News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In July a judge in Doncaster, England, released suspect Martin Kamara, age 43, a black man who had been accused of threatening a financial adviser, because of police impropriety. Cops wanted to put Kamara in a lineup, but no black men could be found who were willing to stand alongside him (the town had been beset by recent racial incidents). So police hired a make-up artist to put black faces on seven white men. (The artist unfortunately forgot to make up the men's hands.)

*The Wall Street Journal reported in July that the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered 71 mining companies in Idaho to submit copies of all the paperwork they have produced in the last 117 years. The EPA says it needs the information to help determine who is responsible for lead pollution in Idaho's Silver Valley.

*A confidential report, prepared for the Australian Foreign Ministry and laced with uninhibited appraisals of many South Pacific leaders, was accidentally left on a table at a regional economic ministers' meeting in Cairns, Australia, in July. The report made its way into newspapers. While the Australian delegation was outwardly friendly toward its smaller, island-nation neighbors, the study called many of their leaders inept or corrupt. And two weeks earlier Austria's foreign minister came under fire for his name-calling at a breakfast meeting in the Netherlands. Wolfgang Schuessel reportedly called one German official "a real pig," the Belorussian president a "smelly Turk," and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright "an aging Bette Davis."

Police Blotter
*Four young men were arrested for trespassing and attempting to remove tires from a vehicle at a car-auction lot in Des Moines, Iowa, in May. Via his security camera, owner Dan Carney saw the men enter the lot late at night; he hopped on his forklift, picked up the men's getaway car, and hid it inside a building. While the men were next door asking if anyone had seen their car, the police arrived.

*Dallas police officer Raymond Dethloff, Jr., age 34, was suspended for fifteen days in March for eating a McDonald's chicken sandwich he took from a wrecked car at an accident scene he was working. The sixteen-year-old girl to whom it belonged had been taken away in an ambulance, with minor injuries.

*Robert Hayden, age 30, was arrested in East Moline, Illinois, in February and charged with attempted robbery of the Esquire Lodge East. Hayden, who is black, walked into the lobby and demanded money but sheepishly aborted the robbery when he realized that the hotel was black-owned and -operated. He fled, but police caught him nearby.

People with Too Much Time on Their Hands
*At a celebrity auction in May, Debbie Dacoba of Paw Paw, Michigan, bid $8625 for a pair of Mr. Ed's horseshoes and was so overcome with joy when she won that she had to retreat to the ladies' room for twenty minutes until she stopped crying. Later she told a reporter that she would keep the horseshoes in plastic because specks of brown residue in the nail holes "could be manure, which I hope it is because then I have a piece of him."

*A June Associated Press profile of Bernard Williams, age 77, of Hannibal, Missouri, described his work over the last thirteen years: He has rewritten both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible in rhyme. Williams hoped to make the Scriptures more accessible to readers.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd