News of the Weird
Cliche come to life Can't possibly be true Tennessee times Unclear on the concept A matter of perspective By Chuck Shepherd, Universal Press
The Kerry, Ireland, county council voted in January to let some people drive drunk. The councilors reasoned that in the county's isolated regions, some seniors live alone and need the camaraderie of the pub, but fear a DUI arrest on the way home. The councilors thus empowered police to issue DUI permits to those targeted drivers. Besides, reasoned the councilors, the area is so sparsely populated that such drivers never encounter anyone else on the road at night. (The councilors' beneficence might also have been influenced, reported BBC News, by the fact that "several" of the five voting "yea" own pubs.)
·William Province, 42, was arrested in Jefferson County, Mont., in December and charged with waterboarding four boys, two of whom were his own sons, at his home in December. Also in January, Kirill Bartashevitch, 52, was charged with making "terroristic" threats to his high-school-age daughter after he allegedly pointed his new AK-47 at her because her report card showed 2 B's instead of all A's. He said he had recently purchased the gun because he feared that President Obama intended to ban them.
nEmma Whittington, of Hutchinson, Kan., rushed her daughter to the ER in December when the girl, 7 months old, developed a golf-ball-sized lump on her neck. Two days later, at a hospital in Wichita, a doctor gently pulled a feather out of the lump and hypothesized that it had been in the midst of emerging from her throat. Doctors said the girl probably swallowed the feather accidentally, that it got stuck in throat tissue, and that her body was trying to eject it through the skin.
nA man with admittedly limited English skills went to a courthouse in Springfield, Mass., in December to address a traffic ticket, but somehow wound up on a jury trying Donald Campbell on two counts of assault. Officials said the man simply got in the wrong line and followed jurors into a room while the real sixth juror had mistakenly gone to another room. The jury, including the accidental juror, found Campbell guilty, but he was awarded a new trial when the mistake was discovered.
nTimothy Crabtree, 45, of Rogersville, was arrested in October and charged with stabbing his son, Brandon, 21, in an argument over who would get the last beer in the house.
nTricia Moody, 26, was charged with DUI in Knoxville in January after a 10-minute police chase. The officer's report noted that Moody was still holding a cup of beer and apparently had not spilled any during the chase.
nJerry Poe, 62, was charged in a road-rage incident in Clinton on Black Friday after firing his handgun at a driver in front of him "to scare her into moving" faster, he said. Poe said he had started at midnight at one Wal-Mart, waited in line unsuccessfully for five hours for a sale-priced stereo, and was on his way to another Wal-Mart.
nVoted in December as vice presidents of the U.N. Human Rights Council for 2013 were the nations of Mauritania and the Maldives, both of which permit the death penalty for renouncing Islam. In Mauritania, a person so charged has three days to repent for a lesser sentence. An August 2012 dispatch in London's The Guardian reported widespread acceptance of slavery conditions in Mauritania, affecting as many as 800,000 of the 3.5 million population. Said one abolitionist leader, "Today we have the slavery (that) American plantation owners dreamed of (in that the slaves) believe their condition is necessary to get to paradise."
nNonmedical employees of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have been campaigning for union representation, suggesting that their current wages leave many workers dangerously close to poverty. Though raises have not materialized, UPMC (according to a November Pittsburgh City Paper report) has now shown sympathy for its employees' sad plight. In a November UPMC newsletter, it announced that it was setting up "UPMC Cares" food banks. Employees (presumably the better-paid ones) are urged to "donate nonperishable food items to stock employee food pantries that will be established on both (UPMC campuses)." One astonished worker's response: "I started to cry."
nIn December, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed, through a public records check, that the appointed collector of revenue for St. Louis County has failed since 2008 to pay personal property taxes. Stacy Bailey and her husband owe taxes on three cars and filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Bailey's boss, Director of Revenue Eugene Leung, told the Dispatch that he had checked Bailey's real-estate tax status but not personal property taxes. Nonetheless, he said, "Knowing what I know now, she's still the most qualified person for the job," among the 155 applicants.
Before "cellulite" appeared in popular culture around 1972, almost no one believed the condition especially remarkable, wrote London's The Guardian in December. Similarly, the new concern about "wobbly" arms -- flesh dangling loosely when a woman's arm is raised horizontally -- seems entirely made up. However, Marks & Spencer and other upscale British retailers now sell "arm corsets" to fashionably hold the skin tighter for sleeveless tops. Wrote the Guardian columnist, "I wish I didn't know that my arms weren't meant to wobble. I'd be happier."n