News of the Weird (September 20, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M441, September 20, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Your English Teacher Was Right: In September, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery concluded that records of an investigation need not be released to the Memphis city council--because there was no comma. The law requires the records’ release “only in compliance with a subpoena or an order of a court”; Slatery said if there had been a comma after “subpoena,” a council subpoena would get the records, but without the comma, only court subpoenas. And in July, Andrea Cammelleri prevailed on her parking ticket challenge because there was no comma. A West Jefferson, Ohio, ordinance banned parking of any “motor vehicle camper, trailer”; a state appeals judge ruled that, with a comma after “vehicle,” Cammelleri’s truck would have been banned, but without it, only campers and trailers were. [The Tennessean, 9-3-2015] [WSYX-TV (Columbus), 7-3-2015]

Great Moments in Gerrymandering

In April the City Council of Columbia, Mo., rigged a specially-drawn “Community Improvement District” to pass a sales tax increase. Under the law, if the District had no “residents” to vote, the “election” would be decided by the tax-friendly business owners. However, the Council somehow missed that college student Jen Henderson, 24, actually lived there and registered to vote, meaning the business owners could not vote and that the tax increase would be decided by . . Henderson. (In late August the Council “postponed” the election and at press time were in a quandary, as Henderson said she’s against higher taxes.) [Columbia Tribune, 8-25-2015, 8-31-2015]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Spike’s Tactical of Apopka, Fla., introduced its version of the AR-15 assault rifle this summer “designed to never be used by Muslim terrorists.” Laser-etched on one side is a symbol of the Christian Crusades and on the other, language from Psalm 144. Spike’s Tactical CEO Angela Register predicted brisk sales: “Men like to accessorize their guns more than women like to accessorize their outfits.” [Orlando Sentinel, 9-2-2015]

A teenage girl in Wyandotte, Mich., using $9.95 tools from a website called, pretended for months to be pregnant (with abdomen extenders and ultrasound photos of her “triplets”). She received gifts, had a baby shower, joined expectant-mother groups, and even frightened her 16-year-old boyfriend enough that he began looking for full-time work to feed the soon-due “baby.” However (obviously), the ruse fell apart in the 10th month (in August), drawing community outrage, but according to the sheriff, none of the “victims” who were fooled has come forward to press fraud charges. [WJBK-TV (Detroit), 9-1-2015]

Cultural Diversity

While “Deep South” states’ courts are notorious for death sentences, the “epicenter” of capital punishment in recent years has shifted to southern California, according to a September analysis. While neither Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, nor Virginia has issued a death sentence this year, Riverside County, Calif., has recorded seven, and since 2010, Riverside and Los Angeles County have led the nation in death-row assignments. (Ironically, of course, California rarely actually executes anyone; its death row has 748 residents, and no one has walked the last mile since 2006.) [, 9-7-2015]

Egypt’s notorious corruption apparently reached a new level of victims in the summer as Mariam Malak, one of the top-performing high school students in the entire country, not only failed all six of her final exams but received scores of “zero” in each. Her family, and a legion of supporters on social media, have demanded that the prime minister investigate, especially whether another student had paid to acquire Mariam’s scores or whether Mariam was failed intentionally because she is of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. [BBC News, 9-6-2015]

Bright Ideas

The Cambridge, Mass., company AOBiome believes we have dangerously stripped “good bacteria” from our skins via “excessive cleaning” and has introduced for sale “Mother Dirt” spray to add it back. Chemical engineer and co-founder Dave Whitlock told WBZ-TV in September that he personally has “not taken a shower in over 12 years” but instead uses his odorless bacteria-restoring mist, twice a day, to cover himself with helpful “dirt” that activates the “good” bacteria. The company will soon begin clinical trials to demonstrate whether Mother Dirt (which also comes in shampoo form) can additionally improve certain skin conditions. [WBZ-TV (Boston), 9-4-2015]

Latest Religious Messages

Georgia’s Carroll County School District said in September it was looking into a reported “mass baptism” of football players (and the coach) just before a practice of the Villa Rica High School team. The ceremony likely was performed by First Baptist Villa Rica and is captioned on the YouTube video, “[S]ee how God is STILL in our schools!” [WXIA-TV (Atlanta), 9-2-2015]

Fine Points of the Law

Cormega Copening, 17, and his girlfriend Brianna Denson, 16, of Fayetteville, N.C., are old enough to have sex (“adults,” according to state law) but apparently too young to exchange nude photos. Copening was charged with five counts of “sexual exploitation”--for receiving “sexts” from Denson and having nude photos of himself on his phone (i.e., “exploiting” himself). Olson accepted a lesser sentence and is serving a tedious, restrictive probation; she had also been charged with self-exploiting. After much criticism for threatening felony charges and sex-offender registration, prosecutors offered Copening a similar tedious, restrictive probation in September. [Fayetteville Observer, 9-12-2015; WRAL-TV, 9-11-2015]


Ten years after Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands homeless in New Orleans and neighboring Gulf states, many of the 120,000 hastily-constructed box-type trailers ordered up--and later condemned for concentrations of carcinogenic formaldehyde--by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still being used in the U.S. though most living in them have no clue about the risk. The most recent users were oilfield workers in North Dakota boomtowns, but shady entrepreneurs had also bought trailers at FEMA auctions and sold them for tornado and flood victims--after removing FEMA’s “Not For Human Habitation” stickers, according to a major investigation by, released in August. [, 8-27-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Failed to Keep a Low Profile: (1) Maurice Stewart, 22, on the lam since November while wanted for armed robbery in Cleveland, Ohio, was arrested in August when police spotted a man matching his description--notably, his one-of-a-kind tattoo of a semiautomatic rifle just below his right eye. (2) Nearly every courthouse forces visitors to walk through a metal detector after leaving pocket contents (wallets, keys, etc.) in bins. Isaac Phillips, 24, faced several charges from a courthouse visit in August in Cincinnati because, among the items he had to remove from his pocket were a drug scale and a razor blade. After a short chase (and a Tasering), he was arrested. [New York Daily News, 9-1-2015] [Cincinnati Enquirer, 8-7-2015]

People With Issues

According to a divorce petition filed by Carole Mundy (and reported in the New York Post in August), her estranged husband Jeffrey Stein (a “top administrator” for New York’s Nassau County District Attorney) drove her to post-traumatic stress disorder with his “lifestyle.” According to the petition, Stein sometimes wore a chastity belt to work and, during sex, diapers and “a horse tail” (with an anal plug) and “gallop[ed]” around their home, used a litter box, had his wife “walk” him on a leash, dressed like a “sissy maid” named “Jessica,” and wanted to be fed and diapered like a baby. Said Mundy’s lawyer, it was “a bedroom nightmare.” [New York Post, 8-31-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (May 2009)

The New Waterboarding: In April, the district attorney in Vilas County, Wis., announced that he was seeking volunteers for a forensic test to help his case against Douglas Plude, 42, who is scheduled to stand trial [in 2009] for the death of his wife. The volunteers must be female, about five-feet-eight and 140 pounds, and will have to stick their heads into a toilet bowl and flush. Plude is charged with drowning his wife in a commode, but his version (which the prosecutor believes improbable) is that his wife committed suicide by flushing herself. (Plude ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless homicide.) [USA Today-AP, 4-12-2009; WSAW-TV (Wausau, Wis.), 9-17-2010]

Thanks This Week to Rich Heiden, Jane Skeene, Dan Bohlen, and Michelle Jensen, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Sep 20, 2015

importance of commas- Reminds me of Benny Hill "Look in the road, a head!" "No, its look in the road ahead."

gerrymandering- Ha ha that's what they get!! I just hope they don't resolve it by getting that girl evicted.

Christian AK- Should engrave a pig on it and grease it with bacon grease instead of gun oil too!

faux pregnancy- That boy probably doesn't know whether to jump for joy or strangle her.

death row- Texas says it only counts if you actually put 'em down.

Egyptian schools- So in India the parents cheat, here the kids cheat and in Egypt the schools cheat.

good bacteria spray- 12 years? I call shenanigans. If it is true then I bet he's not married and lives alone with no pets and no close neighbors!

Baptize the football team- Oh come on, It was just a pool party and the Reverend just happened to be there and he likes to pray while swimming. That's all!

child porn- The idea of anti child porn laws is to protect children so using the laws to traumatize teens for taking naked selfies is ridiculous. In fact it sounds like the prosecutors, cops et all get off on abusing the kids.

Katrina trailers of death- Why were these sold instead of destroyed in the first place??? Also the people who bought them, peeled the stickers and sold them for human use should go to jail for fraud. Or, make them live in the trailers for a while.

tats- Where's Waldo for idiots.

flush drowning- Should be a lot more high school geeks drowned in the bathrooms if this works so well.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 09/20/15 at 09:00 PM
@Patty -- the FEMA trailers have legitimate uses besides people living in them. They're great construction shacks, tools sheds, etc.. They're even great as vacation cabins -- as long as you have proper ventilation and aren't living there months at a time, there's no danger.

Since they all carry a serial number and the givernment knows which ones are tainted, it shouldn't be too hard to track them down and throw the sellers into jail.
Posted by Phideaux on 09/21/15 at 12:50 AM
Young Mr. Copening was charged as an _adult_ for exploiting himself as a _minor_. WTF?!
Posted by tadchem on 09/21/15 at 10:35 PM
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