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9/28/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

Trunk lines

In September, police in New Zealand dropped the dangerous-driving charge against the armless driver reported in News of the Weird in April, satisfied that he steers well enough with his left foot (though his speeding ticket remained). In August, though, the St. Petersburg Times profiled Michael Wiley, 39, of Port Richey, Fla., an enthusiastic driver despite having lost both arms and half a leg in a childhood accident. Wrote the Times, “He guides the key into the ignition with his mouth. Turns it with his toes. Shifts with his knee. Bites the headlight switch. Jams his stump of a left arm into the steering wheel and whips it around.” On the minus side, his license was revoked long ago, and reckless driving charges flourish, including the latest, one day after the Times story ran. (And in September, he was charged with domestic assault, having used his head as the weapon.)

Unintelligent Design

A puppy with six legs and two penises was reported outside the Kwang Sung Temple in Malaysia in June, according to that country’s Star newspaper. A kitten was born with two faces in July in Grove City, Ohio, and another with just one eye and no nose was born in Syracuse, N.Y., in April. The World Aquarium in St. Louis, Mo., ran an exhibit in August featuring 10 two-headed snakes and turtles. And a 24-year-old businessman, in a hospital in New Delhi, India, in August, was reported to have two functioning penises.

Sanju Bhagat was admitted to a hospital in Nagpur, India, in August, where doctors expected to find a very large abdominal cyst, but instead, said surgeon Ajay Mehta, “To my surprise and horror, I could shake hands with somebody inside.” Bhagat was a victim of fetus in fetu, in which his birth twin had migrated to the inside of his body and continued to leech off of him. Mehta extracted feet, hands, hair and a jaw.

Employee of the month

School bus driver Delores Davis faced termination in Coushatta, La., in August after she decided to arrange the seating on her bus, placing whites up front and all nine black kids in the back two rows.

Employer of the month

In July, according to a Canadian Press report, a Wal-Mart in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, received a bomb threat and immediately dispatched about 40 employees on duty to look through the store to find the explosive. Customers were allowed to leave, though. (Ultimately, it was a false alarm.)

Impaired judgment

Trial judge Florentino Floro was fired by the Philippines supreme court in April, and his appeal rejected in August, after investigators found that he had claimed to rely on three mystic dwarves (Armand, Luis and Angel) for psychic powers and the ability to write while in a trance. (Floro protested media accounts of his firing to the Wall Street Journal in July, denying that dwarves helped him decide cases, writing that Armand, Luis and Angel are merely “spirit guides” and that he himself is “gifted” from God “to heal and to prophesy.”)

“I shouldn’t even be doing this,” said Judge Gary F. McKinley in a Kenton, Ohio, courtroom in August. “I’m cutting you somewhat of a break,” he told two star athletes of Kenton High who had been convicted of vehicular vandalism in a prank that caused two men serious, life-long disabilities. The sentence: 60 days in juvenile detention (plus community service), but only after football season. The families of the victims were appalled, especially the family of the one who was brain-damaged.

Judge Paul E. Zellerbach was admonished by California’s judicial agency in August for behavior in October 2004, when he left a jury deliberating a murder charge in order to attend an Angels-Red Sox playoff game. He declined to leave the game when notified that the jury had reached a verdict, forcing everyone to return the next day.

Dance dance revolution

According to an August Wall Street Journal report, Mimi Monica Wong, 61, a Hong Kong private banker with a top-
drawer client list, contracted to pay $15.4 million over eight years for cha-cha and rumba lessons from two world-class instructors so she could excel on the international championship Latin dance circuit. However, she soured on their motivational approach (“lazy cow” and “[move your] fat arse” were allegedly part of their teaching dialogue) and sued. In September, a court ordered Wong’s $8 million advance returned, and she has since signed on with another instructor whose fee is a relative bargain at $21,000 a month.

Sibling rivalry

Tammie Lee Doss, 43, and two friends were charged with unlawful imprisonment in September in Athens, Ala., when Doss held her brother Randy at gunpoint and prayed for him. According to police, Tammie had confronted Randy, even firing a shot near his head to keep his attention, and urged him to redress his childhood mistreatment of her.

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