News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Still more Italian justice: In November a judge in Rome ruled that a 24-year-old man is entitled to live with his mother even though she doesn't want him to. Said the woman: "If he comes home, I'm [leaving]." In a 1996 case reported by the Associated Press in December, Italy's supreme court refused to convict several of a six-year-old girl's relatives who had had sex with her, citing the strangeness and "particular[ity]" of the family environment. The court said the family's ordinary relationships were wild, "dominated uniquely or almost always by instinct."

Police Blotter
*Armed and dangerous: A man robbed a variety store in Guelph, Ontario, in December wielding only a three-foot tree branch. And in Columbia, Missouri, in December, Eric O. Criss, age 31, equipped only with a socket wrench, failed in his alleged attempt to rob a grocery store. And in Calgary, Alberta, in December, a man brandishing only a bottle of household cleaner robbed a bank.

*A 21-year-old allegedly intoxicated man was spotted by police on an Austin, Minnesota, street in January urinating on a car, but he was let go with a warning when he convinced police it was his own car. A few minutes later police returned and arrested the man for DUI, having figured out that he was urinating on the car door's lock to melt the ice so he could get in and drive away.

*In October in Great Falls, Montana, Tina Rae Beavers, age nineteen, was arrested on the lawn separating the jail and the courthouse and charged with indecent exposure. According to a sheriff's deputy, she was energetically complying with her jailed husband's request to remove her clothes, lie down in the grass, and make suggestive movements so he could see her from his cell window.

Government in Action
*The New York Daily News reported in January that a fire hydrant had recently been installed at the busy intersection of Tremont Avenue and Boston Road in the Bronx. It was installed in the street, five feet from the curb, requiring all traffic to go around it. A city spokesman said the hydrant was installed properly and that eventually a sidewalk would be built, but, because of engineering delays and bad weather, construction had not yet been scheduled.

*In October the Associated Press uncovered several military construction projects that continue to be fully funded by the Pentagon long after the facilities on which they are located have been designated for permanent closing. Included were a five-million-dollar navy chapel in San Diego, a three-million-dollar army classroom building near Chicago, a thirteen-million-dollar navy dining hall in Orlando, and a five-million-dollar air force fire station and training facility in Indianapolis. Said a Navy spokesman in San Diego, "[The taxpayers] are going to have to pay for it anyway, so why not complete [it]?"

*In August 1996 "News of the Weird" reported on a group of New York City police officers who had availed themselves of expensive and hokey tax-resistance kits that would allow them to be considered nontaxable aliens while still working as law-enforcement officers. Six subsequently pled guilty, but in January 1997, in the first case to go to trial, Adalberto Miranda testified that he owed no tax because New York was merely a geographic area, not a government entity. A short way into his testimony, Miranda took it upon himself to disqualify federal judge Denny Chin because Chin seemed "upset"; he then "arrested" Chin from the witness stand and gave Chin his Miranda (no relation) rights.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd