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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD]

by Chuck Shepherd

Living Smal

l Apartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now eagerly paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (U.S.) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space (and typically physically self-measured by the applicant’s wing-span). An agent told The Wall Street Journal in June that, for example, standard furniture does not fit the units and that having guests over requires sitting on the window sill. (The Journal pointed out that a typical such “mosquito” apartment unit in Hong Kong is 180 square feet, way smaller than the 304 of a basketball court’s “lane” subject to a “3-second” violation.) A government lottery for subsidized units rewards barely one of every 100 applicants.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

In May, Texas health officials shut down the flea market sales of sonogram DVDs at Leticia Trujillo’s stall at San Antonio’s Traders Village. Though the nature of the equipment was not described in news reports, sonograms can be produced only under a doctor’s prescription and by licensed personnel, but pregnant flea market customers underwent a procedure (“just like a doctor’s office,” said Trujillo) that yielded a 12-minute DVD image, along with photos, for $35 — that Trujillo subsequently defended as for “entertainment” purposes only and for those without health insurance.

Ironies

According to Nathan Hoffman’s lawsuit, he was prepped for eye surgery that day in May 2014 when the clinic employee handed him a small-lettered liabilitylimitation form to sign. He was told that the surgery at the LASIK Vision Institute in Lake Oswego, Oregon, could not proceed without a signature, and despite hazy vision, he reluctantly relented, but things went badly. The form limits lawsuit damages to a money-back $2,500, but Hoffman demands at least $7,500 (to cover the so-far two additional surgeries elsewhere to correct LVI’s alleged errors).

War Is Hell

Some jihadists who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS have complained recently (according to a Radio Free Europe dispatch) that they cannot secure work as “martyrs” because of discrimination by incumbent fighters. One “pro-ISIS” cleric, speaking for Chechens, said they “are so fed up with the long waiting lists in Syria” that they head to Iraq, where the lists are shorter. Said one, Saudis controlling suicide rosters in the Syrian theater “won’t let anyone in.” Their “relatives go to the front of the line using (their connections).”

Sexual Assaulters’ Defense League

— In April, Judge Marc Kelly in Orange County, California, defied a 25-yearminimum statutory sentence for punishing the sexual abuse of a 3-year-old girl by Kevin Rojano — cutting the term to 10 years because the man did not “intend to harm” the girl (except that he became “inexplicably” “aroused” when she walked into his garage). “There was no violence or callous disregard for (her) well-being,” the judge said.

— The child-abuse sentence of a sports club official in Buenos Aires was reduced in 2014 to little more than three years, it was recently revealed, because, said the judges, the 6-year-old boy had earlier been sexually molested by his father and had already made a “precocious (sexual) choice” (“apparently a reference to homosexuality,” according to a May Associated Press dispatch).

The Continuing Crisis

— America (sometimes called a land of “second chances”) gave stockbroker Jerry Cicolani Jr., 69 such chances, before he pleaded guilty in May to selling unregistered securities — setting up his first overt punishment despite a history of 60-some client complaints made to his then employer, Merrill Lynch, between 1991 and 2010. The stockbrokers’ self-regulating arm (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has finally revoked his license, but issued a statement acknowledging that it needed to improve its monitoring.

— Awkward: Corey Huddleston, 52, apparently having taken a fancy to a teenage girl in Dickson, Tennessee, in May, knocked on her family’s front door, according to police, then pushed his way in, asked for cigarettes and beer, “touched himself” inappropriately, asked about the girl, and then reluctantly departed. However, he merely went to a back window of a darkened bedroom, climbed inside, and fondled a sleeping figure in bed, whom he likely assumed was the girl — but it was the girl’s father, who later confessed that he called the police only after resisting the impulse to kill Huddleston. (Police said Huddleston’s rap sheet shows more than 100 charges.)

Weird Science

Among caterpillars’ natural defenses against being devoured by birds is their ability to contort themselves into odd shapes for disguise — perhaps most ingeniously (according to researchers writing in the current Animal Behaviour journal) as bird droppings. The authors created artificial dough-based squiggles that were either straight (resembling the caterpillar) or bent (to resemble poop), and found that birds zeroed in on the straight ones about three times as often.

Least Competent Criminals

Notwithstanding the suggestion in movies, stealing a 200-pound floor model safe is a very low-return crime, as the February arrest of three pals in Kingsport, Tennessee, illustrated. After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk (accidentally shattering the back window), they drove to one’s apartment, but police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot in the middle of the night. (During the trip, it fell onto one perp’s foot.) Police, following gouge marks, visited the apartment and spotted the safe, as yet unopened, in the middle of the kitchen. (Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe? Perp: We found it in an alley.) Police opened it. It was empty.

Just Another Day in Court in Florida

It started in 2008, when one of Tampa Bay’s two nastiest radio “shock jocks,” Todd Schnitt, sued the other, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, for defamation. With depositions underway in 2013, according to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, Schnitt’s lawyer, Philip Campbell, unwinding in a bar, was hit on by a perky young paralegal who (unknown to him) worked for Bubba’s lawyer’s firm. After several drinks, she exaggerated inebriation, angling for Campbell to drive her home. According to charges by the Florida Bar Association, the paralegal’s boss called a Tampa cop to trail Campbell — who, sure enough, witnessed the car weaving, and thus arrested Campbell for DUI. (Bonus: Campbell’s work-packed briefcase went missing in the traffic stop.) Bubba himself was not implicated, and the disciplinary charges against the lawyers, pending in June 2015, are creating suspense about which of them might take the fall.

From The Third-World Press

Kenya’s The Standard reported the May proclamation by prominent Nairobi lawyer Felix Kiprono that he had fallen in love (long distance) with Malia Obama (who is, famously, part-Kenyan) and is prepared to offer President Obama 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats in exchange for her hand. “If my request is granted,” he said, he would not “resort to the cliche of popping champagne” but rather would “surprise (Malia) with mursik, the traditional Kalenjin sour milk,” and affix the “sacred plant,” sinendet, queen-like, around her head.

A News Of The Weird Classic (March 2011)

The Redneck Chronicles: (1) Timothy Walker, 48, was hospitalized in Burlington, North Carolina, in February (2011) after he fell off of the top of an SUV while holding down two mattresses for the driver, who apparently rounded a curve too fast. (2) Three people were hospitalized in Bellevue, Washington, in January (2011) when their van exploded as the ignition was re-engaged. They were carrying two gallons of gasoline in an open container and had been feeding the carburetor directly, through an opening in the engine housing (between the seats), as the van was in motion. (No explanation was reported.)

‘© 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.

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