News of the Weird

Week of October 21, 2001

-- In October, Mr. Ade Ogunjobi, 41, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission offering to buy General Electric, General Motors, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, AT&T Wireless, Hughes Electronics and Marriott International (aggregate market capitalization: $650 billion), proposing to pay shareholders triple the value of their shares. The downside: Payment would be only in shares of Ogunjobi's Toks Inc. (current capitalization: $0), of which Ogunjobi is 100 percent owner and sole employee. According to the SEC filing, the acquisitions will capitalize on potential synergies and will clear the way for "aggressive expansions of Toks Inc. into other industry sectors."

-- Dr. Rogerio Lobo, chairman of the ob-gyn department at Columbia Medical School, told reporters in October that he almost withheld publishing his findings (in a current issue of the prestigious Journal of Reproductive Medicine) because they were so improbable. His team found that random groups of South Korean women had almost double the success rate with in-vitro fertilization if they had been prayed for by a group of Americans than if they hadn't been. Lobo said there was probably some variable he had not accounted for, but he could not imagine what it might be.

-- The show-business newspaper Variety reported that a group of big-name Hollywood writers had been convened in early October at the behest of the U.S. Army to take advantage of their creativity in trying to predict terrorist scenarios in America that might be planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. Among those in attendance were the writers of the movies "Die Hard" and "Delta Force One," but also the writers of "Grease" and the TV show "MacGyver."

Names in the News

Arrested for public urination (Bowling Green, Ohio, September): Mr. Joshua Pees. Escaped from the same prison for a third time (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, October): Mr. Richard Slippery. Pleaded guilty after being caught at bank fraud (Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation, S.D., July): Manuel Fool Head and his wife, Sandra Fool Head. And in July, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Andre Johnson on drug charges, calling the warrantless search of his apartment illegal; the police had broken in, citing an emergency exception to the warrant requirement solely on the basis that Johnson's street name, Earthquake, made it obvious that he is too violent to have to wait on a warrant.

Unclear on the Concept

-- Detrick Washington, 25, was jailed for six days in San Francisco in August on a parole violation after he almost single-handedly prevented the armed robbery of his concert-promotion business receipts and possibly saved his own life. Two robbers had threatened to kill the people in Washington's loft if he didn't turn over the cash, but Washington grabbed one of the guns and shot one robber dead (and another person shot the other robber dead). Washington was jailed because, as a parolee, he is prohibited from handling guns. After an investigation, and community pressure, Washington was released.

-- In September, Paragon Gaming of Las Vegas signed an agreement to build a casino on the land of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians, in order to take advantage of the exemption of tribal land from state regulation. The entire Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission consists of Maryann Martin, age 36, and seven kids.

The Continuing Crisis

-- Switzerland jeopardized its renowned reputation for noncontroversy in August when it submitted for world-record consideration a cherry-spitting launch of 82 feet, allegedly beating the old record (held by American Rick "Pellet Gun" Krause of Arizona) of 74 feet. (Pellet Gun is married to the women's champion, Marlene "Machine Gun" Krause.) Switzerland's bid is controversial because it uses more-spitting-friendly pits, plus, in Switzerland, distance includes the two-foot follow-through area, whereas other world-record spits were measured from the point of release.

-- In a conference paper delivered in August, Professor Patricia Simonet (Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, Nev.) reported that dogs make a fourth distinctive sound pattern (besides bark, growl and whine): an idiosyncratic "pant" that is unmistakably joyous and playful and which is observed in such activities as tearing up a flower bed or looking back over his shoulder when he's outrunning his master at play. Simonet found that the "pant" was a series of sounds too subtle for most humans to pick up in the everyday commotion, but that when she played the sound for 15 puppies, all moved immediately to a toy area and began to frolic.

-- In July, Sarasota (Fla.) County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Czachur drove his cruiser to a familiar spot beside South Oxford Drive in Englewood to take a turn watching for speeders. The patrol car immediately rolled into a neatly created hole about 5 feet by 5 feet, which was disguised by someone's having laid palm fronds and oak branches across it. Said Czachur, "Someone must have been ticketed and got upset."

People Different From Us

In August, Passaic County (N.J.) prosecutors filed a forfeiture action against the Craftsman turbo twin-cylinder riding lawn mower belonging to Carmin Ezzo, 45, who is crippled (spinal meningitis) and allegedly uses it for mobility when he feels the need to get out and flash neighborhood women (and, in the latest case, to attempt to flee police after flashing). According to police, Ezzo also has a home-based scheme, too (except that few fall for it anymore), of eliciting sympathy from women by pretending to be injured, and when a woman comes in to help him, he is nude.

Least Competent Criminals

Aug. 30 was a remarkable day at the Baltimore Police Department personnel office. Edwin V. Gaynor, 21, was filling out an application to join the force when he came to the standard question of whether he'd ever committed a crime. Gaynor decided to be candid: Well, yes, he had, and he went into detail about a carjacking and two robberies in Texas. The answer drew the notice of detectives down the hall, who questioned Gaynor, got intimate details of the crimes, called police in Texas, found out that the carjacking was unsolved, found that Gaynor's details matched the crime's details, got a search warrant for Gaynor's home, found lots of relevant evidence, and executed the Texas arrest warrant. Said Gaynor's mom, "He always wanted to be (a cop)."

Update

Surgeon Brigitte Boisselier has come a long way since being mentioned in News of the Weird in 1998 about her plans to clone humans (at the then-price of $200,000 each). Her mission is still part-spiritual (she's a bishop in the Raelian religion, which posits that Earthlings came from extraterrestrial DNA and which requires cloning to advance the species), though she recently shut down her human-cloning lab in Nitro, W.Va. (funded by a wealthy former state legislator who offered $500,000 to have his dead infant son re-created, but who later disavowed the project), and has been investigated concerning another rumored lab near Syracuse, N.Y., which the Food and Drug Administration has questioned as possibly violating federal law.

Also, in the Last Month ...

A man's pit bull was eaten by the other pet in the house, the man's 200-pound Burmese python (Merced, Calif.). A 73-year-old man who had spent about $12,000 on driving lessons and received his very first license five months ago had his license revoked for DUI (Ipswich, England). An Albuquerque Police Department night-patrol helicopter crew came under criticism for landing behind a Krispy Kreme store to pick up a box of donuts to take to the stationhouse. A funeral home dumped a body bag containing the corpse of a 74-year-old man on his girlfriend's front porch after she balked at paying the $1,200 cremation fee (Cross Timbers, Mo.).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Newsweird@aol.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)

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