News of the Weird

Lead StoriesOn the same day in June that the Colombian government was announcing that it would henceforth count cocaine farming (estimated at $1 billion a year) in its official economic figures, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange went to the remote village of La Machaca to meet with a top commander of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the U.S. State Department has labeled a terrorist group. NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso reportedly invited the leader, Raul Reyes, to New York to learn more about international markets.

In June the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a 1998 decision upholding the privacy rights of child-porn suspect James Anderson of Duluth, Georgia, who, as the object of a federal sting operation, allegedly took illegal videos into his workplace. Child porn photos uncovered at Anderson's home were later used against him in his trial, but the courts ruled that the workplace stash was illegally seized because Anderson had a legitimate "expectation of privacy." And three weeks later, British Columbia's highest court ruled that Canada's child-porn possession law was unconstitutional for also criminalizing erotic material written up from one's own imagination.

Chutzpah! In April, police in Broomfield, Colorado, issued a trespassing summons to Kristopher C. Ward, 36, who apparently had moved a female companion, all their furniture and two dogs into a vacant house belonging to Michael Deetz. When Deetz brought a police officer around to evict the squatters, Ward said he had been trying to get in touch with Deetz and decided that the best way to bump into him was just to move in and wait until he dropped by.

Weird Animals Three University of Sheffield (England) researchers reported in May that they had found a unique bird whose males not only experience orgasms during sex but also are equipped with a penislike protrusion (though it does not contain a sperm duct). The male buffalo weaver bird uses the protrusion to stimulate the female so that when he expels sperm, the female will be better able to accommodate them.

According to police in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, the blood all over the furniture of the burglarized house in May was the thief's, courtesy of the homeowner's parrot, which attacked the perp and drove him out. Said a police spokesman, "The bird was fairly annoyed." And in an April Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, trial of a man accused of burglary, prosecutors subpoenaed a parrot that was abducted in the crime, in the slight chance that it would identify the thief in court, but the bird was noncommittal.

Least Competent Criminals In May, according to officials at the Brookings (South Dakota) County Jail, on the day before trusty inmate Jeffrey Kumm was to be released, he swiped three deputy's shirts and two prison uniforms and hid them outside on the grounds so he could retrieve them the next day after he got out. (He was caught and sentenced to six more months.)

By Chuck Shepherd


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