News of the Weird
In May Arizona state Representative Tom Gordon inexplicably faked a Naval Reserve order, hopped a military plane to the Balkans and engaged in unspecified "unauthorized activities" (according to a U.S. official) in Sarajevo for six weeks before being ordered home. Afterward Gordon refused to answer most questions except to say that he had been held hostage by Serbs and that "lots of things need to be explained, and in due course, they will be."
As Predicted in the South Park Movie
In August the Ottawa Sun reported general outrage in Canada (led by the war veterans' group, the Royal Canadian Legion) that gay-hating Topeka, Kansas, pastor Fred Phelps had burned the Canadian flag while in Ottawa recently. Phelps was protesting a Supreme Court of Canada decision to include same-sex couples as having "spouses" and had called the smoldering Canadian banner the "Fag Flag." Said a retired army captain, "Our government has got to make the stand."
Things Nobody Cares About in August
Massachusetts filed a civil complaint against convicted murderer Sean Smith, 34, on behalf of three of Smith's fellow inmates who said Smith bilked them out of $55,000 of family money in an investment scheme. And three days later, a judge in Tampa, Florida, denied tobacco-litigation lawyer Henry Valenzuela his $20 million share (out of $200 million set aside for legal fees from the state's 1997 settlement with tobacco companies) because he had been late in paying his $2,500 share of a litigation expense.
Can't Possibly Be True
Allegedly jealous husband Floyd John Weseman, 27, was arrested in Morristown, Tennessee, in April and charged with domestic assault after he reportedly beat his wife and attached a small padlock to her genitals.
In June a New Orleans court awarded bicyclist Jerry Lawrence, 60, $95,000 after he suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs when hit by a police car on call. Lawrence prevailed even though he was drunk and ran a stop sign, which put himself directly in the path of the cruiser, which had its siren and emergency lights on. Said Lawrence's lawyer, "[D]runks have some rights, too."
In July a 48-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against Gold Coast Hospital in Southport, Australia, for about $450,000 (U.S.) because the hospital apparently misplaced part of her brain after aneurysm surgery in 1996. According to the lawsuit, doctors were to temporarily remove her right frontal lobe and replace it when swelling subsided, but then, when they went to insert the lobe, they couldn't find it. She has a temporary titanium plate but claims various symptoms including a "perception" that the lobe might have been fed to dogs.
The Safety Tanteisha detective agency in Osaka, Japan, told New Scientist magazine in June that it sells about 200 aerosol-spray kits a month to help women find out whether their men are having affairs by detecting the presence of fresh seminal fluid on their underwear. Another "miracle product," rubbed on a man's skin, will cause blisters the next time he showers, which would subject him to wifely questioning if he arrived home with freshly blistered skin.
-- By Chuck Shepherd
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.