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News of the Weird 5/26/11

By Chuck Sheppard

Rights of women are severely restricted in Pakistan’s tribal areas and among Muslim fundamentalists, but the rights of the country’s estimated 50,000 “transgenders” blossomed in April when the country’s Supreme Court ordered the government to accept a “third sex” designation on official documents (instead of forcing a choice of “male” or “female”). The court further recommended that transgenders be awarded government job quotas and suggested “tax collector” as one task for which they are particularly suited, since their presence at homes and businesses still tends to embarrass debtors into paying up quickly (especially since many transgenders outfit themselves, and behave, flamboyantly).

Government in Action! Imprisoned rapist Troy Fears, 55, had another four years tacked onto his sentence in April by a federal judge in Phoenix after he was convicted of swindling the IRS out of $119,000 by filing 117 fake tax returns from 2005 to 2009. According to prosecutors, IRS routinely dispatched direct-deposit refunds while indifferent to matching the payment recipient with the person whose Social Security number was on the return. (In fact, Fears was caught not by the IRS but by a prison guard who happened upon his paperwork.)
Apparently, the federal government failed to foresee that fighting two wars simultaneously, with historically high wound-survival rates, might produce surges of disability claims. Just in the last year, according to an April USA Today report, claims are up over 50 percent, and those taking longer than two months to resolve have more than doubled. (Tragically, Marine Clay Hunt, who was a national spokesman for disability rights and who suffered from post-traumatic stress, killed himself on March 31, ultimately frustrated that the Department of Veterans Affairs had lost his paperwork. “I can track my pizza from Pizza Hut on my BlackBerry,” he once said, “but the VA can’t find my claim for four months.”)

Great Art! Occasionally (as News of the Weird has reported), patrons of art galleries mistake ordinary objects as the actual art (for example, solemnly “contemplating” a broom inadvertently left behind by a janitor), and sometimes the opposite mistake occurs. At the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam in May, a wandering patron absent-mindedly traipsed through a re-creation of Wim T. Schippers’ floor-level Peanut Butter Platform (a 40-square-foot installation of creamy spread). (The museum manager had declined to fence in the exhibit, which he said would spoil its beauty.)

Police Report (1) Homeless Charles Mader, a convicted sex offender in Albuquerque, was arrested in May for failure to report his change of address, as required by law. Mader had moved out of his registered address, which was a Dumpster, into a community shelter. (2) Robert Norton Kennedy, 51, was arrested in Horry County, S.C., in May and charged with assault and battery, despite the humble tattoo on his forehead referencing a Bible verse and reading, “Please forgive me if I say or do anything stupid.”

Cavalcade of Rednecks (1) Sharon Newling, 58, was arrested in Salisbury, N.C., in April and charged with shooting at her stepson with a .22-caliber rifle. She denied shooting “at” him, but said she was just shooting toward him “to make him stop working on his truck.” (2) In April in Greensboro, N.C., Stephanie Preston and Bobby Duncan were married in front of family and friends at the local Jiffy Lube. (3) A 25-year-old man in Okaloosa County, Fla., was arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing after he entered the Club 51 Gentlemen’s Club, from which he had been banned after a February incident. The man told police that he knew he had been banned from a strip club but couldn’t remember which one.

Least Competent Criminals Perps Making It Easy on the Cops in Joliet, Ill.: (1) Domonique Loggins, 21, was running from two Joliet officers in April (suspected of assaulting his girlfriend) when his escape took him through Bicentennial Park downtown. Obviously unknown to him, dozens of police officers from surrounding jurisdictions were in the park that day on a training session (with 60 squad cars in a parking lot). Loggins was arrested. (2) Police imposters usually drive cars outfitted to resemble cruisers (flashing lights, scanners) and carry impressive, if fake, ID. However, Hector Garcia-Martinez, 35, fooled no one in April as the two Joliet women whose car he stopped immediately called 911. “Officer” Garcia-Martinez had none of the trappings — except, as he lamely pointed out, a sticker on his front license plate reading “Woodridge Police Junior Officer” (typically given to children at police events).

People With Issues Anorexia nervosa is widely recognized as a debilitating eating disorder that can be fatal in as many as 10 percent of cases. However, men with masturbation fantasies about super-skinny women have fueled an almost-five-fold increase in “ana-porn” websites, to more than 1,500 since 2006, according to an April report by London’s The Guardian. One site’s recruiting page limited models to those with a body-mass index of 15 or under, and warned that “(b)ones and ribs must be very visible.” However, these recruiters are sometimes anorexics’ only flatterers, terming them “superstar(s) of starvation,” “much prettier than all those meat mountains.” (Unlike child or animal pornography, ana-porn is not illegal.)