News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*According to an October Wall Street Journal profile, Randall C. Hutchens is one jailbird making a comfortable living behind bars as he serves out a two-year sentence for tax evasion. He files $5000 stockholder-fraud lawsuits in California small-claims courts and so far has received settlement checks in various amounts from 17 of 60 defendant companies. He does a little research on the stock price then falsely claims stock losses, according to the Journal. California small-claims courts bar lawyers, so companies settle rather than send executives to California to testify.

*Laurita Bledsoe of Detroit was recently granted a patent for her Talking Pottie toilet trainer that fits over a toilet seat and houses computer sound chips, a cassette player, and speakers that give kids applause and verbal feedback for jobs well done.

*In September a judge in Newmarket, Ontario, found that professional dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, age 39, was guilty of running a house of prostitution despite her claims that she was only providing role-playing services for powerful clients who needed a safe place to act weak. The judge based his decision on evidence that some customers masturbated during the sessions. (The court heard tales of selected customers, including a student who wanted to be a fly chased by a swatter-wielding Bedford, and a man who wanted to be thought of as a floor tile that Bedford could walk on for hours at a time.)

Leading Economic Indicators
*In September schoolteachers in the Altai region of Siberia reluctantly agreed to accept fifteen bottles of vodka each as partial backpay from the nearly bankrupt government. And in October, thieves in Volgograd, Russia, stole eight tons of mud, worth about $1000, from a health spa. Also in October, the Russian Railway Ministry announced it would not carry mail until the post office pays its overdue bill (about $13 million). And in Thailand porn star Morakot Maneechai complained in September that the economic downturn is ruining her career: Her bust measurement decreased from 39 to 37 inches because of weight loss and because she cannot afford fancy nourishing creams.

Chief Surgeon to the Weird
*In San Diego in May, recidivist unlicensed surgeon John Ronald Brown, age 75, was arrested and charged with causing the death of an 80-year-old man who had consented to have Brown amputate his healthy leg. According to a friend, the patient suffered from apotemnophilia (sexual gratification from the removal of a limb). Brown's license was revoked in 1977 after he botched transsexual operations, but records recovered from his apartment led prosecutors to believe he continued to perform dozens of transsexual and breast augmentation surgeries.

News From the Animal Community
*The Animal Rescue Foundation in Mobile, Alabama, captured a six-foot, 150-pound emu that escaped from its owner and apparently selected local resident Ed Stuardi as its mate. Stuardi and his wife cowered inside their home for two days while the emu pranced outside, making guttural mating noises.

*In September prominently pedigreed thoroughbred racehorse Zippy Chippy not only lost his 85th consecutive race (tying the all-time record), but also hurt his chances of breaking the record by re-exhibiting a recent habit of dawdling at the starting gate for precious seconds before taking off, thus causing racetracks to bar him from races for fear of angering bettors.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd