Monday, February 07, 2011

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
February 7, 2011
(datelines January 29-February 5) (links correct as of February 7)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Culling the School Herd, Plus Rednecks in Training and AIDS Drugs Gain Value

★ ★ ★ ★!

You're Still, Still, Not Cynical Enough: (1) An ex-Atlanta-area elementary school principal admitted that she dis-enrolled 13 of her problem kids for a few days so they wouldn't be around to take state tests--and afterward, enrolled 'em back in. (2) In Allen County Independent School District, north of Dallas, Tex., they (like like all school districts) have trouble avoiding cutbacks and layoffs, but in May 2009, at the height of the recession, voters OK'd borrowing $119 million for a new Allen High School football stadium. It's just about ready. Atlanta Journal-Constitution /// New York Times

People Still Pay for Internet Porn?: A California Court of Appeal ruled that sites that give away Internet pornography (as teasers) do not violate the state's "unfair competition" law even though it's extremely annoying to pay-as-you-go porn sites. [ed.: The judges appear not to understand that, unlike teasers on major Hollywood films, porn "teasers" are often all a viewer needs, or so Your Editor has heard.] ArsTechnica.com

China's Mole People: Seriously, China may be way ahead of the U.S. in economic growth, but its income is horribly disproportionately divided: filthy-rich entrepreneurs . . and plain-filthy, barely surviving worker-servants (many of 'em college graduates!). In fact, hundreds of thousands of Beijingers live underground . . in civil-defense lockers built by Mao when he feared Soviet Union bombs: 30 square miles' worth, with some lockers as small as 6' x 9', at monthly rents starting at around £30 ($48). Daily Telegraph (London)

Update: Burmese Stork Girls: The main thing different since News of the Weird last brought the ring-necked girls of Burma into your eyeballs [NOTW 541, 6-19-1998] is that at least one large American company (a poultry producer) is recruiting among the Kayan tribe in Burma to bring kids to Texas (to debone chickens for a living), thus offering an alternative to the career field of having parents load up daughters' necks with 11-25 pounds of rings, smooshing down their clavicles so they'll grow into long-necked tourist attractions for Thailand entrepreneurs. (Isn't that painful, the tourists ask. [Real answer: Duh-uh!] Why, yes . . yes, it is, they answer politely, but it apparently beats having to live in Burma.) Global Post /// KTRE-TV (Lufkin, Tex.) [Jan. 12th]

Prisoners 29, IRS 0 Apparently IRS is still paying prisoners who make bogus claims on their income tax returns. The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general reported that, in the first seven months of 2010, 12,910 taxpayers claimed, "erroneously," tax credits for electric and hybrid cars. (No, tax credit for golf carts is not what Congress had in mind.) That number included 29 people who were in prison the entire tax year. TaxProf Blog

This Is Why We Need Hatchets: "Some people are jealous" is how Ms. Sinkfield rationalizes the massive revulsion that she provokes among people who encounter her for the first time. Why their disgust? After all, she's merely making "a fashion statement" that she believes is appreciated by "most women." She is Ms. Jazz Ison Sinkfield, of Atlanta, Ga., and the subject matter is her 10 crooked, curling fingernails, whose individual lengths vary between 20 and 24 inches. WXIA-TV (Atlanta) [with recoil-provoking photo]

And Still More Things To Worry About

"[F]lare-ups by short-tempered parents" are part of the deal at National Kiddie Tractor Pullers Association meets, they say. (Just like full-grown rednecks, 3- to 8-year-olds competitively pedal "tractors" hauling hundreds of pounds.) (Yep, 3.) Columbus Dispatch

Fine Points of the Law: (1) Shouldn't there be, in Aspen, Colo., a Constitutional right to call a cop a "douche bag"? (2) The judge shouldn't have let that psychotherapist tell the jury that she knew, perfectly well, that the kid had been abused by his parents because the boy told her that--by telepathy. Aspen Times /// The Scotsman (Edinburgh)

Last week in South Africa, (1) a woman was arrested for allegedly hiring a man to rape her 24-year-old daughter--to impregnate her so she could be fulfilled as a grandmother, and (2) news reports emerged on the latest drug craze--"whoonga"--just your ordinary get-high mixture of detergent, rat poison, and marijuana . . and some unused anti-retrovirals lying around (since some medical authorities in the country still don't believe HIV is connected to AIDS). (Bonus: Some men consider HIV a blessing because it gives them greater access to the drugs.) Daily Mail (London) /// Fox News /// News24.com (Cape Town)

Those crazy Asians, willing to pay delicacy-type prices to munch on the "sea cucumber" (earthworm-resembling creatures that roam the ocean floor for anything predators leave behind--and which breathe through their anuses). The Independent (London)

It's almost time for Carnival in Brazil, and some legislators are moving to constitutionalize joy, i.e., adding the "right" to happiness (but everybody forced to live in those favela slums better already be happy because this "right" won't help them). Associated Press via Washington Post

Police in Christchurch, New Zealand, got slapped with a $150,000 NZ ($115,000 US) lawsuit for the aftermath of the arrest of a woman with piercings. She had removed most of them, as the law required of detainees, but one wouldn't come off, necessitating, um, bolt-cutters. (Bonus: It was on her you-know-where.) The Press (Christchurch)

The British immigration officer didn't want his wife back so, when she flew home to Pakistan to visit the folks, he put her name on a terrorist list. Problem solved. Daily Mail (London)

Losers

No Longer Weird (but with a twist): A burglar was busted in Silver Spring, Md., after he left his cell phone behind [ed.: so far, a yawner of a story], but the reason he left it behind was that the Giant Snowstorm had shut down electricity at his own home, and he needed to break into a house that still had power, to get a recharge. WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Can't Possibly Be True: (1) A Minneapolis woman tried to mail a puppy to Atlanta (didn't even put air holes in the box) (2) This guy called 911 (the one telephone number equipped with super-tracing technology) just to ask whether his pot plant was illegal. Star Tribune /// WTNH-TV (New Haven, Conn.)

Car thief James Brown of Sacramento was arrested after he hit-and-ran another car and escaped on foot. How they ID'd him: The collision had knocked out Brown's false teeth, which remained at the scene. KCRA-TV (Sacramento)

Armed-robber Edward Nathan, Jr., 50, who escaped from prison in 1983 and had avoided police all these years, finally slipped up and got caught in Atlanta the week before last . . arrested on a charge of peeing in public. WJXT-TV (Jacksonville, Fla.)

At the other end of the successful-fugitive spectrum, Anthony Darwin, on the run in Wisconsin for six years to avoid a bunch of charges, turned himself in in January . . well, because he has cancer and wants treatment on the government's dime. (Bonus: The sheriff, facing budget problems, stuck the warrant back in the drawer and sent Darwin on his way.) Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

Loser school officials continue to up the ante on Zero Tolerance: (1) A 7-year-old boy brought a Nerf-type ball-shooting machine to school, which naturally led the school, in Hammonton, N.J., to call the police, who charged him with a misdemeanor. (Imagine parents, later showing off their scrapbook: "Oh, and look, here's page one of little Timmy's rapsheet . . ..") (2) A high school kid in Spotsylvania, Va., was expelled for hitting three kids with little pellets ya blow out of a small tube. [ed.: You and I went to school at the right time, didn't we?] WCAU-TV (Philadelphia) /// Washington Post

The Pervo-American Community

Last week's big day for high school football players left out hotshot lineman Christopher Carter of Cleveland (recruited by Ohio State), who was in jail because of his hobby, which apparently is taking (and recording in a notebook) all the inappropriate measurements of his girl classmates (under the ruse of helping fit them into uniforms for the Junior ROTC, of which he is a member). Plain Dealer

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


Joseph Kidd's lawyer has a point: He must be innocent, because ya can't successfully steal someone's identity, and use it for 17 years without getting caught, if you go around looking like Kidd. Sacramento Bee

And the latest fashion statements, from this week's collection in The Smoking Gun: charged with contempt of court (and that was before she showed up looking like that) . . who knew "eyebrows" were such a versatile style platform? . . . a hair style that nicely exploits a mental-patient forehead.

Editor's Notes

So . . I got a little extra time this weekend . . and the meds kicked in . . and I will produce a Tuesday post of 14 more stories that made me tingle. I'll send it to the Google Groups list, as well.

Newsrangers (including contributors of tomorrow's post): Mather Preston, Mike Mendenhall, Dave Shepardson, Don Boesen, Hal Dunham, Seth Chickering, Sandy Pearlman, Matt Stiglitz, Charles Morgan, Michael Meloth, Bruce Leiserowitz, and Don Peck, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors