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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Cultural Diversity

  • For “beach season” in Qingdao, China, recently, middle-aged ladies returned to the shore of the Yellow Sea sporting their relatively revealing (though age-appropriate) bathing suits—but wearing distinctive cloth hoods with tiny holes only for the eyes, nose and mouth. To many in China, dark skin still signals laborers and fair skin the indoor “leisure” class, according to a July report on the business website Quartz.
  • Because Zimbabwe is reputedly among the world’s most corrupt countries, bribery is normal and makes the news only when innovators go above and beyond. The anti-poverty organization Transparency International reported in July that one hospital in Harare had recently been imposing a $5 charge on mothers each time they screamed during childbirth (in addition to the $50 delivery fee). Furthermore, it has long been rumored that hospitals in Zimbabwe (and other countries) may detain mothers and their children at the hospital if they cannot pay the fees. (Transparency International reported several days later, after finally obtaining a meeting with a government official, that the per-scream charge will be lifted.)

Latest Religious Messages

  • Satan was thrust into the recent Texas legislature debate with pro-choicers shouting, “Hail, Satan!” at the right-to-life faction. However, whom Satan had endorsed was not clear. A British organization called UK Church of Satan appeared to criticize the pro-choicers (according to Twitter comments) while the New York-based Church of Satan (founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey) insists on a woman’s right to choose, said its High Priest Peter Gilmore—although he acknowledged that shouting “Hail, Satan” to anti-abortion activists was “ludicrous and meaningless.”
  • Megachurch bishop Ira V. Hilliard told his Houston congregation (New Light Christian Center) in June that one of his two private aircraft—a helicopter valued at about $1 million—needs new blades, but rather than pay it himself, he asked parishioners to each find it in their hearts to send him $52 "favor seeds" for the blades. (His ministry also owns a $2 million Hawker jet and a $3 million hangar.) To sweeten the deal, he virtually promised that a donor's gift would be met by a “breakthrough favor” from God in the form of a car repair or their very own “dream” car either 52 days or 52 weeks later (according to a church letter described by The Christian Post).

Questionable Judgments

Inexplicable: (1) In May, a 24-year-old man accidentally shot a teenage boy in the leg with a high-caliber gun at a home in Santa Fe, Texas, in front of the boy’s mother, whose first reaction was to look up “gunshot” on WebMD—and then not to take her son to Mainland Medical Center until seven hours later. Deborah Tagle was charged, along with the shooter, for injury to a child. (2) Carole Longhorn, 66, struck a metal object in her garden in Norfolk, England, in June, and, though it looked like a projectile bomb, she said she decided to take it inside and wash it off in the sink before calling police (who later detonated the World War II-era munition in a controlled explosion). (Said her husband later: “You can imagine what I said to her.”)

News That Sounds Like a Joke

A June performance-art street demonstration in Glastonbury, England, got out of hand when a spectator took offense at one of the actors, who was dressed as a giant penis to promote a show by the troupe Nomadic Academy of Fools. The bystander grabbed the penis’ costume, but the penis’ colleague, Joanne Tremarco, who was dressed as a giant vagina, went to his defense, trying to calm the bystander until police arrived.

The Redneck Chronicles

Police in York, Pa., arrested both Karen Harrelson, 48, and Gregory Stambaugh, 57, in May because they could not figure out which one started the couple’s knife fight—over which contestant (Candice or Kree) deserved to win this year’s “American Idol.” They had apparently stabbed each other with the same knife.

© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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