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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Researchers at Kinki University near Osaka, Japan, announced last month that they had successfully bred spinach genes into pigs, the first genetic combination of plant and mammal. Professor Akira Iritani claimed that the resulting meat would be "more healthy" than normal pork but added, "The significance of this success is more academic than practical."

Last month a federal appeals court in Pasadena ruled that convicted marijuana smuggler Gary H. Marolf (now serving a ten-year prison term) was entitled to $400,000 compensation because drug agents had not given him a required document when they legally confiscated the boat he used for smuggling. (They'd given the document to his codefendant and failed to follow up after learning that Marolf was the boat's sole owner.) The boat brought only $100,000 at auction.

Let's Roll...Someone

In December 2001 the Days Inn in Hicksville, New York (near John F. Kennedy International Airport), was fined and ordered to issue partial refunds to customers after people stranded by the air-travel shutdown on September 11 were charged $399 a day for rooms normally priced at $139....The New York Times reported last October that at least 76 families of people killed in the September 11 attacks received portfolios from Providence Inc., a Cincinnati firm that lends money to victims in anticipation of litigation. The portfolios contained gifts of up to $200, along with a list of suggested lawyers....And last December, New York City police arrested 115 unlicensed vendors near Ground Zero and cracked down on many more vendors for selling counterfeit items bearing the logos of the police and fire departments.

Oops!

In December 2001 a brown bag holding cremated ashes crashed through the backyard deck of James and Jane McDonald in Grand Forks, North Dakota, leaving an 18-inch hole. According to a local environmental health official, the most likely explanation is that someone was attempting to scatter the remains over the countryside from an airplane window but accidentally dropped the whole bag.

Smooth Reactions

In December 2001 professional boxer Waxxem Fikes was acquitted of assault charges in Akron, Ohio, after an employee of Swenson's restaurant had accused him of complaining belligerently about his cheeseburger. Fikes, who is six-foot-two and weighs 240 pounds, testified that he merely "told [the employee] I expect the onions to be crisp, tender and succulent, and bursting with flavor. They were not....He had no compassion for what I was talking about."

Last October, during the rape trial of William Scott in Kew Gardens, New York, the defendant sucker punched his lawyer, Harold Ehrentrew, in the face. Observers believe that Scott was angry about DNA evidence being admitted against him. "This man is not doing his job," Scott told the judge, according to the New York Post. "That's why I had to smack the shit out of him in front of these jurors."

Least Competent Criminals

Nine months ago the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a new murder trial for 23-year-old Paul Warner Powell, declaring that his original prosecutor had mischaracterized Powell's crime to the jury in order to qualify him for capital punishment. Powell wrote to the prosecutor, taunting him for his failure to make the death penalty stick, but in the letter Powell allegedly confessed the one detail needed to send him to death row, and last December prosecutors announced that his retrial would once again be a capital case.

Recurring Themes

In 1999, News of the Weird reported on a pervert who telephoned the female manager of a Milwaukee McDonald's, pretended to be a police officer, claimed that one of her male employees was suspected of theft, and talked her through a strip search of the employee. The caller was never caught, and since then similar incidents have been reported in Bismarck, North Dakota; Noblesville, Indiana; Billings, Montana; and Charleston, West Virginia.

Standing Tall

Nineteen-year-old Aurelie Brun was disqualified from the Miss France competition last October when judges learned that she had undergone spine-stretching surgery to meet the minimum-height requirement of five feet seven inches. The surgery had made Brun 3.8 centimeters taller, but since then she had shrunk back down to her original stature.

In the Last Month

In Cornwall, England, milkman Steve Leech was honored for quelling a neighborhood fire by dousing it with the 320 pints of milk he was hauling in his truck....And police in New Haven, Connecticut, examining remnants of a pipe bomb that blew up a pickup truck, determined that the casing was constructed from a 12-inch dildo.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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