-- Tony Alleyne, 50, recently placed his small Leicestershire, England, apartment on the market for the equivalent of US$1.7 million, a price he said was realistic because he has spent nearly 10 years crafting the premises as a finely detailed model of the "Star Trek" starship Enterprise. Included, according to an April report in Australia's Herald Sun, are a life-size transporter control, a gigantic warp core drive, voice-activated lighting and security, and an infinity mirror. "If you're going to do something," he said, "you have to go all the way." Alleyne said he started the project as therapy when his wife walked out on him.
-- Connecticut's Supreme Court heard arguments in April on a rather fine point in "Miranda warning" law: whether the police can use a drug suspect's vomit against him (or at least use the eight bags of heroin that came up with the vomit). Arresting officers apparently asked suspect Vincent Betances if he had just swallowed heroin, and Betances (without a Miranda warning) said that he had, leading officers to summon medical help. Betances now says the officers' question was unconstitutional "interrogation," even though without immediate treatment, he could have died.
Pro wrestler The Great Sasuke won a seat in Japan's Iwate Prefectural Assembly, and said he would continue to wear his trademark mask to work ("This is my face," he said.) (April). And many members of India's lower house of parliament, opposed to the finance minister's attempt to raise the price of fertilizer, did the Indian equivalent of a U.S. filibuster by screaming raucously for more than four straight hours on March 15 until the minister withdrew the proposal. Also in March, India's prime minister came under vicious attack from members of the opposition Congress party, who played Indian political hardball by accusing him of eating beef.
-- The school board that governs Lombardy, Ontario, acceded to the request of an offended parent in February and removed the word "gun" from a primary school spelling-test list. Also in February, the head teacher at the Park Road nursery school in West Yorkshire, England, issued instructions that "The Three Little Pigs" and other stories featuring pigs not be used, in order not to offend Muslims. (The Muslim Council of Britain immediately denounced the decision, and the instructions were rescinded.)
-- In December, a judge in Fort Myers, Fla., cleared immigration lawyer Maria Lara Peet, 40, to practice again, excusing her theft of $73,000 from a client the year before, as long as she paid it back. Peet was found to have been mentally ill at the time of the theft but competent to practice law again a year later. (Several years before that, she had been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness.)
-- The CIA convened an open panel of scientists in January to discuss potential terrorist uses of life-science research, and the panel concluded that, despite the risks, openness in scientific study was absolutely crucial; in April, the CIA suppressed the panel's conclusions on openness as classified. And in March, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia accepted an award by the Cleveland City Club for his contributions to freedom of speech, which Scalia said he would be glad to accept at the club's meeting provided no television or radio coverage was allowed.
-- Psychiatrist Charles Gould, 69, was scheduled for a disciplinary tribunal after allegedly belting a patient with a frying pan and a wine bottle when the patient said Gould should retire because he was "past his sell-by date" (Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, April). And Catholic high school theology teacher R. Scott Jones, 44, was fired for passing out joke valentines to students reading, "I hate you, I wish you would die" (Phoenix, March). And Fletcher Vrendenburgh, director of the New York City government's customer-service office, was fired for posting a Web site essay on how "dumb," "whining" and "stupid" he thought New Yorkers and city workers are (December).
-- What Goes Around, Comes Around: Lisandro Mateo, 16, and Justine Hayes-Hurley, 18, were charged with criminal mischief in Central Islip, N.Y., in March after vandalizing a car. The car belongs to Winston Hill, 20, who both girls thought was their exclusive boyfriend until they began innocently discussing their love lives at school and realized they were both talking about the same man, at which point they decided to touch up Hill's windshield and paint job with hedge clippers.
Heredity theory got a boost in March when CNN reported that Mr. Shirl Mitchell, 83, the father of accused Elizabeth Smart abductor Brian Mitchell, blamed himself for the way Brian turned out. Shirl said he showed Brian sexually explicit photos at age 7, which perhaps provoked Brian's arrest years later for indecently exposing himself to a 3-year-old girl. Shirl also described himself as a voyeur and the author of a two-thick-volume personal theology that is sexually explicit, dealing largely with diet and reproduction (and having nothing to do with Brian's own tract that authorities found when they arrested him for the abduction).
(1) "Dangerous Chemical Found in Women's Breasts" (a March San Francisco Chronicle report on heavy tissue concentrations of a flame-retarding pollutant, most likely from inhaling foam insulation). (2) "Grisly Mexico Factory Breeds Man-Eating Flies" (a February Reuters story on the manufacture of sterile male fresh-blood-eating screwworms, which are used only to mate with wild female screwworms so that its population will die out). (3) "Girl Headed for Eye Doctor Ends Up With Teeth Pulled Instead" (a March story on the Web site of KTRK-TV, Houston, about the error by a Texas Medicaid worker who dropped the 5-year-old girl off with the wrong doctor).
News of the Weird has reported at least twice over the years on dogs playfully stepping on their masters' guns, with a paw innocently nudging the trigger, to tragic results. In Estes Park, Colo., in February, a 32-year-old woman was shot in the leg and hospitalized after her cat jumped onto a shelf, knocking off a .32 caliber Colt semi-automatic, which discharged a round when it hit the floor. (A second cat-shot-me story, by a 15-year-old boy in Tuscarawas Township, Ohio, in April, has been publicly doubted by the sheriff.).
A student at George Washington High School, Charleston, W.Va. (who was not identified because of his age), was disciplined after he accidentally wedged himself in behind the shower wall in the girls' locker room, after allegedly taking a choice vantage point for peeping. Virtually immobile, the boy waited until school was out for the day and called his father on his cell phone. The father went to the gym and rescued the boy but later turned him in.
A February Boston Globe dispatch from Guangzhou, China, reported that a recent favorite tactic of employees who are owed back pay is not to sue but rather to make serious attempts to commit suicide in public; said one construction worker who dangled from a high-rise, "There was no other way to get what the company owed us." And a 22-year-old man robbed a bank in Cleveland on March 12 by walking up to a teller and sticking a gun in his own mouth, threatening to kill himself if he didn't get the money. (Five days later the man was shot to death after he pulled a gun on an Akron, Ohio, police officer.)
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry officially declared that the country had no weapons of mass destruction and did not even believe in "any form" of them, except for its nuclear weapons. Firefighters in training, erroneously believing they had permission, set fire to a vacant house that belonged to the police chief, who was planning to fix it up for his parents (Elma, Wash.). Rev. William Keller (an evangelical Christian), who has led the Muncie, Ind., May 1 National Day of Prayer program for 10 years, said priests from other religions were welcome to attend but could not use the microphone to pray because he doesn't believe "in other gods."
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)