-- Several news organizations have recently profiled 70-year-old Charlotte Chambers, who is a reserve defensive back for the Orlando Starz of the Independent Women's (tackle) Football League. Said the Starz' chief executive: "Last year, I thought I should tell the other teams to go easy and not hit her too hard. But now I'm afraid she's going to hurt somebody." Said the 5-foot-4, 140-pound Chambers: "I say, 'You better hit me (first), because I'm laying you out.'"
-- An industry has sprung up in the last year or two in New York City: advisers who counsel parents on how to get their 3-year-olds accepted at prestigious nursery schools (which gives them a leg up in being accepted at prestigious kindergartens and then prestigious private schools). According to a May New York Times report, advisers charge as much as $300 an hour or a flat $3,000 to give tips, which parents justify because a full, 14-year ride in private schools can cost $300,000. Top-of-the-line Columbia Grammar, for example (one of the "Baby Ivies"), recently had more than 500 kindergarten applicants for 34 open slots.
(1) "From Hyenas' Privates, a Potential Public Good" (a May Contra Costa Times report on how both male and female hormones flow through hyenas' genitals, in part shaping them, which scientists say offers clues in how to treat potentially hermaphroditic humans). (2) "Psychologists Dissect the Multiple Meanings of Meow" (a May Cox News Service report on how cats may display many alterations of their standard vocalization depending on why at that time they want humans' attention). (3) "15 Injured in Kite Contests" (a report from Britain's Independent TV on competitions featuring contentious Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat, India, in which aggressive participants use twine coated with powdered glass).
-- In May, 36-year-veteran ambulance driver Mike Ferguson, rushing a liver for transplant from Leeds to Cambridge, England, on the A1 highway, was ticketed for doing 104 mph. In fact, Ferguson was ticketed by two jurisdictions that night, but Cambridgeshire police dismissed the ticket after Ferguson's explanation while Lincolnshire police sent the case to prosecutors even after the explanation, and at press time, a court date was being set.
-- The Florida Legislature finally amended its open-government law in May to prohibit sex-crime inmates from getting access to photographs of their victims. Under the previous version of the law, a state appeals court had ruled that convicted sex-assaulter Dale W. Weeks was entitled, under the liberal public-records procedures, to investigative photos that depicted his victim's genitals.
-- The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned the "armed robbery" conviction of Deshon Rene Odom in May, saying that even though Odom had a gun in his waistband, he hadn't meant for anyone at the bank he was robbing to see it, and therefore that he was not legally "armed." The court said that the federal law speaks only of using a gun, not carrying one; on the other hand, the court acknowledged that if Odom had waved around a toy gun that looked real, that would be enough for "armed" robbery.
-- A 70-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman pleaded no contest to public indecency in New Philadelphia, Ohio, in June after their arrest for engaging in sex acts in a booth at a Hardee's restaurant. Though it was the couple's first lewdness charge, the prosecutor told the judge that it was not the first time they had done something like that.
-- Ken Rohrer, an elementary school principal in Michigan City, Ind., resigned in April, two weeks after he had (apparently as a joke) decided to appear on the school's classroom TV system making his daily announcements while portraying an Iraqi character, denouncing "lying" Americans and the Bush administration and charging that the upcoming school ice cream social would be held as scheduled, even though Iraqis were starving.
-- A joint resolution commissioning a statue to recognize the anti-abortion movement in South Carolina is currently making its way through the state House of Representatives. In the original proposal in circulation until May, the statue that sponsors thought would best celebrate unborn children was to be a huge (6-foot-tall) fetus. (Some supporters have suggested an alternative design.)
Recently, police, faced with thieves whom they suspected had swallowed their contraband in order to avoid detection, had to wait and let nature take its course in order to recover the incriminating evidence. Carpet cleaner Daniel Dyament, 19, finally expelled (after 72 hours) the $3,000 ring he allegedly stole from a customer's home in Bloomfield Township, Mich. (June). And in March, Chicago police reportedly used White Castle "sliders" to coax suspect Peter J. Mannix to yield (after 96 hours) a stolen $37,000 diamond. But in Santa Cruz, Calif., jeweler Joy Kilner concluded in June after days of waiting that the $1,800 diamond that her pet basset hound swallowed was not coming out and was probably stuck in the dog's intestines.
-- Davidson County (Tenn.) judge Ellen Hobbs rejected the death-row appeal of murderer Abu-Ali Abdur Rahman, 52, scheduled for June 18, ruling that the state's lethal-injection cocktail is constitutional, even though one of the three drugs involved (Pavulon) is banned in Tennessee for animal euthanasia. And a congressional committee staff revealed in May that five U.S. companies that have relocated their headquarters offshore in order to avoid federal taxes were nonetheless awarded a total of nearly $1 billion of taxpayer money in federal government contracts over the last fiscal year.
In May, Reuters reported on the increasing popularity in Australia of large cockroaches as pets (won't hurt children, very low maintenance). However, at about the same time, health authorities in Thailand decided to confiscate and destroy about 1,000 pet cockroaches, calling them pests, but reluctantly showed sympathy for the owners' losses by holding a Buddhist funeral rite for the cockroaches. And a few days before that, artist Catherine Chalmers opened her "Executions" exhibit in New York City, featuring photographs of cockroaches dying simulated "human" deaths (hanging from tiny nooses or executed in a small prison electric chair) and, in a video, arising from the "dead" in a gas chamber (gruesomely knocked out by carbon dioxide, then revived as the gas dissipates).
In 2000, News of the Weird reported on neuroscientist Lawrence Farwell's "brain fingerprinting" (in which he says he can measure brain activity or inactivity in order to determine whether a person has previously experienced an event or a setting, such as a murder scene). According to a May 2003 Associated Press story, University of Pennsylvania scientists are testing devices that detect brain activity in order to determine whether a person is about to lie even before he or she has spoken a word. Biophysicist Britton Chance's headband measures blood-flow; psychologist Daniel Langleben uses a type of MRI machine; and other researchers employ devices like heat-sensitive cameras to measure telltale blood-flow around the eyes.
Convicted underwear thief Ronald Ernst (whose record includes 16 previous lewdness-related charges), filed a lawsuit against a police detective and two attorneys for calling too much attention to his case (Fargo, N.D.). Australia's Federal Court rebuffed the Tax Office and ruled that convicted heroin dealer Francesco Dominico La Rosa could reduce his 1995 taxable income to allow for A$224,000 that he said had been stolen from him in a drug deal gone bad. And officials in Berryville, Ark., were perplexed at a wave of finely crafted counterfeit money passed around town but only bills in the seldom-seen denomination (for bogus bills) of $1.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)