-- An obscure California law makes it shockingly easy for anyone to anonymously force a motorist into a formal hearing over his driving skills, according to a May story in the Southern California newspaper OC Weekly. The Department of Motor Vehicles said the so-far-underused law was designed to allow relatives of diminished-skill elderly drivers to ease them off the road, but that the legislation places no limits on who can use it. Any complaint, even a bogus one with no proof, leads to a formal hearing at DMV with license suspension a possible outcome, and DMV says it must enforce the law unless the legislature changes it.
-- May marked the debut of Minnesota's gun-carry law, whose critics complained that it is much easier on handgun-possession than even Texas' law. Licensees may carry guns openly in any parking lot in the state (except federal facilities), including school parking lots (although possession of a knife in a school parking lot is still a felony). Guns are still prohibited on other school property, but the law reduces licensees' penalty for that from a felony to a misdemeanor. Private establishments can prohibit guns, but only with a state-dictated sign at each entrance, and then the "penalty" for violation is to be told to leave.
-- New Product Launches: "Purring Kitty" software that makes Nokia cell phones vibrate continuously to create a "discreet massager" (according to the British firm, Vibrelet). A healing stone that when heated, is a smell-remover, a sterilizer, and a treatment for heart disease (according to the developer, the government of North Korea). A fashionable but electrically charged woman's anti-assault coat, with rubber lining and vinyl outer layer sandwiching 9-volt circuitry that, when armed, delivers a finger-in-a-wall-socket-type jolt to anyone who touches it (from Advanced Research Apparel). And the 4-year-old, but recently trendy, half-inch, gold-enameled good-luck charm in the shape of curled feces (from Ryukodo of Kyoto, Japan).
-- "We figured that (every small business) obviously worth doing is already being done by 50 other guys in Miami, so we had to do some thinking first," said "Anton" to the Miami New Times in April. That thinking resulted in Anton's belief that "thousands" of people would pay a dollar each to view his (and his partner "Frank"'s) painstakingly created display of exactly 1 million toothpicks. After hundreds of hours of counting and banding the picks, the two men were at last word ready to look at venues and marketing proposals.
-- While the average chief executive of a $2.7 million, not-for-profit organization is paid just over $100,000, the swimming coach who is head of the De Anza Cupertino Aquatics program in California's Silicon Valley last year earned over $350,000, according to an April report in the San Jose Mercury News. The CEO-coach Pete Raykovich took over the program (training swimmers, from toddlers through internationally competitive athletes) when it was small and gets 10 percent of revenues plus a salary of $85,000, and the board of directors appears to have no regrets about Raykovich's pay.
-- Lawrence Omansky was arrested in April in New York City and charged with kidnapping business partner Lawrence Schlosser, who had criticized Omansky's property management work at a meeting in Omansky's office in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan. Allegedly, during the meeting, Omansky bound Schlosser and forced him into a 3-foot-high crawl space under the second floor, where Schlosser remained for 28 hours before untaping himself and escaping. Said Omansky's lawyer, "The case will ultimately be viewed as a business dispute."
-- Doctors at Chimkent (Kazakhstan) Children's Hospital told the BBC in April that they had removed a fetus from a 7-year-old boy; it was thought at first to be a cyst but when removed, actually had hair and bones and is now believed to have been the boy's Siamese twin that grew in the wrong place. And in May, Groote Schnuur Hospital (Cape Town, South Africa) reported only the 15th documented case of a fetus developing in the mother's liver (and the fourth to survive).
-- Curator Mark Norman of Australia's Melbourne Museum revealed in January that he had captured and photographed the male of the world's most sexually unequal species. When the blanket octopus male (2 cm long) mates with the female (6 feet long), it uses a special extension arm to transfer sperm from its penis (after which the male dies). Females, which may weigh 10,000 times as much as the males, are typically found with several such extension arms lodged inside them.
The world did not end on May 15, contrary to warnings by Japan's 1,200-member Pana Wave Laboratory cult, whose public activities (covering themselves and their property in white sheets for protection against electromagnetic waves beamed by "communists") had drawn media attention just before "doomsday." The Pana Wavers are believed not to be dangerous, although one member said that if the group's guru, Ms. Yuko Chino, soon succumbs to her (supposedly) microwave-induced cancer, the cult will, in revenge, exterminate "all humankind."
At the May court hearing in Nashville, Tenn., for Denza D. McGee, 19, accused of fatally shooting a man, McGee's buddy Gerald Cunningham, 23, showed up to give moral support. However, the witness who was in court to identify McGee said she also recognized Cunningham as McGee's partner in the home invasion and shooting, and Cunningham was pulled out of the gallery and arrested.
As reported in News of the Weird in March 2002 (to apparently many skeptical readers), the 37-year-old female inmate who died at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada, succumbed from a toxic reaction to methadone that she had consumed by drinking the vomit of a fellow inmate who was on a methadone maintenance program. A coroner's inquest in March 2003 heard witness after witness describe inmates' practice of trading their methadone-laced vomit for various inmate favors, and the two inmates who admitted vomiting for the victim have since been additionally sentenced for drug trafficking.
British circus trainer Roger Perkins stole the show at the Royal Easter Circus in April with his prize sow, Miss Piggy, who climbs a ramp to a diving tower and then free-falls into a swimming pool. And Pete Ondrus and his wife, Barb Lambert, told the Greenville, Mich., Daily News in May that they were looking forward to a summer of ballparks and fairs in which they would stage races between their favorite cow, Dusty Roads, and two other trained race cows.
Lynda Taylor, 38, was arrested in Stuart, Fla., in May and charged with aggravated assault, specifically, wearing perfume, spraying Lysol and lighting scented candles. She and her husband, David, have been having marital trouble, and David, who suffers from extreme chemical sensitivity, says Lynda is purposely trying to kill him to get his recent worker compensation settlement check.
After protests, organizers of a children's beauty pageant changed their minds and decided that their original plan to have "swimsuit" and "sexy body" categories was not a good idea (Bangkok, Thailand). A motorist drove his car into a self-service car wash hoping to drench a small fire in his engine, but by the time he realized he didn't have any coins, the fire had spread, eventually destroying four of the car wash's eight bays (West Seneca, N.Y.). A 38-year-old man attempted to dispose of gunpowder by tossing it into his lighted fireplace, resulting in burns to his head and arms (Pike Creek Valley, Del.).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)