News of the Weird, January 4, 2015

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M404, January 4, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Richard Rosario is in Year 18 of a 25-to-life sentence for murder, even though 13 alibi witnesses have tried to tell authorities that he was with them--1,000 miles away--at the time of the crime. (Among the 13 are a sheriff’s deputy, a pastor, and a federal corrections officer.) The “evidence” against him: Two “eyewitnesses” in New York City had picked him out of a mugshot book. Rosario had given police names, addresses, and phone numbers of the 13 people in Florida, but so far, everyone (except NBC’s “Dateline”) has ignored the list, including Rosario’s court-appointed lawyers. As is often the case, appeals court judges (state and federal) have trusted the eyewitnesses and the “process.” (In November, “Dateline” located 9 of the 13, who are still positive Rosario was in Deltona, Fla., on the day of the murder.) [WNBC-TV (New York City), 11-21-2014]

Questionable Judgments

Pastor Walter Houston of the Fourth Missionary Church in Houston, Tex., repeatedly refused in November to conduct a funeral for longtime member Olivia Blair, who died recently at age 93--because she had come upon hard times in the last 10 years and had not paid her tithe. Ms. Blair’s family had supported the church for 50 years, but Pastor Houston was defiant, explaining, “Membership has its privileges.” (The family finally found another church for the funeral.) [Houston Chronicle, 11-26-2014]

A U.S. Appeals Court once again in September instructed government agencies that it is unconstitutional to make routine business-inspection raids without a judicial warrant. “We hope that the third time will be the charm,” wrote Judge Robin Rosenbaum. In the present case, the court denounced the full-dress SWAT raid in 2010 of the Strictly Skillz barbershop in Orange County, Fla., for “barbering” without a license. (All certificates were found up-to-date, and in fact the raiding agency had verified the licenses in a walk-through two days before.) [Courthouse News Service, 9-18-2014

The Continuing Crisis

Disappointed: (1) Cornelius Jefferson, 33, was arrested for assaulting a woman in Laurel County, Ky., in October after he had moved there from Georgia to be with her following an online relationship. Jefferson explained that he was frustrated that the woman was not “like she was on the Internet.” (2) In November, an unnamed groom in Medinah, Saudi Arabia, leaped to his feet at the close of the wedding, shocked at his first glimpse of his new bride with her veil pulled back. Said he (according to the daily Okaz), “You are not the girl I had imagined. I am sorry, but I divorce you.” [Herald-Leader (Lexington, 10-21-2014] [Daily Mail (London), 11-17-2014]

The recovery rate is about 70 percent for the 1,200 injured birds brought for treatment each year to the Brinzal owl-rescue park near Madrid, Spain--with acupuncture as the center’s specialty treatment. Brinzal provides “physical and psychological rehabilitation” so that “eagle owls, tawny owls” and the rest can return to the wild, avoiding predators (by teaching them, through recordings of various wild screeches, which are enemies). However, the signature therapy remains the 10 weekly pressure-point sessions of acupuncture. [The Local (Madrid), 12-12-2014]

Suspicions Confirmed

Even though, for instance, one state requires 400 hours’ training just to become a professional manicurist, most states do not demand nearly such effort to become armed security guards, according to a CNN-Center for Investigative Reporting analysis released in December. Fifteen states require no firearms training at all; 46 ignore mental-health status; nine do not check the FBI’s criminal-background database; and 27 states fail to ascertain whether an applicant is banned by federal law from even carrying a gun. (After an ugly incident in Arizona in which a juvenile gun offender was hired as a guard, the state added a box on its form for applicants to “self-report” the federal ban--but still refuses to use the FBI database.) [CNN, 12-10-2014]

Two high-ranking Hollywood, Fla., police officers were absolved of criminal wrongdoing recently even though they had intentionally deleted their colleagues’ names from Internal Affairs investigative records. Assistant Chief Ken Haberland and Maj. Norris Redding somehow convinced prosecutors that they were unaware the files were “public records” that should not be altered. The two are still subject to fines and restitution but have been returned to administrative duty. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12-11-2014]


* (1) In October, Reynolds American Inc., whose iconic product is Camel cigarettes, said it would ban workers at its North Carolina headquarters from smoking in the offices, relegating them to smokers’ rooms starting in 2015. (Critics of the company noted that Reynolds has for years staunchly denied that “secondary smoke” is dangerous.) (2) In September, Guinter Kahn, the South Florida dermatologist who developed minoxidil (the hair-restoring ingredient in Rogaine), passed away at age 80. Dr. Kahn himself had noticeable hair loss but was allergic to minoxidil. [Associated Press via USA Today, 10-22-2014] [Associated Press via Washington Post, 9-26-2014]


(1) The owner of a wine shop in Highgate, England, said the thief who robbed him in September somehow placed him in a trance so he could pick the man’s pocket--and then, brushing past him on his way out, brought the man out of the trance. Victim Aftab Haider, 56, pointed to surveillance video showing him staring vacantly during the several seconds in which his wallet was being lifted from his trousers. (2) In October in Scotland’s Perth Sheriff Court, Paul Coombs was sentenced to 14 months in jail for a June home invasion in which accomplices conveyed Coombs’s threats to the resident because Coombs himself is deaf and does not speak. [London Evening Standard, 12-5-2014] [STV News (Glasgow), 10-30-2014]

People Different From Us

Cry For Help: Calvin Nicol, 31, complained that he was obviously the victim of a “hate crime” when thugs beat him up in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 1st--just because he is intensely tattooed and pierced, with black-inked eyes, a split tongue, and implanted silicone horns on his forehead. (Though “hate” may have been involved, so far “body modification” is not usually covered in anti-discrimination laws. However, Nicol suggested one legal angle when he explained that “piercing myself and changing my appearance, and making me look like the person I want to look like is almost a ‘religious’ experience to me.”) [Ottawa Citizen, 11-15-2014]

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Three women, whose ages ranged from 24 to 41, were charged with larceny on Black Friday in Hadley, Mass., when they were caught in the Walmart parking lot loaded down with about $2,700 worth of allegedly-shoplifted goods. The women had moments earlier begged a Walmart employee for help getting into their car--because they had locked themselves out. (2) Michael Rochefort, 38, and Daniel Gargiulo, 39, were merely burglary “suspects” in Palm Beach County, Fla., on September 25th, but sheriff’s deputies’ case against them soon strengthened. While being detained in the back seat of a patrol car (and despite a video camera pointed at them), they conversed uninhibitedly about getting their alibis straight. [The Republican (Springfield), 11-29-2014] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12-8-2014]

Recurring Themes

In December, Florine Brown, 29, finally accepted removal, by the city of St. Petersburg, Fla., of the estimated 300 rats (grown from her initial three) inhabiting her house (with the familiar droppings and smell). “I just want them to go to good homes,” she said, comforted that a local rat “shelter” would take them in temporarily. “I really depended on the rats to get me by [bouts of depression].” (It turns out rat-removal is a slow process, since they hide. It took several days even to trap the first 70.) [WFLA-TV (Tampa), 12-10-2014]

A News of the Weird Classic (April 2011)

The longstanding springtime culinary tradition of urine-soaked eggs endures, in Dongyang, China, according to a March [2011] CNN dispatch. Prepubescent boys contribute their urine (apparently without inhibition) by filling containers at schools, and the eggs are boiled according to recipe and sold for the equivalent of about 23 cents each. Many residents consider the tradition gross, but for devotees, it represents, as one said, "the [joyous] smell of spring." [CNNGo, 3-14-2011; (citing Qianjiang Evening Post), 3-11-2011]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jan 04, 2015

13 Alibis It's important to note that the US is a country of laws which, in many cases, has nothing to do with justice.

Pa$tor Walter Hou$ton And Jesus said, "It is easier for a greedy man to enter the ministry than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle."

SWAT Stunned With A Taser And not a jackboot in sight!

Cornelius Jefferson I don't understand, the woman lied on the interweb??? Do people, actually, do that?

Not The Girl Goat Pig in a poke burka?

Spanish Flyers And Obama thought he had a good plan.

Manicurist Part of collecting revenue is to hit the softest spot hardest.

Hollywood, Fla. Dumb as a box of rocks... Oh.. not the cops, the prosecutor.

Camels I understand the ban.. Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to keep those things lit?

Paul Coombs Now, that's a social health program!

Calvin Nicol So, the guy who intentionally modified his body to present an outward appearance of a demon is pissed because he was attacked by good, god fearing, upstanding thugs citizens who were only attempting to defend their city from hellspawn.

Florine Brown I'm sure there are friendly python owners that will welcome these displaced critters into their homes for a snuggle.

A good start for the new year, Chuck!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/05/15 at 02:20 AM
Re: Bird rehab. From a radio interview, the local SPCA now has a "drunk tank" for birds. They eat berries (mountain ash?) that ferment on the tree and their piloting skills are drastictly reduced.
Posted by BMN on 01/05/15 at 02:39 PM
Richard Roserio- That is terrible, I hope as the story grows on the net someone qualified steps up and helps the man.

Pastor?- This man is evil in my estimation.

SWAT- Its fun to play SWAT dress up when you know nobody will fire on you.

Rats- OMG! She is crazy!

Beat down- Should a thought it through Calvin.
Public Record - Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Not as advertised/imagined- Shallow bastards.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/05/15 at 11:29 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.