News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• The Project Theater Board at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, decided in January to cancel its upcoming annual presentation of the feminist classic “Vagina Monologues.” The all-women’s college recently declared it would admit males who lived and “identified” as female (regardless of genitalia), and the basis for cancellation of “Vagina Monologues” was that the unmodifiable script is not “inclusive” of those females—that it covers only experiences of females who actually have vaginas.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
• Kathi Fedden filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit in December against Suffolk County, New York, police after her 29-year-old son, driving drunk in 2013, fatally crashed into an office. She reasons that the son’s death is the fault of the police officer who stopped him earlier that evening and who must have noticed he was already drunk but did not arrest him. The officer, who knew the son as the owner of a popular-with-police local delicatessen, merely gave the son a lift home, but the son later drove off in his mother’s car, in which he had the fatal crash.
• A generous resident (name withheld by KDKA-TV) of South Oakland, Pennsylvania, in seasonal spirit the week before Christmas, invited a pregnant, homeless woman she had met at a Rite Aid store home with her for a hot shower, a change of clothes and a warm bed for the night. The resident was forced to call police, though, when she went to check up on her guest and discovered her engaging in sexual activity with the resident’s pit bull. The guest, enraged at being caught, vandalized the home before officers arrived to arrest her.
The New Normal
• The website/smartphone app Airbnb, launched in 2008, connects travelers seeking lodging with individuals offering private facilities at certain prices. About a year ago, entrepreneur Travis Laurendine launched a similar smartphone app, “Airpnp,” to connect people walking around select cities and needing access to a toilet, listing residents who make their utilities available, with description and price. Laurendine told the New York Post in January that New York City is a promising market (though his two best cities are New Orleans and Antwerp, Belgium). The prices vary from free to $20, and the facilities range from a sweet-smelling room stocked with reading material to a barely maintained toilet (with no lavatory), but, said one supplier, sometimes people “really need to go, and this will have to do.”
Government in Action
• Kentucky, one of America’s financially worse-off states, annually spends $2 million of taxpayer money on salaries and expenses for 41 “jailers” who have no jails to manage. Research by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in January noted that Kentucky’s constitution requires “elected” jailers, notwithstanding that 41 counties have shut down their jails and house detainees elsewhere via contracts with sheriffs. (Though the jailers may be called upon to transport prisoners from time to time, the 41 counties are mostly small ones with few detainees.) Several jailers have full-time “side” jobs, and one jail-less jailer employs five deputies while another has 11 part-timers.
• A.K. Verma was an “assistant executive engineer” working for India’s central public works department in 1990 with 10 years on the job when he went on leave—and had still not returned by the end of 2014, when the government finally fired him. He had submitted numerous requests for extensions during the ensuing 24 years, but all were denied, though no agency or court managed to force him back to work. (India’s bureaucracy is generally acknowledged to be among the most dysfunctional in Asia.)
• Timothy DeFoggi, 56, was sentenced in January to 25 years in prison on child pornography charges—unable to keep his illicit online transactions hidden from law-enforcement authorities. Before his conviction, he was acting director for cyber security in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and, one would assume (wrongly), an accomplished user of security software.
• After a heavy snowstorm in Frankfort, Kentucky (the state capital), in November, with many absences reported, the state labor policy agency (called the Labor Cabinet) was among the agencies needing snow removal at its headquarters more promptly than overworked cleanup crews could provide. A call was circulated for volunteers to go outside and shovel snow, but that job was apparently too laborious for the labor agency; there was only one taker.
• The Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times), reeling financially as many newspapers are, pledged several properties it owns (including its downtown headquarters) to borrow $30 million last year from a distressed-property lender and now announces an intention to pay back that loan by selling the properties. As reported by the local St. Petersblog website, the sore-thumb loan was almost exactly the amount the Times paid in 2002 for “naming rights” to the Tampa concert-and-hockey venue, the Ice Palace (which became the St. Petersburg Times Forum and is now Amalie Arena). Thus, St. Petersblog wrote, “do the math,” concluding that the Tampa Bay Times was pressured to sell its own headquarters building in order to pay for the 12-year privilege of being able to name someone else’s building.
Least Competent Criminals
• Not Well-Thought-Out: (1) Shane Lindsey, 32, allegedly robbed the Citizens Bank in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 14 and ran off down the street, but was arrested about 15 minutes later a few blocks away, having stopped off at Eazer’s Restaurant and Deli to order chicken and biscuits. (2) Jeffrey Wood, 19, was arrested in the act of robbing a 7-Eleven in Northeast Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10—because two plainclothes detectives were in the store at the time (though the police badge of one was hanging from a chain around her neck). As soon as the man announced, “This is a stickup,” the detective drew her gun and yelled, “Stop playing. I got 17” (meaning a gun with 17 bullets).
• In weird-news (and medical) literature, the rectum is a place for storage of contraband (and, occasionally, for getting things undesirably lodged). In what a National Post of Canada reporter believes is a brand-new example of the former, a gastroenterologist at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital found a vial of urine inside a man who reported to the ER with abdominal pains. According to the doctor’s medical journal case description, the rectum was chosen in order to keep the urine at body temperature for an imminent methadone clinic drug test, which, if the urine passed “clean,” would have entitled the man to the privilege of “take-home” methadone that he could either bank for later use or sell on the street. (He feared the loss of privilege, though, if the urine tested at room temperature.)
• Rose Ann Bolasny, 60, of Great Neck, New York, last year created a trust fund for her 3-year-old Maltese (dog), Bella Mia, that will allow spending $100,000 a year on fashions and spa treatments so that Bolasny can pamper “the daughter I never had.” Bella Mia reportedly has 1,000 outfits in her custom-made walk-in closet, including ball gowns, along with diamond and pearl jewelry, and she sleeps on her own double bed. Previous News of the Weird reports of ridiculously rich dogs involved inheritances, but Bolasny still lives with her husband and has two adult sons (who are said to be fine with their mother’s intention to will Bella Mia a house in Florida if she outlives Bolasny and her 82-year-old husband). (By the way, the average annual income for a human being in Bangladesh is the equivalent of about $380.)
A News of the Weird Classic (July 2011)
• On May 21 (2011), Jesse Robinson either established or tied the unofficial world record for unluckiest underage drinker of all time when he was booked into the Hamilton County, Ohio, jail for underage consumption. According to booking records, Robinson’s date of birth is May 22, 1990.
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