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News of the Weird with Chuck Shepherd

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News Of The Weird

Unclear on the Concept

— Luis Moreno Jr., 26, was pursued by police in Fort Lee, New Jersey, after he entered the carpool lane approaching the George Washington Bridge in January because he appeared to be alone in his SUV. After ignoring several signals to pull over, he finally stopped and, when informed of his offense, told the officer, “I have two passengers in the back” and rolled down a window to show them (in the vehicle’s third row), apparently satisfying the officer. However, as Moreno pulled away, one passenger began screaming and banging on the back door. Moreno sped off with his hostages, but was subsequently stopped again and charged with kidnapping and criminal restraint (but no HOV violation!).

— Mike Montemayor, until recently a couny commissioner in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in June and had argued in January 2015 that he should get a light sentence because, after all, he had subsequently helped FBI agents in a sting against three other officials accused of bribery. However, the prosecutor immediately countered that Montemayor had in fact tried to steal the recording devices and Apple computer the FBI had furnished him to do the undercover work. (He got six years in prison and a $109,000 fine.)

Compelling Explanations

— Lame: (1) Briton Roberto Collins, 51, was sentenced to 13 months in jail by Manchester Crown Court in January after being caught standing on a ladies’ room toilet and peering into the next stall. He told police he stood up only to better scratch an itch and was in the ladies’ room only because, wearing faulty glasses, he thought it was the men’s room. (2) Scotsman Dean Gilmartin, 25, actually persuaded a judge at Perth Sheriff Court in January of his “innocence” — that he might not have been masturbating at the front window of his home. He admitted he was nude (changing clothes), but pointed out that he plays musical instruments and was probably just picking out tunes on his ukulele (rather than “holding” his genitals and moving “side to side,” as a neighbor had charged).

— Explanation for Child-Porn Possession Never Before Heard: Poet Les Merton, 70, denied in January that he had ever abused children, but had a more difficult time explaining why a child-porn website had his credit card information. Merton holds the appointed title of Cornish bard in Cornwall, England, and is the author of the Official Encyclopedia of the Cornish Pasty — and explained in Truro Crown Court that he must have mindlessly entered his credit card information while researching the 19th-century Russian figure Rasputin.

New World Order

— Last year in Middle East school markets, the worldwide publishing giant HarperCollins was selling a popular atlas whose maps pretended there was no such country as Israel. The space that is Israel was merged into Jordan, Syria and Gaza. The company said it was merely honoring “local preferences” of potential atlas purchasers, whom HarperCollins presumed were Arabs wishing that Israel did not exist. (In January 2015, the company finally changed course, publicly “regretted” its decision and recalled all existing stock.)

— Montanan John Abarr told the Great Falls Tribune in November that his Rocky Mountain Knights of the Ku Klux Klan opposes the “new world order” pushing a “one government” system on the planet — but also stands against discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation. “White supremacy is the old Klan,” he said. “This is the new Klan” (except that, he said, robes and hoods will still be required, along with “secret rituals”).

— The New Normal: In January, Mittens the kitten and Charcoal the Chihuahua mix made news as hermaphrodites whose veterinarians had recommended which gender the since-adopted strays should retain. Mittens, of the town of Heart’s Desire, Newfoundland, was scheduled for “gender assignment” surgery to become solely male, and Charcoal, of Boise, Idaho, is recovering from mid-January surgery to leave her exclusively female. News reports did not disclose why “male” was chosen for Mittens, but the doctor said correcting Charcoal’s pre-surgery problem, urination, would be less stressful as a female.

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