News of the Weird M521, April 2, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

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Apr 2, 2017, 8:33:58 AM4/2/17
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<span style="font-family:times new roman;"><span style="font-weight: bold; color:#cc0000;font-size:140%;" >News of the Weird</span></span>
Weirdnuz.M521, April 2, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.   

Lead Story                                  
              
* China's public-park restrooms have for years suffered toilet-paper
theft by local residents who raid dispensers for their own homes (a
cultural habit, wrote Hong Kong's South China Morning Post,
expressing taxpayer feelings of "owning" public facilities), but the
government recently fought back with technology.  At Beijing's
popular Temple of Heaven park, dispensers now have facial-
recognition scanners beside the six toilets, with pre-cut paper (about
24 inches long) issued only to users who pose for a picture.  (Just
one slug of paper can be dispensed to the same face in a 9-minute
period, catastrophic for the diarrhea-stricken and requiring calling
an attendant to override the machine.)  [South China Morning Post,
3-2-2017; BBC News, 3-20-2017]

Latest Religious Messages

* The church-state "wall" leaks badly in Spindale, N.C., according
to former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship (reported in
February by the Associated Press).  Two state prosecutors (one, a
relative of the church's founder), in nearby Burke and Rutherford
counties, allegedly coached Fellowship members and leaders how to
neutralize government investigations into church "abuse"--coaching
that would violate state law and attorney ethical standards.
Fellowship officials have been accused of beating "misbehaving"
congregants, including children, in order to repel their demons.
(Among the Fellowship's edicts revealed in the AP report:  All
"dating," marriages, and procreation subject to approval; no
wedding-night intimacy beyond a "godly" cheek kiss; subsequent
marital sex limited to 30 minutes, no foreplay, lights off, missionary
position.) [Associated Press via Winston-Salem Journal, 3-6-2017]

* Babies born on the Indonesian island of Bali are still today treated
regally under an obscure Hindu tradition, according to a February
New York Times report, and must not be allowed to touch the earth
for 105 days (in some areas, 210).  (Carrying the infant  in a bucket
and setting that on the ground is apparently acceptable.)  Each birth
is actually a re-birth, they say, with ancestors returning as their own
descendants.  (Accidentally touching the ground does not condemn
the baby but may leave questions about negative influences.)  [New
York Times, 2-19-2017]

* Catholic priest Juan Carlos Martinez, 40, apologized shortly after
realizing, as he said, he had gone "too far" in celebrating March's
Carnival in a town in the Galicia area of Spain--that he acted
inappropriately in dressing as Playboy magazine founder Hugh
Hefner, reclining on a red satin sheet on a parade float carrying men
dressed as classic Playboy "Bunnies."  Despite apparent public
support for Father Martinez, his Archbishop asked him to attend a
"spiritual retreat" to reflect on his behavior.  [The Local
(Barcelona), 3-10-2017]

The Bedroom of Tomorrow

* In March, vibrator customers were awarded up to $10,000 each in
their class-action "invasion of privacy" lawsuit against the company
Standard Innovation, whose We-Vibe model's smartphone app
collected intimate data (vibrator temperature and motor intensity)
that could be associated with particular customers--and which were
easily hackable, and controllable, by anyone nearby with a
Bluetooth connection.  The Illinois federal court limited the award
to $199 for anyone who bought the vibrator but did not activate the
app. [The Guardian (London), 3-14-2017]

* The company British Condoms is now accepting pre-orders for
the iCon Smart Condom, with an app that can track, among other
data, a man's "thrust velocity," calories expended "per session," and
skin temperature, as well as do tests for chlamydia and syphilis.
Projected price is about US$75, but the tech news site CNet
reported in March that no money will be collected until the product
is ready to ship.  [CNet News, 3-2-2017]

Perspective

* The U.S. House of Representatives, demonstrating particular
concern for military veterans, enhanced vets' civil rights in March
by removing a source of delay in gun purchases.  A 2007 law had
required all federal agencies to enter any mentally-ill clients into the
National Instant Criminal Background Check database for gun
purchases, but the new bill exempts "veterans" (including, per VA
estimates, 19,000 schizophrenics and 15,000 with "severe" post-
traumatic stress syndrome).   (An average of a dozen veterans a day
in recent times have committed suicide with guns.) [Huffington
Post, 3-16-2017]

Fine Points of the Law

* Police and prosecutors in Williamsburg, Va., are absolutely
certain that Oswaldo Martinez raped and killed a teenage girl in
2005, but, though he was quickly arrested, they have--12 years later-
-not even put him on trial.  Martinez, then 33, is still apparently,
genuinely (i.e., not faking) deaf, illiterate, and almost mute, and
besides that, the undocumented Salvadorean immigrant has such
limited intelligence that test after test has shown him incapable of
understanding his legal rights, and therefore "incompetent" to stand
trial.  (Police made multiple "slam dunk" findings of Martinez's
DNA on the victim's body and also linked Martinez via a store
camera to the very bottle of juice left at the crime scene.)
[Washington Post, 3-13-2017]

Eyewitness News

* On the morning of March 20th in Winter Park, Fla., Charles
Howard, standing outside his home being interviewed live by a
WFTV reporter, denied he had committed a crime in a widely-
reported series of voicemail messages to U.S. Congress members,
containing threats to "wrap a rope around your neck and hang you
from a lamp post." He boasted that "proof" of his having done
nothing wrong was that if he had, he would have already been
arrested.  "Three minutes later," according to the reporter, agents
drove up and arrested Howard.  [WFTV (Orlando), 3-20-2017]

People Different From Us

* Hey, How About a Little "Remorse":  (1) Royce Atkins, 23, told
the judge in Northampton County (Pa.) in March that he was so
sorry he did not stop his car in 2015 and help that 9-year-old boy he
had just hit and killed.  However, Atkins had earlier been jailhouse-
recorded viciously trash-talking the boy's family for "reacting like
they're the victims.  What about my family?  My family is the
victim, too."  (Atkins got a four-year sentence.)  (2) In February, in
a Wayne County (Mich.) court during sentencing for a DUI driver
who had killed a man and severely injured his fiancee, Judge Qiana
Lillard kicked the driver's mother out of the courtroom for laughing
at the victim's sister who was tearfully addressing the judge.
(Lillard sentenced the mother to 93 days for contempt). [Lehigh
Valley Live, 3-32017] [CBS News, 2-28-2017]

The Aristocrats!

* Among the facts revealed in the ongoing criminal proceedings
against U.S. Navy officials and defense contractor Leonard ("Fat
Leonard") Francis, who is charged with arranging kickbacks:  In
2007 Francis staged a party for the officials at the Shangri-La Hotel
in the Philippines during which (according to an indictment
unsealed in March) "historical memorabilia related to General
Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts."
[Washington Post, 3-14-2017]

The Passing Parade

* (1) A 23-year-old Albuquerque woman performed cartwheels
instead of a standard "field sobriety test" at a DUI stop in February,
but she did poorly and was charged, anyway.  On the other hand,
student Blayk Puckett, stopped by University of Central Arkansas
police, helped shield himself from a DUI by juggling for the officer.
(2) Oreos fans sampling the limited-edition Peeps Oreos in February
expressed alarm that not only their tongue and saliva turned pink
but also their stools (and leaving a pink ring in the bowl).  A
gastroenterologist told Live Science it was nothing to worry about.
[Albuquerque Journal, 2-21-2017] [KTHV-TV (Little Rock), 3-7-
2017] [Live Science, 3-6-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (July 2013)
                                  
* Yasuomi Hirai, 26, was arrested in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in
June [2013] after being identified in news reports as the man who
had crawled "dozens of meters" in an underground gutter solely to
gain access to a particular sidewalk grate near Konan Women's
University--so that he could look up at skirt-wearers passing over
the grate.  After one pedestrian, noting the pair of eyes below,
summoned a police officer, Hirai scurried down the gutter and
escaped, but since he had been detained several months earlier on a
similar complaint, police soon arrested him.  [Japan Daily Press,
6-13-2013] [Kotaku.com, 6-21-2013]

     Thanks This Week to Mel Birge, Jim Weber, Russell Bell,
Bruce Strickland, Stan Kaplan, and Ivan Katz, and to the News of
the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

                     ****
NewsoftheWeird.com, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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