News of the Weird with Chuck Shepherd

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News Of The WeirdIraqi TV Goes “Jerry Springer”

Iraq’s government-run channel, Iraqiyya TV, has a reality show reminiscent of American confrontational programs, but is designed to force captured ISIS fighters to acknowledge the pain they have created. One episode of “In the Grip of the Law” (described in a December Associated Press dispatch) showed family members of car-bombing victims on a street corner in Baghdad haranguing one of the men convicted of the crime. A young man in a wheelchair, having lost his father in the attack, faced off against the convict, screaming until the jihadist “began weeping, as the cameras rolled.”

Wait, What?

— On Nov. 6, a couple (aged 68 and 65) were hospitalized after spending almost 13 hours locked in their car inside their own garage in Alexandra, New Zealand. The night before, they had been unable to remember a salesman’s tutorial on how to unlock their new Mazda 3 from the inside and had spent the night assuming they were trapped because they had forgotten to bring along the battery-operated key. The wife was unconscious when neighbors finally noticed them, and her husband was struggling to breathe. (The door unlocks manually, of course.)

— At first, it seemed another textbook case of a wrongly convicted murderer being released after a long prison stint (15 years), based on a re-examination of evidence. Illinois officials freed Alstory Simon, who had “confessed” in 1999 to killing two teenagers (before a defendants’ advocacy organization convinced a judge that the confession had been coerced). That 1999 confession had allowed the man previously convicted, Anthony Porter, to go free, but prosecutors in October 2014 had second — or third — thoughts. They once again believe that Porter was the killer — even though a different defendants’ advocacy organization had originally worked to free him. (In any event, “double jeopardy” prevents Porter’s retrial.)

— Undersheriff Noel Stephen of Okeechobee County, Florida, acknowledged to WPBF-TV in December that among the public services his office performs is supervising parents’ spanking of children. After two sisters argued on Dec. 29, their father decided to administer a whipping to one and asked Deputy Stephen to drop by and make sure he stayed within the law. That’s “not something we advertise to do,” said the deputy, but he estimates he has monitored about a dozen spankings.

Best Recent Foreign News

— Championship-Level Theft: China’s Gxnews.com.cn reported in December the arrest of a man in Yulin City, accused of stealing more than 2,000 items of underwear from women in his neighborhood, taken within the last year. He hid his stash above ceiling tiles in stairwells in his apartment building, but he drew attention when one of the ceiling spaces caved in from the weight of the garments, showering the stairs in an array of colorful lingerie. (Just within the last month, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, two other men, in Zhejiang and Hubei provinces, have been detained for similar crimes. In the latter case, the alleged thief was also wearing lingerie.)

— British makeup artist Jordan James Parke, 23, told London’s The Sun in December how he had fallen in love with the look of U.S. celebrity Kim Kardashian and thus had forced himself to spend the equivalent of about $150,000 on “more than 50” cosmetic procedures to adopt her “pouty” look, including lip and cheek fillers, eyebrow tattoos and laser hair removal. “I love everything about Kim … the most gorgeous woman ever,” he said. “Her skin is perfect, her hair, everything about her” (except that, in The Sun report, only her parts above the neck were mentioned).

— Artist Megumi Igarashi, 42, known as “no-good girl” in Japan, taunted officials with over-the-top pornography twice in 2014, first in July when she designed a kayak in the image of her genitals and then sought donations by sending contributors data on how to make a 3-D-printed model of her vagina. In her December arrest, according to a BBC News dispatch, she had complained of the contradictions in Japanese culture (also cited in previous News of the Weird stories) that allow glorified public displays of the penis as a symbol of fertility, but banish the vulva from public sight.

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2011)

World’s Greatest Lawyer: Christopher Soon won an acquittal in February (2011) for his client Alan Patton — even though Patton had been charged with violating a law that had been written primarily to stop Alan Patton. That law makes it illegal to collect urine from public restrooms. Patton, of Dublin, Ohio, was convicted in 1993 and 2008 (and charged again in October 2010) of waiting in restrooms and, when young boys finished using the urinal (after Patton had obstructed the flushing mechanism), rushing to gather the contents, which he admitted sexually excited him. After Patton’s 2008 conviction, the Ohio legislature made that specific act a felony, and Patton’s arrest in October was supposed to lead to a triumphant conviction. (The judge did find Patton guilty of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.)

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