News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In July in Columbus, Ohio, the prison sentence of convicted child-pornography importer Timothy Rowles, age 29, was bumped from one year to two after he wrote the judge a letter showing a lack of remorse. Rowles asked the judge matter-of-factly if his explicit child-sex magazines could be returned to him, saying they did not violate "community standards." "I'm part of the community," he wrote, "and if what I have doesn't bother me, why should it matter?"

*Tourists driving a pickup with California plates camped out in a Peruvian historical landmark area in July and defaced the thin, 1000-year-old Indian etchings (called Nazca lines) with tire tracks. Some think it will take decades for blowing sand to cover the tracks.

*A 41-year-old man in a pickup was arrested in Conneaut, Ohio, in May and charged with shooting two firefighters. The victims were assisting an ambulance crew tending to an elderly woman; apparently the ambulance driver, with traffic stopped in both directions, was taking a lot of time backing out of a driveway. And in April on the side of I-395 in Alexandria, Virginia, during rush hour, army Maj. Odie Butler stood for 45 minutes protecting a critically wounded woman whose van had just overturned. Butler said many people refused to call for help and others screamed epithets and flipped their middle finger at him because the accident was blocking traffic.

Cliches Come to Life
*In May, when New York City sixth-grade teacher Aishah Ahmad declined to switch the classroom TV set from educational programming to The Jerry Springer Show, four girls pounced on her and beat her up, sending her to the hospital. A month earlier Stratford (Connecticut) High student Joseph Calore filed a suit against the school because the Springer show was playing in his classroom during an exam. According to Calore, a fight on the show provoked another student to punch Calore. His jaw was broken.

The Church of Stevie Nicks
*In July, while a religious organization was running a national advertising campaign offering to help gays "change" into heterosexuals, Ronald Anacelteo, age 38, was ordered by a court in Los Angeles to stay away from singer Stevie Nicks, whom Anacelteo thought could change him from gay to straight. According to a law enforcement officer, Anacelteo (who is not affiliated with the ad campaign) "is a self-proclaimed homosexual" who believes that Nicks can "heal" his homosexuality and "find [him] a woman to marry."

The Lowest of the Low
*In June retired Missouri Highway Patrol investigator Jack Merritt told reporters he has destroyed the 1994 photograph he took of Christian County Sheriff Steve Whitney touching a murder victim's breast during an autopsy. And Mark Calebs, age 31, was arrested in July in London, Kentucky, and charged with breaking into a funeral home and stealing the underpants from the body of a nine-year-old girl who had died of cancer.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit
*In July a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, denied a prosecutor's request to prevent Latin Kings gang leader Antonio Fernandez from selling Amway products. Fernandez, out on bail on drug charges, is restricted to his home except under certain conditions; the prosecutor believed a sales route would enable him to conduct Latin Kings business. Fernandez's lawyer said the Amway business was a good thing and could lead Fernandez to Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Avon.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd