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News of the Weird
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Don’t Bless with Texas

The Texas insanity-defense law requires that a delusional person acting under “orders” from God be judged not guilty by reason of insanity, but that a delusional person acting under “orders” from Satan be considered sane, according to prominent forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz (according to a June USA Today story). Thus, Dietz believed that Andrea Yates (at press time being retried in Houston) knew that drowning her kids upon command of someone “without moral authority” (such as Satan) was wrong and thus that she did not qualify for insanity-law protection. Dietz later concluded the opposite in another Texas child-killing case because God had supposedly assured that mother that her kids would be better off dead.

Can’t Possibly Be True

During his 17 months’ federal incarceration in Atlanta, Wayne Milton sneaked out nights at least 50 times in order to continue the high-stakes mortgage-fraud business that had landed him in jail in the first place. In May, he received a fresh, 20-year sentence for having bribed the prison guards who allowed his freedom. The smooth-talking Milton (who deftly quoted the Bible, preying on small-town preachers in the South) is such a relentless promoter that within days of his re-incarceration, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitutional report, he was secretly recorded on a prison phone lining up another mortgage loan.

Inexplicable: (1) The Rhode Island Supreme Court in June affirmed a $400,000 judgment for Charles Lennon, 68, who had sued the now-bankrupt Dacomed company after his Dura-II penile implant remained constantly erect for 10 years. Lennon said embarrassment had forced him to become a recluse. (2) In Waupun, Wis., in June, a 36-year-old man filed a police complaint against a female bartender at the Alcatraz Pub because she injured him by aggressively nuzzling him to herbosom during horseplay at the bar.


The Continuing Crisis

Speaking to an international medical meeting in Prague in June, Israeli fertility doctor Shevach Friedler said his research team had found that women exposed to brief entertainment by clowns were successful at in-vitro fertilization at almost twice the rate of women who had no clown exposure. Friedler, who is also a trained mime, attributed the difference to greater stress reduction.

In June, three protesters dressed in clown suits broke a lock at a supposedly secure North Dakota missile facility and attacked the top of the underground housing that holds a live Minuteman III missile by beating it with hammers and painting anti-nuclear slogans on it. They were arrested within minutes, but publicly, the government seemed unalarmed that the trio had broken in so easily.


Unclear on the Concept

Joseph Weir, 23, who confessed to New York City police in May to forcibly licking the feet of as many as 70 women, said he didn’t mean to hurt anyone but just wanted “to make them laugh and smile and open to talk to me.” “I get on my knees, grab their feet and bow,” he said (according to a New York Post story). “I compliment women, I bow to them.”



The Meek Win a Few

(1) In June, British worker Mr. Sivanadian Perananthasivam was awarded three months’ paid leave plus medical expenses after proving that a supervisor had used two colloquial terms for the man’s posterior during an angry office exchange. (2) The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed in June that a woman divorced seven years ago is still so fragile from her husband’s leaving her that she should continue to get spousal support (in spite of Canada’s no-fault divorce law). (3) Two New Jersey schoolboys separately complained recently that in yearbook sports photos, a tiny portion of their genitals can be seen up the legs of their shorts. (A Colts Neck High School student’s lawsuit was dismissed in June, and a Phillipsburg High School student is pondering a lawsuit, even though a school official ordered the offending page ripped out of all books.)


Fine Points of the Law

(1) The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in June that a marijuana user need not actually be intoxicated to violate the state’s “operating (a vehicle) under the influence” law if the prosecutor can prove that the psychoactive ingredient THC was still in his system. (2) A federal judge in Albany, N.Y., dismissed a state prisoner’s lawsuit that claimed that housing two inmates in a cell designed for one was cruel and unusual punishment. The judge rejected the petitioner’s toilet-smell argument by using the Pythagorean Theorem to show that the odor-wafting-distance difference was minimal.


People Different From Us

(1) Enrique Mora of Montclair, Calif., said that within a few days of his gold detector’s having sounded in his front yard, he had dug a hole six stories down (but had come up empty). He said he had only planned to dig three or four feet, but got “carried away,” according to a June Associated Press report. (2) Martinsburg, W.Va., physician John C. Veltman, 52, was arrested in May after he (likely intoxicated) commandeered a backhoe and hit a building and a tree and crashed through two fences. Veltman allegedly told an arriving police officer, “I am a (expletive omitted by the Martinsburg Journal) medical doctor, and you are below me.”



(1) The Nigerian government began recently to warn its citizens traveling to Europe that those countries are full of scam artists. (The travel advisory mentioned pickpocket schemes, but apparently European e-mail scams are less of a problem.) (2) General Motors executives, trying to explain the dwindling stock market value of the company, have repeatedly complained of oppressive pension benefits owed under United Auto Workers contracts; however, according to a June Wall Street Journal investigation, GM’s fund for worker pensions is “overstuffed with cash,” while its fund for executive pensions is $1.4 billion in the red and getting worse.


Thinning the Herd

(1) A 23-year-old woman and her 27-year-old companion were accidentally run over and killed, apparently while standing in a far left lane of Interstate 10, arguing (Ocean Springs, Miss., June). (2) A 46-year-old man, breaking through a bedroom window in the home of his estranged wife in violation of a restraining order, accidentally slashed an artery and bled to death (Milwaukee, June). (3) A 51-year-old man, trying to drive around a traffic jam on Interstate 10 as he was fleeing a gas station where he had just pumped $60 worth of gas without paying, fatally struck another car (with only minor injuries to the other driver) (Welsh, La., June).