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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Parents gave bad reviews to an Easter show put on last month in Glassport, Pennsylvania, by the Glassport Assembly of God, saying their children were upset when performers smashed Easter eggs, used a whip to beat an actor dressed as the Easter Bunny, and declared, "There is no Easter Bunny." Creators of the show said their aim was to remind the audience that the suffering of Christ should be the main focus of the holiday, but not everyone got it: one mother said her four-year-old "was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped."

More Religious Messages

In April Don Sneed, a "private theological researcher" and gay-rights activist in Dallas, released The God Number, a video he says provides "mathematical and scientific proof" that God exists. Relying in part on a concept he calls "Definity-Uninity-Infinity," it "substantiates the identification of the specific number that represents God" (which turns out to be zero). Sneed notes that no one who has seen the video has been able to refute the evidence it presents.

Huh?

Last month in Pittsburgh, Lutfee Abdul Waalee, 48, was sentenced to three years in prison for trying to pass a fake U.S. Treasury check for $25 million in 2002. He also must pay about $9,000 in restitution for two phony checks he successfully passed the year before. Waalee belongs to a black separatist group called the Moors, who claim to believe in "redemption theory," an ideology that denies the authority of the U.S. government. According to the theory, the government went bankrupt after it abandoned the gold standard in 1933 and has stayed in power thanks to foreign loans, secured using citizens' lives as collateral. The birth certificate of every American, redemptionists claim, is backed by a secret account worth roughly $630,000, and if you know the procedure you can tap into your account (or "redeem" your "value") and draw on it, using checklike "sight drafts," to pay taxes, fines, and bills. (A key redemptionist "fact": any document bearing your name in all capital letters--e.g. a court summons--is not legally binding.) Redemptionists have been known to harass judges and other officials by filing false charges making them the targets of IRS investigation. The Treasury Department says about 1,000 sight drafts have been turning up every week since late 1999; in December 2001, 12 Michigan redemptionists were convicted of producing sight drafts with a total face value of over $550 million.

Unclear on the Concept

In March a convenience store manager in Naples, Florida, arrived at work early and found night-shift employee Robert Lee King, 41, lying on the floor scratching off lottery tickets, stacking the winners in a neat pile. He'd gone through 66 tickets worth about $450 altogether, none of them paid for. When the incredulous manager told King he wasn't allowed to do that, King calmly took his winning tickets and left. He didn't show up for work again but came by ten days later to pick up his last paycheck. The deputy who'd been at the store just hours earlier watching surveillance camera footage of the incident was called back, and King was charged with grand theft.

Least Competent Criminals

In December a man pulled a knife on a cashier at a Family Dollar store in Vineland, New Jersey, and demanded money from the open cash register, but the cashier slammed the drawer shut and said no. After several more demands and refusals, the man walked out. And in May a would-be bank robber in Des Moines requested that the teller break a $20 bill; once she'd counted out ten singles, he produced a plastic bag and told her to fill it with money, though he neither displayed nor mentioned a weapon. She said she wouldn't. After being refused a second time the man left with $10 less than he'd come in with.

Update

Saint Louis school board member Rochell Moore (featured in News of the Weird last September after she sent an open letter to Mayor Francis Slay placing a curse on him because she disagreed with his school reform proposals) was finally removed by a judge in April for gross misconduct. Moore acknowledges that at one board meeting she dumped a pitcher of ice water on a deputy superintendent; at another she took off her belt and threatened to hit a fellow board member with it.

In the Last Month

After a rugby match played at Widnes, in northern England, in which Shane Millard of the home team collided violently with Castleford's Dean Ripley, doctors stitching up Millard found part of Ripley's tooth in Millard's head....Veterinarians in nearby Manchester figured out why Libby, a German shepherd who lives with her owner at a local golf course, had stopped eating: she'd swallowed 28 golf balls....And two armed Palestinians stopped a Hamas suicide bomber on his way out of Gaza and tried to steal his explosives. The bomber chose to detonate early and take the muggers with him.

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

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