Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Freedom of What?

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In December, the city council in Brighton, Mich., passed an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to "annoy another person” in public, "by word of mouth, sign or motions." Violators can be ticketed and fined.

 News That Sounds Like a Joke

 (1) Michael Reed, 50, was charged with attempted robbery of Eddie's Fried Chicken in Fort Worth, Texas, in December. He was armed only with a tree branch and was quickly neutralized by a 56-year-old employee who grabbed a broom. The men proceeded to duel with the branch and broom until Reed dropped his branch and fled. He was arrested nearby. (2) The Happy Egg Co., located in Lincoln, England, altered the packaging in January for its egg cartons to include the prominent warning, "Allergy Advice: Contains Egg."

Least Competent Criminals

 In December, a masked man escaped after trying unsuccessfully to rob the Washman carwash in Portland, Ore. In the middle of the attempted robbery, the man's gun fell to the ground and broke apart. As he continued to demand money without the gun, it became clear why robbing a carwash is tricky: The employee grabbed the nearest tool, which was the wand of a pressure washer (2,000 pounds per square inch), and hosed the robber, sending him fleeing.

Government in Action

(1) Two Maryland officials, reportedly new on the job, made a simple error in addition in 2007 (in estimating a county’s taxable real estate values) that was revealed in January 2009 to have cost state offices $31 million in overpayments, according to a Washington Post report. (2) In October, the Dallas Independent School District was forced to lay off 375 teachers to ameliorate an $84 million deficit caused by a massive math error in the budget, according to a report by WFAA-TV.

After being separated for 50 years following their adoptions by separate families, identical twins Rosabelle Glasby of Australia and Dorothy Loader of Malaysia were reunited in September 2008. Glasby had searched for her sister for years and, after finding Loader, applied to bring her to Australia under the country's family migration policy. However, in January, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship ruled that, under the law, Loader is not related to Glasby (in that the adoption severed the legal relationship between the siblings).

 Police Report

 In January, police in Holland Township, N.J., removed three kids from the home of Heath and Deborah Campbell at the behest of the state Division of Youth and Family Services. The kids are 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell and his 1-year-old sisters, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell and JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. The family was also in the news in December when their local ShopRite supermarket bakery refused to make a birthday cake with little Adolf's name on it.

 People Different From Us

 (1) The Northwest Florida Daily News reported the arrest of a woman for trespassing in December in Mary Esther, Fla., after she was reluctant to stop cleaning a neighbor's porch. According to the newspaper, she eventually left “in anger, knocking over a dryer…in the front yard." (2) Robert Blue, 53, was arrested in Las Vegas in January and charged with chaining his 15-year-old daughter to her bed at night to keep her from eating. Blue told police that the girl weighs 165 pounds, but that he wanted her at 145, which he said is her ideal fighting weight for mixed martial arts.

 Now, Which One Is the Brake?

 Elderly drivers continue to have lapses of concentration while driving, often confusing the brake pedal with the gas (or "drive" with "reverse"): Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Joe Greenhill, 94, crashed into a restraining wall in downtown Austin, nearly winding up in Lady Bird Lake (December). A 90-year-old woman, driving her brand-new Dodge Challenger, rammed a pole while turning left in Pompano Beach, Fla. (October). An 83-year-old man drove through his garage wall and continued on about 70 yards in Lycoming Township, Pa. (September). An 83-year-old man drove 50 feet into a Big 5 Sporting Goods Store in Milwaukie, Ore. (December). An 82-year-old man crashed his SUV into a tree on a Pittsburgh golf course after zigzagging out of control across the fairway (September). An 82-year-old man crashed into a group of Cub Scouts lining up for a Christmas parade (injuring 12) in Dallas (December).

 A News of the Weird Classic (May 1997)

 In April 1997, Russian performance artist Oleg Kulik opened a two-week show in New York City, titled "I Bite America and America Bites Me," in which he stayed in character as a dog, on all fours, from the time his plane landed in New York until the moment he left town. Kulik holed up in a gallery cage wearing only a dog collar and exhibiting dog behaviors and emotions, and visitors could enter the cage to play with him only after putting on protective padding in case Kulik bit them. Kulik had been arrested in three countries for biting his audience. (A Paris gallery owner has called Kulik "a great intellectual" whose art is rooted in the downfall of Communism in Russia.)

  2009 Chuck Shepherd

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