news of the weird

by Chuck Shepherd

Britain’s NationalHealth Serviceacknowledged inNovember that,because of a shortageof healthy lungs andother organs availablefor transplant,it was offering thoseon waiting lists theoption of receivingthem from former smokers, drug addicts,cancer patients and the elderly. “You have tosay,” said an official with the NHS’s Blood andTransplant unit, “do you get a lung with morerisk, or do you get no lung [at all]?”Compelling Explanations• French farmer Michele Rouyer, who wasdiscovered by police with about 11 poundsof packaged marijuana and a dozen plants,said the weed was not for himself but for the150 ducks he raises — in that a specialisthad suggested that marijuana is an effectivede-wormer and fever-preventer. (Rouyer didacknowledge that, well, yes, maybe he smokeda little of it himself.) In November, a court inRochefort fined him the equivalent of about$700 — even though he insisted, proudly, thathis ducks are, indeed, worm-free.• Lame: (1) Former Groveland, Mass. policeofficer Aaron Yeo, who was fired in 2009 forsleeping on the job and lying to dispatchersabout his locations, challenged the terminationin October 2010, claiming through hislawyer that he had declined to reveal hislocations only because he was “watching forterrorists.” (2) Body armor company CEODavid H. Brooks, charged with tax fraud andinsider trading, argued at his trial in August inNew York City that his company’s hiring ofprostitutes for staff and board members was alegitimate corporate expense because it could“make [employees] more productive.”Human Rights Watch• In recent years frisky Britons havepopularized “dogging” — strangers meetingfor outdoor sex in remote public parks — andUK government agencies appear to be of twominds about it. Local councils want to see itstopped, but the police chiefs’ association inScotland recognizes that doggers have rights.(The Surrey County Council, for example,recently considered bringing wild bulls intoone park to discourage doggers, although onecritic said romping bulls “will probably make[doggers] even more excited.” The chiefs’association issued a 60-page “hate crimes”manual in October that urged officers to besensitive to “outdoor sex” practitioners, in thatthey are vulnerable to hate crimes just as areother disadvantaged minorities.)• In November, the California SupremeCourt ruled unanimously that some illegalimmigrants are entitled to enroll in the state’suniversities at the in-state residents’ rate (savingas much as $23,000 a year) even thoughUS citizens at the same schools may have topay higher fees as non-California residents.Though federal law prevents special benefits toillegal immigrants, California’s law grants anyonewho has attended the state’s high schoolsfor at least three years, and graduated, to payresident rates —irrespective of their parents’legal residency.’ • Chadwick St.-OHarra, 59, and SteveRighetti, 59, filed lawsuits in small claimscourt in San Rafael, Calif. in Novemberagainst the Seafood Peddler restaurant for“injuries.” Cutting into the escargot at dinnerin June, both men were squirted in the faceby streams of hot garlic butter. Still, the menfinished the meal and admitted that only laterdid they grow to resent the restaurant staff’s insufficientremorse. Said St.-OHarra, “It was thefriggin’ rudeness” that provoked them to sue.Redneck Chronicles• (1) Joe Druce, serving life in prison inMassachusetts for one murder (and who subsequentlymurdered fellow inmate and formerpedophile priest John Geoghan), popped thequestion recently to Christian minister ShirlBorden, who agreed to marry him in Octoberafter five years of being pen pals. Borden saidthe pair’s relationship turned romantic overtheir mutual love of NASCAR. (2) HarveyWestmoreland of Lawrenceburg, Ky., maintainsthat the $250 price he was asking for histractor was reasonable, but the potential buyerfelt cheated and, with a friend, attacked Westmoreland.Said Westmoreland, “[T]hey cut mybeard and forced me to eat it.” In November,the two men pleaded guilty to assault.The Pervo-American Community• A Website for everything: When a femaleNew York City subway rider recorded video(on her cell phone) of a male exhibitionistflaunting himself at her recently, and postedit to the internet, the regulars at one specializedwebsite largely defended the man.Some visitors at (evidentlya favorite hangout for flashers) tore into thewoman for being too sensitive. (Wrote one,“If she doesn’t want to see it, she can just lookaway.” And another: “She should be thankful he flashed his dick at her.”) Others merely offered advice for the flasher on technique. (Wrote another, “OK, lets [sic] point out his mistakes: Subways or local buses must be done with sweats or some form of elastic band so that when u did [sic] get busted it’s easy to slip back up.”)

Least Competent People

• (1) Police in Gumperda, Germany arrested a 64-year-old retired do-it-yourselfer in November after he drilled through a neighbor’s wall in their duplex home. The man had spent two days trapped in his own basement, where he had laid bricks and mortar for a room but apparently forgot to leave himself an exit. (2) Sheryl Urzedowski, 38, was cited in September for DUI in Orland Park, Ill. after failing a field sobriety test to walk a straight line. According to the officer’s report, Urzedowski put her hands on her hips and strutted to and fro “as if she were a [runway] model,” after which, apprehensive about being arrested, she asked the officer to read her “the Amanda rights.”

Recurring Theme

• People who have run over themselves recently: (1) A 20-year-old man trying to push his car up a steep hill on Levering Street in Philadelphia lost control and was crushed and hospitalized (September). (2) Jackie Long, 52, crashed her car into a tree in Chipping Campden, England. Her door burst open just as the car went airborne, and she fell to the ground and was run over by the rear driver’s-side wheel, requiring hospital treatment (September). (3) A 51-year-old woman was killed in Francis, Okla. by her riding lawnmower. She hit a pothole, was thrown about 14 feet ahead of the still-advancing machine, and could not move out of the way fast enough (September).


• Jamie Riley, 27, was arrested in November for endangering her 3-month-old son by holding him “like a football,” according to police, who had spotted Riley carrying on raucously while “celebrating” her recent “victory” over the state’s Department of Children and Family Services, which had been investigating her for neglect.

• Wrong place, wrong time: In September, a tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 70 near Terre Haute, Ind. and precipitated a traffic jam when the cargo caught fire. The truck was hauling a load of fire extinguishers. And in October in Macomb Township, Mich., a 22-year-old man was killed when he accidentally ran into the path of a passing hearse.

A News of the Weird Classic (May 2007)

• Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre made News of the Weird in 2004 and 2007 because of continued petty territorial fighting among the six Christian denominations that share management of the church, which is home to some of Christianity’s holiest sites, including that of Jesus’ resurrection. As Easter approached in 2007, three of the groups that control one 10-stall rest room could not agree how to divide responsibility for repairing it, leading to inaction and a pervasive stench in the building. Furthermore, the path of the outflow sewage pipe (which needed enlarging) passes under property of a fourth denomination, which has resisted helping with the problem unless it is granted exclusive control of one of the 10 stalls.

‘© 2010 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate