Lead Stories

According to a July story in the Los Angeles Times, a ruling last year by the Oregon Supreme Court has begun to have a negative impact on law enforcement. The court ruled that all lawyers must obey the state bar association’s nearly absolute prohibitions against deceit, which means that prosecutors cannot try cases involving police undercover and sting operations. A child pornography investigation was recently shut down because police were targeting pedophiles by pretending on-line that they were underage.

The Associated Press reported last month that tourist boats near Cape Jervis, Australia, were ferrying people out to sea so they could stand on a dead whale and watch great white sharks feed on the carcass. Some vacationers even posed for photos in which they petted the preoccupied sharks on the head, prompting the local environmental minister to call for legislation that would “protect people too stupid to protect themselves.” (For the record, News of the Weird opposes any such legislation.)

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month that the new dogcatcher for San Mateo County will be paid $250,000 a year, more than twice what San Francisco’s dogcatcher earns and more than the salaries of California governor Gray Davis and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.


A man was convicted in July of attempting to firebomb three Montreal coffee shops because the owner refused to give them French names….That same month protesters broke windows at the Tennessee capitol building in Nashville, furious that legislators might adopt a state income tax….And three New Mexico regulators reported receiving death threats in May during the public regulation commission’s deliberations over whether to change the telephone area codes in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.


In June the former executive director of the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Tampa, Florida–who pleaded guilty in March to charges of grand theft for misappropriating almost $20,000 in donations–filed a lawsuit against the foundation demanding back pay and unused vacation and sick pay dating from the date of her firing in June 1999. She also demanded a court order restoring her as the foundation’s executive director. Her first name is Delores, and she uses the surname of her husband, the lawyer who filed her lawsuit, Jack W. Crooks.

Sherman P. Hawkins’s application for director of the Montana Department of Corrections was turned down in July by the governor, despite Hawkins’s 28 years of experience with the penal system and his master’s degree in administration. As the governor noted, the 28 years were spent as an inmate, in that Hawkins is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife.

Latest Rights

In June the Maine Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Virginia Green, a patient at the Augusta Mental Health Institute since her conviction for bludgeoning her 75-year-old mother to death in 1996. Green’s suit had charged that the facility’s 8 AM wake-up policy violated her rights and had requested that the hospital be instructed to permit her to sleep until 11.

9The Court of Appeal for Ontario reinstated DUI charges against Christopher Dominski in June, finding that his right to be notified of his right to have an attorney present had not been violated. According to court records, when a police officer asked if he would like to call an attorney, Dominski responded, “Yeah, whatever.”

Berlin’s minister of education suggested in June that Germany’s pro soccer league bar players from spitting and clearing their nostrils on the field, saying such behavior sends the wrong message to kids. Players defended the right to blow. Said one, “We can’t carry a packet of hankies on the pitch.”

Least Competent Criminals

In June, Detroit police arrested five suspects in the robbery of a McDonald’s restaurant after one of the men tossed his bandanna out the window of the getaway car, where it snagged on the radio antenna and acted as an identifying flag for police in pursuit….And Elizabeth McDonald, 24, pleaded no contest in June to robbing the VFW hall in Medina County, Ohio, where she used to work; though she had worn a mask, she’d made no attempt to disguise her waist-length red hair, which had been instantly recognized by at least one former coworker.

Recurring Themes

Police in Manchester, England, reported in May that they were investigating an incident in which haggis was thrown through the window of a Scottish woman’s house as a hate crime. The woman, who is 45, has lived in England for 35 years. A police spokeswoman said the haggis had been “taken away for examination.”

In the Last Month

A man in Quincy, Illinois, had to be airlifted to the hospital after impaling himself on the venom-filled fangs of a dead timber rattlesnake while mounting it on a display board….In Kenarak, Iran, officials found 3.5 pounds of opium in a smuggler’s belly, which beat the previous world record of 2.4 pounds….Nurses and doctors were among the 400 partiers attending an unauthorized, drug-drenched, deafening rave at Paris’s Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital, where the heavily sedated patients were said to be oblivious to the commotion….A water heater at a video store in a shopping center in Burien, Washington, exploded, rocketing itself through the roof, over a Taco Bell, and into a Pizza Hut parking lot in the next block.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weird@compuserve.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.