-- The Wishes of the Fetus: On Sept. 6, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by a 7-year-old girl with spina bifida, who had sued her parents' doctors because she wanted to have been aborted (since the doctors knew she would have birth defects). On the same day, in Attleboro, Mass., Judge Kenneth Nasif ordered a pregnant woman held in custody until she gives birth because he feared that she, because of her religion, might decline medical attention if she experienced complications; Nasif said he could "sense" the unborn child saying to him, "I want to live. I don't want to die like my brother (a previous victim of the woman's religion-based medical neglect) did."
-- In August, Elsie Holdren, 68, a security officer working on contract at a courthouse in Viera, Fla., was transferred by her company to a courthouse in nearby Melbourne because her superiors thought she was too courteous. "Due to your caring and giving nature," wrote Holdren's supervisor (with Weiser Security Services in Orlando), "you are compromising your position as a security officer. (Being caring and giving) is not a job requirement, nor is it what you are paid to do."
The mentally retarded Felipe Rodriguez spent 13 months in jail in Swisher County, Texas (near Amarillo), after being accused of a minor theft, largely because his court-appointed defense attorney forgot about him until a Dallas Morning News reporter pestered her about the status of the case. (Rodriguez was released in August.) And a June New York Times report on veteran court-appointed defense lawyer Ronald G. Mock chronicled his career-long, mediocre representation of a series of now-executed men, including June executee Gary Graham, who was convicted based on one fleeting, nighttime eyewitness identification, which Mock neither challenged nor seriously investigated.
-- Robert Jones of Adel, Ga., filed a lawsuit in Atlanta in June against the maker of Liquid Fire drain cleaner after the stuff oozed out of Jones' homemade container all over his legs, causing "extensive, excruciating burns and destruction of flesh." Actually, Liquid Fire comes in a spill-proof container, but Jones was skeptical of its sturdiness and thus poured the contents into his own, "safer" container (from which it eventually spilled). Thus, Jones' legal theory is that Liquid Fire's original package somehow created the impression of flimsiness, which therefore forced Jones to pour the contents into his own container.
-- Two years ago, Javier Polo, 25, filed a lawsuit in Aviles, Spain, demanding that his mother, Maria Delores Ray, 54, be ordered to support him financially while he is out of work. Recently, according to a May London Observer story, a judge ruled for Polo, ordering Ray to pay him 15 percent of her salary (about $192 a month) despite the fact that he does not even live with her. (The parents are divorced; he lives with his father; but she has to pay because she earns more than the father.)
-- In July, Tang Weijiang, 29, filed a lawsuit in Shanghai, China, against Canon Inc. because one of the Japanese company's advertising CD-ROMs left him in mental distress, which he said was deliberate, just one more act in a centuries-long campaign of disrespect by Japanese people and companies against the Chinese. The specific act that caused Tang such anguish was a passage on the CD-ROM text implying that China, Taiwan and Hong Kong were separate countries.
-- Parents in Benicia, Calif., were complaining, according to a June San Francisco Chronicle report, of the public library's policy of denying them access to the names of books their children (regardless of age) have checked out. California law generally provides for confidentiality of government records, but some libraries enforce that more strictly than others. The Benicia library makes an exception only if a book is overdue, so that parents can look for it at home.
-- Australian masseuse Carol Vanderpoel, 52, believing that all she knew how to cure were physical aches and pains, sued her former employer, the Blue Mountains Women's Health Centre in Katoomba, which had required her also to listen to her clients' psychological problems during massages and to counsel them, which she said left her severely depressed. In June, a judge in New South Wales District Court awarded her about $17,000 in damages. (Among the problems that grossed her out were a client's confession of performing euthanasia on her husband and another woman's having been assaulted with a chain saw).
The following people apparently get really set off by the following things: Mark Adam Yazzie, 26 (got into an argument with his brother-in-law about the merits of rap music vs. rock and ran him over with a truck; Santa Rosa, Calif., June). Jane Graham, 77 (pointed a butcher knife at a neighbor man's groin and threatened to "cut it off" because he was playing his stereo too loud; Winnipeg, Manitoba, July). Gerard Corbo, 56 (at his son's wedding, started a fistfight when a guest referred to the groom by the wrong first name; Westlake, Ohio, June).
Grandmother Karren Kinsel, head of the office that regulates content on vanity license plates in Illinois ("WORKSUX" rejected; "BI DAD E" OK), explaining to a Chicago Tribune reporter in July what qualifies her to rule on whether certain applications are in poor taste: "You take some people, they just don't have a dirty mind. Some of my staff doesn't. But I do, kind of."
When News of the Weird first mentioned Summum (in 1988), the Salt Lake City religious organization had just introduced its mummification alternative to burials and cremations, charging $7,000 to preserve a body and an additional $18,000 to create a bronze statue, according to founder Corky Ra. As of June 2000, according to an Associated Press story, Summum is still looking to make its first human mummy (it has done several pets), although 137 people have made deposits toward the current prices of $12,000 to preserve and $36,000 (and up) for statues (plus transportation costs and mausoleum space). Corky Ra's preservation process includes soaking the body in secret fluids, applying lanolin, polyurethane rubber and fiberglass bandages.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested in Loomis, Calif., in July after he was unsuccessful in what might have been an attempt to emulate the notorious "Rooftop Robber," who had burglarized more than 40 businesses in California and other states by entering through roofs (and who was captured in May). Unlike the original, the 17-year-old crashed through a false ceiling in his first job, broke a sink standing on it trying to climb out, then made it to a false ceiling and crawled to an adjacent store, but fell through that ceiling, too, injuring his ankle, and then finally, on his way out, tripped the burglar alarm and had police waiting for him.
An IRS advisory opinion declared that the parents of a still-kidnapped child must stop taking the dependent's exemption while the child is missing. Scientists in India discovered a new chili, whose burn worsens with water and which is 50 percent hotter than the previous world's-hottest chili. A deceased's family sued Forest Lawn cemetery over a bad embalming, though the family admitted that park employees did work diligently to swat flies off of the open casket during the memorial service (Los Angeles). A robber pistol-whipped a pizza deliverer, causing the gun to discharge and fire a fatal shot at the robber's 17-year-old partner (Nashville).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)