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News of the Weird

(c) 1999-2001 , Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

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(EDITORS: The penultimate item may be disturbing.)


Modern Warfare: China, Japan and Taiwan each claim ownership of the uninhabited South China Sea islands of Senkaku or Diaoyu, and the controversy heightened in September when Japan announced that it had formally "purchased" the islands from a private company that reputedly owned them. China countered by "launching" its first-ever aircraft carrier (a vessel junked in 1998 by Ukraine), which it hopes will intimidate its neighbors even though it is useless to planes. Days later, patrol boats from Taiwan and Japan had a confrontation near the islands -- drenching each other in a military-grade squirt-gun fight. (Japan won.) [New York Times, 9-25-2012] [Daily Mail (London), 9-25-2012]

Compelling Explanations

-- A 14-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition in Churchill, Pa., in August after allegedly swiping a Jeep Grand Cherokee and leading the owner's boyfriend on a brief high-speed chase before rolling the Cherokee over on Interstate 376. The boy's mother, according to WTAE-TV, blamed the Cherokee's owner: A vehicle with the keys in it, she said, "was an opportunity that, in a 14-year-old's eyes, was ... the perfect moment." Also, she said, the boyfriend "had no right to chase my son." The boy "could have just (wanted) a joyride down the street. Maybe he (merely) wanted to go farther than he felt like walking." [WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh), 8-13-2012]

-- Irresistible: (1) David Thompson, 27, was arrested in August and charged with stealing a bag of marijuana from the Charleroi (Pa.) Regional police station. While talking to an officer about an unrelated case, Thompson noticed an evidence bag on a counter and swiped it. Caught moments later, Thompson profusely apologized, telling the officer, "I just couldn't help myself. That bud smelled so good." (2) Aaron Morris was charged in August with battery in North Lauderdale, Fla., for groping the buttocks of a woman at a Walmart. According to the arresting officer, Morris explained, "Her booty looked so good, I just couldn't resist touching it." [Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pa.) via NBC News, 8-15-2012] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8-10-2012]


First-World Problems: (1) Ohio death-row inmate Ronald Post, 53, asked a federal court in September to cancel his January date with destiny on the grounds that, despite almost 30 years of prison food, he's still too fat to execute. At 480 pounds, "vein access" and other issues would cause his lethal injection to be "torturous." (2) British murderer-sadist Graham Fisher, 39, is locked up in a high-security hospital in Berkshire, England, but he, too, has been eating well (at about 325 pounds). In August, he was approved for gastric-band surgery paid for by Britain's National Health Service at an estimated cost, including a private room for post-op recuperation, of about $25,000). [Associated Press via Google News, 9-17-2012] [Daily Mail (London), 8-19-2012]


-- Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti was hospitalized in the town of Shahmirzad in September, allegedly after being roughed up by a woman. According to Iran's Mehr news agency, the cleric was merely performing his "duty," warning an allegedly immodestly dressed woman to cover herself better. She suggested, instead, that he should "cover (his) eyes," and when he continued admonishing her, she, unladylike, pushed him away and kicked him. [Bloomberg News, 9-20-2012]

-- Arrested in September and charged with aggravated indecent exposure (making continued obscene gestures to female kayakers on Michigan's Pinnebog River while nude): 60-year-old TV producer William H. Masters III -- the son of pioneer 1960s sex researcher William Masters (who, with Virginia Johnson, wrote the landmark books "Human Sexual Response" and "Human Sexual Inadequacy"). [New York Post, 9-5-2012]

-- In August, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Gerber Legendary Blades company of Portland, Ore., announced a recall of Gerber machetes. According to CPSC, the machetes might have a defect that could cause the handle to break, making the machete, said CPSC, a "laceration hazard." [CPSC News Release, 8-16-2012]

Democracy in Action!

-- Challenging Races: (1) Richard Wagner Jones, running for a school board seat in Granite, Utah, told reporters in June that since the job is mainly about taxes and budgets, he would not have to make site visits to schools. That is fortunate, for Jones is barred from schools as a registered sex offender based on a 1990 conviction. (2) Mike Rios, a former school board member in Moreno Valley, Calif., said in August that he was still considering running for the town's council despite his March arrest for attempted murder and April arrest for pimping (allegedly caught with several underage recruits). (3) Verna Jackson Hammons said in August that her candidacy for mayor of Cullman, Ala., should not suffer by her having appeared 10 years earlier as "the other woman" in a love triangle on an episode of "The Jerry Springer Show." [KSL- TV (Salt Lake City, 6-6-2012] [KCBS-TV (Los Angeles), 8-1- 2012] [Associated Press via (Birmingham)]

-- Brazil has a robust democracy but with very few controls on what candidates may call themselves on ballots. Among those running for offices this election season, according to a September New York Times dispatch from Rio de Janeiro: "John Kennedy Abreu Sousa," "Jimmi Carter Santarem Barroso," "Ladi Gaga," "Christ of Jerusalem," a "Macgaiver," five "Batmans," two "James Bonds," and 16 people whose name contains "Obama." "It's a marketing strategy," said city council candidate Geraldo Custodio, who apparently likes his chances better as "Geraldo Wolverine." [New York Times, 9-16-2012]

The Litigious Society

The City Council of Jersey City, N.J., voted in September to settle a lawsuit filed by Joshua Lopez, who had driven his car directly at a police officer during a 2009 traffic stop, trapping the officer against his own squad car, and thus forcing the officer to fire at him. Lopez suffered only an injured hand, but the city has now agreed to give him $26,500 out of fear of "litigation risk." [The Jersey Journal, 9-13-2012]

Fungus in the News

(1) Yak herders in Tibet and farmers in the Indian Himalayas are becoming relatively prosperous, according to recent reports by National Geographic and London's The Guardian, by harvesting rare caterpillar fungi. In Tibet, "yartsa gunbu" supposedly cures ailments ranging from back pain to HIV, from hair loss to asthma and more, and often sells in local markets for twice its weight in gold. In India, "kira jari" is believed to be an aphrodisiac and energy booster, but the government is trying to control the market because insufficient new larvae means the land might soon be picked clean. (2) Swiss researcher Francis W.M.R. Schwarze announced in September that he will manufacture 30 violins out of wood treated with certain fungi that, in music-appreciation tests, made a lesser-grade violin sound like a Stradivarius. [National Geographic, August 2012] [The Guardian, 7-30-2012] [Wall Street Journal, 9-22-2012]

Creme de la Weird

Arrests were made in July of two men who had openly chatted on the Internet about torturing, cooking and eating children, but investigators have searched in vain for evidence of any such crimes by the men. Jason Scarcello, 42, who wrote, "(A)ctually (seeing) a child cooking would be a dream come true," is under arrest in Anderson, Calif., and Ronald Brown, 57, who suggested carving and cooking body parts for an "Easter meal," in Largo, Fla., was detained for possessing child pornography, but, regarding the Internet chats, both claimed a First Amendment right to their un-acted-upon imaginations, however disgusting. [Redding Record Searchlight, 7-27-2012] [Tampa Bay Times, 7-25-2012]

The Classic Middle Name (all-new!)

Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Jarrod Wayne Rudder, Elkville, Ill. (April); Dustin Wayne Kimrey, Albemarle, N.C. (October); Jeffrey Wayne Finney, Jr., Riverside, Ala. (October); Garrette Wayne Bunch, Clemmons, N.C. (September). Indicted for murder: Daniel Wayne Harmon-Wright (aka Daniel Wayne Sullivan), Gainesville, Va. (May). Conviction for murder upheld by Texas Court of Appeals: Phillip Wayne Harris, Houston (March). Arrest warrant for murder issued: Jeffrey Wayne Powell II, Lakewood, Wash. (October). On trial for murder at press time: Curtis Wayne Bonnell, Miramichi, New Brunswick (September). Trial for murder postponed: David Wayne Laws, Manassas, Va. (October). On the other hand, Michael Wayne Hash, Culpeper, Va., was exonerated of his murder conviction in March after serving 12 years in prison. Rudder: [The Southern (Carbondale, Ill.), 4-24-2012] Kimrey: [The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle), 10-1-2012] Finney: [Daily Home (Talladega, Ala.), 10-2-2012] Bunch: [The Stokes News (King, N.C.), 9-20-2012] Harmon-Wright: [ (Manassas, Va.), 5-29-2012] Harris: [Harris v. State (No. 14-10-00977-CR), 3-20-2012] Powell: [Tacoma News Tribune, 10-2-2012] Bonnell: [Canadian Press, 9-19-2012] Laws: [ (Manassas, Va.), 10-1-2012] Hash: [Star Exponent (Culpeper, Va.), 9-30-2012]

Thanks This Week to Kathryn Wood, Adam Orbell, Bruce Leiserowitz, Gary daSilva, Phil Kanegsberg, Sandy Pearlman, and Karen Seavers, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

(Are you ready for News of the Weird Pro Edition? Every Monday at and Other handy addresses: WeirdNews at earthlink dot net,, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679.)



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