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Columns > News of the Weird



Not having a cow

In April, a dead, decaying cow got caught on a tree branch at a dam near West Milford, W.Va., and remained there for “several weeks,” according to an Associated Press report, grossing out neighbors, while five government jurisdictions declined repeated requests to move it. It was outside West Milford city limits; the state Department of Natural Resources handles only wild animals; the state Environmental Protection people found no ecological danger; the state Agriculture Department called it a local issue; and a regional Water Board also declined. Finally, on May 13, workers from the state Division of Highways, along with local volunteer firefighters, removed it.

Happy having cows

A June Associated Press account of a deposition by Michael Jackson, for an upcoming trial in a lawsuit by a former business associate, reports that Jackson carried no money and got none from his business manager and that his only source of cash was from leasing the cows that grazed on his Neverland Ranch. Lawyer: “So all your cash, whenever you need cash to shop or whatever, comes from the cows?” Jackson: “Yes, believe it or not.” Lawyer: “I don’t, but that’s OK. I don’t have to.” Jackson: “I’m telling you.”

Due diligence

The Washington Times reported in June that a retired New York City police officer had nonchalantly passed through the main security checkpoint at Department of Homeland Security headquarters by showing as his only ID, a long-obsolete Mexican consulate card.

Also in June, Delaware governor Ruth Ann Minner complained that Homeland Security’s secret telephone hotline to governors, intended for emergency communication, was often tied up by telemarketers, and recommended that the department enter the number onto the government’s Do Not Call registry.

In June, federal judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ordered Missouri to suspend executions until substantial changes are made in its procedures, including specifying exactly which lethal drugs are to be used and in what quantity. Gaitan also pointed out that the doctor overseeing the state’s executions is dyslexic and may inadvertently be transposing the dosage numbers.

Please pee careful

An 84-year-old man accidentally fell to his death after stopping along a highway to relieve himself. The man fell down an embankment along Idaho state road 55 in June, and his body landed on the bank of the Payette River.

The day before that, an unnamed New York City man survived, but had his hand partially severed, when he wandered down the tracks at the City Hall subway station to relieve himself, only to lose the hand when a train sped by in the darkness.

And runway model Tatyana Simanava, 21, was hospitalized in May after she turned the wrong way upon emerging from the rest room of the luxury motor home she was riding in through Brooklyn, N.Y., and fell out the back door into traffic, suffering a broken arm and wrist.

Sending mixed signals

From the May 25 Washington Post crime report: “10:55 p.m. May 8. A man directed a driver into a parking space, then grabbed her when she got out of the car. He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you. You’re a unique person, and I’m a unique person.’ He put a ring on her right index finger and started to chant, then took property from her pocket and fled on foot.

the myth of Multitasking

Lance Kocses, 30, was cited by police for causing a $5,000 accident in Seminole, Fla., in May; according to a sheriff’s deputy, Kocses was distracted in making a left turn because he was eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes. And according to a lawsuit filed in June in Minneapolis, the reason Minnesota Timberwolves basketball player Eddie Griffin drove his SUV into the plaintiffs’ parked car was that, at the time, he was watching a pornographic video and masturbating. Police cited Griffin only for inattentive driving.

Swede and lowdown

The charismatic Swedish career criminal Jan-Erik Olsson, 64 (whose 1973 bank robbery, and the strange accompanying devotion to him exhibited by his hostages, originally inspired the term "Stockholm Syndrome"), tried to turn himself in to police in Helsenborg in May, but one officer apparently found him too likable and encouraged him to stay on the run.

Milky way

Conservative legislators in Ottawa, as has happened in similar cases, became enraged in June after learning that the Canada Council for the Arts had given about $9,000 to performance artist Jess Dobkin to stage Lactation Station, a bar serving human breast milk from six contributors in a setting similar to a wine-tasting.

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