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News of the Weird 9/1/11

by Chuck Shepherd

The heavy hand of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service landed on 11-year-old Skylar Capo and her mom in June, after an agent happened to spot Skylar holding a baby woodpecker in her hands at a Lowes home improvement store in Fredericksburg, Va. Actually, Skylar had minutes before saved the woodpecker from the primed teeth of a house cat and was providing temporary TLC, intending to release the bird when the trauma had passed. The agent, apparently, was unimpressed, reciting a provision of the Migratory Bird Act, and two weeks later, another Fish and Wildlife agent knocked on the Capos’ door (accompanied by a Virginia state trooper) and served Mrs. Capo a citation calling for a $535 fine. (In August, Fish and Wildlife officials relented, calling the agent’s action a mistake.)

Compelling Explanations Though a university study released in June linked birth defects to the controversial mining industry practice of mountaintop removal, lawyers for the National Mining Association offered a quick, industry-friendly rebuttal: Since the area covered by the study was in West Virginia, any birth defects could well be explained merely as inbreeding. (A week later, the lawyers thought better and edited out that insinuation.)

• Michael Jones, 50, told a magistrate in Westminster, England, in May that he did not “assault” a police officer when he urinated on him at a railway station a month earlier. Jones claimed, instead, that he was “urinating in self-defense” in that the water supply had been “poisoned by the mafia.” The magistrate explained that Jones’ argument “is not realistically going to be a viable defense.”

• Inmate Kyle Richards filed a federal lawsuit in July against Michigan’s prison system because of the no-pornography policy in effect for the Macomb County jail (a violation of Richards’ “constitutional rights”). Other states permit such possession, claimed Richards, who further supported his case by reference to his own condition of “chronic masturbation syndrome,” exacerbated by conditions behind bars. Additionally, Richards claimed to be indigent and therefore entitled to pornography at the government’s expense—to avoid a “poor standard of living” and “sexual and sensory deprivation.”

Ironies When Laura Diprimo, 43, and Thomas Lee, 28, were arrested for child endangerment in Louisville, Ky., in June, it appeared to be yet another instance of a mother leaving an infant locked in a hot car (91-degree heat index outside) while frolicking elsewhere (drinking with Lee at the Deja Vu club). According to a report on WDRB-TV, while the two were in the police car en route to jail, Lee complained that the back seat of the cruiser was uncomfortably warm.

Save the Environment: (1) Germany’s Green Party temporarily transcended mainstream environmental goals in June and specially demanded that the government begin regulating sex toys such as dildos and vibrators. Those devices, it said, contain “dangerously high levels of phthalates” and other plastics that can cause infertility and hormone imbalances. The party called for sex-toy regulation that is at least as strong as the regulation of children’s toys. (2) “This is a clear case where making something environmentally friendly works for us,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Woods, the U.S. Army’s product manager for small-caliber ammunition. He told Military.com in May that new steel-core 5.56mm cartridges not only “penetrate” (kill) more effectively, but are less environmentally toxic than current lead-core ammo.

The Pervo-American Community First Things First: Alan Buckley, 44, on holiday from Cheshire, England, was arrested in Orlando in June and charged with taking upskirt photographs of a woman at a Target store. Buckley’s child had gotten sick and was admitted to Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and Buckley was apparently killing time at Target after visiting with the child (and was later identified by witnesses because he was still wearing his hospital visitor’s sticker, with his name on it).

Least Competent Criminals Clue-Droppers: (1) Steven Long, 23, was arrested in South Daytona, Fla., in May on suspicion of theft after a patrol officer spotted him pedaling his bike down a street with a 59-inch TV set on the handlebars. (2) Matthew Davis, 32, pleaded guilty to theft in Cairns, Australia, in June; he had been arrested on suspicion because police had noticed a large office safe protruding “precariously” out the back of his vehicle as he drove by. (3) Stephen Kirkbride, 46, was convicted of theft in Kendal, England, in June after a clothing store clerk, on the witness stand, pointed out that Kirkbride had in fact worn to court that day the very coat he had stolen from the store.