News of the Weird

  • Article by: CHUCK SHEPHERD
  • October 19, 2012 - 1:40 PM

Brazil has a robust democracy but with very few controls on what candidates may call themselves on ballots. Among those running for offices this election season, according to a September New York Times dispatch from Rio de Janeiro: "John Kennedy Abreu Sousa," "Jimmi Carter Santarem Barroso," "Ladi Gaga," "Christ of Jerusalem," a "Macgaiver," five "Batmans," two "James Bonds," and 16 people whose name contains "Obama." "It's a marketing strategy," said city council candidate Geraldo Custodio, who apparently likes his chances better as "Geraldo Wolverine."

Too fat to execute?

Ohio death-row inmate Ronald Post, 53, asked a federal court in September to cancel his January date with destiny on the grounds that, despite almost 30 years of prison food, he's still too fat to execute. At 480 pounds, "vein access" and other issues would cause his lethal injection to be "torturous."

Meanwhile, incarcerated British murderer-sadist Graham Fisher, who weighs 325 pounds, was approved for gastric-band surgery paid for by Britain's National Health Service. The estimated cost, including a private room for post-op recuperation, is about $25,000.

A mom's defense

A 14-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition in Churchill, Pa., in August after allegedly swiping a Jeep Grand Cherokee and leading the owner's boyfriend on a high-speed chase before rolling the Cherokee over on Interstate 376. The boy's mother, according to WTAE-TV, blamed the Cherokee's owner: A vehicle with the keys in it, she said, "was an opportunity that, in a 14-year-old's eyes, was ... the perfect moment." Also, she said, the boyfriend "had no right to chase my son."

Fungus in the news

(1) Yak herders in Tibet and farmers in the Indian Himalayas are becoming relatively prosperous, according to recent reports by National Geographic and London's the Guardian, by harvesting rare caterpillar fungi. In Tibet, "yartsa gunbu" supposedly cures ailments ranging from back pain to HIV, from hair loss to asthma and more, and often sells in local markets for twice its weight in gold. In India, "kira jari" is believed to be an aphrodisiac and energy booster, but the government is trying to control the market because insufficient new larvae means the land might soon be picked clean. (2) A Swiss researcher announced in September that he will manufacture 30 violins out of wood treated with certain fungi that, in music appreciation tests, made a lesser-grade violin sound like a Stradivarius.

The litigious society

The City Council of Jersey City, N.J., voted in September to settle a lawsuit filed by Joshua Lopez, who had driven his car directly at a police officer during a 2009 traffic stop, trapping the officer against his squad car, and forcing the officer to fire at him. Lopez suffered only an injured hand, but the city agreed to give him $26,500.

Cleric roughed up

Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti was hospitalized in the town of Shahmirzad in September, allegedly after being roughed up by a woman. According to Iran's Mehr news agency, the cleric was performing his "duty," warning an allegedly immodestly dressed woman to cover herself better. She suggested, instead, that he should "cover [his] eyes," and when he continued admonishing her, she pushed him away and kicked him.

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