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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The Minnesota Court of Appeals sent a case back to trial in May after ruling that Jenell Casarez could indeed sue Amy and David Klema for injuries suffered as a guest in their home. According to the lawsuit, Casarez attempted to relieve herself in a concrete laundry tub in the Klemas' basement--with Amy's acquiescence--because David was using the only bathroom in the house. The tub tipped over when she climbed on top of it, crushing her fingertips. The court opinion noted that Casarez "acknowledged that the laundry tub was not designed or manufactured to be used as a toilet, and admitted that she was intoxicated at the time of the injury."

Latest Step Toward Male Obsolescence

In September Dr. Paul De Sousa and a research team from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, told an audience of scientists that they had created human embryos from female eggs without using sperm. De Sousa's team employed electrical shocks to "trick" 300 eggs into dividing as if fertilized, creating six blastocysts--embryos containing around 50 cells. De Sousa declared that his embryos would not be used to create fetuses, but said they could be used as stem cells to grow replacement tissue for the donor's organs.

Government in Action

For 25 years Multnomah County, Oregon, has mandated that one percent of the budget on all public building construction go to the installation of art. That means the new county jailhouse, completed more than a year ago at a cost of $58 million, will include almost $600,000 worth of art. Critics of the program say that art won't do much to battle crime, but so far neither has the $58 million. As of September the jail is still empty because county officials have not found a way to pay the operating expenses. If they ever do, inmates and visitors will be treated to such works as Wapato, a $180,000 sculpture depicting a shipwreck that sits in the jail's driveway.

City Officials Who Know How to Make News of the Weird: Mayor Felipe Santolia of Espertantina, Brazil, declared last May 9 "Orgasm Day," which he says the town has unofficially celebrated for years. Festivities included a series of panel discussions--including one on premature ejaculation--and a production of The Vagina Monologues. And Gabor Mitynan, mayor of a conservative municipal district in Budapest, Hungary, declared in August that female city hall workers should not wear revealing skirts to work unless they have "completely perfect legs" and even suggested the city pass legislation regarding stocking thickness. Mitynan also revealed that he dislikes crop tops because "few women have well-toned bellies worth showing to people."

Might Have Gone Too Far

Envelope-pushing strip-club owner Howard White changed his sign on Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport from "Live Nude Nude Nudes" to "Vaginas R Us." Neighboring merchants immediately complained, but city officials said vagina is simply not an obscene word. The city did, however, cite White's sign for being made of illegal combustible vinyl. White seemed surprised by all the fuss: "In a sort of naive way, I felt that there was nothing terrible about it, since The Vagina Monologues was on Broadway forever." At press time opponents of the sign were encouraging Toys R Us to take legal action against White for trademark infringement.

Least Competent Criminals

Amir Husain, 17, and Anthony Nauman, 18, allegedly burglarized a home in Mundelein, Illinois, in August, but were easily tracked down by police after they built a Web site advertising the stolen loot for sale, complete with photos and their contact information.

Recurring Themes

British insurance companies occasionally write unconventional policies, as News of the Weird reported in 1996 when the firm of Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson wrote a policy covering alien abduction, including any resulting pregnancies--for male or female abductees. In July sponsors of the Visit Scotland Adventure Triathlon in Loch Ness announced that they had purchased insurance from the company NIG to pay up to the equivalent of $1.8 million if any of the competitors were attacked by the Loch Ness monster during the swimming stage of the event. Claimants will of course have to prove that Nessie is responsible for their injuries.

Fine Points of the Law

Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher of Berks County, Pennsylvania, dismissed charges against a 44-year-old man for buying beer for his 17-year-old neighbor because the prosecution failed to prove that Miller Genuine Draft, which the boy allegedly consumed five cans of, is "beer." Defense attorney David R. Eshelman pointed out that the prosecution had failed to provide a complete list of alcoholic beers from the state's Liquor Control Board.

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

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