News of the Weird M517, March 5, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

Mar 5, 2017, 9:39:51 AM3/5/17
WEIRDNUZ.M517 (News of the Weird, March 5, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story                                  
* Suspicions Confirmed:  Despite California's 2015 law aimed at
improving the fairness of its red-light cameras, the city of Fremont
(pop. 214,000, just north of San Jose) reported earning an additional
$190,000 more each month last year by shortening the "yellow," by
two-thirds of a second, at just two intersections. Tickets went up
445 percent at one and 883 percent at the other.  (In November
2016, for "undisclosed reasons," the city raised the speed limit on
the street slightly, "allowing" it to reinstate the old 0.7-second-
longer yellow light.)  [KPIX-TV (San Francisco), 2-3-2017;, 2-8-2017]

Updates of Previous Characters--and Some Recurring Themes:

* Tammy Felbaum surfaced on News of the Weird in 2001 when
she, originally Mr. Tommy Wyda, consensually castrated James
Felbaum (her sixth husband), but he died of complications, resulting
in Tammy's manslaughter conviction.  (Among the trial witnesses:
a previous spouse, who had also let "expert" Tammy castrate him:
"She could castrate a dog in less than five minutes.")  Felbaum, now
58, was arrested in February at the Westmoreland County (Pa.)
Courthouse after mouthing off at security guards searching her
purse.  She quipped sarcastically, "I have guns and an Uzi [and] a
rocket launcher.  I am going to shoot a judge today."  (She was in
court on a dispute over installation of a sewer line to her trailer
home.) [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2-7-2017]

* Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., convicted and given a
20-year sentence in 2012 for firing a warning shot into a wall to
fend off her domestic-abusing estranged husband, finally had the
charges dropped in February.  The persnickety trial judge had earlier
determined that Florida's notorious "Stand Your Ground" law did
not apply, even though the husband admitted that he was
threatening to rough Alexander up and that she never aimed the gun
at him.  (With that defense not allowed, Alexander was doomed
under Florida's similarly notorious 20-year mandatory sentence for
aggravated assault using a gun.)  [New York Times, 2-8-2017]

* In 2008, Vince Li, a passenger on a Greyhound bus in Canada,
stabbed another passenger, then beheaded him and started to eat
him, and in 2009 was "convicted"--but "not criminally responsible"
because of schizophrenia.  He has been institutionalized and under
treatment since then, and in February, doctors signed off on an
"absolute" release back into society for Li (now known as Will
Baker)--declining a "conditional" release, which would have
required continued monitoring. Manitoba province law requires
absolute discharge if doctors conclude, on the "weight of the
evidence," that the patient is no longer a "significant" safety threat.
[Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 2-10-2017]

* Doris Payne, 86, was arrested once again for shoplifting--this time
at an upscale mall in an Atlanta suburb in December--but according
to a 2013 documentary, she careerwise has stolen more than $2
million in jewelry from high-end shops around the world.  No
regrets, she said on the film, except "I regret getting caught."  Said
a California lawyer, "Aside from her 'activities,' she is a wonderful
person with a lot of fun stories."  [WXIA-TV (Atlanta), 12-14-

* When disaster strikes, well-meaning people are beseeched to help,
but relief workers seem always bogged down with wholly
inappropriate donations (which take additional time and money to
sort and store and discard).  (Instead, all such charities recommend
"cash.")  A January report by Australia's principal relief
organization praised Aussies' generosity in spite of recent
contributions of high heels, handbags, chain saws, sports gear, wool
clothing, and canned goods--much of which will eventually go to
landfill.  (Workers in Rwanda reported receiving prom gowns, wigs,
tiger costumes, pumpkins, and frostbite cream.) [Australian
Broadcasting Corp. News, 1-15-2017] 

* Least Competent Criminals:  (1) Alvin Neal, 56, is merely the
most recent bank robber to begin the robbery sequence (at a Wells
Fargo branch in San Diego) after identifying himself to a teller (by
swiping his ATM card through a machine at the counter).  He was
sentenced In January. (2) Also failing to think through their crime
were the group of men who decided to snatch $1,200 from the
Eastside Grillz tooth-jewelry shop in St. Paul, Minn., in February.
They fled despite two of them having already provided ID and one
having left a mold of his teeth.  [Los Angeles Times, 1-4-2017] [St.
Paul Pioneer Press, 2-16-2017]

* No Longer Weird:  (1) Matthew Mobley, 41, was arrested in
Alexandria, La., in February (number 77 on his rap sheet)--after
getting stuck in the chimney of a business he was breaking into.  (2)
Former postal worker Gary Collins, 53, of Forest City, N.C.,
pleaded guilty in February to having hoarded deliverable U.S. Mail
as far back as 2000.  (He is far from the worst mail hoarder, by
volume, that News of the Weird has mentioned.)  [KALB-TV
(Alexandria, La.) [ [Gaston Gazette via Burlington Times-News, 2-

* Luckiest (Bewildered) Animals:  (1) In December, a 400-lb. black
bear at the Palm Beach, Fla., zoo ("Clark") got a root canal from
dentist Jan Bellows, to fix a painful fractured tooth.  (2) In January,
a pet ferret ("Zelda") in Olathe, Kan., received a pacemaker from
Kansas State University doctors, who said Zelda should thus be able
to live the ferret's normal life span.  (3) In  January, an overly
prolific male African tortoise ("Bert"), of Norwich, England, who
had developed arthritis from excessive "mounting," was fitted with
wheels on the back of his shell to ease stress on his legs.  [WPTV
(West Palm Beach, 12-16-2016] [Associated Press via Kansas City
Star, 1-31-2017] [BBC News, 1-13-2017]

* More People Who Might Consider Relocating:  (1) In January,
another vehicle flew off a Parkway West exit ramp in Pittsburgh,
Pa., plowing into (the eighth crash in nine years) the Snyder
Brothers Automotive parking lot.  (2) Leonard Miller, 88, once
again (the fifth time) picked up the pieces in January from his
Lanham, Md., home after a speeding car smashed into it. [KDKA-
TV (Pittsburgh), 1-27-2017] [WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.), 2-1-

* "I grew up fishing with my dad," Alabaman Bart Lindsey told a
reporter, which might thus explain why Lindsey likes to sit in a boat
in a lake on a lazy afternoon.  More challenging is why (and how)
he became so good at the phenomenon that turned up in News of the
Weird first in 2006:  "fantasy fishing" (handing in a perfect card
picking the top eight competitors in the Fishing League Worldwide
Tour event in February on Lake Guntersville.  "It can be tricky," he
said.  I've done a lot of research."  [Tuscaloosa News, 2-10-2017]

* Each December reviews public records of the
federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to compile a list of
items that caused emergency-room visits when they somehow got
stuck inside people.  Highlights from 2016:  In the Nose (raisin,
plastic snake, magnets in each nostril).  Throat (pill bottle, bottle
cap, hoop earring).  Penis (sandal buckle, doll shoe, marble).
Vagina (USB adapter, "small painting kit," heel of a shoe).  Rectum
(flashlight, shot glass, egg timer, hammer, baseball, ice pick "to
push hemorrhoids back in").  [Deadspin, 12-25-2016]

Armed and Clumsy (All-New!)

* Men ("Women" rarely appear here) Who Accidentally Shot
Themselves Recently:  Hunter Richardson, 19, Orange, Mass.,
December (testing an iced-over lake with the butt end of his
muzzle-loader).  Three unnamed boys (ages 15, 15, and 16),
Williamson County, Ill., January (shot themselves with the same
shotgun while "preparing" to go hunting).  Suspected convenience
store robber, Cleveland, Ohio, July (the old waistband-for-a-holster
mishap, shot to the "groin").  James Short, 72, New Carlisle, Ohio,
September (reached for his ringing phone in his dentist's waiting
room but instead yanked out his gun).  Andrew Abellanosa, 30,
Anchorage, Alaska (shot himself in the leg in a bar, twice in the
same sequence). A 50-year-old man, Oshawa, Ontario, February
(making a Valentine's necklace out of a bullet by pulling it apart
with vice grips).
Orange: [Associated Press via Worcester Telegram, 1-27-2017]
Williamson:  [Herrin Independent (Carterville, Ill.), 1-5-2017]
Cleveland:  [WKYC-TV (Cleveland), 7-4-2016]
New Carlisle:  [Springfield News Sun (Springfield, Ohio), 9-2-
Anchorage:  [Alaska Dispatch News, 11-7-206]
Oshawa: [Global News (Toronto), 2-15-2017]

     Thanks This Week to Jonathan Lake, William Carter,
Michael Brozyna, Steve Passen, Russell Bell, Mark Lillicrap, and
Pete Randall, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial
                     ****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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