Monday, February 22, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

February 22, 2010
Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
(datelines February 13-February 20) (links correct as of February 22)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Every Child Left Behind, plus Free-Range Urination, the Other White Meat, and Professor Courtney Love

“For Only $8 a Month . . .” (We’ll Feed This Kid $1.84 Worth of Food)
CBS News busted the “Feed The Children” charity (and its “for only $8 a month” TV ads) that has been bleeding the bleeding hearts for years but whose chutzpah on the Haiti crisis has been particularly strong, bringing in $1 million to feed “12,000" kids. If FTC performs as usual, it will keep $770,000 of that $1 million for “administrative expenses.” “12,000" kids? CBS found that FTC’s Haiti operation consisted of three doctors working on several dozen kids but no one at all being fed. (Bonus: CEO Larry Jones and his adult daughter both live the high life and are involved in a premium family feud.) CBS News

The Sacred Institution of Marriage
Susan Zirkin, 73, got divorced in 1962, but because of Orthodox Jewish law, she could not remarry or have children. Her ex-husband wouldn’t let her, and under the laws, it’s his call until the day he dies (which just happened last week, so she’s finally free). The problem is not only with the divorcee’s own sense of spiritual commitment but that of the community as well, in that she and any subsequent children she had would be shunned as long as Mr. Israel Elias refused to grant her the get, and few rabbis even try to buck tradition. The Independent (London)

Life Is Too Long
Apparently, some people actually gourmet-cook for their dogs. The St. Petersburg Times exposed this practice, likely having been pitched by a local magazine, New Barker, and a local restaurant, La Maison Gourmet, whose principals believe that a “growing number” of dog owners spend their time this way. For example, there’s a 12-step-or-so recipe for “veggie cookies for dogs,” which posits that dogs will appreciate it if you make them a certain treat with whole-wheat flour, dried basil, dried cilantro, dried oregano, chopped carrot, green beans, tomato paste, canola oil, and garlic. [How ever did dogs evolve so successfully until now without basil in their whole-wheat flour?] St. Petersburg Times

And What Was Blake Robbins Doing, Anyway?
Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia now admits it screwed up in its well-intentioned program to provide all students with free notebook computers. Administrators activated webcam software in the machines, supposedly, they say, in case the computer were lost or stolen, in which case, the cam could help locate it, and if stolen, ID the perp. But then Blake and his parents filed a lawsuit because one administrator at his high school disclosed in passing that Blake had been spotted “in his home” engaged in “improper behavior.” Normally, there’s not much that can be seen from the webcam if the operator is sitting right in front of it . . . unless . . .. Philadelphia Daily News [Feb. 18] /// Philadelphia Inquirer [Feb. 20]

When a Teachers’ Union Says “It’s About the Children” . . .
The teachers said they didn’t necessarily disagree with the proposed reforms to improve the dismal Central Falls High School in Rhode Island (e.g., only 7% of 11th graders are “proficient” in math), but they strongly oppose having the reforms dictated from above, by the superintendent. That is horrible, they say. Everything must be negotiated! The union thus rejected the reforms. The superintendent thus fired all the school’s teachers (though she expects to re-hire the 50 best ones as part of the reforms). The union’s reaction: Litigation! (for the benefit of the students, of course). Providence Journal

Meanwhile, Over on the Left Tail of the Bell Curve . . .

Deanne Elsholz, 44, was arrested for domestic abuse on husband David, bloodying his nose. Trouble started when David tinkled on the bathroom floor, apparently oblivious of the exact location of the toilet bowl. Trouble continued when Deanne chased him and fell (Bonus: slipped on the wet bathroom floor!). AWI. WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Latest Fight Night at Chuck E. Cheese (Memphis): Woman and her two urchins were monopolizing the photo booth. Second woman: “Dang, how long ya’ll gonna be?” First woman’s stepfather lands black-eye-inducing punch to second woman. Relatives of both women commence longshoremen-type brawl. WREG-TV (Memphis)

Hired / Fired / Arrested, All in a Couple of Hours: John Yarrington, 23, offered to help police nail drug dealer Cory Noonan with a bogus buy, for a $100 fee. Yarrington did his part; police got surveillance evidence; police paid off Yarrington’s fee. Yarrington wandered off, but ten minutes later was back at Noonan’s trying to buy drugs for his own account. Police still had Noonan under surveillance and hauled away their ex-CI. Cape Cod Times

Police in West Seneca, N.Y., say Daniel Wolf, 40, stole seven bottles of Head & Shoulders shampoo from a Rite Aid. [Mug shot: maybe should’ve copped conditioner, too, and a razor] Buffalo News

Least Competent Psychic: Sylvia Mitchell had a pretty good racket going in New York City, “cleansing” an immigrant restaurant worker from time to time for several hundred bucks here, several hundred there. But she went a bit too far. She called the client up for an “emergency cleansing,” which happened to work out to $9,400, which is what she owed a Ralph Lauren store, and the client’s dim bulb finally lit up. New York Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

It’s Good to Be a British Welfare Mother: Jobless mother of six, age 34 and “entitled” to a 5-bedroom home under housing assistance law, found one in Sir Paul McCartney’s ‘hood. The government pays her £7,000 ($10,800) a month to make the rent. (Bonus: Not everything’s easy in Britain. A warehouse worker just got fired for excessive flatulence.) Daily Mail /// The Mirror

For one day last week, VA Fuels on Washington Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif., hit the news cycle for selling regular gasoline at $8.87 a gallon (premium $9.09)—and they had some customers! The clerk on duty had no inkling what owner Vasiliy Abrahamian was up to, and Vasiliy didn’t bother to explain the next day, either, when he lowered the price by $6. Pasadena Star News /// Pasadena Star News [update]

Not Supposed to Be There: (1) a zebra, galloping through downtown Atlanta (Bonus: It’s the second downtown zebra in Atlanta in two years.) (2) a bull, galloping through a house in Peoria, Ill. (3) a dog, swimming around more than a mile offshore near Cairns, Australia. Atlanta Journal-Constitution /// Peoria Journal Star /// Cairns Post

Should’ve Seen This Coming: Crystal Beth Williams, 21, was arrested for possession of crystal meth. Northwest Florida Daily News

The Horror of Umbrage: An Illinois staffing agency was shamed into full-suck-up-apology mode for not restraining a Chinese client’s call for a writer “respectful” of “Chinese culture” who is not also an “arrogant American.” Apparently, such wording is supposed to be deeply painful to us Americans. Fox News

Below The Fold

Courtney Love Gives Oxford Talk BBC News

Man Offers Woman Asphalt for Sex WSPA-TV (Spartanburg, S.C.)

Mother Accused of Hitting Son with Bat [money quote: “I brought him into this world, and I’ll take him out of this world”] Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pa.)

Eyewitness News

New Orleans Mardi Gras has beads and breasts, but the carnival in Binche, Belgium, looks weirder. From GlobalPost.com: “[H]undreds” of identically-dressed masked men, “torsos deformed into barrel chests and humped backs,” each with “mystic symbols of scarlet and gold, heads bound with white ribbons, feet clad in wooden clogs pounding the cobblestones in tune with the relentless drumbeat.” On the afternoon of Mardi Gras, they strip those off and put on crowns of ostrich feathers as they toss not beads but oranges at the crowd. It doesn’t sound exciting, but if you’re from Binche, this is apparently as good as it gets. GlobalPost.com [gloriously inexplicable photos!]

Someone With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Suzanna McGraw, exploiting an opportunity to score above her grade [mug shot], impulsively pulled over to the side of Interstate 15 near Orem, Utah, to get it on with the 17-year-old before he changed his mind. A trooper stopped to investigate. Windows were fogged, the couple were undressed, stolen stereo equipment and a marijuana pipe inside. Also stolen: the car itself. KSL-TV (Salt Lake City)

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


The dad is Delmer Doss, 19. He and the mom are charged with child abuse, though they maintain it was just harmless, laugh-a-minute fun—blindfolding their 11-month-old son and watching him walk into walls. WCNC-TV (Charlotte, N.C.)

OK, so you got arrested for burglary. Really, you need to man up. TheSmokingGun.com

More Things To Worry About

A prominent Italian TV chef got caught musing about the good old days, when people ate scrumptious dishes of cat. Daily Telegraph (London)

African Guinea worms invade human bodies, can grow to a length of three feet, and can only be extracted by verrrrry painfully twirling them around a stick (like spaghetti on a fork) and pulling. The good news is that President Carter’s Carter Center has been on the case since 1986, and through water purification programs, 99% of the worms have been eliminated. The bad news is that 2,500 people, still, will have to twirl the worm this year. Daily Telegraph (London)

Editor's Note

Update: The story of Akbar “biggest dick” Zeb [NOTW/Pro, 2-8-2010] has been busted as bogus—or at least, the same media mob that accepted the story uncritically at first are now uncritically accepting the denial. The original source was Arab News of Saudi Arabia, generally the only English language, not-overtly-proselytizing channel into that world. Your editor wouldn’t touch the story until Foreign Policy ran it, since, I thought, they’d obviously have more experience with Arab News than I. And now I’m linking to them again for the denial. Foreign Policy

And For Further Review . . .

A January report in The Times of India warned that a Pakistani jihadist group had purchased 50 kits for making suicidal bombing attacks against India, via paraglider. Foreign Policy magazine probed the likelihood of such an attack’s success, along with that of four other “bizarre” schemes (insect swarms, the commandeering of americium-241 in the nation’s smoke detectors, botulinum contamination, and attacking via World of Warcraft). Is there an Arab Silicon Valley venture-funding jihadists’ dreams? Foreign Policy

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Gene Curry, Sandy Pearlman, Roger Meiners, Tom Barker, Steve Passen, and Kevin Wetter, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors