News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication


-- According to an October dispatch in London's Daily Telegraph, Greenland operates probably the world's most inmate-friendly prison (with all residents having jobs on the outside at market wages and enjoying recreational excursions such as fishing and shopping), emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment (though its recidivist rate isn't any better than other prisons'). Guards do take up arms, but only on weekend hunting trips, when the inmates themselves are armed. The main advantage of the system seems to be that court sessions are brief, in that criminals, not fearing prison, usually confess to everything.

-- Those dreading the legal morass of casualty claims emanating from the Sept. 11 attacks will be even more disturbed knowing the current status of claims emanating from the 1993 World Trade Center basement truck-bomb attack. As of Sept. 11, according to an October National Law Journal report, pre-trial discovery was still taking place on "hundreds" of 1993 claims (personal injury lawsuits and property-damage and business-interruption claims) pending before a New York state judge, including at least one on behalf of Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm most devastated on Sept. 11.

-- One notable consistency between the Clinton and Bush administrations is that the Department of the Interior still is not certain how to remedy what federal judge Royce Lamberth has called the government's squandering of more than $10 billion in Indian trust funds (payments for grazing, mining, logging and oil-drilling on Indian land) that it was required to manage starting in 1887. In 1999, the department said it was unable to examine some trust fund records because they were filed in decrepit rooms with so much rat feces as to be hazardous. In October 2001, a status report was prepared for Lamberth, but various department officials declined to sign it because of a lack of confidence that it was truthful.

Marriage in the 21st Century

In July, Mattie Charlene Dyer, 70, married Yang Yukun, 71, in Calgary, Alberta, and settled down there; the bride is an American-born teacher who speaks only English, and the groom is a retired pipefitter who had lived all his life in Beijing and speaks only Chinese. The marriage is "hard to explain," said Dyer, but there is "an electricity (and) a magnetism between us." And in August, according to a New York Times profile, medical student Casey Moss, 22, and Kara Price, 16, held hands for the first time following a two-year "courtship." The Tennessee couple, who long ago had pledged to each other, is said to be representative of a growing number of conservative Christians who not only say no to premarital sex but say no to premarital romance.

Compelling Explanations

-- In June, indecent-exposure arrestee Scott Matthew Brackett, 39, had just been booked and bailed out on one nude excursion through an apartment complex in Broken Arrow, Okla., when he was picked up on a second foray. According to the police report, Brackett said that since the authorities were still investigating the first charge and told him they wouldn't finalize their report for two more days, he figured that he had "two extra days of freedom" until a recommendation would be made on that first charge, and thus, he "just went out to celebrate (by taking his clothes off in public again)."

-- According to a dispatch from Nigeria reported in the Cape Argus (Cape Town, South Africa), Ms. Amina Haruna, 22, of Gusau, Nigeria, was turned down by a Muslim court in August in her quest to divorce her husband, Malam Hassan Mujahid, on the apparently sole ground that his penis is too large for her. The court ruled that it could not determine, even after examining doctors' reports on the couple, whether the size discrepancy was sufficiently great to make the couple incompatible.

I Don't Think So

-- In July in a Suffolk County (Mass.) court, Dr. Marcos Ramos, 59, was convicted of 13 counts of indecent assault on female patients and sentenced to at least six years in prison. His lawyer, Willie J. Davis, had hammered the theme to the jurors that Ramos' gratuitously giving patients breast exams, even though they were unrelated to any medical condition relevant to their cases, was the right thing to do "because you never know when (cancer) is going to appear."

-- Gail M. Follis, 35, was charged with attempted robbery of a convenience store in Elkhorn, Wis., in August after an employee spotted her toward the back of the store carrying a rifle and attempting to put on a ski mask. According to the clerk, Follis said she knew the situation looked bad, but that she had just come in from skeet-shooting (hence, the gun) and just wanted to buy some beer (though beer sales were prohibited at that time of the morning).

-- Bad Memory: In July, a 15-year-old student in Kansas City, Mo., who had previously told police that he and his 29-year-old teacher had been having sex, took the witness stand at a preliminary hearing and said, actually, he also could not remember if he had sex with the teacher or not: "I have a pretty bad memory." And in June, the landmark $3 billion lawsuit victory in Los Angeles by ex-smoker Richard Boeken against Philip Morris was undoubtedly aided by Boeken's testimony that he did not remember any persuasive health warnings against smoking before the 1990s.

People Different Than Us

According to an August profile in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, local resident Tom Cagley, 66, has chronicled the life of his 21-year-old son, Nick, by making journal entries in writing every day since the day he found out his wife was pregnant (8,019 consecutive days, in 62 spiral notebooks, totaling 7,412 pages and, he estimated, 3 million words). The elder Cagley said he realized that he had not spent enough time with his five children from an earlier marriage and wanted to make sure that didn't happen with Nick (who, while generally appreciative of Dad's effort, admitted that he has not been very interested in reading the journals).


News of the Weird reported in April 2000 that Prince Jefri (brother of the Sultan of Brunei, the oil-rich country on the northern coast of Borneo) had been busted by the sultan down to an allowance of only $300,000 a month, because he had been wasting the family's money (allegedly, $15 billion) in his role as the country's finance minister. In August 2001, Jefri's vast collection of consumer goods (10,000 items, including hundreds of cars, 17 airplanes and several yachts, one of which he named "Tits," with twin dinghies named "Nipple 1" and "Nipple 2") were sold at auction (for a mere $7.8 million). Until two years ago, the sultan was the world's richest man, but his fortune is believed to have shrunk to about $10 billion.

Thinning the Herd

In a road-rage chase that ended when the pursuing car wrapped itself around a tree, its driver and the front-seat passenger who egged him on were killed, and the driver being chased (who stopped twice to attempt to apologize but was threatened and cursed and so kept on driving) was unharmed (Clearwater, Fla., August). And a 19-year-old man became the latest wild-cruising teen-ager to die by sticking his head out the passenger window at the wrong moment (utility pole) (East Meadow, N.Y., September).

Also, in the Last Month . . .

A medical examiner said the man who pushed his already-strangled wife off a hotel balcony did not then commit suicide by leaping but actually just clumsily fell right behind her, to his death (Nashville). The British government aborted its study of whether mad-cow disease can spread to sheep after it realized it had been mistakenly studying cow brains for five years instead of sheep brains. Two Floridians filed a $1.1 trillion lawsuit against Osama bin Laden for scaring them (Fort Pierce). Prosecutors revealed that a quirk in state law means that Dr. Dirk Greineder, recently convicted for murdering his wife, nonetheless remains as administrator of her estate for their three children, who are the wife's beneficiaries (Wellesley, Mass.).

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