Monday, August 30, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
Special Dog Days of August Edition II
(links correct as of August 16)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Editor's Notes

As previously announced, Your Editor has become overstimulated and needs to rest. I have selected some recent updates to earlier creme de la weird, plus some recent variations on seemingly age-old weird-news themes. The next fresh Pro Edition, dated September 6, will be posted and mailed on Tuesday, September 7 (because September 6 is Labor Day in the U.S., and labor is prohibited by law). During this "break," Your Editor will in no way be on "holiday" except perhaps in the sense that he will be at his desk doing things that require neither his best efforts nor meeting a deadline.

Updates

In 2007 News of the Weird highlighted the clothes cults of impoverished Congo: "In [the country that] has lost an estimated four million people in the civil wars of the last decade and where many must get by on about 30 cents a day, 'gangs' of designer-clothes-wearing men" have fashion smackdowns in the streets of Kinshasa to prove that Versace and Gucci styles look better on them than on others. These "sapeurs" (from the French slang for clothes) continue to strut their genuine Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana, according to a March Washington Post dispatch. For one sapeur, "Luzolo," who lives in a one-room shack with no bed, no water, and no electricity (but a closetful of designer outfits) describes the feeling as "like a spirit that comes in me." When he wears "the labels," he said, "I feel there is no one above me." Washington Post

Again this year, in April, the Senjosi Temple in Tokyo hosted the possibly-400-year-old Naki Sumo ("crying baby contest"), in which infants are blessed to good health by having Sumo wrestlers hoist them into the air, hold them at arm's length, and coax them (no squeezing!) to cry, thus signaling that the offering has been heard. This year, 80 babies were glorified, with special spiritual favors afforded those who cried the loudest and the longest. Daily Telegraph (London)

In 2007, News of the Weird mentioned the nightly ceremony on the India-Pakistan border at Wagah Crossing as part pomp, part macho posturing, and part Monty Python ("Ministry of Silly Walks"), in which troops from both sides wearing hard-to-describe headgear perform complicated boot-stomping maneuvers to assure their countrymen that they are protecting their nation from the other one. Lately, however, according to a July Agence France-Presse dispatch, the high-kicking show has become subdued because so many of the soldiers have reported knee injuries from the exaggerated prancing. Agence France-Presse via Google News

Cosmetic surgery-obsessive Sheyla Hershey of Houston, Tex., has endured more than 30 operations, including breast augmentations in increasingly large sizes (in her quest to have the world's largest pair). As News of the Weird reported, her luck started to go south in 2008 when licensed Texas surgeons declined to implant the M cups she wanted, and she was forced to use a clinic in Brazil. Last year, for the birth of her first child, she had the Brazilian implants removed--and later replaced with a smaller pair--but in June 2010, she was diagnosed with a staph infection. At press time she was still being treated with radical antibiotic therapy in Houston and might lose one or both breasts. KRIV-TV (Houston)

Notorious Boston criminal gang leader Whitey Bulger, who has been on the run since 1995, made News of the Weird before that because of some unusual dietary (and hence, excretory) habits. Bulger would now be 80 years old, but law enforcement officials have no idea where he is, or what he now looks like, or even if he is alive, but they believe he likes to browse books. In April 2010, FBI agents blanketed bookstores in Victoria, British Columbia, having gotten word that he might be in the area, but nothing turned up. (Bulger was the model for the Jack Nicholson character in the movie "The Departed.") The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Oklahoma City Bomber-helper Terry Nichols, serving a life sentence at the "Super Max" federal prison in Colorado, recently ended what he said was his third hunger strike of 2010 to protest food quality. Lack of fiber in the diet, he said, causes him "chronic constipation, bleeding, [and] hemorrhoids" and thus disrespects "God's holy temple," which is Nichols's name for his body. The prison continues to offer Nichols only limited dietary options. TheSmokingGun.com

Recurring Themes

The most recent instance of the cardinal sin of the jailing profession occurred in a Minneapolis lockup in May, when a witness in an active murder case was arrested, probably on an unrelated charge, but placed in the same cell as the murder suspect, Jonathan "Thirsty" Turner, who knew that the witness had already given a statement against him. The witness was badly beaten, but jailers were not certain enough that Turner did it to file charges.
Associated Press via WCCO-TV (Minneapolis)

The Animal Planet channel, perhaps hard-pressed for new series ideas, has reportedly ordered "The Skunk Whisperer" into production, but there remain multi-use whisperers who claim they can talk to and analyze all critters, with New Zealand's Faye Rogers the latest to draw attention (and she singled out her ability with "worms"). All beings, she said, are "connected by a higher consciousness," allowing, for example, traveling birds to pass on important "international information" to fish. She disputed a notion spread by "horse whisperer" Bill Northern that cats are "wily"-- explaining that cats merely appear wily because they prefer to be asked specific questions rather than generalities. In an August interview with the Christchurch Press, she referred to "clients," indicating that at least some people pay the $65 (N.Z.) an hour ($45 U.S.) for her services. The Press (Christchurch)

Japanese ice-cream makers are famous for expanding the universe of conceivable flavors (as News of the Weird has mentioned several times), but a gathering by the fashion/style website The Gloss in July found several more, suggesting that maybe the world is about to run out of what ingredients can go into ice cream: Haggis ice cream (from Morelli's in London), Sardines and Brandy ice cream (from Helader a de Lares in Venezuela), Caviar ice cream (Petrossian in New York City), and Foie Gras ice cream (Phillippe Faur in Toulouse, France, about $150). TheGloss.com

In several regions of the African nation of Cameroon, parents try to keep maturing daughters off the market by "ironing" their breasts (pressing them with heated stones and leaves to make them flatter and the girls thus less desirable for sex). The practice reached world media (and News of the Weird) in 2006 as part of a condemnation campaign by the United Nations, but apparently it continues unabated, according to new videos circulated this year and described in the Washington Post in March. According to that writer, who interviewed numerous health officials in Cameroon, the practice apparently has little effect, in that the teenage pregnancy rate remains very high. Washington Post

Alcor Life Extension Foundation makes the news regularly, as family dysfunctions occur when someone buys a contract to have his head frozen upon death so that some day, if the science advances, he can be thawed and brought back to life. Typically, survivors of little faith in science prefer a more dignified disposal, as was the case with David Richardson, who had his brother Orville buried in February 2009 despite Orville's $53,500 Alcor contract. Most such disputes are raised and decided pre-death or contemporaneous with death, but Alcor appealed an original Iowa court decision in David's favor, and in May 2010, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed, ordering Orville dug up. (Alcor promotion materials say that, for best results, the head should be frozen 15 minutes after the heart stops beating.) Associated Press via Arizona Republic

Reporters (and News of the Weird!) relish playing "gotcha!" with people who convince authorities that they are injured too badly to continue working, setting themselves up for sometimes lucrative lifetime pensions, yet somehow seem to miraculously recover and subsequently engage in vigorous physical endeavors. New York City firefighter John Giuffrida, 42, retired on a disability pension of about $75,000 a year in 2003, based on asthma and other lung ailments from cleaning up the Sept. 11th Ground Zero, but two years later, he was a regular on the mixed-martial-arts circuit and is continuing to beat people up. (Giuffrida told a New York Post reporter that the two activities "completely different." Strength and endurance fighting, he said, is not the same as "running into a building that is on fire with a smoke condition and toxins in the air." New York Post

And my thanks to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 23, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
Special Dog Days of August Edition
(links correct as of August 16)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Editor's Notes

As previously announced, Your Editor has become overstimulated and needs to rest. For the next two Mondays, I have selected some recent updates to earlier creme de la weird, plus some recent variations on seemingly age-old weird-news themes. (Also, since this post was created especially for the weekly News of the Weird column, some of these very "updates" may have already appeared in Pro Edition.) The next fresh Pro Edition, dated September 6, will be posted and mailed on Tuesday, September 7 (because September 6 is Labor Day in the U.S., and labor is prohibited by law). During these two weeks, Your Editor will in no way be on "holiday" except perhaps in the sense that he will be at his desk doing things that require neither his best efforts nor meeting a deadline.

Updates

The Yaohnanen tribe on the South Pacific island of Tanna believe their true ancestral god is Britain's Prince Philip (based on photographs of him with the Queen during a 1974 visit to Tanna's mother nation of Vanuatu) and believe he promised he would return for good on his 89th birthday (June 10th, 2010). Although the Prince has kept in touch, he failed to show up for the grand celebration, but fortunately, Scottish university student Marc Rayner was on the island, working as a volunteer teacher, and stepped in for the Prince, which meant that he and not the Duke of Edinburgh got to wear the "formal" ceremonial penis sheath appropriate for such special events. Daily Mail /// Daily Telegraph

Iconic female beauty in Mauritania (and in a few other African societies, as News of the Weird has reported) regards "rolling layers of fat" as the height of sexiness, according to a July dispatch by Marie Claire magazine, and professional force-feeders earn the equivalent of about $200 each from parents for bulking up their young daughters in boot camps that sometimes serve animal fat as drinks and apply the cattle-thickening drug Oradexon. "The stomach flab should cascade; the thighs should overlap; and the neck should have thick ripples," said Aminetou Eihacen, the feeding drill sergeant. Some girls rebel, but others embrace their new bodies. Said one, "When I realized the power I had over men, I started to enjoy being fat." Marie Claire

Though most victims seemed baffled or distressed by the behavior of Sherwin Shayegan, 27, another thought him "completely harmless." From time to time (allegedly dating to at least 2006), Shayegan befriends high-school male athletes, questions them as a reporter would, and, finally, jumps on their backs and demands "piggyback" rides. No other overtures are made, and the principal complaint about Shayegan, after the shock wears off, seems to be his obnoxiousness. His latest arrest took place in May in Tualatin, Ore., near his earlier haunts in Washington state. Tigard Times (Tigard, Ore.)

"It's springtime in Japan, and that means [two] things," wrote GlobalPost.com in March: penis festivals and vagina festivals. Held annually in several locations (for the last 1,500 years, some say), with the best-known taking lace at Komaki City's Tagata shrine in March, they were initially spiritual--as prayers for procreation and crop fertility. However, they have grown into carnivals for tourists and children of all ages. Most Western visitors hardly believe what they're seeing: huge, parade-float-sized phalluses heavy-lifted through the street and giggling children brandishing toy penises and vaginas (to make offerings of them at local temples). Global Post via Boise Weekly

Recurring Themes

Another Pampered Pet: Gail Posner (the widow of legendary hostile-takeover executive Victor Posner) died in March in south Florida but left a will that endowed her beloved chihuahua Conchita (and two other, less-loved dogs) a $3 million trust fund plus the run of her $8.3 million mansion for their remaining dog years. (After all, Conchita has a style to maintain, including a four-season wardrobe, diamond jewelry, and full-time staff.) Mrs. Posner's only living child, Bret Carr, who admits he had issues with his mother, is challenging her $26 million-plus will (that left him $1 million), mostly because, he said, Mrs. Posner's staff and bodyguards suspiciously wound up with the bulk of the riches on the pretense that they would be caring for Conchita. Wall Street Journal

More British Welfare Spongers: In May, the Daily Mail profiled the Houghtons of Crawley, West Sussex (Lee, 42, and Jane and their five youngest children), who live in free government housing and draw monthly benefits of the equivalent of about $1,600, without doing a bit of work--because Lee has a "personality disorder" and daughter Chelsea, 16, has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and needs a caretaker to help with her baby. The Houghtons admit that they spoil their kids at Christmas with lavish gifts, and the reporter noted the presence of four TVs, two XBoxes, three DVD players, mobile phones for everyone, and a computer and laptop. Lee is unpopular with his neighbors, who call the police on him frequently because of his drinking. Said Lee, "If people want to work, good for them. I would if I could . . .." Daily Mail

News of the Weird has been among those taunting the Scottish over the years for their culinary devotion to haggis (sheep's stomach, boiled, with liver, heart, or lung, accompanied by oatmeal, suet, onions, and various "spices"), but the Edinburgh chocolatier Nadia Ellingham recently answered--with "haggis chocolates," which are thankfully meat-free but contain the familiar haggis spices. BBC News

More Bad Multitaskers: Driver Bryan Parslow, 19, injured himself and three passengers when he crashed into a tree near Wheatland, N.Y., in May. He was playing "hold your breath" with the others and passed out. And in July, Lora Hunt, 49, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in the crash that killed a woman on a motorcycle in Lake County, Ill., in 2009. Hunt was so preoccupied painting her nails (polish was splashed all over the car's interior) that she never even moved to apply the brakes before the collision. On the other hand, Amanda McBride, 29, is such an excellent multitasker that she was able to drive herself to the hospital in Bemidji, Minn., in May while giving birth. (Her husband was in the front seat but, seizure-prone, he does not drive.) The child emerged just as Amanda pulled into the hospital parking lot. "[H]e just slid out," she said. "It really wasn't bad at all." Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester) /// Chicago Sun-Times /// Bemidji Pioneer via EMSResponder.com

One of the more famous cultural landmarks in Britain's South Tyneside is an 1890 toilet, "Westoe Netty," commemorated in a 1972 painting and which remained on display at the Beamish Museum. In March, it was relocated within the building because, as News of the Weird has reported about other museum-display toilets, a visitor could not resist using it. The toilet will be moved to a nonpublic part of the building and be hooked up to public plumbing. Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette

Face Tattoos Still a Handicap for Criminals: Royce Spottedbird Jr., 23, apparently once thought it cool to have his name tattooed on his neck. However, when he was pulled over in a routine traffic stop in April in Butte, Mont., and feared a warrant might be out on him, he gave the officer a bogus name. When he could not explain what "Royce Spottedbird Jr." was doing on his neck, he was detained for obstruction of justice and eventually pleaded guilty. (And he was wrong about the warrant.) Montana Standard

News of the Weird has reported on several mothers' desires to prolong breastfeeding past the culturally normal age, some continuing well after the child's sixth birthday. The issue flared again in July in Melbourne, Australia, when a six-year-old boy's birth mother (who had relinquished the child as an infant) used breastfeeding as a strategy to try to wrest him away from the caretakers who had raised him. During sanctioned visitations with the child, the birth mother had pressured the boy to suckle, but he rebelled, and the caretaker obtained a judicial order against further breastfeeding. Herald Sun (Melbourne)

Americans continue to agonize over government "giveaways," but as News of the Weird has noted several times, somehow federal farm subsidies continue unabated--even though much of the money no longer goes not to cuddly "family farms" but to rich urban industrialists who hardly know a plow from a sow. In the latest accounting from Environmental Working Group records, the weekly New York Press revealed such "agrarian" handout-seekers as Manhattan billionaires Leonard Lauder and David Rockefeller--and Rockefeller's son Mark. (In fact, for 10 years now, the federal government has handed Mark $54,500 a year not to grow anything on his 5,000 acres in Idaho. According to the Press, Mark never intended to, in that he only bought the land because it was adjacent to the upscale, socialite-hangout South Fork fly-fishing lodge he runs next door.) New York Press

Newsrangers: George Elyjiw, Bart Wackerbarth, and Debra Taylor, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 16, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
August 16, 2010
(datelines August 7-August 14) (links correct as of August 16)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Civilization in Chaos, Plus Unathletic Orangutans, Mannequin Love, and the Magnetic Mr. Alvarez

[Attention! Your Editor is lightening up for the next two weeks. See Editor's Note, below.]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It's Getting Messy Out There: In Brewster, Mass., doctors looking for a pulmonary tumor instead diagnosed the guy merely as legume-positive (a pea plant in the lung!). Also, U.S. researchers found that 10% of 7-year-old white girls and 23% of 7-year-old black girls show signs of breasts (twice the rate from 12 years earlier). Also, in San Bernardino, Calif., a vet did gender-reassignment surgery on a homeless Pomeranian. Also, University of Sydney researchers concluded that the way humans decide certain things is the same method used for selecting food by brainless slime molds. WHDH-TV (Boston) /// Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// Press Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) /// Discover magazine

Another Unionist Faces Reality: Jim Callaghan of the United Federation of Teachers was summarily fired by the president for trying to union-organize UFT's headquarters employees. President Michael Mulgrew said he can't be expected to run things efficiently if there'll be some union complaining all the time. New York Post

Creative Sentencing: Judge Joseph Smyth in Norristown, Pa., pushed the envelope a bit when he ordered embezzler Lanette Sansoni to house arrest . . for 21 years, so she could work and keep paying back the victim (whose idea the sentence was). But two days earlier, New Mexico judge Ross Sanchez had beat that: He agreed to hold off on a sentence for security-fraudster Samuel McMaster Jr. in order to turn McMaster loose on casinos' poker tournaments, where he has a decent chance to win back the money (but looking at up to 12 years in the slammer if he fails). Delaware County Daily Times (Primos, Pa.) /// ABC News

American Gothic: Churchers from the New Beginnings Ministries in Coshocton County, Ohio, regularly protest on weekends in front of the nearby Foxhole strip club, bullhorn-warning the sinners about hell and hairy palms, and videoing customers and license plates to put on the Internet. Recently, however, the dancers have fought back, accepting pastor Bill Dunfee's offer to start "coming to the church." There they are, on Sunday mornings, in their best hubba-hubba outfits, singing and prancing, at tailgate parties with drinking and grilling and wielding Super-Soakers to wet those t-shirts. Columbus Dispatch

Losers

Critics of the U.S. penal system say prisons are little more than classrooms in which hardened criminals teach the impressionable ones. But it's hard to see anything that Nathan Pugh (30-year rap sheet) has ever learned, and even harder to imagine anyone wanting to learn from him. He handed his holdup note (he's got a "bom"!) to a Wells Fargo teller in Dallas on July 26, but she said she can't give out money without seeing ID, so Nathan forked over his Wells Fargo debit card. How much you need? she asked. $2,000, said he. With that much money, I'll need to see another ID. So Nathan dug out his State of Texas ID for her. She emptied her drawer ($900) and said she'd go looking for the rest. Nathan didn't wait, grabbed the $900 and his ID cards, and fled, but he had to snatch a woman as hostage when he saw cops approaching the front door. Cops easily arrested Nathan after the hostage slipped out of the hold and took Nathan down. Dallas Morning News

Strange World

A broken clock is correct twice a day, and here's an Australian psychic who had a hunch that the body of the missing 6-year-old was buried in a nearby sacred Aboriginal site . . and she was right--well, except for the fact that it was a different dead body. Sydney Morning Herald

At a Netherlands zoo, they had to hire an Olympic gymnast to swing from newly installed trees in the Great Apes enclosure, to teach the orangutans because they had maybe forgotten how to do it. (But it's not like they're dumb: A Canadian study of video archives found instances in which orangutans are clearly using mime to communicate a message--usually "me want," but not necessarily.) Reuters /// BBC News

In Glemsford, England (near Sudbury), residents of a neighborhood have been in the dark for three years after two streetlights burned out. Cost to change them: £8,000. Work started last week. Why this delay? Because it's Britain! They have safety rules! It was unsafe to change the bulbs using the ol' "climb a ladder" methodology because they were too close to power lines. They had to move the poles a little. Daily Mail

It says here (from Metro in Stockholm) that a man was arrested after he tried to get his money back on a rip-off. He had arranged for sex with a 13-year-old girl over a dating website and deposited 500 kroner ($67) into her bank account, but she didn't show. He tracked down her home phone number. Dad answered. Awkward. Still, he demanded that Dad make good. The Local (Stockholm)

That's Messed Up

The Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wis., said it will comply with the new state law requiring employee health plans with prescription drug benefits to cover birth control, too--but that if an employee chooses to "misuse" the law--by actually using birth control--that will be grounds for termination. Wisconsin State Journal

According to this Ohio lawsuit, here's something that's the fault of the canoe outfitter in Springfield: Four guys rent a canoe, then come upon a train trestle over the river, and they climb the trestle to jump into the river, and three jump off fine, but the fourth lingers and is hit by a train and killed. (The canoe outfitter should've warned its customers that they might be tempted to climb the trestle and that they shouldn't do it.) Springfield News-Sun

Readers' Choice: Buffalo, N.Y. Traffic stop. Gary Korkuc, 51. Cops heard meowing in the trunk. Discovered cat ("Navarro") soaking in a tank, "marinating" in crushed red peppers, chili pepper, salt, and oil. Navarro had allegedly been "mean." (Bonus, from the AP story: "Police say [Korkuc] told them he was going to cook Navarro. Korkuc also told officers a number of things that didn't make sense, including that his neutered male cat was pregnant." [ed.: The AP writer thought it did make sense that Korkuc would cook Navarro in the first place?]) (Double Bonus: Mugshot!) Buffalo News /// Associated Press via Yahoo News /// The Weekly Vice [mugshot]

The Pervo-American Community

Eddie Campbell, 61, was arrested in Charleston, W.Va., making out with his best gal in a city park, pants down, left hand on the gal, right hand in his lap, busy. However, she was a member of the mannequin-American community. Daily Mail (Charleston)

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


Central Casting: Get me a guy who can play a pedophile who creates a horror film in his home for the purpose of luring kids there to see it. Yeah, someone like Simon Walford, 39. BBC News

Another West Virginian, Michael Lacy, 36, was arrested, but he has a genuine question of fact for the jury: OK, he got the 11-year-old girl pregnant while she was staying with Lacy's daughter, but it's not his fault because it was dark and he thought he was getting it on with his girlfriend. WSAZ-TV (Huntington) [from July 30]

Two more guys in the wrong place at the wrong time, from this week's Smoking Gun collection. Interfering with railroad tracks /// indecency

Updates & Recurring Themes

From time to time, someone survives a few more bullet wounds than the last full-metal victim we wrote about. We're up to 21 bullet holes now, in Angel Alvarez. The doctor who wrote the treatise on gunshot-wound survival said Angel's got to be the record-holder. (Bonus: All bullets were police-issue. Looks like NYPD has been hitting the firing range) New York Daily News

Once again: One guy gets pushed into the water (a reservoir near Boise, Idaho). Poor swimmer. Second guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. Third guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. Fourth guy jumps in to help. Also poor swimmer. All dead. Associated Press via The Oregonian

Below The Fold

Obviously, it's harder for some furries to come down off recent highs and return to their day jobs. Hence, Gary Guy Mathews, 44, of Pittsburgh, Pa., has petitioned in court to change his name to Boomer the Dog (whom he has already been informally for a while now). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Houston, Tex., radio performer Suzi Hanks was profiled for her volunteer work reading for the blind, including reading Playboy, and not just the articles. Suzi at work: "She has large breasts and a small waist. In the centerfold, she is arching her butt over a bale of hay." Suzi, to reporter: "I'll describe her genitalia," she said. "This is what guys want, so that's what I give them." Houston Chronicle

Artist-entrepreneur David Rees sharpens pencils, by hand, in a workspace not much different-looking than a diamond-cutter's. He'll sharpen your personal pencil, also (or send you a sharpened classic No. 2), for $15, postage paid. "I guarantee an authentic interaction with your pencil." Los Angeles Times

Editor's Notes

Your Editor has become overstimulated again and needs to rest. For the next two Mondays after today, I have selected some recent updates to earlier creme de la weird, plus some recent variations on seemingly age-old weird-news themes. The next fresh Pro Edition, dated September 6, will be posted and mailed on Tuesday, September 7 (because September 6 is Labor Day in the U.S., and labor is prohibited by law). During the next two weeks, Your Editor will in no way be on "holiday" except perhaps in the sense that he will be at his desk doing things that require neither his best efforts nor meeting a deadline.

Newsrangers: Rob Snyder, Rick Lesniak, Christopher Nalty, Gil Nelson, John Rankin, Kathryn Wood, and a whole bunch of people who tipped me off to the marinating cat, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 09, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
August 9, 2010
(datelines July 31-August 7) (links correct as of August 9)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Neo-Nazism Cures Porn, Plus Violent Midgets, Turbo Slam-Dancing, and the Flamingo Lady

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

Probably Somebody's Dream Girl: Gawker.com, doing a little actual journalism last week, notified us of Corinna Burt, who is a (a) former big-time porn star, (b) professional embalmer, (c) serious bodybuilder, (d) mother of two little girls, and (e) white supremacist (who never did interracial porn, by the way; that photo they found was just her and a black dildo). In fact, she credits "racialism" as saving her from a life of porn ("If we consider ourselves a master race then we have to act like a master race, not degenerates.") Gawker

The Case Against "Homework": Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes said he used to support establishing bike lanes for his outdoor-loving state but now can't because he's studied up on the activist International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives and learned it's part of a UN cabal. "[I]f you do your homework and research, you realize that ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty." Denver Post

Dog Eats Man: In a heartwarming story from Grand Rapids, Mich., the Jack Russell terrier Kiko saved Jerry Douthett's life by gnawing off his big toe (which was about to become gangrenous). Dogs are of course known to sense substances like cancer cells, and Jerry just happened to be nearly comatosely drunk at the time or never would have permitted such noshing. But even though Jerry is grateful and loves his dog, it's still . . trust but verify, i.e., Jerry's sleeping with his shoes on for a while, just in case. Grand Rapids Press

News of the Overprivileged: (1) International University of Monaco announced a college degree program in luxury retail management. (2) Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association filed a lawsuit against the already-budget-challenged public school system because the health-insurance plan does not cover Viagra and the like. BBC News /// Journal Sentinel

Headline: From The Union (Grass Valley, Calif.): "S.W.A.T. Team Requested for Violent Midgets." (In fact, they're steroid-using, body builder midgets, especially the "lead female.") The Union

Losers

Caught breaking into and entering the same house he B&E'd two years earlier, Gerald Maxwell showed off to police his quick mind: "I was going back in there to leave a thank-you note." WWSB-TV (Sarasota)

Yet another fellow embarking (allegedly) on a life of crime (drug-dealing) but with a highly identifiable face tattoo (Go, Tar Heels!). Gastonia Gazette

Strange World

Human Rights Watch: Thanks to an expensive court challenge, it is now legal to tell a cop to "[f-word] off" in Townsville, Australia. Townsville Bulletin

In New Zealand, the Turkish-born kebab-server Allaetin Can was arrested for beating up his wife in public but has now amassed evidence that the couple were only doing the Turkish native "kolbasti" dance (which, if done properly, looks very much like trouble for the woman). Daily Telegraph (London)

The crack medical reporters of London's Daily Mail are in the house: Joanne Day, 36, suffers from dystonia, which causes odd, involuntary muscle cramps that can last for months. At the present time, she cannot lower her left leg, hence, "Flamingo Lady." Daily Mail

Research Breakthrough: Monkeys hate flying squirrels, according to "monkey-annoyance" experts. Japanese macaques will completely wig out. "The research could pave the way for advanced methods of enraging monkeys," reports the Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Monitor

That's Messed Up

In an application of the ol' "'Cause Why--That's Why" legal doctrine, the city of Urbandale, Iowa, fired veteran library worker Lisa Bonifas because she wouldn't disclose her poundage for their brand-new ID cards that have a space for it. (Iowa driver's licenses don't note poundage, but Urbandale requires it.) Des Moines Register

More Failed Multitasking: (1) According to this lawsuit, the driver for Illinois Central School Bus operating company caused her bus to run into a ditch (and injure at least one little buttercup) by believing she could steer while vomiting out the door. (2) And U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren of California apparently can't even give a radio interview and drive a car at the same time. He was pulled over for speeding right in the middle of a live, on-the-air chat. Chicago Sun-Times /// Associated Press via KOVR-TV (Sacramento)

The Pervo-American Community

Fans of "Buffalo [Silence of the Lambs] Bill" and that dance scene from Ed Gein almost had themselves another icon, but police picked him up near a robbed pharmacy in Phoenix, and a search of his home revealed child porn, women's clothes, and a dungeon under construction. Phoenix New Times /// Ed Gein movie

Most people would have changed their names long ago if they were inclined to a life of molesting little girls, showing up on sex-offender lists, and being arrested for hanging around elementary schools. However, Jerry Fitzgerald Dick still wants to be Jerry Fitzgerald Dick. Greensboro News-Record

Michael Edwards Jr., 28, was arrested in Gaithersburg, Md., as sort of a free-lance inseminator-spritzer, slinging semen from a bottle into a woman's hair at a supermarket. WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

The unimaginative Martin Hemby, 20, was arrested in San Antonio, shooting upskirt photos at the same Wal-Mart where he was arrested two weeks ago shooting upskirt photos. San Antonio Express-News

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


No challenges this week. Here's Genevieve Hurst Alvarado and son Benjamin Forster, Maryville, Tenn. He was following her home in his El Camino. Both were drunk. WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Apoleinar Guerro, 31, Lakeland, Fla., who possibly is guilty of felony battery for biting off the tip of his girlfriend's finger in a fight WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update on Oklahoma City Bomber-Helper Terry Nichols: He has entered upon his third "official" hunger strike this year against the SuperMax prison in Colorado because the lack of fiber in his diet (causing "chronic constipation, bleeding, hemorrhoids") disrespects "God's holy temple," which is Terry's name for his body. The Smoking Gun

Recurring: There are too many law-enforcement wannabes and too many hoarders, but here's Frederick Nickerson--a combo! He was picked up after he scammed his way into U.S. Health and Human Services headquarters last week, and authorities searching his home found at least 64 law-enforcement ID items from dozens of jurisdictions. Washington Post [with list of the items]

Update: The mayor of the District of Calamity finally fired the head of D.C.'s juvie (Dept. of Youth and Rehabilitative Services) because the agency has been much more effective at enabling than at rehabbing. Following the firing, the mayor arrived to present awards to a few DYRS youth who have actually been behaving themselves, but before that was over, three girls started a major brawl. Washington Examiner

Recurring: On the Ocean City, Md., boardwalk this summer, you'll find Wayne Short with his faithful "service animal"--his iguana Hillary, who has her official service-animal card. (Bonus: Both Hillary and Wayne look about like you'd imagine.) The Daily Times (Salisbury, Md.)

Recurring: Q: What's the latest thing that kids in Britain can't have this summer because it's too dangerous? A: plastic wading pools. The serious explanation: Safety ninnies say the pools might get in the way of emergency workers if they get called to council housing in Cranham. Romford Recorder

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


Recession's Over: If there's enough money in circulation that Faye Rogers can earn some by convincing people that she can hear, and talk to, and understand, worms (and all other critters), the economy must be sailing along again. Faye's feuding with a horse whisperer who called cats "wily." (Bonus News You Can Use: She said they only appear wily because one must ask cats "specific" questions if one wants answers.) The Press (Christchurch, N.Z.)

There must be good reasons for why most of the world (including many Americans!) revere "traditional medicines." There must be. Otherwise, we might be upset that the last remaining rhinoceros in the South African preserve has been killed for its horn. In fact, 90% of the world's rhinos have been slaughtered in the last 40 years so that Chinese and Vietnamese can be placebo'd into thinking they're cured of their various maladies. Toronto Star

The Government Accountability Office raised some long-settled dust last week with its report on what fabulous(ly awful) deals most for-profit vocational schools are, and caught in the jaws were such big names as the Washington Post Co. and Goldman Sachs, both of which are owners of top-shelf schools. Goldman's group, like just about all such schools, gets over 80% of its revenue from federal student loans. Of course, Goldman trotted out a few success stories, and stats show that most grads don't complain, but almost all owe a boatload of money for their tuition and will probably never break even. Plus there's the unseemliness of pitching expensive services almost exclusively to the vulnerable. Bloomberg News

Three Lebanese soldiers were killed in a border skirmish with Israel, begun when Israeli soldiers (on a strip of land whose boundary was hard to read) tried to cut down a tree. Can't have that. Haaretz

Overpopulation Problem Solved (at least among the Followers of Christ church in Oregon): Dale and Shannon Hickman were indicted (2nd-degree manslaughter) for letting their ill newborn son wilt away, of a medically-treatable condition. The state medical examiner's office said that that runs the total in recent decades to more than 20 children of FOC members dying similarly needlessly. The Oregonian

It's a college course, team-taught by a genuine rapper! (Bonus: at the fairly prestigious Rice University!) It's by Bub B, who says the future of hip hop lies with religion because of the "parallels and correlations" and that "people from all walks of life" can learn from hip hop. NPR [formerly "National Public Radio"]

The lawyer for Army Maj. Nidal Hasan (the Fort Hood shooter [ed.: who, by the way, was, indeed the Fort Hood shooter, although we cannot say if he's guilty of this crime or that crime . . though we mock ourselves by referring to him as "innocent"]) complained that no local bank will accept Hasan's direct-deposits (since the Army has to keep paying him until final resolution). "I think it's just another example of the prejudice that he's been exposed to." Austin American-Statesman

Editor's Notes

The Future of Journalism / Specials from Britain's The Sun: Somehow, the worldwide tentacles of professional reportage found these two people somewhere in China: the fella who jumped in the water only to have an eel swim up his ass . . and the woman who has the unusual ability to sleep for six straight months and then stay awake for six straight months. Damn. That sure is news of the weird. eel /// sleep

Newsrangers: Melissa Cerrito, Gerald Sacks, Mark McLauchlin, Eugenia Schenecker, Scott Huber, David Gregory, Paul Krause, Alan Magid, Tom Creamer, Greg White, and Kevin Meadowcroft, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, August 02, 2010

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
August 2, 2010
(datelines July 24-July 31) (links correct as of August 2)
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Scuzzy Brits Get Do-Overs, Plus Momma's Gone, Penile Electrosurgery, and a Violent Buddhist

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It's Fabulous to Be a British Criminal: Here's how it goes down for a British pedophile child-killer: If the "justice" system says he's "paid his debt to society" for his crime, he has a right to a quiet, uneventful life, and if he's so notorious that he can't have it, the government pays for a new identity (estimated cost: £250,000) plus continuing "privacy" protection (estimated cost: £1,000,000 a year). Jon Venables "paid his debt" for killing that two-year-old boy, and then he "paid his debt" for being a serial child-porn-downloader, and he's about to become a free (and expensive to keep) man. Daily Telegraph (July 23)

Garden of Eden "Too Polluted" for Baptisms: Friends of the Earth Middle East made the charge. Apparently, Jesus was baptized just in time, before the sewage and runoff into the Jordan River got too bad. Israel Today

World-Class Optimism: Here's Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police, sincerely hoping that "victims" will come forward with evidence against counterfeiters he just arrested (and he thinks the most likely victims were local drug dealers): "What we are asking today is we want all the drug dealers to call us [if you might have accepted this counterfeit money]. Trust us. Call us." WAVE-TV (Indianapolis)

Those Hardy New York Firefighters: John Giuffrida, 42, retired on a disability pension of about $75,000 a year in 2003, based on asthma and other lung ailments from cleaning up the Sept. 11th Ground Zero. Two years later, he was a regular on the mixed-martial-arts circuit. (Bonus: Still got FDNY attitude! "It's completely different," he says, (a) beating the crap out of people and (b) "running into a building that is on fire with a smoke condition and toxins in the air.") New York Post

Life Imitates a Rodney Dangerfield Joke: An unusual 1922 law in British Columbia obligates adult children to support their parents in hard times, and times are now indeed hard for Shirley Anderson, 71, and she's suing, and there'll be a hearing this week in Vancouver. Shirley and her hard-drinking old man had five kids, and one day, they moved--without telling four of them. Gone for good. On their own. The four grew up OK, if emotionally scarred, and now they're doing much better than Shirley is, but Shirley has that law going for her. PostMedia News via Montreal Gazette

Losers

Note to Justin Johnson, 21: Bloomfield State Bank in Bloomfield, Ind., doesn't keep $1 million on the premises and couldn't cash your check even if it were real. Green County Daily World (Linton, Ind.)

Note to the 43-year-old man arrested in Vancouver, B.C., who tried to rob the Starbucks: No cutting in line to announce your holdup demand, especially if there are uniformed cops in the same line. Seattle Weekly

Dennis Hawkins, 48, managed to knock off the Citizens Bank in the Pittsburgh suburb of Swissvale, Pa., but the rest was a bust. He took a pre-crime stroll around the neighborhood in his robber uniform (blonde wig, fake breasts, clown pants), and when he left the bank, he tried to get rides, but drivers grabbed their keys and ran, and meanwhile, the red-dye pack exploded on him. Cops found him a couple of blocks from the bank, sitting in a car, counting the soon-not-to-be-his loot. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Applications of the Bigger Dick Principle: (1) In Portage, Ind., brothers Michael, 36, and Eric Perez, 28, getting ornerier by the minute after a night of drinking, hopped into their respective vehicles and just started ramming each other. (2) In Fort Yukon, Alaska, Jacob Savage beat the crap out of Alfred Peter because Alfred had shown Jacob up by speeding around him, which he felt compelled to do after Jacob had run a stop sign in front of Alfred. Alfred may lose sight in one eye (and on top of that, his dick's smaller than Jacob's!). The Times of Northwest Indiana (Munster) [with post-ramming mugshot] /// Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Strange World

Officials in Tokyo went to the home of Mr. Sogen Kato, reportedly the oldest man in the city, to congratulate him upon his reaching age 111 . . but found he had only reached about 80 or so before expiring about 30 years ago. They charged family members with fraud for not telling the government. BBC News

The Miss Universe pageant invites the contestants on stage for a group presentation of original gowns reflecting the culture of their home countries, and apparently there are no mirrors in Miss Australia's dressing room. Daily Telegraph (London)

In a scene recalling the golden era of George Steinbrenner, the North Korean soccer team, which flamed out in the first round of the World Cup, was marched into the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang and, for six whole hours, each player was officially reamed . Still, this represents progress. Just a few years ago, North Koreans who sucked that bad wouldn't be around long. (Bonus: The coach fears they'll eventually come for him.) Toronto Star

Buddhism is such a volatile, violent religion! Ram Bahadur Bomjan, the Nepalese "Buddha boy," punched out a group of locals who were disturbing his meditation session. BBC News

A team of surgeons in Taiwan, curious about how much "electrosurgery" could safely be performed on the penis, experimented on themselves. Answer: not much. Their paper, "Determination of Human Penile Electrical Resistance and Implication on Safety Electrosurgery of Penis" says the risk can't be overstated. News.com.au (Sydney)

That's Messed Up

Dad couldn't be prouder that his daughter had faced up to the barracuda, even though she had come away from it with a 51-stitch gash. Here's the photo he made her pose for before he'd drive her to the hospital. (She's less happy than he is, probably because she's . . bleeding.) Field and Stream

Kibbles 'n bits - 'n wafers: Anglican priest Marguerite Rea in Toronto, carried away with the moment in welcoming a new congregant (with his dog Trapper alongside), gave Trapper Communion, too. The local bishop said maybe that was wrong. Daily Telegraph (London, England)

Southwest Airlines, boarding in Las Vegas (and full), booted off a 5-foot-4, 115-lb. passenger because a late-arriving big-ol'-gal needed an extra seat. (The BOG had a regular ticket; the 5-4 woman was on standby.) (Bonus: The BOG? 14 years old.) Sacramento Bee

Mr. Henri Broadway, serving life for killing a cop in Louisiana, is mustering an appeal on several grounds, including that the foreman at his 1995 trial ran a betting pool on when the damn thing would be over. Associated Press via KFDM-TV (Beaumont, Tex.)

Former government war contractor (maker of body armor) David H. Brooks is before the jury this weekend after 70 witnesses painted a story of elegant, chutzpah-encrusted misuse of funds. (Bonus: He defended paying prostitutes with contract money as "motivat[ing]" his employees and "making them more productive.") He also worked seriously to locate an "anti-memory" drug, which he wanted to feed to his chief financial officer, who he feared was the one person who could bring the whole scheme to a crashing thud. New York Times

Michael Green, 44, another of those fine misconvicted Texas "criminals," was scheduled to be freed over the weekend. He served 27 years for kidnaping and sexual assault, but now everyone knows he didn't do it. Authorities delayed his release, though--afraid he'd go off on them as he walked out the door. Gave him a little more chill time. KRIV-TV (Houston)

Brittany Labberton, 21, has already been convicted of starving her first kid, and her second was taken away from her, too, and she's about to squeeze out her third. Prosecutors in Seattle tried for a court order requiring the hospital to confiscate little number 3 upon his exit, but the judge said no, that state Child Protective Services will handle things. (CPS: Well, somebody'll have to call us; we don't have jurisdiction until the baby pops.) Seattle Times

The Pervo-American Community

Matthew Navaie, 22, was busted in the act of taking upskirt photos in a Sherwood, Ore., Target store. (Bonus: surveillance video of Matthew in action, bending to get a good shot.) KPTV (Portland)

He Loved the Ladies: Michael Lyons was sentenced to 10 years for having taken advantage of women sexually while ministering to them spiritually. For the prosecution: 12 women who testified that he's a creep. For the defense: 50 who testified that he was heaven-sent. BBC News

Update: Free-lance researcher Larry Bottone is unchastened by a two-year prison stretch and is back at it. He was a coach / teacher / tutor in Norwalk, Conn., and we had him pleading guilty in 1996 [NOTW 477, 3-28-1997] to whipping and hot-oiling nude teenage boys but only as the famed Yale researcher, Prof. Stanley Milgram, might have designed it: Bottone said he was just measuring how much pain they were willing to endure on the say-so of an authority figure. He's been charged again in Westchester County, N.Y. The Journal News (White Plains) [sl-o-o-ow loading two days straight]

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


Randy Humple, 27, Westminster, Md., might have been the one who swiped the spider display at the local library (with actual spider!). WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Frank Souza, 31, stands accused of stabbing that drunk driver to death, and, true, the driver was a menace, but still, Frank could show a little remorse, y'know? San Francisco Chronicle

And Bonnie Moore just ought to be a little happier, even though she's charged with doing bad things with a 13-year-old girl. KTHV-TV (Little Rock, Ark.)

Weird 2.0
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"That's close enough for government work"—unknown
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.


GAO periodically tests the passport office at the State Department by submitting bogus applications to see if they can sneak anything past the cagey protectors of border integrity. Latest: 7 fake applications filed; caught two right away; caught two more later on; got completely suckered on the other three (43%). Associated Press via New York Times

One in five Californians say they need mental health care, concluded UCLA researchers (whose grant money goes up the worse that things get). [ed. And anyway, we're pretty sure that that's low for California. But really, all you need in order to be included, according to the UCLA folks, is to claim that you've recently felt "sad, anxious, or nervous" about stuff. Much quicker to count the people who haven't.] Los Angeles Times

According to ProPublica's Bailout Tracker, Citigroup got $45 billion from the federal government and is still sitting on $11 billion of it. On another matter, Citigroup is being investigated by the SEC for lying to investors in 2007, claiming that it was exposed to a max of only $13 billion on those ultra-risky CDOs written on subprime mortgages and the like (when it knew damn well it was exposed up to $40 billion, i.e., Citigroup stock should have been lower-priced to reflect the humongous risk). Citigroup solution: Hey, let's offer the SEC a money settlement to make the whole "lying" thing go away . . say, $75 million. SEC: "Cool!" "Let's do it!" So Citigroup takes $75 million from the $11 billion bailout money and sends it to the SEC. [ed.: Your Editor always strives to be fair, so here's the Citigroup defense: No, no, we're paying the $75 million with different money, money we earned, not bailout money! It's different . . it's from another account . . it's paid by . . a different-colored check . . it's . . it's . . different, that's all. It's not bailout money! It's not! La-la-la-la-la I can't hear you la-la-la-la-la not bailout money la-la-la.] ProPublica.org

Newsrangers: Gil Nelson, Laura Colclough, Bill Alexander, Eric Wainwright, Scott Spitler-Adair, Jeff Morin, Tim Beeber, Gerald Sacks, Christopher Nalty, Kathryn Wood, Brian Bjolin, Paul Kusmierski, and Aaron Gray, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors