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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Holy Handguns

One of the many decisions greeting Pope Francis, as salon.com pointed out, is whether to officially recognize a Patron Saint of Handgunners—as urged by a U.S. organization of activists for more than 20 years. According to legend, St. Gabriel Possenti rescued an Italian village from a small band of pillagers (and perhaps rapists) in the 19th century by shooting at a lizard in the road, killing it with one shot, which supposedly so terrified the bandits that they fled. No humans were harmed, activists now point out, signifying the handgun was obviously a force for good. The head of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society has noted that, however far-fetched the "lizard incident" may be, it was rarely questioned until U.S. anti-gun activists gained strength in the 1980s.

Can't Possibly Be True

  • Though Americans may feel safe that the Food and Drug Administration approves a drug only for certain specific uses, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled in December that drug company salespeople have a First Amendment right to claim that drugs approved for only one use can be marketed for non-approved uses, as well. Doctors and bioethicists seemed outraged, according to the Los Angeles Times, generally agreeing with a University of Minnesota professor who called the decision "a complete disgrace. What this basically does is destroy drug regulation in the United States."
  • Among the helpful civic classes the city government in Oakland, Calif., set up earlier this year for its residents was one on how to pick locks (supposedly to assist people who had accidentally locked themselves out of their homes), and lock-picking kits were even offered for sale after class. Some residents were aghast, as the city had seen burglaries increase by 40% in 2012. Asked one complainer, "What's next? The fundamentals of armed robbery?" (In February, Mayor Jean Quan apologized and canceled the class.)
  • We Must Kill This Legislation Because Too Many People Are for It: In February, the North Carolina House Rules Committee took the unusual step of preemptively burying a bill to legalize prescription marijuana (which 18 states so far have embraced). WRAL.com reported Rep. Paul Stam's explanation: Committee members were hearing from so many patients and other constituents (via phone calls and emails) about the importance of medical marijuana to them that the representatives were feeling "harassed."

Unclear on the Concept    


Imprisoned British computer hacker Nicholas Webber, 21, serving time for computer fraud, hacked into the mainframe at his London prison after officials allowed him to take a computer class. Like most prisons, the Isis facility attempts to rehabilitate inmates with classes to inspire new careers, but apparently no one made the connection between the class and Webber's crime. (One prison staff member involved in the class was fired.)

The Redneck Chronicles

Gary Ericcson, 46, was distraught in January at being charged with animal cruelty in shooting to death his beloved pet snake. He told the Charlotte Observer that he is not guilty, as the dear thing had already passed away and that he shot it only "to get the gas out" before cremating the body. He said he was so despondent (fearing that a conviction will prevent him from being allowed to have even dogs and cats) that in frustration he had shot up and destroyed a large cabinet that housed his Dale Earnhardt collectibles.

Perspective

First-World Products: The DogTread Treadmill is a modification of the familiar exercise machine in homes and health clubs, with special features for dog safety—a helpful invention in a nation in which over half of all pet dogs are too fat. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention points out that pets can develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis, and that the problem stems from insufficient exercise and overindulgent owners. (The DogTread Treadmills sell for $499 to $899.)

Readers' Choice

Teri James, 29, filed a lawsuit recently in San Diego against San Diego Christian College because it fired her for being pregnant and unmarried—a violation of specific employee rules. She said the firing was obviously illegal gender discrimination because her job was quickly offered to the next-most-qualified candidate—James' fiancé, who was openly cohabiting with James all along and is the baby's father.            
 
© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD    
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