News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF DECEMBER 1, 2002

LEAD STORIES

-- Alberta (Canada) judge Shelagh Creagh ruled in October that prison inmate Shane Arthur Wilson could not be punished for carrying around a homemade plastic knife since Wilson said the knife was only for defending himself against prison gangs. This, and a similar decision currently being appealed by another Alberta judge have predictably outraged prison guards across Canada. And a November Washington Post dispatch from Mexico reports that escaping from prison is not a crime in that country (nor is running away from police or lying about guilt) because, as one Supreme Court justice put it, Mexico respects the individual's "basic desire for freedom."

-- Absolutely the Least Substantial Reason for a Knife Fight: Police in Mansfield Township and Hackettstown, N.J., charged Emmanuel Nieves, 23, with aggravated assault on Nov. 13 after he allegedly slashed the face of his friend Erik Saporito, 21, as the two men fought after arguing over which one had more hair on his buttocks.

Latest Mature Government Officials

Sumpter Township, Mich., Supervisor Elmer Parraghi, 74, and Finance Director Dwayne Seals, 35, habitually, viciously feuding about business issues, recently obtained judicial restraining orders against each other, even though both work in a four-office building. And in September during the annual, vituperative Miami-Dade County (Fla.) budget hearing, Commissioner Natacha Seijas snapped at Chairwoman Gwen Margolis for interrupting her: "You're going to leave here in a body bag if you keep this up." And in June (according to telephone records obtained by the Tulsa World newspaper), Oklahoma State Rep. Chad Stites angrily told a Tulsa official whose department was badgering him about code violations on Stites' property that he would "neuter you sons of a (sic) bitches."

Not My Fault

-- In September, Robert Rozenhart, now 56, won his 7-year-old lawsuit against Skier's Sportshop (Edmonton, Alberta) for injuries suffered on his maiden attempt to in-line skate, which came after a Skier's employee tried unsuccessfully to tell Rozenhart not to venture out until the store's instructor arrived to help him. Rozenhart skated away anyway, and was on a downward incline when he first realized he did not know how to stop.

-- In October, Kevin William Presland, 44, commenced his lawsuit against the James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle, Australia, in which he is asking to be financially compensated because, he said, hospital personnel released him prematurely after a brief psychiatric admission in 1995 and thus made it easy for him to kill his prospective sister-in-law a few hours later. Presland's lawyer acknowledges that nothing can be done to help the woman's family but says Presland, at least, deserves a payoff. The hospital says Presland was calm and rational and that it had no legal basis for detaining him.

-- James Anibella filed a federal lawsuit in October challenging the constitutionality of the Colorado law that sets a voter registration deadline of 29 days before an election, a deadline that Anibella admitted he knew about but was too busy to bother with; Anibella characterizes the 29-day deadline as merely "some snafu in the law." And after Bryan Furrow, 17, was charged in Manchester, Conn., in August with masturbating in front of 10 children (and sexually touching five of them), his mother, Lenora Furrow, told reporters that Bryan had simply "made a wrong judgment call."

Weird Workplaces

-- Conscientious workers at the ARO Campulung auto plant in Romania offered in October to help pay off the company's debts by selling their sperm to a fertility clinic in the city of Timisoara, at the equivalent of (U.S.) $50 a session. Said the plant's union leader, "We have found (a solution) that even the best economists have never thought of." (However, to pay the equivalent (U.S.) $20 million debt in full would require 400,000 sessions, or 400 sessions for each of the 1,000 males at the plant.)

-- In October, all 21 volunteer firefighters of Elgin, Iowa, submitted letters of resignation after they were told they could no longer keep beer at the firehouse. (Later in the month, they backed off in exchange for the City Council's agreeing to open an investigation of Councilwoman Jean Roach, who is the person who allegedly first ratted them out to the city's insurance carrier.)

Least Competent Criminals

Adventures With Gasoline: Octavio Soto, 44, and Jose Cezares, 23, were hospitalized with third-degree burns in Fitchburg, Mass., in September when they attempted to saw into the vehicle gas tank in which they had hidden $100,000 worth of cocaine; an errant spark from their sawing created a flash fire. And two men escaped after an unsuccessful attempt to rob a guy filling up at the Swifty Service Station in Indianapolis in October; the victim merely flicked the gasoline hose at the men, dousing them and sending them scampering.

Latest Politically Correct Thinking

In October, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child told Great Britain it should repeal its parental-right-to-spank law because spanking violates an international corporal-punishment treaty (which the U.S. has declined to honor, as well). In September, the North Tyneside (England) Council advised a local business group not to hold the annual children's Christmas caroling contest this year because it would be a bad experience for the kids who did not win. In October, Mayor Shelton Richardson of North Randall, Ohio, charging racism, proposed to make it illegal for any gas station to make customers pay before pumping (despite a marked recent increase in customer "drive-offs").

Updates to Recent News of the Weird Stories

Mayor Jay Lee of Virgin, Utah (a town that once required a gun in every house for self-defense and that also once banned United Nations activities within its borders), announced there would be a $25 charge for anyone who wished to speak up at Town Council meetings (October). Alabama, one of two states to ban the sale of devices whose main function is to assist in sexual pleasure, had its law declared unconstitutional by a federal judge (October). One of the Indiana fast-food workers who in 2001 submitted to body searches by their managers, after a pervert made bogus "police" telephone requests of the managers, filed a federal lawsuit against Burger King (October).

Our Civilization in Decline

Officials at Somerville (N.J.) High School warned students in October to stop trying to get high by choking each other into unconsciousness. (With the so-called "California Knockout," a student holds his breath for 10 seconds to get light-headed, after which a pal squeezes his neck to put him out.) And University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the average price of a black-market human kidney in India has dropped (despite insufficient supply) from the equivalent of (U.S.) $1,603 to $975, suggesting that wealthier, kidney-needing people have learned how to put the squeeze on impoverished donors.

Also, in the Last Month ...

After five months of nightly practice, Jonathan Smith of Delaware, Ohio, beat 16 finalists (out of 50,000 entrants) for the $1 million DeWalt power-screwing championship by drilling five screws in less than seven seconds (Phoenix). Only a $1,200 first prize was offered, however, in November's international championship of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society (Toronto). At an annual judicial conference, Taiwanese judges voted 49-11 that oral sex, without intercourse, should not be a legal ground for adultery (Taipei). Japan, in a long economic stagnation, posted an encouraging 0.8 percent growth in personal consumption in August, but economists noted the main component was a 34 percent rise in spending on funerals.

(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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