News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



Former President Jimmy Carter told GQ magazine for a January article that he saw a UFO in 1969 in southwest Georgia as he was preparing to speak at a Lions Club meeting. He recalled that it was a bright light that got "closer and closer to us," but then "changed color to blue," then to red, then back to white, and then "receded into the distance." However, he said, "I've never believed it came from Mars." (In September, Paul Hellyer, a former Canadian minister of defense, asked Parliament to hold hearings on extraterrestrials. UFOs, he said, "are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head," and he fears the U.S. military might get Earth involved in an intergalactic war.)

More People With Too Much Money

(1) An October Agence France-Presse report noted the 2005 launching of the Paris gourmet bakery Mon Bon Chien ("my good dog"), featuring carob-flavored dog biscuits and foie gras dog cookies, and worldwide introduction of more than 400 new products for dogs, including stress-relief sprays, nail polish and hair coloring. (2) Gynecologists interviewed by The Wall Street Journal in December said business was booming for the $1,800 to $5,000 hymenoplasty (the re-creation of the hymen), for men who want to deflower their non-virgin women (surgery obviously good for one night only).

Family Values

-- In December, according to police in Jersey City, N.J., Roselean Walker, 36, sat at one screen in a movie cineplex with her boyfriend while her 11-year-old son watched the longer Harry Potter film at another screen, but after her movie ended, she tired of waiting for the son and went home with the boyfriend to New York City. When police called her the next morning to come pick up the boy, she demanded that they drive him home. After officers ordered her immediately to the station, she showed up in a bad mood, threatening a lawsuit for the inconvenience, and wound up being charged with assaulting an officer (in addition to endangering a child's welfare).

-- According to the Nov. 10 Evening News of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., a father was under investigation by police after War Memorial Hospital reported an assault on the man's 11-year-old son. Police said it appeared that the two were playing a video game, that the son had beaten his dad by using a secret upgrade that made his character more powerful, and that the dad, in anger, had spanked the kid, put soap in his mouth and slapped him several times in the head. (The father said only that he had punished the boy for lying.)

The Continuing Crisis

-- In June, a plaintiff's lawyer in the massive class-action litigation against asbestos manufacturers, under pressure from federal judge Janis Graham Jack of Houston, acknowledged that more than half of previous asbestos claims in one case appear to be fraudulent. The lawyer claims his clients contracted silicosis from asbestos exposure, but most of those same clients also claimed asbestosis from asbestos exposure, when experts say the two illnesses rarely exist simultaneously. Judge Jack found that one plaintiff's doctor, Ray Harron (who had given up his practice in order to interpret X-rays full-time, at $125 each), had detected asbestosis (but no silicosis) in all 1,807 X-rays he saw, and then, only a few years later, detected silicosis (but no asbestosis) in the same 1,807 X-rays.

-- Animals Gone Wild: A billy goat reportedly attacked Zimbabwe's strong-arm President Robert Mugabe during a gas-station stop en route to the mountain resort of Nyanga in December, injuring Mugabe's scrotum and large bowel. And Fremont, Calif., police officer Paul Rush, who was escorting a teenager home from a traffic stop in January, reported to a hospital emergency room afterward because five chihuahuas had attacked him at the front door of the teen's home, biting his ankles.

Fine Points of the Law

-- Stephanie Conley gave an agent for West Virginia National insurance company a $174 check on Aug. 15 (in 2001) for automobile coverage, received the "issued" policy on Aug. 30 ("effective" Aug. 15), and on Aug. 31 was involved in a collision resulting from her negligence. However, by then her $174 check had bounced, and the company considered the policy null and void. In December 2005, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Conley was nonetheless covered on Aug. 31 because the company had not given her 10 days' cancellation notice.

-- In December, the Bush administration's Department of Justice filed a "friend of the court" brief at the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting Anna Nicole Smith in her battle with the son of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II, over his estate. Smith and the administration believe that a federal bankruptcy court (which backed Smith) should control the case and not a Texas state court (which had sided with Marshall's son).


-- With an Oakland Tribune reporter and 20 people looking on in November in a parking lot in Fremont, Calif., Tu Jin-Sheng, 50, "grandmaster" in one of the Chinese arts of Qigong, pulled a rental truck several yards using only a piece of fabric tied to the base of his genitals. Jin-Sheng is supposedly a leader of the branch of Qigong known as "Iron Crotch," whose 60,000 adherents worldwide believe that strengthening the genitals increases energy. To warm up for the pull, Jin-Sheng had an assistant kick him hard between the legs.

-- BBC News reported in September that Sandra Luchian, 15, from Moldova, managed to hand-copy the 607-page "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," filling five notebooks, after borrowing it from a friend in the U.K. (since it was not available anywhere in Moldova and she couldn't afford to have it shipped to her). She said it took her about a month.

Least Competent Criminals

Not Cut Out for a Life of Crime: (1) The robber of a Fastrip store in Joplin, Mo., ignoring a "Use Other Door" sign pointing to an unlocked front door, spent valuable getaway time trying unsuccessfully to bash in the companion (but locked) front door with a chair, then finally bashed in a small window along a side wall and crawled out to escape (December). (2) Landon McQuilkin, 21, arrested in November in Jacksonville, Fla., after he allegedly abducted a man and said he would kill him, relented to his victim's "last request" to visit his girlfriend before he died; with McQuilkin waiting in the car outside her house, the victim went in, locked the door and called police.

Recurring Themes

On the surface, it appeared that Michael Sargent, an unhappy, 29-year veteran postal worker in Anchorage, Alaska, had managed to work out his anger fairly passively by, according to prosecutors, merely accepting bulk mailings into the postal system without bothering to charge the mailers (cheating the Postal Service out of at least $106,000 in revenue and perhaps as much as $436,000). However, a search of Sargent's home turned up a federal gun-dealer permit in his name, along with 66 firearms, including silencers and a machine gun. Said the prosecutor, "He is a disgruntled public employee. Access to weapons is of concern."

Undignified Deaths

Two men, aged 50 and 36, who had taken a taxicab home so they wouldn't be driving drunk, were killed when the cab was hit by a 21-year-old drunken driver (Albuquerque, November). And a 21-year-old Mormon man, riding in a truck at about 35 mph with his brothers, who were offending him by cussing, demanded that they stop or he would jump out; one of the brothers, perhaps jokingly, said, Go ahead, and the man did and was killed when his head hit the pavement (South Jordan, Utah, November).

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