Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird
(1) A young woman, accosted by a robber on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill in October, told the man she was a low-paid intern—but an intern for the National Security Agency, and that within minutes of robbing her, the man would be tracked down by ubiquitous NSA surveillance. She said, later (reported the Washington Examiner), the man just “looked at me and ran away (empty handed).” (2) A 29-year-old cafeteria worker at Sullivan East High School in Blountville, Tenn., swore to police on the scene in October that she was not the one who took money from a coworker’s purse, and she voluntarily stripped to near-nakedness to demonstrate her innocence. “See? I don't have it,” she said. Moments later, an officer found the missing $27 stuffed in the woman’s shoe.
The Seattle City Council voted in October to seize a waterfront parking lot by eminent domain from the 103-year-old owner after negotiations to buy the property on the open market broke down. The state is funding a tunnel-digging project in the area, and the city has decided it needs the property for not-yet-specified uses --except that in one part of the property, the city said it plans to operate a parking lot.
- Larry Poulos was stopped on an Arlington, Tex., street in September, bleeding from a head wound and complaining that he had just been robbed by two men. A friend of Poulos later corroborated that, but police also learned that the money Poulos had been carrying was the proceeds of his having robbed a credit union earlier that evening. He was treated for his wounds and then arrested.
- "Masculine” Values: Breakaway former officials of the Boy Scouts of America met in Nashville, Tenn., in September to establish a Scouts-type organization that can freely discourage homosexuality, with one leader promising Fox News that the result would be a more “masculine” program. Another prominent attendee, also quoted in the Fox News dispatch, described his sorrow at the BSA’s embrace of gay boys. Since this issue broke, he said, “I’ve cried a river.”
- In November, Sweden's National Housing Board, in charge of building codes, ordered the country's famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi (built anew annually out of fresh ice blocks) to install fire alarms. "We were a little surprised when we found out," said a spokeswoman (who acknowledged that the hotel's mattresses and pillows could catch fire).
An exhaustive American Civil Liberties Union report in November showed that more than 3,200 people are serving life sentences in the U.S. for non-violent offenses (about 80% for drug crimes). Most were sentenced under “three-strikes”-type laws in which the final straw might be for trivial drug possession, for instance, or for a petty theft such as a $159-jacket shoplifting in Louisiana, or a two-jersey theft from a Foot Action. Said the jacket thief, Timothy Jackson, “I know that for my crime I had to do some time but…I have met people here whose crimes are a lot badder with way less time.” Added his sister, “You can take a life and get 15 or 16 years,” but her brother “will stay in jail forever. He didn't kill the jacket!”
Least Competent Criminals
Recurring Themes: (1) Lawrence Briggs, 18, was arrested in Marshalltown, Iowa, in November after he walked out of a Sports Page store with $153 worth of merchandise he did not pay for. Moments earlier, he had filled out an application to work at Sports Page, and when surveillance cameras exposed him, managers called him in for an “interview,” and police made the arrest. (2) Troy Mitchell, 47, was arrested after allegedly robbing the Valley First Credit Union in Modesto, Calif., on May 14. While he was standing at the teller’s window, another employee of Valley First saluted him (“Hi, Troy”) because she remembered Mitchell from April 3, when he had applied for a car loan.
© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD