News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF JANUARY 30, 2005

LEAD STORY

Nonlethal war tactics suggested by an Air Force research team in the 1990s were made public in December by the military watchdog organization Sunshine Project and included a recommendation to expose enemy troops to powerful aphrodisiacs in order to distract them into lustful hookups with each other (irrespective of gender). (The Pentagon said the idea was dropped almost immediately, but the Sunshine Project said it was discussed as recently as 2001.) Other ideas: giving the enemy severe halitosis (so they could be detected within a civilian population), overrunning enemy positions with rats or wasps, and creating waves of fecal gas.

Scenes of the Surreal

(1) In a December demonstration against the opening of a McDonald's in the Mediterranean town of Sete, France, about 500 protesters, using a homemade catapult, bombarded the restaurant with fresh catches of the area's renowned delicacy, octopus. (2) NASA announced in October it was retiring the KC-135 plane it had long been using to train astronauts for weightlessness in flight; an official told reporters that the air crews had kept track of the amount of astronaut vomit cleaned up over the years and that the total was at least 285 gallons.

The Classic Middle Name (all new)

Charged with murder recently: Jessie Wayne Walker (Greensboro, N.C., December); Michael Wayne Carter (Indianapolis, October); Matthew Wayne Ferman (Waverly, Ohio, October); Keith Wayne Graham (Merced, Calif., August); Justin Wayne Smith (Bay City, Texas, December). Suspected of murder when he committed suicide: Brian Wayne Pennington (Klamath Falls, Ore., December). Convicted of murder: Billy Wayne Cope (York, S.C., September).

Least Competent People

-- A 21-year-old man was hospitalized in intensive care in Murdoch, Australia (near Perth), in December following a barroom stunt in which he put on a helmet connected to a beer jug, with a hose that ran between the jug and a pump powered by an electric drill. The idea was to facilitate drinking a large quantity of beer without the laborious tasks of lifting a glass and swallowing, but the flow was so powerful that he had to be rushed to the hospital with a 10-centimeter tear in his stomach.

-- (1) Samuel Woodrow was convicted of burglary in Santa Fe, Texas, in December, one of four men who had broken into a home. However, the men had fled, empty-handed, when they were scared away by overhearing a police call from the video game Grand Theft Auto ("We have you surrounded! This is the police!"), which the resident's three grandsons were playing in another room. (2) In January, a 22-year-old man robbed a Chevron station in Vancouver, Wash., and eluded police in a high-speed getaway, but he then got lost and wound up back at the same Chevron station, and, apparently not recognizing where he was, he asked for directions, allowing the clerk to notify police, who soon arrested him.

Grown-Ups

-- Charles Bonney, 67, and Victor Harris, 36, were detained by police in Godfrey, Ill., in December after squaring off in their vehicles (Chevrolet Camaro and Acura Integra) and repeatedly ramming each other in the street and then in the parking lot of C&W Auto Glass, because of their ongoing feud over a woman. Eventually, only Bonney faced criminal charges.

-- Amid a recent, stepped-up wave of parental violence in kids' sports contests (e.g., choking a basketball coach in Akron, Ohio; choking a hockey referee in Toronto), a woman was barred from the Greater Toronto Hockey League in December following an altercation between parents of the 11-year-olds who were playing. According to a witness, the woman lifted her top above her shoulders (in the style of guests on "The Jerry Springer Show") and "shook (her breasts, while wearing a bra) side to side," then yelled at other parents, "What the hell are you looking at? Have you never seen (breasts)?"

-- Cameron Miller, 19, was arrested in Alexandria, La., on Christmas Day and charged with firing shotgun blasts at his mother, stepfather and stepbrothers as they drove away because Miller was unhappy that he did not get money for Christmas but instead got only music CDs. And on the day after Christmas in Feasterville, Pa., according to police, Steven Murray, 21, set his parents' house on fire because he was angry at having received no presents.

Ironies

-- On Dec. 20, a United Parcel Service driver was involved in a crash on an icy road near Keene, N.H., suffered a head injury, and was taken to Cheshire Medical Center, where tests were to be performed, except that the required machine for them was broken (though parts were on order). After checking the status of the order, hospital personnel discovered that the parts had been shipped and were in fact in the crashed UPS truck, and someone was dispatched to the scene of the accident to retrieve them.

-- According to the British parents' organization Bullywatch, which issued blue wristbands to students to publicize the campaign against school bullying, any kid wearing the wristbands was immediately targeted for attack by bullies (December). And 1,500 cords of firewood were burned up when a fire broke out at the Ossipee Mountain Land Co., in Tamworth, N.H. (December).

Recurring Themes

Latest From the Class-Action Lawyers' Money Tree: (1) The six lawyers who helped 83 Wal-Mart workers win about $2,500 each (for being improperly denied overtime pay) asked the Portland, Ore., judge in December for fees totaling $2.57 million, about 12 times the clients' total winnings (citing the difficult work, Wal-Mart's contentiousness and the case's implications beyond their 83 clients). (2) And when phone company customers won $25 refunds in a September class-action settlement with Ameritech in Madison County, Ill., lawyers got $1.9 million in legal fees; a local watchdog group said (based on experience) only about 10 percent of eligible customers would bother to apply for refunds, meaning that lawyers' fees would ultimately account for about 60 percent of the amount Ameritech pays out.

Thinning the Herd

A 70-year-old woman was fatally struck by two cars as she, wielding a knife, chased her husband into the street during an argument (Springfield Township, Pa., November). And a 43-year-old passenger was fatally injured, after he, sitting in the back seat, began beating up the driver, causing him to lose control and smash into a tree. (The driver survived.) (Newport News, Va., November) And a 54-year-old man was killed after a road rage duel with another driver when he got out of his car, lunged after the other car while it was moving, missed, and hit his head (Jacksonville, Fla., August).

A Way With Words

(1) "(You'll) have no teeth left in (your) mouth (if you keep that attitude)" (allegedly said by Sister Catherine Iacouzze of St. Cecelia School in Iselin, N.J., to an 11-year-old boy who had sassed her). (The sister was fired in December.) (2) "(W)e do not think it rises to the level of a safety defect" (said Chrysler spokesman Max Gates in December, fighting a threatened recall of 600,000 Dodge Durango and Dakota trucks even though, Gates acknowledged, "upper ball joint separation" might make the trucks' wheels fall off).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)

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