NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Can’t Possibly Be Truekids

Kids as young as 6 who live on a cliff top in China’s Atule’er village in Sichuan province will no longer have to use flexible vine-based ladders to climb down and up the 2,600-foot descent from their homes to school. Beijing News disclosed in October, in a report carried by CNN, that a sturdy steel ladder was being built to aid the 400 villagers after breathtaking photographs of them making the treacherous commute surfaced on the internet earlier this year [http://cnn.it/2f2PCon] [CNN, 10-26-2016]

Judicial Activism.

Jackson County, Michigan, judge John McBain briefly gained notoriety in October when a Michigan news site released courtroom video of a December 2015 hearing in which McBain felt the need to throw off his robe, leap from the bench and tackle defendant Jacob Larson, who was resisting the one court officer on hand to restrain him. Yelling “Tase his ass right now,” McBain is shown holding on until help arrived — with Larson perhaps undermining his earlier courtroom statements claiming it was his girlfriend, and not he, who was the aggressor in alleged stalking incidents. [MLive.com, 10-13-2016]

Recurring Themes

The Art of Smuggling: At press time, Leston Lawrence, 35, an employee of the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, was awaiting a court decision on charges that he stole $140,000 worth of thick gold coins (“pucks”) that, over time, were taken from the mint in his rectum. The mint’s “highest security measures” never turned up a puck on or in Lawrence; he was arrested after the mint investigated a tip that he had sold an unusual number of them for someone of his pay grade. [Washington Post, 9-21-2016]

Sovereigns! The director of the Caribbean Cultural Center at the University of the Virgin Islands, facing foreclosure of her home by Firstbank Puerto Rico, decided she was not really “Chenzira Davis-Kahina” but actually “Royal Daughter Sat Yah” of the “Natural Sovereign Indigenous Nation of … Smai Tawi Ta-Neter-Awe,” and she and her equally befuddlingly named husband have sued the bank for $190 million in federal court (and begun the flood of incomprehensible paperwork). The couple’s law of “Maat” conveniently holds that attempts by federal marshals to seize their property would double the damages to $380 million. [Virgin Islands Daily News, 8-22-2016]

The Passing Parade

Tiny Thrills: (1) The town of Warley, England, announced it has applied to the Guinness people for the honor of having the world’s smallest museum. The Warley Community Association’s museum, with photos and mementoes of its past, is housed in an old phone booth. (So far, there are no “hours”; visitors just show up and open the door.) (2) The recent 100th anniversary of America’s National Park Service drew attention to the park in Guthrie, Oklahoma — 10 feet by 10 feet, behind the post office and dating from the original Land Office on the spot in 1889. (According to legend, the city clerk, instead of asking the government for land “100 foot square (100 feet by 100 feet),” mistakenly asked for “100 square feet.”) [Conde Nast Traveler, 10-17-2016] [KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City), 4-8-2016]

Round Up The Usual Suspects (“Youth Pastors”)

Sentenced to six years in prison for sex with teenage girls (September): former Youth Pastor David Hayman, 38 (Hackensack, New Jersey). Sentenced to six months in jail for sending inappropriate texts to teenage boys (August): former Youth Pastor Brian Burchfield (Shawnee, Oklahoma). Charged and awaiting trial for impregnating a 15-year-old girl (October): Youth Pastor Wesley Blackburn, 35 (New Paris, Pennsylvania). Sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl (September): former Youth Pastor Brian Mitchell, 31 (North Olmsted, Ohio). Charged and awaiting trial for luring teenagers into prostitution (October): Youth Pastor Ron Cooper, 52 (Miami). Sentenced to 90 days in jail as part of a sex assault case involving a 13-year-old girl (September): former Youth Pastor Christopher Hutchinson, 37 (Parker, Colorado). [The Record (Hackensack), 9-23-2016] [KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City), 8-24-2016] [Associated Press via Washington Post, 10-15-2016] [Cleveland.com, 9-8-2016] [WFOR-TV (Miami), 10-19-2016] [KMGH-TV (Denver), 9-30-2016]