News of the Weird

Among her complaints: "turning pale" in the "harsh light"; lack of "Guerlain's moisturizer"; inability to look at herself for months (because glass mirrors are prohibited); and "worrying" about being hit on by "lesbians" (thus causing "wrinkles").
by Chuck Shepherd

Jail is Hell

The eye-catching Vietnamese model and Playboy (Venezuela edition) Playmate Angie Vu complained to the New York Daily News in April that her five-plus months in jail in Brooklyn have been “torture” and “cruel” because of her lack of access to beauty care. Vu is fighting extradition to France for taking her 9-year-old daughter in violation of the father’s custody claim and is locked up until a federal judge rules. Among her complaints: “turning pale” in the “harsh light”; lack of “Guerlain’s moisturizer”; inability to look at herself for months (because glass mirrors are prohibited); and “worrying” about being hit on by “lesbians” (thus causing “wrinkles”). At least, she told the reporter, she has found God in jail and passes time reading the Bible. [New York Daily News, 4-26-2016]

Questionable Judgments

• Chef Mahbub Chowdhury pleaded guilty in April to food and hygiene violations in Swindon (England) Magistrates Court after inspectors found “brown fingerprints” in the kitchen at his Yeahya Flavour of Asia carry-out restaurant. Chowdhury was candid about his “cultural” habit of bypassing toilet paper and using his hand to clean himself. The plastic bottle with the fingerprints, Chowdbury said, contained water that he normally used instead of the toilet paper, and his lawyer argued that since the bottle was never actually lab-tested, the brown spots could have been “spices.” [Metro News (London), 4-13-2016]

• England’s Brighton and Hove City Council, striving to be progressive, issued a directive to parents of new school students (kids as young as age 4) calling on them to mark the gender identity they prefer — and notes that any child who identifies as other than male or female should leave the space blank and consult with officials individually. (Critics, according to The Sun, expressed that school should be for “developing” such identities without the necessity of declaring them so early in life.) [The Sun, 4-19-2016]

Unclear on the Concept

• “Zero tolerance” claimed another victim, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in April, when Jaden Malone, 12, came to his bullied friend’s aid, was knocked down himself and repeatedly punched in the head by the bully, and pushed the boy off of him to avoid further damage — but was himself suspended for three days by his charter school Invest Collegiate. A school official pointed out that the bully got five days, and besides, the policy against “all” physical violence is very clear. (After having Jaden treated for a concussion, his mother promptly withdrew him from the school.) [WJZY-TV (Charlotte), 4-20-2016]

• Ms. Madi Barney, 20, courageously publicly reported her own rape accusation recently in Provo, Utah, and as a result has been disciplined as a student at Brigham Young University for allegedly violating the school’s “honor code.” (She is barred from withdrawing from courses or re-registering.) Whether the sex was consensual must be investigated by Provo police, but BYU officials said they had heard enough to charge Barney with the no-no of premarital sex. (Critics decried the advantage BYU thus gives rapists of BYU females — since the women face the additional fear of university reprisals irrespective of the criminal case.) [Washington Post, 4-20-2016]

Latest Religious Messages

• Idaho’s law protecting fundamentalist faith healers regained prominence recently in the case of Mariah Walton, 20, who was born with a routinely repairable heart defect but who received only prayer and herbs because of her parents’ religious rejection of doctors. Walton’s now-irreversible damage leaves her frail and dependent on portable oxygen, and she will likely need lung and heart transplants to survive. Idaho and five other states immunize parents from criminal prosecution if they reject medical care on the ground of religious teachings. [The Guardian (London), 4-13-2016]

• Latest From Evangelicals: (1) Christian political activist David Barton told his “WallBuilders” radio audience recently that Disney’s anthropomorphic characters (e.g., Bambi) are simply gateways to kids’ learning Babylonian pagan worship. (2) Brooklyn, New York, “prophet” Yakim Manasseh Jordan told followers recently that he has arranged with God to bring people back from the dead if they — cheerfully — offer a “miracle favor cloud” of gifts as low as $1,000. (3) James David Manning, chief pastor of the Atlah Worldwide Missionary Church in Harlem, in a recent online sermon, stepped up his usual anti-gay rhetoric, warning “sodomites” that God would soon send flames “coming out of your butthole.” (A gay and transgender support group is fundraising to buy Atlah’s building and set up a shelter.) [Salon.com, 4-12-2016] [The Daily Beast, 3-20-2016] [NBC News, 4-14-2016]

Police Report

• The Tap Inn bar in Billings, Montana, released April 11 surveillance video of the armed robbery staged by two men and a woman (still on the lam), showing two lip-locked customers at the bar, lost in affectionate embrace during the entire crime, seemingly oblivious of danger. The robbers, perhaps impressed by the couple’s passion, ignored them — even while emptying the cash register just a few feet away. [Associated Press via Washington Post, 4-14-2016]

• Andru Jolstad, 26, was arrested on April 16 and charged with using a pry bar to break into the cash boxes of four machines at Zap’s Arcade in Mesa, Arizona. Following citizen tips, a cop arrived to find Jolstad on his knees alongside one machine with his arm still inside. His total take from the spree was $18, and he’ll likely be sent back to prison from an earlier charge. [KNXV-TV (Phoenix), 4-21-2016]


(1) Transportation Security Administration announced on April 27 that its screeners had confiscated 73 guns from passengers’ carry-ons — in just the previous seven days! (Sixty-eight were loaded, and 27 had a round in the chamber.) (2) Federal regulators were deliberating in April whether to stop Minnesota’s Ideal Conceal from rolling out its two-shot, .380 caliber handgun disguised as a smartphone. Several police chiefs, and two U.S. senators, have expressed alarm. (3) Jeffrey Grubbs, 45, was charged with two felonies in March following a school’s 4-H Club carpentry project at which he (lacking a hammer) pounded a thumbtack into wood with the butt of his loaded handgun. (He subsequently realized the danger and removed the bullets.) [United Press International, 4-27-2016] [PublicSource via New Pittsburgh Courier, 4-24-2016] [Southeast Missourian (Cape Girardeau), 3-24-2016]


California’s forests host major marijuana-growing operations (legal and illegal), and though the product has its virtues, cannabis farming creates massive problems — guzzling water (23 liters per day per plant — state drought or not) and needing the protection of a dangerous rodenticide. A state wildlife official told NBC News in April that the cannabis sites “use massive amounts of fertilizers, divert natural run-off waters, create toxic run-off waste and byproducts, remove large amounts of vegetation and trees, … create … unstable soils and kill or displace wildlife.” [NBC News, 4-22-2016]

Drugs! Is There Anything They Can’t Do?

(1) Police in the Augusta, Georgia, suburb of Hephzibah arrested a meth-addled Ray Roye for battery and family violence against his wife in March. Roye was yelling about custody of their child, but his wife informed police they don’t have a child. (2) Johnnie Hurt, 38, was arrested after reportedly eating mulch from a motel’s landscaping in London, Kentucky, in April while missing a court-ordered drug test. When police arrived, Hurt was found in his wildly trashed a motel room. [WJBF-TV (Augusta), 4-6-2016] [Herald-Leader (Lexington), 4-14-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2012)

Each year, the town of Chumbivilcas, Peru, celebrates the new year with what to Americans might seem “Festivus”-based (from the Seinfeld TV show), but is actually drawn from Incan tradition. For “Takanakuy,” during background singing and dancing, all townspeople with grudges from the previous 12 months (men, women, children) settle them with often-bloody fistfights so that they start the new year clean. Said one villager to a Reuters reporter in December (2011), “Everything is solved here, and afterward we are all friends.” [Reuters via CBS News, 12-14-2011]