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News of the Weird

  • Article by: CHUCK SHEPHERD
  • November 30, 2012 - 2:05 PM

By 2009, James Washington believed he had gotten away with a 1995 murder, but then he had a heart attack, and on his deathbed, apparently in a fit of remorse, he confessed to a confidant. ("I have to get something off my conscience," he told a guard in the jailhouse where he was serving time for a lesser, unrelated offense.) When Washington recovered from the heart attack and tried to take back his confession, prosecutors in Nashville were unfazed. They used it to augment the sparse evidence from 1995, and in October Washington was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 51 more years in prison.

Great art?

"I wanted to create a self-portrait that was completely stripped of ... visual prejudice," said Polish-born New York artist Martynka Wawrzyniak, who thus chose the medium of "smell" for her gallery showing in New York City. For starters, she "scientifically extracted" her hair oils, armpit perspiration and tears -- to protest humans' cloaking themselves in deodorant soaps and laundry powders -- and blasted visitors with whiffs as they entered the gallery.

Getting out the vote?

(1) Just before a primary election in June, Albuquerque, N.M., TV station KOB apparently caught, on camera, a poll worker for two county government candidates offering potential voters miniature bottles of whiskey to sip during free rides to early voting centers.

(2) Los Angeles' KCBS-TV reported in October that leaflets sponsored by the Progress and Collaboration Slate for its local candidates in Eagle Rock, Calif., also mentioned an offer of $40 worth of "medical-grade marijuana" as incentive for voting.

(3) Carme Cristina Lima, 32, running for town council in Itacoatiara, Brazil, was arrested in October for allegedly passing out cocaine packets attached to her campaign leaflets.

Elected, with a rap sheet

In several high-profile races across the country in November, voters rejected candidates who had been accused of wrongdoing and corruption, but Brian Banks survived. He was elected as a Michigan state representative from Detroit, with 68 percent of the vote, even though his rap sheet includes eight felony convictions for bad checks and credit card fraud. His campaign slogan: "You Can Bank on Banks."

Not-so-smooth criminal

Arthur Bundrage, 28, was arrested in Syracuse, N.Y., in October after he allegedly returned to the Alliance Bank -- after robbing it minutes earlier -- because he discovered that the employee had given him less than the $20,000 his demand note ordered. Officers arrived to find Bundrage standing by the front doors, trying to get back in.

Not a bird or plane

In October, a 2-foot-long shark fell from the sky and landed near the 12th tee at the San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. A security guard saw the incident, and an attendant placed the shark in a bucket of water (with some salt) and drove it 4 miles to the Pacific Ocean. (Best guess among observers: An osprey or peregrine falcon snatched it from the ocean but eventually lost its grip.)

'Cheapskate' living

Among the contestants on this year's Learning Channel cable TV series "Extreme Cheapskates": "Roy" of Huntington, Vt., who reuses dental floss; Jeff Yeager of Accokeek, Md., who combs butcher shops for odd animal parts about to be discarded; and "Victoria" of Columbus, Ohio, who specializes in Dumpster-diving.

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