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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Mar. 1, 2012
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Political Power

Jim Preacher, mayor of the town of Norway, S.C., was pulled over by a state trooper in January for speeding. Preacher was unable to convince the trooper that his speeding was necessary in the performance of one of his duties, and their encounter apparently ended bitterly. As soon as the trooper drove off, the mayor turned on the blue lights in his own car, chased the trooper down and accused the trooper of speeding. (Norway disbanded its police department last year, and a question remains about whether the mayor has police powers.)

Family Love

In February, Kenneth Gunn, of the United Kingdom's Scottish Borders Council, decried budget cutbacks that closed down local offices that had previously posted marriage notices. By making it more difficult for the public to be aware of specific marriages, Gunn said he feared an inevitable increase in incest. "I am aware in my own ward of brothers sitting beside sisters they do not know in primary school." (The problem is more serious in Iceland, whose 300,000 people are more self-contained. However, a new website containing genealogical data going back 1,200 years is expected to help reduce the risk of incest.)

Police Report

  • Police officers, of course, are generally forbidden to engage in sexual acts in order to gather evidence. Thus, a scandal erupted in the United Kingdom in January when The Guardian revealed that two undercover officers had fathered children as a way to enhance their credibility while infiltrating protest groups beginning in the 1980s. (In Sydney, Australia, a state contractor operated under no such restriction when it hired a brothel inspector in January. Brothels are legal and regulated in Sydney, and if off-books facilities are providing sex illegally, the inspector can testify from firsthand knowledge.)


An elite squad of six Chinese soldiers, performing a training ritual for a public audience in Hong Kong in January, stood in a circle and passed a satchel of live grenades from man to man, counting down to the expected moment of explosion. At the last possible second, the man holding the satchel discards it as all the men dive into a hole for protection. At the exhibition, according to Chinese Central Television, it worked out fine.

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) An unidentified man fled and is still at large after attempting to break into the change machine at the Busy Bubbles Laundromat in Winter Haven, Fla., in January. The surveillance video showed the man shooting at the machine four times with a handgun, but no money came out. (2) Two men were arrested in Albuquerque, N.M., in January after being caught in the act of a home burglary by a neighbor, who called the police. The men were apprehended with various burglarized goodies as they attempted to make their getaway in a grocery store shopping cart.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

(1) Fritz Gall, a self-described failed inventor, recently opened the Museum of Nonsense in Herrnbaumgarten, Austria, as a way to pay homage to failed inventions. Among the exhibits are the "portable anonymizer" (a stick holding a black bar that one holds over one's eyes to obscure identity), a transportable hat rack, a bristleless toothbrush (for people with no teeth) and a "portable hole" (similar to those that appear in the ground whenever the Road Runner needs something for Wile E. Coyote to fall into). (2) Take a Wild Guess: An unidentified man was taken into custody in Chesapeake, Va., in October after he rushed into the Regional Medical Center with a machete and a can of gasoline and demanded to know the "test results."

© Chuck Shepherd


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