News Of The Weird

Sophie’s Choice

• Britain’s National Health Service acknowledged in November that, because of a shortage of healthy lungs and other organs available for transplant, it was offering those on waiting lists the option of receiving them from former smokers, drug addicts, cancer patients and the elderly. “You have to say,” said an official with the NHS’s Blood and Transplant unit, “do you get a lung with more risk, or do you get no lung (at all)?”

Compelling Explanations

• French farmer Michele Rouyer, who was discovered by police with about 11 pounds of packaged marijuana and a dozen plants, said the weed was not for himself but for the 150 ducks he raises — in that a specialist had suggested that marijuana is an effective dewormer and fever-preventer. (Rouyer did acknowledge that, well, yes, maybe he smoked a little of it himself.) In November, a court in Rochefort fined him the equivalent of about $700 — even though he insisted, proudly, that his ducks are, indeed, worm-free.
• Former Groveland, Mass., police officer Aaron Yeo, who was fired in 2009 for sleeping on the job and lying to dispatchers about his locations, challenged the termination in October 2010, claiming through his lawyer that he had declined to reveal his locations only because he was “watching for terrorists.”
• Body armor company CEO David H. Brooks, charged with tax fraud and insider trading, argued at his trial in August in New York City that his company’s hiring of prostitutes for staff and board members was a legitimate corporate expense because it could “make (employees) more productive.”

Human Rights Watch

• In recent years frisky Britons have popularized “dogging” — strangers meeting for outdoor sex in remote public parks — and U.K. government agencies appear to be of two minds about it. Local councils want to see it stopped, but the police chiefs’ association in Scotland recognizes that doggers have rights. (The Surrey County Council, for example, recently considered bringing wild bulls into one park to discourage doggers, although one critic 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 be sensitive to “outdoor sex” practitioners, in that they are vulnerable to hate crimes just as are other disadvantaged minorities.)
• In November, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that some illegal immigrants are entitled to enroll in the state’s universities at the in-state residents’ rate (saving as much as $23,000 a year) even though U.S. citizens at the same schools may have to pay higher fees as non-California residents. Though federal law prevents special benefits to illegal immigrants, California’s law grants anyone who has attended the state’s high schools for at least three years, and graduated, to pay resident rates — irrespective of their parents’ legal residency.
• Chadwick St.-OHarra, 59, and Steve Righetti, 59, filed lawsuits in small claims court in San Rafael, Calif., in November against the Seafood Peddler restaurant for “injuries.” Cutting into the escargot at dinner in June, both men were squirted in the face by streams of hot garlic butter. Still, the men finished the meal and admitted that only later did they grow to resent the restaurant staff’s insufficient remorse. Said St.-OHarra, “It was the friggin’ rudeness” that provoked them to sue.

Redneck Chronicles

• Joe Druce, serving life in prison in Massachusetts for one murder (and who subsequently murdered fellow inmate and former pedophile priest John Geoghan), popped the question recently to Christian minister Shirl Borden, who agreed to marry him in October after five years of being pen pals. Borden said the pair’s relationship turned romantic over their mutual love of NASCAR.
• Harvey Westmoreland of Lawrenceburg, Ky., maintains that the $250 price he was asking for his tractor was reasonable, but the potential buyer felt cheated and, with a friend, attacked Westmoreland. Said Westmoreland, “(T)hey cut my beard and forced me to eat it.” In November, the two men pleaded guilty to assault.

The Pervo-American Community

• When a female New York City subway rider recorded video (on her cell phone) of a male exhibitionist flaunting himself at her recently and posted it to the Internet, the regulars at one specialized website largely defended the man. Some visitors at (evidently a favorite hangout for flashers) tore into the woman for being too sensitive. (Wrote one, “If she doesn’t want to see it, she can just look away.” 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

• 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.
• 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

• 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).
• 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).
• 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.
• 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.
• In October in Macomb Township, Mich., a 22-year-old man was killed when he accidentally ran into the path of a passing hearse.

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.

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