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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Brian Blair, 49, continues to insist that the injury that ultimately forced him to abandon his career as a professional wrestler was not one of the many he sustained during 20 years in the ring but the result of tripping over a tray of dirty dishes at an Italian restaurant in Tampa in June 2001. The Tampa Tribune reported in March that Blair--now serving as commissioner of Hillsborough County, Florida--was carrying on with his lawsuit against the restaurant despite his lawyers' withdrawal from the case (a previous legal team dumped him in January), medical records indicating Blair's blood alcohol level was over the state limit for intoxication when he was admitted to the hospital 90 minutes after the accident, and a DVD showing him wrestling in Japan four months later (Blair pointed out that it was a tag-team match, not a singles bout).

Are We Safe Yet?

In the last week of March: (1) The U.S. General Accounting Office released the results of a test in which enough radioactive materials to build a "dirty bomb" had been easily smuggled into the country via car over both the Mexican and Canadian borders. (2) A U.S. official said that a third of the world's 130 civilian-run nuclear research reactors weren't sufficiently secure to prevent the theft of such bomb materials. (3) ABC News reported that after years of hearings and studies the U.S. still hadn't adopted a program to protect commercial planes from shoulder-fired missiles, an estimated 20,000 of which are available on the black market. And (4) the Los Angeles Times reported that the fishing village of Dillingham, Alaska, had used a $200,000 Homeland Security grant to put up 60 surveillance cameras at city hall, the fire station, and other locations, with 20 more cameras to come. Dillingham (population 2,400) is connected by road only to towns in its vicinity; Anchorage is a 90-minute ride away by propeller plane.

Compelling Explanations

On the stand in March at his trial in Rockland, Maine, 32-year-old Douglas Dyer explained how his married girlfriend, Allison Small, accidentally got shot three times, twice directly in the center of the back, two days after she broke off their affair. Dyer said he was planning to kill himself with a high-powered rifle but Small grabbed the barrel and the gun fired, hitting her. She ran out of the room; following her, Dyer pushed open a door with the gun, causing it to fire again, and again Small was hit. After the second shot, Dyer said, he lurched back into a wall, setting off the rifle a third time, and this shot hit Small as well. The jury took two hours to convict him of murder.

In March a Massachusetts superior court rejected a motion by John Melo claiming that the length of his ten-year prison term (for armed assault and other crimes) had been calculated incorrectly. Melo had argued that a year consists of 365 days; since his sentence encompassed the leap years 2000 and 2004, he should therefore be credited with two extra days served. And according to the Sun of Hartwell, Georgia, state senator Nancy Schaefer told an audience in February that one reason for the current influx of illegal immigrants was the 50 million abortions she claimed had been performed in the U.S., which had resulted in a domestic shortage of cheap labor. "We could have used those people," she said.

Signs of the Times

Not your father's Hell's Angels: According to a February Reuters report, police in Stockholm, Sweden, had begun investigating the local chapter of the Hell's Angels for fraud after it was discovered that 70 percent of its members had been diagnosed as depressed by the same doctor and were receiving government benefits.

Driving While Nude

In February a woman, her toddler, and her mother were found sitting naked in a parked car in Norwood, New York. Also in February John Persico, 34, reportedly got into his car naked in Providence, Rhode Island, and crashed it into several other cars, eventually plowing into a pickup truck at an intersection and injuring a man and a dog; police said neither drugs nor alcohol seemed to be involved. According to police in Roy, Utah, in March 23-year-old Natalie Peterson removed all her clothes on her aunt's front porch, drove several blocks, then broke into a stranger's house and took a shower. In the same month Eric Wayne, 57, was indicted on a variety of charges for a November incident in which officers found him allegedly masturbating naked on a sidewalk in Bartonsville, Pennsylvania; Wayne then ran to his car and led police on a 15-mile chase reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour. And also in March a partly naked 59-year-old man and an entirely naked 70-year-old woman were pulled over near Cologno al Serio in northern Italy; a police spokesperson said they had been trying to have sex while driving.

Making It Easy for Them

A 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, in February after police spotted him driving erratically with a gas-pump hose trailing from his car's fuel door. A 52-year-old man from Waupaca, Wisconsin, with a record of DUI convictions was arrested again in March; he reportedly told police that he was driving backward only because the other gears wouldn't work. And in the same month a 44-year-old man was given a Breathalyzer test after he asked a carload of police officers in Northern Territory, Australia, for directions to Ayers Rock. They pointed out that the massive rock formation--it rises about 1,000 feet above the otherwise featureless surrounding outback--was roughly 100 yards straight ahead, clearly illuminated by his car's headlights. (He failed the test.)

Updates

Maxcy Dean Filer, a 1966 law school graduate, made News of the Weird in 1989, after he failed the California bar exam for the 46th time, and again in 1991, when he passed on his 48th try. Now 75, Filer's been practicing in Compton ever since, but the Los Angeles Times reported in February that because he didn't file a certain document in a case last year, the state bar put him on probation, requiring him to pass an ethics and professional conduct test, before he could be reinstated. The test was scheduled for March; no word yet on how he did.

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

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