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News of the Weird

Think Your Own Last Flight Was Unpleasant?

• (1) The May 28 US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia had to be diverted to Kansas City after a passenger’s service dog did what dogs do, in the aisle, twice (an hour apart). One passenger used the terms “lingering smell,” “dry heaving” and “throwing up” in describing the situation. (2) On a recent (perhaps July) Delta flight from Beijing to Detroit, a Chinese couple apparently nonchalantly laid down paper on their toddler’s seat and encouraged him to address his bowels’ needs despite numerous pleas from nearby passengers to take him to the restroom. According to Chinese news reports, social media sites erupted in criticism of the family for its embarrassing behavior.

Democracy in Action

• Steve Grossman, Massachusetts’ state treasurer, who is running for governor, performed heroically at a candidate forum in March. The Boston Globe reported that Grossman “fervently answered questions on everything from transgender rights (to) sex education (and) issues facing (the) aging members of the (gay/transgender) community” while simultaneously passing a kidney stone (which most victims rate as “level 10” pain—the highest on the medical scale, described by some as comparable to childbirth).

• Steve Wiles gathered only 28 percent of the vote in his North Carolina state senate race in May after revelations that he—lately an opponent of gay rights—was until about four years ago a gay male who worked as the female impersonator “Mona Sinclair” at a gay nightclub in Winston-Salem. As recently as April, however (three weeks before a newspaper’s revelation), Wiles was categorically denying that he used to be Mona Sinclair. “That’s not me,” he said. “That’s him,” said a man who worked with him at the club. Said the club’s then-co-owner: “I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he’s a liar.”

• The Alaskan government is scrambling to fulfill its obligation to welcome native communities’ votes on a state tax resolution in August. That means paying translators (at up to $50 a hour) to set out the measure for communities using the languages Yup’ik, Inupiak, Siberian Yupik, Koyukon Athabascan and Gwich’in Athabascan. (The tax measure must also be available on audio—for those communities that rely on the “oral tradition.”) For example, the yes-or-no tax question in Yup’ik is “Una-qaa alerquun ciuniurumanrilli?”

Not My Fault

• Tom Lakin is challenging State Farm in a St. Clair County, Illinois, courtroom, claiming that the sexual abuse he was convicted of was “unintentional” and that therefore his homeowners’ insurance ought to have covered any claims by the victim. (State Farm, and other insurers, generally pay out for “negligent” events.) He said he had no idea that serving minors alcohol and drugs and encouraging them to have sex with each other would lead to their later sexual exploitation by other adults.

The Redneck Chronicles

• (1) Has to Be Tied Down: A man was hospitalized in Shreveport, Louisiana, in June after being carried away by a wind gust as he held onto a mattress in the back of a pickup truck on Interstate 49. He suffered road burn and fractures. (2) Jenna Ketcham, 25, was arrested in Sebastian, Florida, in July after exacting a bit of revenge against an ex-boyfriend, whom she encountered squiring another woman in his pickup truck. According to police, Ketcham hit the man in the face and the genitals, and emptied his “dip spit” cup on him.

The New World Order

• Among the foods “you wouldn’t even eat if trapped on a desert island” in a May London Daily Mirror feature: canned cheeseburger (Germany), canned whole chicken (Sweet Sue brand of USA), canned peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Mark One Foods of USA), canned bacon (Hungary), Squeez Bacon (in a plastic jar like ketchup, from Vilhelm Lilleflask of Sweden), whole peeled lamb tongues (New Zealand) and Elephant Dung Beer (from excreted coffee beans by Japan’s Sankt Gallen). Also mentioned: Casu Marzu (cheese containing live maggots that the food’s few fans swear make its taste irresistible—and which News of the Weird reported in 2000).

• Update: The first “pheromone party” is said to have been staged in New York City in 2010, but the concept was revived recently in London, with men and women bringing three-each used, unwashed, un-fragranced T-shirts in plastic bags as the price of admission (along with the equivalent of $25). Guests sniff the coded bags one after another until genes kick in and signal the sniffer that a certain shirt belongs to Mr. or Ms. Right. At that point, the sniffer projects a cellphone selfie on the wall, and whoever brought that shirt sees the sniffer, at which time things return to normal, i.e., deciding if the sniffer is sufficiently good-looking.

• The Italian news agency ANSA reported in July that Italy’s San Vittore prison in Milan is scheduling regular “happy hour” socials for its female inmates—catered, with alcohol, and with “external” guests welcomed, to the displeasure of the prison guards’ union. The deputy director of the prison service was quoted by ANSA as approving the events, leading union representatives to complain to the ministry of Justice.

Least Competent Law Enforcement

• (1) The Clay County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office twice this year arrested the wrong Ashley Chiasson—in January (for grand theft) and in May (writing bad checks)—despite three years, five inches, 20 pounds and distinctive middle names separating them (Ashley Odessa, the suspect, vs. Ashley Nicole, the innocent victim). (“Odessa” spent five weeks in jail before deputies admitted their mistake.) (2) James Jordan Sr. died in Brooklyn, New York, in 2006, but NYPD officers have barged into his family’s home 12 times since then—four in 2014 alone—seeking him on various charges. His widow, Karen Jordan, even taped his death certificate to the front door, but that failed to deter the officers, one of whom shouted during a recent raid that they “know” Jordan is hiding inside somewhere. Karen recently filed a lawsuit against NYPD for the raids, which include “turning out drawers, looking in closets, harassing my children.”

The Pervo-American Community

• (1) Among the important news learned from the July indictment of Raymond Black, 61, in Brentwood, New Hampshire, for sex crimes involving girls aged 11 and 13: The going rate for a man who wants preteen girls to kick him in the genitals is as much as $100, which is the amount Black allegedly offered them for various sexual favors. (2) Everything was completely consensual, Ms. B.J. Geardello, 53, assured officers in Ohio County, West Virginia, who caught her taking a stroll along U.S. Highway 40 at 9:30 a.m. on July 29—she in purple nightgown leading her nude boyfriend, 56, by a leash, on all fours, hooded, with his ankles bound. Prosecutors were unsure whether to file charges.

A News of the Weird Classic (January 2010)

• In November (2009), a Chicago judge ruled that former firefighter Jeffrey Boyle is entitled to his $50,000 annual pension even though he had pleaded guilty to eight counts of arson (and allegedly confessed to 12 more). Boyle is known locally as “Matches” Boyle to distinguish him from his brother, James “Quarters” Boyle, who was sentenced to federal prison for bribery involving the theft of millions of dollars in state toll gate coins. Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. concluded that Matches’ arsons were unrelated to his firefighting.

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