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News of the Weird


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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird


(NOTE: Chuck Shepherd has nearly finished his psychological rehab assignment and will be back with a fresh look at the news next week. These are the last of the golden oldies he left behind for you.)


In 1998, according to a report on the Agence France Presse wire, Cairo lawyer Mustafa Raslan filed a $1 billion lawsuit in Damanhur, Egypt, against President Clinton, alleging that Clinton's alleged sexual antics made it more difficult for him to raise his own children with good moral standards. "I don't know what to tell (them)," he said. (And in December 1997, Sheik Buddy Rasheed, who was the mayor of Bassilya, Jordan, told reporters he wanted to sue Clinton for naming his dog Buddy, which has caused Rasheed a loss of prestige locally, but that he was having trouble finding a lawyer to take the case.) [Florida Times-Union-AFP, 2-18-98] [Chicago Tribune-Reuters, 1-4-98]



Minneapolis firefighter Gerald Brown, 55, who was fired in 1995 for abuse of sick leave, but who won a contentious grievance hearing and was reinstated with 18 months' back pay, was scheduled to return to work on June 2, 1997. When that day arrived, he called in sick. [star Tribune, 6-7-97]


People Different From Us

American Ingenuity at Work: From a 1999 police report in The Messenger (Madisonville, Ky.), concerning two trucks being driven strangely on a rural road: A man would drive one truck 100 yards, stop, walk back to a second truck, drive it 100 yards beyond the first truck, stop, walk back to the first truck, drive it 100 yards beyond the second truck, and so on. According to police, the man's brother had passed out drunk in one of the trucks, so the man decided to drive both trucks home. (Not surprisingly, a blood-alcohol test showed that he, too, was impaired.) [The Messenger, 5-7-99]

Ms. Courtney Mann, the head of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, who worked as a tax preparer and was a single mother, was rebuffed in an attempt to join a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored march in Pittsburgh in April 1997. Though she had been in the NAAWP for at least four years, the Klan turned her down because she is black. Said the Grand Dragon, incredulously: "She wanted to stay at my house (during rally weekend). She's all confused, man. I don't think she knows she's black. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4-13-97]

According to a 1999 Boston Globe story, Mr. Wai Y. Tye, a retired Raytheon Corp. chemist, had lived without complaint in the same 200-square-foot room in the downtown Boston YMCA continuously to that point since 1949. "When you're busy working and playing tennis," he told a reporter, "when you come home, you don't have much time to take care of an apartment." The bathroom is down the hall to the left, and he said he did not mind the exposed pipes or the linoleum floor or having to use a hotplate. [boston Globe, 1-8-99]

Surgeon John Ronald Brown, 77, whose medical license was revoked in 1977 but who continued to practice on the dark side, was convicted in San Diego in 1999 of second-degree murder for a botched operation that brought to light the rare malady of apotemnophilia. Those afflicted - - said to be fewer than 200 people worldwide - - get sexual gratification by having an arm or leg removed. The Internet underground had spread word of Brown's willingness to perform the surgery without asking embarrassing questions (such as "why?"). [Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune-AP, 5-24-98; Tampa Tribune-AP, 2-1-00]


Unclear on the Concept

Within a six-week period in the summer of 1998, these events occurred: A juror in Judge Esmond Faulks' court in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, eagerly asked the judge for the defendant's date of birth so he could draw up an astrology chart to help him decide the case. (He was removed.) Then a 31-year-old woman in Oakley, Calif., felt a mysterious bump as she was pulling out of her driveway, and to help determine what it was, she said, she drove over it again, and then a third time. (It was her 3-year-old son, who suffered a broken leg.) And then, Wall Street Journal reporter James S. Hirsch, writing a story on the Boston Globe's recent troubles with columnists making up things, noted in his story that the Globe's corporate spokespersons had no comment on the matter, a fact which he later admitted he made up. (He was fired.) [The Times (London), 7-9-98] [Contra Costa Times, 7-26-98] [New York Times, 8-20-98]


Oklahoma Justice

Through the years, it appears that Oklahoma is certainly one of the least friendly states for criminals. For example, in 1996, convicted rapists Allan Wayne McLaurin and Darron Bennalford Anderson were re-sentenced by a jury in Tulsa, after an appeals court said their original sentences totaling 6,475 years were based on faulty jury instructions. Armed with the proper instructions, the jury then tacked an additional 260 centuries onto the sentences: a total of 21,250 years for McLaurin and 11,250 for Anderson. [Daily Oklahoman-AP, 3-23-96, 4-3-96]


The Finer Points of the Law

The Iowa Supreme Court in 1996 turned down inmate Kirk Livingood's attempt to sue Philip Negrete based on the state's domestic abuse law. Negrete was Livingood's cellmate, and, according to Livingood, beat and tormented him. [Des Moines Register, 4-18-96]


Smooth Reactions

Just outside a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., courtroom in 1997, defendant Mark Gusow, age 36 and 140 pounds, told his court-appointed attorney, Laura Morrison, age 52 and 150 pounds, that he was about to tell the judge he wanted a new lawyer. Morrison tried persuade him to stay outside and talk about it some more, but Gusow broke away and headed through the doors, at which point Morrison allegedly leaped at him, clamped on a headlock, and raked his face with her fingernails. [st. Petersburg Times-AP, 9-5-97]

James Conlon, the music director of the Paris Opera, accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his baton while he was in Ohio rehearsing Stravinsky's "Nightingale" for the Cincinnati May Festival in 1998. He returned to work shortly afterward. [New York Times, 6-4-98]


Least Competent Criminal

Michael Guilbault, 19, pleaded guilty in 1997 to robbing a Raleigh, N.C., convenience store. According to the prosecutor, a delayed getaway helped police make the capture. Guilbault and his accomplice were to flee the store and meet their friends Heather Beckwith, 18, and Curtis Johnson, 19, at the nearby getaway car, but when the robbers arrived, they found the doors locked and the couple inside "in the act," as the prosecutor put it. Guilbault and his colleague were forced to wait until the couple had finished before they could get in the car, but by that time witnesses had noticed the two men yelling and making a commotion and had summoned police. [Raleigh News & Observer, 12-20-97]


Undignified Deaths

A basketball player for Southeastern Oklahoma State University was killed near Paris, Texas, in 1997 when the driver of the car in which he was riding lost control after it was hit by a flying cow. (The cow had been sent airborne when it was hit by another car.) [Washington Post, 9-20-97]

The family of the late Russell U. Shell filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in 1998 against The Other Side nightclub in Fitchburg, Mass., charging that Mr. Shell choked to death on a miniature plastic p**** that allegedly had been placed into his drink glass as a prank by an employee. (The club owner said Mr. Shell merely suffered a seizure and that the charm was found on the floor beside Mr. Shell's body.) [Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 8-12-98]



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