News of the Weird

Week of June 1, 2008

LEAD STORY

The U.S. military operates a beachfront vacation site for its personnel worldwide and their families at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, with $42-a-night air-conditioned suites, surfing, boat rides, golf course, bowling alley and even a gift shop. One T-shirt for sale reads, "The Taliban Towers at Guantanamo Bay, the Caribbean's Newest 5-star Resort." News of the facility was not widely reported until a British lawyer who represents 28 of the nearly 300 detainees housed there described it to London's Daily Mail in May.

The Continuing Crisis

-- Another Criterion for Teacher Certification: Police in Fort Myers, Fla., were called to Royal Palm Exceptional School in April and wound up arresting an 8-year-old boy named Deshawn for punching his female teacher in the face, leaving several bruises. Said Deshawn's grandmother, Dorothy Williams, when interviewed by WBBH-TV: "He gets very upset, and he loves to hit," but "If he was overpowering her that much, I feel like she shouldn't be in that line of work."

-- America in Decline: One of the Internet's successful Web sites (10 million page views a month, with $500,000 in ads from companies including Verizon, McDonald's and General Motors) is a site that merely reports on what celebrities' babies are wearing, in that so many mothers are apparently obsessed with mimicking those clothing choices for their own tots. A May Wall Street Journal feature said sometimes the site's posting a photo of a celebrity baby incites a nationwide run on what it's wearing.

-- Workplace Culture: (1) Salesman Chad Hudgens filed a lawsuit in January against his former Salt Lake City employer, charging that the boss and a "motivational trainer" used, as a "team-building" exercise, what was essentially the controversial "torture" practice of "waterboarding." The boss allegedly said that if salesmen tried as hard to close deals as they're trying to breathe during the simulated drowning, sales would soar. (2) British office worker Theresa Bailey, 43, was awarded the equivalent of about $10,300 by a court in Ashford, England, in May after she complained of sexual harassment by her otherwise-all-male direct-marketing team at Selectabase company. Among the "laddish" behavior was her boss's regularly "lift(ing) his right cheek" and expelling gas in her direction.

Bright Ideas

-- Most Convoluted Business Plan: Adolfo Martinez, 33, and Mark Anderson, 26, were indicted for fraud in Las Cruces, N.M., in April, accused of passing forged checks. The men's plan was to buy Domino's pizzas with the checks, then have one of the men put on a Pizza Hut shirt and resell the pizzas, by the slice, in a local park or at stores (even though the pizzas were still being carried around in the Domino's boxes).

-- Triumph International, the Japanese women's underwear company, released its latest publicity-seeking creation in May: the solar-powered bra, with enough exposed panels to power an iPod or cell phone. Other Triumph specials include a baseball bra (with fielder's-mitt-shaped cups) and a heated bra (with microwavable gel pads to warm the cups).

-- Joe Weston-Webb, formerly a carnival showman but who now runs a flooring company in Nottinghamshire county, England, told reporters in March that he was exasperated at crime in the area and his inability to legally use enough force to protect his property, and that he had pulled two pieces of non-lethal equipment out from the old days to shoot at criminals: a 20-foot-long cannon, formerly used for firing his wife across the River Avon (now loaded with rubber-tipped projectiles) and a 30-foot-high catapult (now loaded with chicken droppings from a nearby farm). Said Weston-Webb, "(T)he only people who seem to be against what I'm doing are the police."

First Things First

(1) A supervisor at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services told a Billings Gazette reporter in March that some of his employees were complaining that new computers delivered to the office lacked games like solitaire, hearts and Minesweeper, and that it wasn't fair that employees with older computers still had the games. (2) The traffic commander of the Rusafah district in Baghdad told his officers in April to start enforcing the country's seat-belt laws. The fine is the equivalent of about $12.50.

News of the Tacky

(1) The leader of the Liberal Party in the Australian state of Western Australia said in April that he would not resign even though an accusation against him was true: that at a party staff meeting in December 2005, when a female colleague got out of her chair, he playfully moved over and sniffed it. (2) The Missouri Supreme Court suspended the law license of David A. Dalton II in March for allegedly arranging leniency, with a prosecutor, for one of his clients in exchange for the client's having her godfather, retired football star Terry Bradshaw, autograph a baseball for him.

People With Issues

In May, a New York appeals court rejected a lawsuit by the former mistress of prominent married rabbi Joel Goor, 75, that claimed he would owe her a $125,000 cash settlement if he broke up with her. The court said it was a contract that facilitated adultery and therefore was not enforceable, even though there were several non-adultery-related provisions. According to the New York Post, the contract called for the woman to receive a half-interest in Goor's house in the Bronx if she would "join Joel in his cultural experiences without complaining," get liposuction and "attempt with Joel's delicate guidance to speak English properly."

Least Competent People

At One With Nature: (1) Cameron Fritzson, 20, landed in the hospital in critical condition in May after he scaled first the outer, 10-foot fence at an electrical substation in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and then the main electrical tower, where his arm brushed against a live wire. Police said Fritzson was after a parakeet's nest at the top so he could sell the eggs to a pet store for as much as $20 each. (2) Sixteen people were undergoing treatment for possibly having rabies in May in Hilton Head, S.C., after exposure to a baby raccoon later discovered to be rabid. While some of the 16 had merely cuddled it, an unknown number apparently could not resist kissing the wild animal on the lips.

Update

Last year News of the Weird reported on an organic art project, "Victimless Leather," in which artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr attempted to grow embryonic stem cells of a species onto an artificial platform, in this case creating leather from mouse cells without the need to kill cows. However, in the latest demonstration of the project, at New York City's Museum of Modern Art this spring, the exhibit apparently grew so rapidly that it overwhelmed the space available, and curator Paola Antonelli said she was forced to kill the organism. She told the Art Newspaper that it was a difficult decision. "I've always been pro-choice, and all of a sudden I'm here not sleeping at night about killing a coat."

Instant Karma

(1) A 31-year-old man was hospitalized in critical condition in Salt Lake City, hit by cars after running into traffic to avoid paying for a taxi ride he had just taken (March). (2) A 25-year-old man, pursued by police after he tried to run down his girlfriend with his car, fled on foot across Interstate 45 near Houston, but was struck and killed by cars (February). (3) Two men who stole a kayak and went joyriding on Moon Lake near New Port Richey, Fla., drowned when the boat capsized (March).

(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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