Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News of the Weird, May 22, 2011

WEIRDNUZ.M215 (News of the Weird, May 22, 2011)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2011 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story

* Tonya McDowell, 33, an off-and-on homeless person in
Bridgeport, Conn., was arrested in April by police in nearby
Norwalk and charged with felony theft--of $15,686 worth of
"services" from the city.  McDowell's crime was enrolling her 6-
year-old son in Norwalk's Brookside Elementary School when she
actually "resided" (as much as a mostly "homeless" person can
"reside") in Bridgeport.  McDowell has also "resided" at times in a
Norwalk shelter but was crashing at a friend's apartment in
Bridgeport when she registered her son.  The head of the Norwalk
Board of Education acknowledged that the usual consequence for an
unqualified student is merely dismissal from school. [Stamford
Advocate, 4-16-2011]

The Continuing Crisis

* In March, jurors in New Orleans convicted Isaiah Doyle of a 2005
murder and were listening to evidence in the penalty phase of the
trial when Doyle decided to take the witness stand (as defendants
sometimes do in a desperate attempt to avoid the death penalty).
However, Doyle said to the jurors, "If I had an AK-47, I'd kill every
last one of ya'all with no remorse."  (The jury recommended the
needle.)  [WWL-TV (New Orleans), 3-25-2011]

* The Montana House of Representatives passed a tough drunk-
driving bill in March to combat the state's high DUI rate, but it
came over the objection of Rep. Alan Hale (and later, Sen. Jonathan
Windy Boy).  Hale, who owns a bar in Basin, Mont., complained
that tough DUI laws "are destroying small businesses" and
"destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and
years."  (Until 2005, drinking while driving was common and legal
outside of towns as long as the driver wasn't drunk.)  Furthermore,
Hale said, people need to drive home after they drink.  "[T]hey are
not going to hitchhike."  Sen. Windy Boy said such laws put the
legislature on "the path of criminalizing everyone in Montana."
[Billings Gazette-AP, 4-1-2011]

* Why Unions Are Unpopular:  The police officers' union in
Scranton, Pa., filed a state unfair labor practice complaint in April
against Chief Dan Duffy because he arrested a man whom he caught
violating a warrant and possessing marijuana.  According to the
union contract, only union members can "apprehend and arrest"
lawbreakers, and since the chief is "management," he should have
called an officer to make the arrest.  The union president suggested
that, with layoffs threatened, the chief doesn't need to be taking
work away from officers.  [Times-Tribune (Scranton), 4-19-2011]

* Conventional academic wisdom is that the death penalty is not an
effective deterrent to homicide, but according to accused murderer
Dmitry Smirnov, it deterred him from killing Ms. Jitka Vesel in
Oak Brook, Ill.--until March, that is, when Illinois's death penalty
was repealed.  Prosecutors said Smirnov, from Surrey, British
Columbia, told them he decided to come to Illinois and kill Vesel
(in cold blood, over an online relationship gone bad) only after
learning through Internet research that the state no longer had
capital punishment.  [Chicago Sun-Times, 4-15-2011]

Cavalcade of Rednecks

* (1) Shelly Waddell, 36, was cited by police in February in
Waterville, Maine, after "a couple of" drivers reported seeing two
children riding on the roof of the van she was driving early one
morning.  Waddell told police she was in fact delivering newspapers
to customers but denied that the kids were on the roof.  (2) At the
Niceville, Fla., Christmas parade on December 4th, a municipal
employee was arrested when he stepped up onto a city truck that
was part of the parade and challenged the driver (who apparently
was a colleague).  The employee accused the driver of "taking [my]
overtime" hours for the previous two years and ordered him out of
the truck so he could "whip your ass."  (The employee was charged
with disorderly intoxication.) [WMTW-TV (Portland, Maine)-AP,
2-24-2011] [Northwest Florida Daily News, 12-10-2010]

Bright Ideas

* Louis "Shovelhead" Garrett is an artist, a mannequin collector,
and a quilter in the eastern Missouri town of Louisiana, with a
specialty in sewing quilts from women's panties, according to a
report in the Hannibal Courier-Post.  After showing his latest quilt
at a women's luncheon in Hannibal in March, he told the newspaper
of his high standards:  "No polyester.  I don't want those cheap,
dollar-store, not-sexy, farm-girl panties.  I want classy--silk or
nylon." [Hannibal Courier-Post, 3-24-2011]


* Arifinito (he goes by one name), a member of the Indonesian
parliament, resigned in April after a news photographer in the
gallery zoomed in on the tablet computer he was watching to
capture him surfing Internet pornography sites.  Arifinito's
conservative Islamic Prosperous Justice Party campaigned for a
tough anti-pornography law in 2008 (which the photographer's video
shows Arifinito likely violating). [, 4-11-2011]

* Wheeee!  (1) In March, in Pierce County, Wash., a sewer worker,
37, came loose from a safety line and slid about 3,000 feet through a
6-foot-diameter sewer pipe at the Chambers Creek Wastewater
Treatment Plant.  He "could have drowned," according to one
rescuer, but he was taken to a hospital with "minor injuries."  (2)
Firefighters in Gilbert, Ariz., rescued Eugene Gimzelberg, 32, in
March after he had climbed down a 40-foot sewer hole--naked.
Gimzelberg said he had smoked PCP and marijuana and consumed
hallucinogenic mushrooms.  He was hospitalized in critical
condition. [Tacoma News-Tribune, 3-21-2011] [Arizona Republic,


* Jacob Barnett, 12, an Asperger's-syndrome-fueled math genius
who maxed out on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and
is now enrolled at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University
Indianapolis), told an Indianapolis Star reporter in March that his
next project is about proving the Big Bang theory all wrong.  But if
not the Big Bang, asked the reporter, how do we exist?  Said Jacob,
"I'm still working on it."  "I have an idea, but . . . I'm still working
out the details."  (Hint:  Jacob's major point of skepticism is that the
Big Bang doesn't account neatly for carbon.)  Said his (biological)
mother, Kristine Barnett, 36, "I flunked math.  I know this did not
come from me."  [Indianapolis Star, 3-20-2011]

* Overreaching:  (1) In April, Texas state Rep. John Davis of
Houston proposed a tax break--aimed at buyers of yachts valued at
more than a quarter-million dollars.  Davis promised more yacht
sales and, through a ripple effect, more jobs if Texas capped the
sales tax on yachts at the amount due on a $250,000 vessel--a break
of almost $16,000 on a $500,000 boat.  (2) Adam Yarbrough, 22,
ticketed by a female police officer in Indianapolis in March after he
was observed swerving in and out of traffic on an Interstate
highway, allegedly compounded the problem first by offering the
cop "five dollars" to "get rid of this ticket" and then by "[H]ow
about I give you a kiss?"  Felony bribery charges were filed.  (Bonus
Fact:  Yarbrough was riding a moped.)  [San Antonio Express-
News, 4-24-2011] [Indianapolis Star, 3-14-2011]

Least Competent Criminals

*  Marissa Mark, 28, was indicted in March in Allentown, Pa., for
hiring a hit man in 2006 via the then-active website, agreeing to pay $37,000 to have a California
woman killed (though prosecutors have not revealed the motive).
Mark allegedly made traceable payments through the PayPal service
(which in recent years has righteously refused to process
transactions involving online gambling or the WikiLeaks document
dumps but which in 2006 did in fact handle payments for  The hit man site was run by an Egyptian
immigrant, who told the Las Vegas Sun in 2008 that he would never
contract for murder but sought to make money by double-crossing
clients and alerting (for a fee) the intended victims. [Allentown
Morning Call, 3-22-2011; Las Vegas Sun, 7-20-2008]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 1992)

* The local board of health closed down the Wing Wah Chinese
restaurant in South Dennis, Mass., briefly in August [1992] for
various violations.  The most serious, said officials, was the
restaurant's practice of draining water from cabbage by putting it in
cloth laundry bags, placing the bags between two pieces of plywood
in the parking lot, and driving over them with a van.  Said Health
Director Ted Dumas, "I've seen everything now." [Brewster Oracle,

    Thanks This Week to Chris Schulman and Michael
Bellesiles and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial

                 * * * * *
    Are you ready for News of the Weird / Pro Edition?  See it every
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addresses:  WeirdNews at earthlink dot net,, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL


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