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NEWS OF THE WEIRD


The Aristocrats!

(1) A customer had to be dragged from a burning sex shop by firefighters in the notorious Reeperbahn "sin" section of Hamburg, Germany, in November when he refused orders to evacuate. He had shut himself inside a private booth to watch a film ("Throbbin Hood") and was heard complaining (while coughing from smoke inhalation), "I haven't finished yet." (2) Police in Richmond, Virginia, announced in December that high school math teacher Kenneth Johnson III turned himself in for several recent residential shoe thefts. Each time, the shoes taken from homes were returned to their owners but with "bodily fluids" added. [Daily Mail (London), 11-25-2015] [WTVR-TV (Richmond, 12-5-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Oops! (1) Jasper Harrison, 47, working inside the storage unit in Edgewater, Florida, where he grows his marijuana, heard a helicopter overhead on Dec. 9, panicked, and called 911 to turn himself in to pre-empt what he presumed was a SWAT raid. Actually, the helicopter belonged to a local news station headed elsewhere, but police later arrested Harrison based on the 911 call. (2) Lloyd Franklin, 34 and suspected in a North Carolina double murder, fatally shot himself in a Bensalem, Pennsylvania, motel room in November when police knocked on the door. However, cops actually had come to arrest another man in the room on a parole violation. [Orlando Sentinel, 12-10-2015] [KYW-TV (Philadelphia), 11-8-2015]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

In November, a 62-year-old customer at Ancient City Shooting Range in St. Augustine, Florida, was hit in the lower abdomen area by another shooter, 71, because the victim was standing behind the target ("for some reason," was all a fire-rescue spokesman would say). The shooter thought the man was elsewhere on the property. [Jacksonville.com, 11-27-2015]
Ironies

-- Christopher Manney was fired from the Milwaukee Police Department in 2014 after shooting a black suspect to death in a case bearing some similarity to 2015 shootings that produced "Black Lives Matter" protests -- not fired for the shooting (adjudged "not excessive force") but for improper actions that preceded the shooting (not announcing a valid reason for a pat down and conducting a not-by-the-book pat down). Two days before the firing, he had filed a disability claim for post-traumatic stress disorder from the shooting and aftermath, and in November 2015 the city's Annuity and Pension Board, following city law, approved the claim. Thus, Manney, despite having been subsequently fired, retired with full disability, with basically the same take-home pay he was receiving when fired. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11-5-2015; WITI-TV (Milwaukee), 10-16-2015]

Compelling Explanations

(1) Breen Peck, 52, an air traffic controller who has been having career troubles in recent years, was arrested during a traffic stop on New York's Long Island in December when officers found illegal drugs in his car. "That's meth," he said. "I'm an air traffic controller." "I smoke it to stay awake." (2) In a "she-said/he-said" case, wealthy Saudi businessman Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was acquitted of rape in December in England's Southwark Crown Court, apparently persuading jurors of "reasonable doubt" about his DNA found in the alleged victim's vagina. Perhaps, his lawyer said, Abdulaziz was still aroused after sex with the other woman in the apartment and accidentally fell directly upon the alleged victim lying on a sofa. [New York Post, 12-11-2015] [The Independent, 12-16-2015]

Unclear on the Concept

Thee, Not Me: American "millennials" (those aged 18 to 29) continue a "long-standing tradition," The Washington Post wrote in December, describing a Harvard Institute of Politics poll on their views on war. Following the recent Paris terrorist attacks, about 60 percent of U.S. millennials said additional American troops would be needed to fight the Islamic State, but 85 percent answered, in the next question, that no, they themselves were "probably" or "definitely" not joining the military. [Washington Post, 12-10-2015]

Redneck Chronicles

-- Police in Monticello, Kentucky, charged Rodney Brown, 25, with stealing farm animals and equipment from a home in December -- but offering to return everything if the victim (a man) had sex with him. Brown allegedly took 25 roosters, a goat and some rooster pens and other rooster-care equipment. (Because Brown also supposedly said he'd beat the man up if he called police, a "terroristic threatening" count was added to "promoting prostitution.") [WKYT-TV (Lexington, Ky.), 1-5-2015]

The Finer Points of the Law

-- Justice! In September, federal judge Cathy Seibel ordered the town of Liberty, New York (100 miles from New York City), to stand trial for failure to teach police and prosecutors proper free-speech law -- thus giving plaintiff Willian Barboza revenge for his arrest for writing a "crude" message on the speeding ticket he paid three years ago. Seibel ruled that Barboza's phrase (urging intercourse upon the manure-like town) posed no "imminent" threat and, besides, was obviously just a complaint about government services. Seibel also raised the possibility that money damages will come from the prosecutor's own pocket. [Associated Press via Yahoo News, 9-16-2015]

Lead Story -- Wait, What?

After certain takeoffs and landings were delayed on Nov. 7 at Paris' Orly airport (several days before the terrorist attacks), a back trace on the problem forced the airport to disclose that its crucial "DECOR" computer system still runs on Windows 3.1 software (introduced in 1992). DECOR's function is to estimate the spacing between aircraft on fog-bound, visually impossible runways, and apparently it must shut down whenever the airport scrambles to find an available 3.1-qualified technician. [Vice.com, 11-13-2015]

People With Issues

Author Richard Brittain, 28 (and a former champion at the popular British Scrabble-like "Countdown" TV show), pleaded guilty in Scotland's Glasgow Sheriff Court in November for his 2014 response to an unfavorable literary review by an 18-year-old supermarket worker posting on an Internet site. Brittain had acknowledged some criticisms of his book "The World Rose" in a blog, but said other critics had compared him to Dickens, Shakespeare and Rowling. However, he confessed, when he read the clerk's review, he searched for her online, found where she worked, traveled 500 miles to the store and knocked her out with a wine bottle to the back of the head. (She was treated and released at a hospital.) [Daily Mail, 11-10-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

-- Recurring Theme: The job market in Wayne County, Michigan, is apparently tough to crack, which led John Rose, 25, to the county sheriff's office looking for a job. He finished the paper application in November and was awaiting his interview when deputies called him back. As he walked through the door, he was arrested, since a routine check had turned up numerous outstanding charges in Kentucky including multiple counts of rape, sexual abuse and sodomy. [Detroit News, 11-13-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Kaleb Alexander, 25, was shot and killed in October as he emerged from a United Dairy Farmers convenience store in Columbus, Ohio, still with his gun defiantly drawn after he had just then robbed the clerk. A Columbus police SWAT team was waiting outside the store because Alexander had robbed the store the previous two nights, as well, and somehow must have thought that the police would not catch on to his cunning robbery strategy. [Columbus Dispatch, 10-15-2015]




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