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Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of The Weird

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Foxy North Korea

Among the few commercially successful enterprises in North Korea is the video game unit in its General Federation of Science and Technology, which has produced popular items like a bowling game based on the American cult classic movie The Big Lebowski and a game based on the Men in Black film series. In September, Bloomberg News revealed that a major international partner of the federation's marketing arm, Nosotek, is News Corp., the umbrella company of Rupert Murdoch's vast enterprises—including the conservative FOX News, which generally is provocative toward the North Korean government.

Can't Possibly Be True


  • In November, the nativist Danish People's Party called for an anti-immigration film that features bare-breasted women sunbathing, as one way to convince religious fundamentalists not to immigrate to Denmark.

  • Parents of the 450 pupils (ages 3 to 11) at Applecroft Primary School in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England, were given individualized yearbooks with all of the children's faces obscured by black bars over their eyes except for the recipient's own children. The precautions—described by one parent as "creepy," as though kids were prisoners—were ordered by headmistress Vicky Parsey, who feared that clear photos of children would inevitably wind up in child pornography. Last year, Parsey famously prohibited parents from taking photographs during school plays—of their kids or any others—for the same fear.

Unclear on the Concept


  • In November, outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist initiated pardon proceedings (granted in December) excusing now-deceased singer Jim Morrison of The Doors for his 1969 indecent-exposure conviction in Miami Beach. However, Crist has ignored petitions from still-living, still-incarcerated convicts who almost certainly suffered unfair prosecutions. Orlando Sentinel crusader Scott Maxwell has reported on dozens of people convicted in part by trainer John Preston's dog, who supposedly tracked crime-scene scents through water and other obstacles, sometimes months later and despite much site contamination, directly to the defendant on trial. Judge after judge permitted Preston's "expert" testimony until one demanded a live courtroom test, which Preston's dog utterly failed. In recent years two convicts were released after DNA tests proved the dog’s sniffs had been erroneous, but as many as 60 similar convictions still stand.

  • Glenn Crawley, 55, who describes himself as a "man of the water," flipped his catamaran off the coast of Newquay, England, in September and had to be rescued for the 13th time, running the costs of attending to his miscues to the equivalent of nearly $50,000. Although officials have pleaded with him to give up sailing (terming him "Captain Calamity"), Crawley said: "I do what no one else is doing. So I'd appreciate it if people would get off my case and give me some support."

Inexplicable


Nicholas Hodge, 31, was arrested in Winona County, Minn., in November after he allegedly entered the home of an acquaintance at 2:40 a.m. and refused to leave, complaining that a person who lived there owed him something. According to the deputy's report, Hodge refused to leave while sitting on a toilet "in the kitchen." The deputy added, "I'm not sure why they had a toilet in the kitchen."

Least Competent Criminals


Bonnie Usher, 43, was arrested in Manchester, N.H., in November and charged with robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy after being spotted in her car fleeing the store's parking lot. Usher’s easy-to-remember license plate: "B-USHER."

2011 Chuck Shepherd