian says he's made $75,000 in just 38 days in the market. Reuters

Denver, Colo., UFO enthusiast Jeff Peckman is back in the news, having gathered enough signatures for a city ballot question next year on whether to establish an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, to develop protocols for "diplomatic contact" when the ETs land. In 2008, Peckman famously staged a news conference, having promised to release a smoking-gun video of an ET visit, but he produced only ridicule. (Also last week, Britain's Ministry of Defense closed its UFO unit after 50 years, and in Mesa, Ariz., the school district's information technology officer resigned after inadvertently overwhelming the district's computer system by installing a personal copy of a software program that networks computers searching the skies for alien radio transmissions.) Los Angeles Times /// Bad Astronomy blog [2008 press conference] /// The Independent (London) /// East Valley Tribune (Mesa)

Safety First in Britain (continued): In an episode begging to be Pythoned, inspectors from the government's Health and Safety Executive (in Fleet Street jargon, Elf & Safety Executive) thoroughly examined a bowling alley and expressed alarm that bowlers might injure themselves if they walked down the lanes and tried to knock over the pins by hand. Inspectors suggested, among other safety improvements, shields to block access to lanes except for doggy-door-like space on the floor to roll the balls. (Also, town managers in Poole, England, installed a super-safe Christmas "tree" that was actually a giant metal cone covered in astroturf. It won't fall over on top of anyone, and there are no needles to get stuck in people's eyes or decorations to be hung using dangerous stepladders.) Daily Mail /// The Times

A University of Montreal professor, intending to measure the specific effects of pornography on men, had to scrap the study because he couldn't find any non-users for his control group. Not a one, he said. "Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist." Montreal Gazette

A group of civic activists will start running L.A. Gang Tours in January, through South Los Angeles and Watts ($65 a ticket) and has been negotiating with Crips, Bloods, Florencia 13, and 18th Street gangs to give the buses a pass when they roll through the 'hoods. They'll peddle merchandise, too, but not the T-shirt originally proposed, where the promoters would pay kids to blast the tourists with water pistols and then sell them shirts that read "I Got Shot in South-Central." Los Angeles Times

Updates: (1) That Peruvian gang that kills people for their fat [Pro Edition, 11-23-2009] probably either doesn't exist or kills them for other reasons. (2) That gender-issues-enlightened Swedish male college student who started pumping his breasts in September [NOTW M129, 9-27-2009] officially gave up in futility. (3) The inept robber who begged for his life when deli owner Mohammad Sohail wrestled his gun away during a robbery (and even promised to convert to Islam on the spot if Sohail wouldn't shoot him) [NOTW M119, 7-19-2009] sent Sohail $50, told him he had turned his life around, and signed it Your Muslim Brother. Time magazine /// The Local (Stockholm) /// WNBC-TV (New York City)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Stuart Leonard became the latest fatality in the sport of auto-asphyxiation, which his partner said was surely an accident, in that Mr. Leonard's body was found at his favorite sex-play hideout: "If we had an argument, that's how he would spend the evening." The Argus (Brighton, England)

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


Here's a challenge: Do you hold Christopher Haentzler, 20, responsible for robbing the Caseyville (Ill.) Food Mart? He said he was forced into it by another man. Belleville News-Democrat

Sub-Prime Americans

Travis Himmler, 23, Bloomington, Minn., was charged with burglary of the Golden Wok restaurant and theft of its cash register, which he carried away on his bicycle. He was discovered down the road after a nasty spill from the bike. The dangling cord from the cash register had got caught in the spokes. Sun Newspapers (Eden Prairie, Minn.)

A Denton, Tex., woman became the victim of a free-lance, door-to-door massage artist whom she let into her home (He "seemed legitimate," she told cops) when he explained that he was just trying to get in some massage hours toward his license. She got an inkling that he wasn't legit only when he asked her to supply her own lotion and told her she had "nice tits." The Smoking Gun

Least Competent Criminals: (1) Brier Cutlip, 22, and Paul Bragg, 25, on parole and barred from possessing guns, were re-arrested when they showed up for a parole appointment still wearing their orange hunting vests after a full day in the woods. (2) Grandville Lindsey, 30, in Beaumont, Tex., was on probation, barred from using Internet "social" sites. But then he Twittered a woman in the probation office, and his probationary status was upgraded to "15 years in prison." (3) Two men who managed to get away after robbing the SunTrust Bank in Dunkirk, Md., nonetheless belong in this category, in that they had wasted valuable time before the robbery when they barged into the Lee Funeral Home next door, apparently thinking it was the bank. WBOY-TV (Morgantown, W.Va.) /// Beaumont Enterprise /// WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Jason Zacchi, 27, tried to rob a Wendy's in Dearborn Heights, Mich., via the drive-thru window, with a bandanna over his face, and a shotgun, but suddenly the manager on duty stuck her head out the window and challenged him. "What the hell are you doing?" she screamed. Bandanna or not, a mother recognizes her own son, and she turned him in. Detroit News

Rance Johnson, 19, an inmate at the county jail in Merced, Calif., went on sick call with excruciating pain. Earlier, on the floor of the visitation room, he had found a five-inch-long shank, which he then tucked away for safekeeping in the place where inmates keep things that are dear to them, but that didn't work out. Merced Sun-Star

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Sweden, trying to improve North Korea's childlike understanding of global markets, convinced a company to make designer jeans for the Swedish market. After much comical bumbling and opaque corporate communication by the Koreans, "Noko" jeans finally arrived in Sweden, selling alongside Levi's and Guess, and retailing for the equivalent of about $215. New York Times

[UPDATE: The Swedish contract retailer now says the jeans won't be on the shelves but can be ordered from its website. BBC News]

There's now an App for uninvited Mexicans. An art professor at the University of California, San Diego, created the Transborder Immigrant Tool, using GPS to find the safest places to cross the border and get through the rugged Southwest desert. (It's not clear which cell phones it will work with.) Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

Mr. Zhang admits he's competitive, that he "never wants to lose an argument" with his wife—and thus always winds up with "bruises and scars all over." (Mrs. Zhang is a kung fu master.) As potential relief (after negotiations led by the in-laws), she has entered into a contract that permits her to beat up her husband only once a week. If more than that, she pays. Daily Telegraph (London) (citing Chongqing Evening News)

Paraguay's choice to head its consulate in New York City is an illegal immigrant. Arturo Noguera lived here for 17 years, then left, and now is not permitted back in the U.S. to claim his new office. The U.S. Congressman representing New York City's Paraguayan community now suggests that Paraguay retaliate by expelling the inconsiderate U.S. consulate official in Asuncion who denied Noguera's visa. Time magazine

Eyewitness News

Jalopnik blog published the sweet spot on the Facebook page of the daughter of the General Motors CEO who "resigned" last week. She is disagreeable on the subject. [language warning!] Jalopnik.com

A big Internet hit last week was this apparently-legit snapshot, from an American Airlines flight attendant who wanted to dramatize to the company's suits how much trouble is caused by a seriously-obese passenger on a full flight. Irish Independent

Argentine democracy meets WWE chairs-match action, in the provincial parliament in Chaco. BBC News [30-second ad precedes video]

More Things To Worry About

Brandon Deyo, 21, was arrested in Jupiter, Fla., on several child pornography charges. He is the son of David Deyo, who's serving 17 years in federal lockup for manufacturing child pornography. (Bonus: Before his conviction, David's part-time job was "Noodles the Clown.") Palm Beach Post

The Denver (Colo.) School Board hired a professional marriage counselor to help members get along with each other. KMGH-TV (Denver)

The city government in the Chinese city of Dali, in Yunnan province went into the retail business by opening . . a gay bar. Reuters

Upon Further Review . . .

Illustrative passages from American novelist Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones, the winner of this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award from Britain's Literary Review: "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg." Then, later: "[A woman's genitalia resembles] a Gorgon's head . . . a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert, I seemed turned to stone." The Guardian

Editor's Notes

(1) In both News of the Weird [M138, 11-29-2009] and Pro Edition [10-5-2009], I reported on HoneyBaked Ham's firing of store manager Richard Huether, who had failed to recuperate fast enough after taking a bullet for the company in a store robbery in April. Even though he was left with company-paid disability insurance, and would now be eligible for Social Security disability, he would immediately be subject to paying 100 percent of his "COBRA" health-care premium (for 18 months, after which he would have to purchase non-group insurance, which would suddenly be priced to account for his "pre-existing condition," i.e., "was shot in stomach"). HoneyBaked now informs Your Editor that, following the initial report on WRAL-TV (on which the News of the Weird story was based), the company, professing to have been unaware before then of the depth of Huether's financial hole, gave him an additional check for "more than $20,000," to cover COBRA premiums for 18 months. But, he remains fired.

(2) Four candidates with the Classic Middle Name were in the news last week. The now-executed Bobby W. Woods of Texas had already made the list when arrested and so cannot be added. Darry W. Hanna was convicted in a "death," but can't be listed because the most that federal prosecutors could get was "conspiracy," since a state court had already acquitted Hanna of the actual murder. However, Bart W. Johnson of Alabama (arrested) and Jason W. Strickland of North Carolina (committed suicide while a suspect) appear to be clean additions (although Strickland's suicide was in August, very much outside Pro Edition's boundary). Associated Press via Houston Chronicle [Woods] /// Charlotte Observer [Hanna] /// Birmingham News [Johnson] /// The State (Columbia, S.C.) [Strickland]

Newsrangers: Jamie Wilson, Pete Randall, Peter Hine, Sandy Pearlman, Larry Lee, Jeromy Tichner, Stephen Taylor, Michael Willis, and Neil Gimon, and 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)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 30, 2009

Because of the U.S. holiday, last week was slow, at least for U.S. news, and I had to stretch my standards to produce a regular-length Pro Edition. After staring for two days at the "Extra" stories I had for follow-up release today, I have concluded that they're too lame to go out under my banner. See ya next Monday morning.