News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF APRIL 1, 2007

LEAD STORY

The West Tennessee Detention Facility (Mason, Tenn.) made a video pitch for California inmates, hoping some would volunteer to be outsourced under that state's program to relieve overcrowding. The hard-timers should come east, the video urged, because of West Tennessee's "larger and cleaner jail cells, 79 TV channels, including ESPN, views of peaceful cow pastures, and ... the 'Dorm of the Week,' (with its inmates) staying up all night, watching a movie and eating cheeseburgers or pizza," according to a March description in Nashville's Tennessean. "You're not a number here," said one inmate. "You come here, it's personalized." (California's outsourcing program is facing a lawsuit from the prison guards' union, anxious about job loss.)

The Continuing Crisis

-- Retired German farmer Karl Szmolinsky told reporters in January that he had agreed to visit North Korea in April to give tips on how he managed to breed huge rabbits (around 20 to 25 pounds), which he believes the Koreans view as one answer to their hunger crisis. He has already sent a sampler of 12 monster rabbits, which should produce 60 offspring a year, with one providing "a filling meal for eight people," he told Der Spiegel.

-- Walter C. Stevens, 81, thought he had buried his allegedly disreputable past, but an underground water problem at his former residence in Sierra Vista, Ariz., brought it back. When an area in the yard flooded, a plastic bag emerged, containing videotapes that the FBI now says Stevens had made in the 1970s and 1980s of himself having sex with underage girls in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Yikes!

-- A group of "extremist" rabbis (the Sanhedrin, about 70 in number) announced in February that they want Judaism to resume the centuries-ago practice of including animal sacrifices in services and that resumption should start, for historical reasons, in the Jerusalem compound of Temple Mount (but known primarily now as Islam's Al Aqsa Mosque). According to the rabbis, sacrifice (especially of sheep) was a centerpiece of services in the Old City, but they acknowledge that it is unrealistic to expect current Muslim officials to tolerate the practice.

-- U.S. Justice Department statistics released in January showed that nationally, inmates in state prisons (between ages 15 and 64) die at a rate of about 20 percent less than people of that age in the general population. Black inmates, especially, appear to suffer lower mortality behind prison walls, where the death rate is less than half what it is on the outside.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

-- Alabama state officials announced in February that they had identified more than $438,000 in abuses of the financial aid program at Bishop State Community College in Mobile, including $87,000 in athletic scholarships awarded to 42 relatives of employees (and others) who played no sports. Included was one employee's 67-year-old disabled grandmother, who received scholarships in three sports (but was unable to use them, in that she passed away shortly after the paperwork came through).

-- According to a Beijing Youth Daily report distributed by Reuters news service in February, an unidentified Chinese businessman posted an online job offer for a "substitute" mistress. That is, in order to save his marriage, he had agreed to allow his wife to beat up his mistress and thus needed a stand-in to absorb the whipping, to spare the real mistress. He offered the equivalent of about $400 per 10 minutes of pain.

People in Need of Adult Supervision

(1) Gary Galleberg, a former vice mayor of Naples, Fla., pleaded guilty to battery in February for spitting on the table of restaurant diners whose offense had been to ask Galleberg, twice, to convince his small daughter to stop banging on the window next to their table. (2) Serbian anesthesiologist Spasoje Radulovic and surgeon Dragan Vukanic had an "all-out" fight in a Belgrade hospital's operating room in February, and then outside, punching and slapping each other while an assistant surgeon was forced to finish the operation. The nature of the dispute was not disclosed, according to a Reuters report.

Fetishes on Parade

(1) In Omaha, Neb., in February, Kevin Oliver, 36, was convicted of criminal impersonation for tricking two women into giving him urine samples by convincing them, falsely, that he was a recruiter for T-Mobile and needed the samples to complete their employment applications. (2) In a February Internet global survey of fetishism, researchers from Italy's University of Bologna concluded that feet (and shoes) were the world's most popular objects of desire, followed at a distance by underwear and "body fluids." Neither genitals nor breasts nor legs nor buttocks were selected by more than 4 percent of those surveyed, and two people indicated a thing for pacemakers (but it was not disclosed whether the two had yet found each other).

Least Competent Criminals

Crooks Who Need More Time in the Gym: (1) A 60-year-old woman turned on a 19-year-old man who had tried to hijack her car in Frisco, Texas, in February, and shot him with his own gun. (2) A petite clerk in her 20s followed on foot the man who snatched her store's cash drawer in Hamilton, Ontario, in February, confronted him and snatched it back. (The man made another try for the cash drawer, but in a tug-of-war, the clerk again prevailed.) (3) Four American senior citizens on a cruise, on a stopover in Limon, Costa Rica, fought off a band of young muggers in February, and in fact one senior (age 70) killed one of the thugs (age 20) with his bare hands, according to an Associated Press report.

Update

The New York City children's services agency took away former "breatharian" David Jubb's 20-month-old son in February after Jubb refused to let physicians treat the boy's fractured ankle. As mentioned previously in News of the Weird, breatharians believe that humans can subsist primarily on air and sunlight. Jubb said he has evolved since those days and now eats, but extremely few calories' worth, and he drinks his own urine. He acknowledged that his child's diet is absent the generally recommended nutritional building blocks for infants, according to a New York Post report.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (79) The punk who tries to outrun police, only to be caught because his baggy jeans slip down and trip him, as happened to Chad Mercer, 20, in Wilmington, Del., in February, as he fled from a traffic violation and a gun-possession charge. (80) Criminal entrepreneurs who cleverly brag about their enterprises on Web sites such as MySpace.com, like Bennie Rangel, 26, of Georgetown, Texas, who posted details of his cocaine business, along with a photo of himself fondling money (which led to a March sentencing of 70 years in prison).

Undignified Deaths

(1) In Pittsburgh in February, Antwon Williams, 45, who police said was in the act of consummating a drug sale, reached into a customer's car to prevent him from driving away without paying but got stuck in the window, and as the customer sped down the street, Williams' body was severed cleanly in two by a utility pole. (2) The South Carolina Public Safety Department reported in January that 122 pedestrians were killed on the state's roads in 2006, but "almost one-third," according to an Associated Press analysis, weren't actually "pedestrians," but people "lying illegally in (the) road."

(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)

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