-- The Mexican government announced that beginning June 15, it would distribute "survival" kits to its citizens crossing the border illegally into California and Arizona because they face such a rugged journey. Included in the kits are bandages, aspirin, drugs for snake and scorpion bites, dry meat, granola, 25 condoms (or birth-control pills), and anti-diarrhea medicine. Said a Mexican official, "Those who've gone to the U.S. have told us (what) they need."
-- According to a petition filed in Common Pleas Court in Dayton, Ohio, in May, Boomer, a golden retriever, is the plaintiff suing the Invisible Fence Co. because the electrical charge to his collar, triggered when he attempts to leave his guardians' yard, was too strong and, according to an Associated Press dispatch, caused him severe emotional distress, for which he asks $25,000. Boomer's guardians, Andrew and Alyce Pacher, who purchased the "invisible fence" and permitted the electrical charge, were not sued.
-- Smoking Gun: Erik Williams, 21, of the 3600 block of South Michigan Avenue, was arrested in Chicago on May 18 and charged with sexually assaulting (forced fellatio) a 42-year-old woman. The victim arrived at a police station in the early morning hours clutching, in her hand, testicles that she had just bitten off. At about the same time, Williams showed up at Michael Reese Hospital missing his testicles. Doctors confirmed that the testicles were Williams' but were unable to reattach them.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in March that an unarmed man who had disguised his face and ordered a convenience store clerk to give him "the money" (and who then took $110 and ordered the clerk to lie on the floor) committed theft but not "robbery" because the clerk was never in "immediate, serious" danger. And a judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., ruled in April that police had no legal cause to stop a young man seen running from a building holding his hand to the side of his hip because there are other explanations than that the man had a gun (although he was, in fact, holding onto a gun). And a judge in Middlesex County, Mass., ruled in February that because of a loophole in state law, disseminating child pornography by computer is legal, but merely storing the same images on a computer is illegal.
-- Inmate Chad Gabriel DeKoven's lawsuit against the Standish prison in Bay City, Mich. (and several other defendants), was tossed out in April as frivolous, despite DeKoven's insistence that he is the "Messiah-God" and rightfully president of the United States (in that, since his name is "Chad," he figures that many thousands of punch-card votes last November were symbolically for him). However, Judge David M. Lawson did compliment DeKoven's typing, his "lengthy expositions" on his deity, and his "disciplined effort" in assembling his 125-page brief's exhibition of numerical analysis and secret codes that prove he is God.
-- Recent Messages Received: A 34-year-old man was stabbed to death in February, allegedly by his mother-in-law at the command of God and a Ouija board (Chickasha, Okla). And a convenience store clerk was hacked to death with a machete in February, allegedly by a man ordered into action (and praised for his good work) by God (Bellefonte, Pa.). And a 39-year-old man was arrested for torching a theater in which 12 mentally retarded adults were watching a movie, also on the command of God, who apparently also told the man he didn't need a lawyer because He would be representing him in court (Vinco, Pa.).
-- Divine Wisdom: Rev. Richard C. Weaver, 55, the Sacramento preacher who penetrated the Secret Service detail to shake President Bush's hand on Inauguration Day, said it was God who had gotten him access to the restricted area; the Secret Service was embarrassed, especially since they were on the lookout for Weaver, who had told them at President Clinton's 1997 inaugural that he would be back in 2001. And passerby Ray Hutcherson, who happened upon a truck spill of processed chicken on a Houston freeway in March, and who stuffed his car with the birds, summed up his good fortune: "Anytime you get anything free, it's got to be the work of God."
-- Following the death in a March auto accident of abrasive Greenpeace founder David McTaggart, the internal backbiting that has long characterized the environmental organization passed on to veteran activists Paul Watson and Patrick Moore, based on Watson's longtime feud with McTaggart and his upcoming Hollywood movie of Greenpeace exploits. According to a National Post report, Watson plans to fulfill his longstanding promise to urinate on McTaggart's grave, and Moore was exploring a lawsuit because he had heard that his character in Watson's film (starring Pierce Brosnan) was a tyrannical bureaucrat. Watson himself is offended that Moore, when he left Greenpeace, went to work for the Canadian forestry industry (a "running lap dog whore to corporate power").
-- In 1986, 15,000 tons of incinerated ash in Philadelphia was loaded onto a barge, which set off for disposal. After seven countries refused to accept it, the captain lied about the contents to get Haiti to take some of it and then outran the Haitian military when they found out the truth. The captain and crew have long since moved on; the barge has been recommissioned (after probably dumping most of the ash at sea); but the 3,000 tons remained on a Haitian beach until April 2000, when Waste Management Inc. was hired to bury it. However, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and Florida have now rejected it, and in April, the owner of the barge currently holding the ash sued Waste Management for $490,000 in storage fees for the now-15-year-old cargo.
In a February German television stunt, Swiss citizen Roger Weisskopf, 32, won a lifetime supply of toilet paper when he correctly identified several brands blindfolded, by feel and taste. In December, Cambodian university lecturer (and Pol Pot opponent) Pak Leakreasy introduced a line of toilets with facial likenesses, on the side of the bowl, of several leaders of the evil Khmer Rouge regime. And in February, Hong Kong jeweler Lam Sai-wing introduced a solid-gold bathroom (including wash basin and two toilets), constructed as homage to Vladimir Lenin's critique of capitalist waste, telling reporters that he had dreamed all his life to have enough money to build a gold toilet.
Christopher Simms, 34, the father of two small kids, was charged with invasion of privacy in Montgomery County, Pa., for rigging a hidden camera in a room in his workplace used by new mothers to pump breast milk for their infants. Said a neighbor to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter: "You would think he's seen enough of that at home." Said a prosecutor, "This is perversion at its lowest."
On March 24, two East Orange, N.J., police officers fired 38 shots at two unarmed black teen-agers sitting in a stolen car, connecting on eight and sending both, age 14 and 18, to the hospital. A subsequent investigation revealed, according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger, that the shooting erupted when two officers approached the car and one accidentally shot himself in the thigh. When he uttered, "I'm hit," the second officer assumed the teen-agers had shot him, and he emptied his gun at them; another officer coming onto the scene subsequently fired 25 more shots. The boys survived.
Tye Thomas, 22, resigned as mayor of Gun Barrel City, Texas, a week after he telephoned police to insist that they come arrest him because he was intoxicated in public. A college student threw a pair of cow eyeballs at a writing professor who had undervalued her required-for-graduation essay, which was on the horrors of slaughterhouses (Johnson, Vt.). A 21-year-old man, in court for illegal skateboarding, threatened a judge and others and climbed a table, screaming, "You'll never take me alive!" before being subdued (Santa Rosa, Calif.). At a retirement community, a man allegedly fired shots at his girlfriend's house in a drive-by shooting from a golf cart (Green Valley, Ariz.).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)