Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010

News of the Weird

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Subpoenas Optional

In January, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a long-anticipated report detailing ways the FBI cut corners in obtaining individual Americans’ phone records during the years of the Bush administration. Federal law permits the acquisition of those phone records only with a "terrorism" subpoena ("National Security Letter") unless the FBI documents emergency ("exigent") circumstances to a telecom company. Emergency circumstances are supposed to be followed by a subpoena and the proper legal process, but often those steps were never taken. The OIG found that, from 2002-2006, the FBI had representatives of three telecom companies set up inside FBI offices so that agents could request phone records orally, without documentation, and in some cases merely by writing the requested phone numbers on Post-it Notes and sticking them on the telecom employees' workstations. Some of the acquired records were uploaded to the FBI's database.

Least Competent Criminals

Poorly Conceived: (1) Travis Copeland, 19, bolting from a courtroom in Waukegan, Ill., in January, ran down a hallway, lowered his shoulder and thrust himself at a window, intending to crash through it to freedom. Courthouse windows are bulletproof, however, and Copeland merely bounced off, staggered away and fell to the floor in pain. (2) Chamil Guadarrama, 30, was arrested in Springfield, Mass., in February after a store security guard spotted him with 75 bottles of lotion stuffed down the legs of his pants (which were tied off at the ankles), making him look like a nearly immobile Michelin Man. Said a cop: "(We) could not fit Mr. Guadarrama into the cruiser because…he could not bend over."

Unclear on the Concept

In January, a 27-year-old man was arrested for trespassing in Seattle's Lusty Lady peep-show arcade. The layout of the building consists of a dance stage for strippers surrounded by private viewing stalls for customers. According to police, the man climbed from his stall, through a ceiling panel, and into the overhead crawl space, which only allowed him to peep at the strippers from a different angle.

Can't Possibly Be True

A Toronto restaurant, Mildred's Temple Kitchen, announced that this year’s Valentine's Day promotion would involve more than just a romantic dinner—it would also include an invitation for couples to have sex in the restrooms. Toronto Public Health officials appeared unconcerned as long as the restrooms were clean and no sexual acts took place in food-preparation areas. "Bodily fluids" were not a concern, according to one health official, because that's what restrooms are for.

Inexplicable

  • Police are still baffled by how Gregory Denny, 37, was able to "deport" Cherrie Belle Hibbard from her home in Hemet, Calif., to her native Philippines in January. According to Hemet police, Denny, using a gun and fake U.S. Marshals’ badge and shirt, knocked on Hibbard's door and convinced her that he was there to escort her to the airport and out of the country—and that Hibbard's husband had to buy her the ticket. Denny then accompanied Hibbard through airport security and put her onto a flight. Upon later questioning by police, Denny apparently remained in character, continuing to insist that he worked for the U.S. Marshals. Denny was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, impersonating a peace officer and several other charges.
  • Buffalo, N.Y., television meteorologist Mike Cejka was arrested in December after a brief police chase and charged with trespassing after he was spotted at 4 a.m. tinkering with the covering of a motorcycle in a stranger's yard. Cejka told police he was on his way to work and had merely stopped to admire a motorcycle he had remembered seeing in that yard over the summer. He was wearing a dress shirt and shoes and leather chaps topped by a pair of sweat shorts.

The Continuing Crisis

University of Montreal School of Social Work professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse, intending to research the effects of pornography on men's relationships with women and needing a control group for comparison, advertised in the local community for up to 20 nonusers of pornography, but he was forced to alter his research model when no one signed up. In December, Lajeunesse concluded: "Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist."

A News of the Weird Classic

Least Competent Circus Knife-Thrower: News of the Weird reported twice on the problems of British circus knife-thrower Jayde Hanson. An assistant walked off the job in 2001 after nearly being hit in the foot, which would have been her third wound that season (equaling the number of injuries a previous girlfriend had suffered as Hanson's assistant before she quit the year before). In April 2003, Hanson was performing with his new girlfriend, Yana Rodianova, then 22, live on Britain's "This Morning" television show, displaying his world-record form as a speed knife-thrower, when one knife hit Rodianova in the head and drew blood.

2010 Chuck Shepherd

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