What Goes Around, Comes Around
One of the Islamic State's first reforms in captured territory has been to require adult women to dress devoutly—including the face-covering burka robe, which, in Western democracies famously presents security dilemmas because it hinders identification. Now, after two years of Islamic State occupation in Mosul, Iraq, the security problem has come full circle on ISIS itself. Dispatches from the town reported in September that ISIS has likely banned the burka because it hinders identification of anti-ISIS insurgents who (female and male) wear burkas to sneak up on Islamic State officers.
Barbara Murphy, 64, of Roy, Utah, is the most recent "dead" person battling the federal government to prove she is still alive (but seemingly getting nowhere). She said Social Security Administration bureaucrats, citing protocols, have been tight-lipped about her problem and remedies even though her bank account was frozen; Social Security was dunning her for two years worth of Medicare premiums (since her 2014 "death"); and warning letters had been sent to banks and credit agencies. Nonetheless, Murphy told the Deseret News in August that, all in all, she feels pretty good despite being dead.
• Political connections in some Latin American countries have allowed convicted drug dealers and crime bosses to serve their sentences comfortably, and the most recent instance to make the news, from Agence France-Presse, was the presidential-suite-type "cell" occupied by Brazilian drug lord Jarvis Chimenes Pavao in Paraguay. When police (apparently not "politically connected") raided the cell in July, they found a well-appointed apartment with semi-luxurious furniture settings (including a conference table for Pavao to conduct "business"), embellished wallpaper designs with built-in bookcases, a huge TV among the latest electronics—and even a handsome shoe rack holding Pavao's footwear selection. Pavao also rented out part of the suite to other inmates for the equivalent of $5,000 plus $600 weekly rent.
Chris Atkins in Denver is among the most recent judicially ruled "fathers" to owe child support even though DNA tests have proven that another man's semen produced the child. Atkins is in the middle of a contentious divorce/child custody battle in which his estranged wife wants both custody and support payments, and since Atkins did not contest his fatherhood until the child reached age 11, he has lost legal standing.
• A high school girl and her parents told the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat in July that they were on the verge of filing a lawsuit demanding that the school district order the Leon High School cheerleader squad to select her (even though she had fallen twice during tryouts).
Least Competent Criminals
Boyd Wiley, 47, was arrested in August when he walked into the Putnam County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office and, apparently in all seriousness, demanded that deputies return the 91 marijuana plants they had unearthed from a vacant lot in the town of Interlachen several days earlier. (Until that moment, deputies did not know whose plants they were.) Wiley was told that growing marijuana is illegal in Florida and was arrested.
• The most recent perp to realize that cops use Facebook is Mack Yearwood, 42, who ignored a relative's advice and uploaded his Citrus County, Fla., wanted poster for his Facebook profile picture, thus energizing deputies who, until then, had no leads on his whereabouts. He was caught a day later and faces a battery complaint and several open arrest warrants.
Texan Monica Riley, age 27 and weighing 700 pounds, is the most recent "super-sized" woman to claim happiness in exhibiting herself semi-nude for "fans" (she claims 20,000) who watch online as morbidly obese people eat. She told the celebrity news site Barcroft Media in September that her 8,000 calories a day puts her on track to weigh 1,000 pounds soon, and that her loving boyfriend, Sid, 25 and a "feeder," is turned on by helping her. Sid, for instance, feeds Monica her special 3,500-calorie "shake"—through a funnel—and supposedly will eagerly become her caretaker when she eats herself into total immobility. ("Safe For Work" website: SSBBW Magazine)
No Longer Weird
Police in Centralia, Wash., arrested a man (not identified in news reports) for reckless burning in August when, trying to rid his apartment of roaches, he declined ordinary aerosol bug spray in favor of making a homemade flamethrower (the aerosol spray fired up by a lighter). He fled the apartment when he realized he might have taken things too far. (Firefighters were called, but the damage was minimal.)
• Population grows; goods must be hauled; traffic congestion is worse; and thus trucks keep spilling their loads on the highways. The really weird ones have set the bar perhaps unattainably high for this genre of news (e.g., the truck spilling pornographic magazines; the truck hauling ham colliding with the truck hauling eggs). In September, a tractor-trailer overturned on Interstate 295 in New Castle, Del., spilling a particularly low-value load. The truck, headed for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, was filled with 22 tons worth of increasingly shunned U.S. pennies, but these were even less useful (though perhaps, by metal content, more valuable!) because they were not-yet-engraved "blanks."
Roy Pearson, a former District of Columbia administrative law judge, might be the only person in America who believes that his 2005 $54 million unsuccessful lawsuit against his dry cleaners was not frivolous—and he has still not come to the end of his legal odyssey. In June 2016, a D.C. Bar disciplinary committee recommended that Pearson be placed on probation for two years because of ethics violations, including having made statements "unsupported" by facts when defending his contention that the cleaners' "satisfaction guaranteed" warranty made it liable for various negative occurrences in Pearson's life following the loss of a pair of pants at the store. Not surprisingly, Pearson, now 65, announced that he would challenge the committee recommendation.
• Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky's most infamous moment was in 2013 when, to protest government oppression, he nailed his scrotum to the ground at Moscow's Red Square. (He had also once sewn his lips shut and, at another time, set fire to a door at Russia's FSB security headquarters.) In August, the Burger King company announced a series of four limited-edition sandwiches inspired by Pavlensky for the artist's hometown of St. Petersburg. The scrotum performance, for example, will be marked by an egg "nailed" to a burger by plastic spear. A company spokesperson said Pavlensky was chosen as the inspiration because he is popular with "the masses."
• Once again, Iceland's "little people" have, when disrespected, roiled the country's public policy. In August, a road crew had inadvertently buried a supposedly enchanted elfin rock along a highway being cleared of debris from a landslide, and immediately, all misfortunes in the area were attributed to the elves' displeasure. According to an Agence France-Presse dispatch, crews were quickly ordered to re-set the rock. (The incident was one more in a long series in which public and private funds in Iceland are routinely diverted toward projects thought to appease the elves.)
Thanks this week to Rob Zimmer and Jim Weber and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.