News of the Weird

Week of March 27, 2005

LEAD STORY

Sales of bottled water for dogs (with prices similar to that for people) are growing, according to a March Wall Street Journal report, spurred not only by sudden concern about vitamin deficiency but apparent certainty among some owners that their pets find tap water disagreeable and thus are dangerously at risk of dehydration. Of course, veterinarians cited by the Journal are puzzled by this recent rejection of municipal water and suggest it might be a food-bowl-smell problem rather than a new dog generation's preference for fine beverages. (Also, some vets believe dogs prefer the cooler temperature of, say, toilet-bowl water to that of food-bowl water.)

The Unruly Mob, on Two Continents

On Thika highway in Nairobi, Kenya, in February, frenzied and hungry villagers brawled for access to meat from a baby hippopotamus (about 1,700 pounds) that had been killed by a passing vehicle. Amidst the kicking and punching, two people were stabbed. Two weeks earlier, in the London suburb of Edmonton, 6,000 Ikea customers rioted, vying for on-sale sofas (80 percent off) and other bargains. Said one customer, "There were people diving on sofas" and "tugging at two different sides of the same sofa and shouting 'mine, mine.'" At least 20 people were taken by ambulance to hospitals.

Protests

In London, 35 Greenpeace protesters rushed onto the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in February, intending to paralyze oil trading on the day the Kyoto environmental initiative took effect, but, unexpectedly, the traders turned on them, punching and kicking the protesters until they ran for their lives. (Two were hospitalized.) Said one protester, "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view." And New Zealand computer technician Simon Oosterman, 24, who says he goes naked everywhere in public to protest society's dependence on the automobile, paused outside an Auckland district courtroom in February, took clothing from his backpack, and got dressed to step inside to enter his not-guilty plea to an earlier charge of indecent exposure.

Florida Children At Risk

-- After several incidents of teacher-student sex in Florida, it was almost a relief in January that Perry, Fla., teacher Natalie Whalen, 58, was accused only of biting a student (who had tried to take a CD player from her desk) or that, in February, Orlando high school chemistry teacher David Pieski, 42, was accused only of teaching his class how to make a bomb. But the crisis returned in March when a man revealed in a divorce deposition that not only had he had trysts with his son's Boynton Beach elementary school music teacher, Carol Flannigan, but so had the son.

Oops!

-- The Transportation Security Administration removed a screener from Newark Liberty International Airport in February, and scheduled retraining, after a passenger reported that she had inadvertently been allowed to pass a checkpoint with a butcher knife in her purse. The passenger, Katrina Bell, 27, was not charged with a crime because she had merely forgotten about the knife, having put it there earlier in the week before heading out on a "blind date."

-- In a suburb of Houston in February, a 16-year-old boy was charged with shooting his father, Jacob Hughes, 43, because he mistakenly believed Dad was beating up Mom. However (according to KPRC-TV), sheriff's deputies, after investigating the alleged domestic abuse, said that the couple were merely having robust sex, during which the mother apparently got really loud, which awakened and frightened the boy and his younger brother.

-- The executive director of Chicago's New City YMCA was fired in December following a major scheduling snafu. The facility's pool had been reserved for a kids' swim meet beginning on a Sunday morning at 7 a.m., but the facility had also been reserved (for Saturday overnight, until 8 a.m. Sunday) for a ball and fashion show for transsexuals. Parents arriving with their kids had to pass gaudily dressed men on their way to the locker rooms and allegedly found the floors littered with cigarette butts and condoms.

Family Values

Beverly Fisher, 48, was arrested in Smyrna, Ga., in February for allegedly throwing cans of beer at one son and beating another because he had refused her request to roll marijuana joints for her. And police in New York charged in February that when Christopher DiMeo robbed the jewelry store in Glen Head and murdered a salesperson (one of an alleged string of brutal jewelry store robberies and murders), his mom, Maryann Taylor-Casey, was driving the getaway car.

People Different From Us

Dallas artist James Sooy, 22, weary of his eyeglasses constantly slipping down his nose, had a practical piercing done in December, inserting a bar through the upper bridge of his nose and having his prescription lenses affixed to it. Sooy seemed to believe there was money to be made with the idea, but an optometrist interviewed by the Houston Chronicle said prescriptions would be harder to adjust "if you have a hole in your face," and a Houston body-modification technician said work like Sooy's would require a longer-than-normal healing time.

Least Competent Criminals

Matthew Porter, 25, was arrested on the Bear Creek Park Frisbee Golf Course in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas, in February, and charged with possession of marijuana after a police officer said he smelled dope in a group of men that included Porter. Porter had no marijuana on him at the time, but while the officer was checking the men's identification, Porter's Labrador retriever, J.D., emerged from an adjacent pond, apparently having obediently (though unwisely) "fetched" a plastic bag containing 4 grams of marijuana.

Recurring Themes

Another baseball fan sued after being hit by a foul ball that he allegedly first tried to catch (this time being Elkins Park, Pa., dentist Neil Pakett's lawsuit against the Philadelphia Phillies, in February). And the U.S. Forest Service again exercised its brand-new authority to send a bill to a person who started a major fire (this time the 2003 fire in California's Mendocino National Forest, for which Jason Hoskey, 26, was asked in February to please cover the firefighting cost of $18.2 million). And once again, a plane crashed into a cemetery, strewing bodies among the graves (this time killing two at the St. Lawrence Cemetery, Knottsville, Ky., in December).

The Continuing Crisis

Also in the news recently, the Norwegian tree ski-jumping championship was held in Hallingskarvet, in which the object was to ski into a tall tree and hang from it at a higher point than anyone else (March). And parent Peter Dukovich was acquitted of most charges in the post-game assault of a high school basketball referee after he testified that he didn't know the man was a referee (despite the striped shirt and his repeatedly blowing a whistle during the game) (Allegheny County, Pa., January). And two financially unsavvy Ramsey, N.J., teenage burglars were arrested after taking $100,000 in cash from a home but ignoring $900,000 in fully negotiable bearer bonds (January).

Testicles in the News

In February, Amanda Monti, 24, of Birkenhead, England, was sentenced to 30 months in jail for ripping off one of her ex-boyfriend's testicles with her bare hands in a rage over his refusal to have sex. (According to witnesses, Monti briefly hid the testicle in her mouth, but a friend retrieved it and handed it back to the man, saying, "That's yours.") Also in February, Welsh rugby fan Geoff Huish, 26, was so certain Wales would lose to England that he told club patrons in Caerphilly that he'd "cut (his) balls off" if Wales won. Immediately following Wales' 11-9 victory, Huish went home, fulfilled his promise, and walked, gingerly, back to the club to show that he was a "man" of his word.

(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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