News of the Weird

Week of July 15, 2001

LEAD STORIES

-- According to the annual report on estimated accidents in the home, from Britain's Department of Trade and Industry and detailed in a June issue of New Scientist, three dozen people were sent to the hospital for injuries associated with teapot covers; about 165 for injuries from placemats, about 330 from toilet-paper holders, and about 13,000 from vegetables. However, sponge-related accidents fell from 996 the previous year to 787, and only 329 injuries from meat cleavers were reported. [New Scientist, 6-9-01]

-- Ms. Vermont Elaine Beverly, 47, is likely the only imprisoned murderer in the United States who earns a full salary and benefits as an ordinary state employee, according to a June Associated Press dispatch. Because Beverly (who has served 10 years of a 15-year sentence) scored high on a state test and because the Alabama Vocational Rehabilitation Office is required to hire high-scorers, she spends days on the job and returns to her Birmingham cell at night. Much of her salary is remitted to the state, but she retains full health insurance and retirement benefits. [Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer-AP, 6-27-01]

-- In Draguignan, France, a 62-year-old woman identified only as Jeanine gave birth to a boy in May, after in-vitro fertilization. She is not the oldest woman to give birth, but she is the oldest to give birth using sperm from her own brother. The two hid the brother's identity from doctors so they could qualify to receive their 80-year-old mother's estate, which would have gone to others if the siblings had been childless. The couple also had a backup plan, with the brother's sperm being used to produce a daughter with a California woman, and both children now live with the siblings. [Reuters, 6-21-01; New York Post, 6-24-01]

That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It

Alejandro Toledo was elected president of Peru in June despite his campaign explanation that the reason he once failed a drug test was because he had been kidnapped by intelligence agents and force-fed cocaine. And Harvard medical school professor Dirk Greineder was convicted in June of murdering his wife, despite his unwavering explanation that the reason the couple's blood was all over him was because they both coincidentally came down with nosebleeds on the morning of the wife's death. And a 39-year-old motorist in Bismarck, N.D., stopped in May by police for having illegal tinting on her truck's windshield, told them it must have been the work of a free-lancer who broke in and tinted the windows without her knowledge. [New York Times, 6-4-01] [New York Post, 5-21-01] [Bismarck Tribune, 5-18-01]

Inexplicable

-- In a December 2000 incident, a man in Dakota County, Minn., decided to bludgeon to death (beneficently, he apparently thought) an already slightly wounded German shepherd/husky mix dog. Neighbor John Christoffel intervened during the bloody sledgehammer assault, imploring the man to stop and ultimately pulling a gun on him, but it was too late to save the dog. Prosecutors later filed a felony gun-threat charge against Christoffel (and threatened two more charges) while the dog-hammerer himself received only a misdemeanor citation for animal cruelty. (After community protests, the prosecutor reduced Christoffel's charge to a misdemeanor also.) [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4-23-01]

-- Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested Steven Smiley, 39, in March and charged him as the one who, just acting on his "fascination with explosives" (as one deputy described it), released plastic trash bags filled with helium into the air, with burning flares and explosive powder attached, so that when the flare burned out, the bag would explode like a small bomb. Smiley apparently had no idea where the bags would land and, according to deputies, didn't seem to care. One, however, landed on the roof of a sheriff's substation three miles from Smiley's home and exploded, but no one was hurt. [Edmonton Journal-AP, 3-17-01]

-- Federal law guarantees every child a public education, no matter how extensive his special needs (or how costly), but Massachusetts could not find any school to take Nathan Vincent, 15, at any price because of his severe physical and intellectual limitations and a self-mutilation problem, until one in New Hampshire accepted him in April after a 10-month search. During the 10 months, according to an April Boston Globe story, the state picked up the bill for him to stay, without schooling, at Children's Hospital in Boston, which came to $619,000, or the equivalent of the annual salaries of a dozen teachers. [Boston Globe, 4-24-01]

-- In May, according to prosecutors in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mr. Sukhjinder Singh Dhillon, his mother and his sister administered a severe beating to the man's wife in January because they were angry at her for being such a failure, primarily because she had so far given birth to two girls and no boys. [National Post-Vancouver Sun, 5-29-01]

Names in the News

-- Passed away in April in Long Beach, Calif.: Carolyn R.S. Posthumus. Arrested in January for possession of marijuana in DeKalb, Ill.: Mr. Marjuan Fleming. Sentenced for rape in April in Providence, R.I. (after telling the judge that he fantasizes about having sex with unconscious women): Kevin M. McWeeney. Announcing the unpopular decision in April that his Crow Tribe office in Montana would lay off 25 percent of the workforce because of rising expenses: Mr. Leroy Not Afraid. Pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of child pornography, Stewartville, Minn., May: Mr. Ronald Kummer. [Indianapolis Star, 4-18-01] [DeKalb Daily Chronicle, 1-20-01] [Providence Journal, 4-17-01] [USA Today, 4-20-01] [Minneapolis Star Tribune-AP, 6-1-01]

Update

News of the Weird reported in February that Phillip Buble's father had just been convicted, in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, of attempting to murder Phillip by smacking him in the head with a crowbar because Phillip would not stop his public displays of affection with his dog-"wife" Lady, a mixed breed. (Phillip is a "zoophile" and considers himself married to Lady "in the eyes of God.") In March, Buble gave a 30-minute presentation to a state legislative committee urging (unsuccessfully) that they not pass a pending anti-bestiality bill; Lady had to wait for him in the car because dogs are not allowed in the chamber. And in April, Buble was fined $50 for having an unlicensed dog (not Lady, though Lady is also unlicensed, but she was not caught). [Bangor Daily News, 3-27-01, 4-27-01]

People Different From Us

Ron Pollock and his sister Natalie, both 50ish, filed a lawsuit in April against a radio station in their hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, because it declined their suggestion for a program on Jewish issues, despite the station's having a similar program on Christian issues. The Pollocks are well-known in Winnipeg because of a series of lawsuits after a cable TV channel in the 1980s canceled Natalie's dance show on the basis, according to the Pollocks, that her large breasts called undesired attention to the show. (The Pollocks later discussed the controversy on various U.S. TV talk shows, including the Jenny Jones show, during which Natalie got into a shoving match with another large-breasted woman, who, according to Natalie, "banged me with (her fake breasts) in my eye.") [National Post, 4-4-01]

Undignified Deaths

-- Latest Industrial Accidents: A 45-year-old bakery worker was killed when his head and shoulders got trapped in a dinner-roll-making machine (Bridgeport, Conn., April). A 54-year-old man was killed when he got caught in a factory pasta-making machine (Chester, Vt., February). A 43-year-old New York City municipal environmental worker had just cleared debris from the mouth of a large reservoir drain but then could not get out of the way fast enough and was sucked down the drain 200 feet to his death (March). [New Haven Register-AP, 4-29-01] [Burlington Free Press, 2-17-01] [MSNBC-AP, 3-3-01]

Also, in the Last Month ...

A Malaysian education official, wary of the teacher shortage, urged female teachers to plan any pregnancies so that babies are delivered during school vacations. A man notified a convenience store clerk in person that he would be back in a half-hour to rob him, then loitered outside the store for 30 minutes before returning and robbing him (Covington, Ky.). Five employees at a religion-run reformatory were arrested for having troublemaking students stand in a manure pit (Monticello, Mo.). Salt Lake City Winter Olympics officials said that music with sex, drugs or violence in the lyrics would not be permitted during snowboarding competition, even though such music is standard for many of that event's competitors. [Japan Today-Reuters, 6-26-01] [Cincinnati Enquirer, 6-24-01] [Associated Press, 6-29-01] [New York Times, 6-28-01]

Thanks this week to Albert Clawson, Joe Schwind, Larry Clunie, Jonathan Rowe, David Cyr, Jeremy Dickson-Smith, Jeremiah Puddleduck, Mark Lidwell, Joel O'Brien, Henry Wehman, Larry Manofsky, Mike Reynolds, Robin Olson, Bill Landenberger, Roger Brown II, Sean Smith, Dave Beck, Graham Thomas and Mike Quinn, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors and Chief Correspondents.

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

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