News of the Weird

Lead Stories

In October Washington state's Department of Labor and Industries began an investigation of Seattle's Internet pornography giant Clublove, according to a report in the Seattle newsweekly The Stranger. The investigation will focus on, among other things, Clublove's workers' break policy (less than the state-required one hour per eight-hour shift for its live-nude models) and allegations that female performers must share an unsterilizable plastic dildo equipped with a microcamera.

In September officials in Pinellas County, Florida, unveiled what they hope will be a cutting-edge traffic safety program as a model for reducing pedestrian deaths and calming drivers' road rage. The program asks pedestrians to extend their right hands (as if shaking hands) continuously through an intersection, while smiling, to get the attention of drivers. Said a worker in Clearwater, Florida, when the program was explained by a St. Petersburg Times reporter: "Nobody is going to walk across the street with their arm out. I'm not going to do it. Are you?"

DUI: The Next Level

In separate incidents in the same week in September, Debra Rodriguez, 41, of Ames, Iowa, and Kristin R. Smebak, 34, of Superior, Wisconsin, both of whom had been drinking, forced their young kids to drive their cars home so the mothers would avoid DUI tickets if they were stopped. Rodriguez's inexperienced 11-year-old daughter caused a rollover, injuring both occupants, but Smebak's inexperienced eight-year-old son made it safely over the bridge connecting Duluth, Minnesota, to Superior before being spotted by a patrolman, who arrested Smebak.

According to police who arrested Fairfax (Virginia) High School math teacher Fred Benevento, 47, in April during a drug sting, Benevento said the 13 plastic bags of crack cocaine in his car "came flying through his open window," and that he "was just looking at them when the police officers arrived."

Failed Murder Defenses

In May the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 5-4 to reject Brad Stone's "automaton" defense, that he was able to stab his wife 47 times only because he was in a robotic state brought on by the trauma of being called a bedroom failure. And in June an Atlanta jury rejected Christopher Stobbart's claim of self-defense for shooting his boss in the head 14 times, then walking to another room, reloading and shooting him ten more times.

Of Course!

In July, just after the end of the war, Yugoslavia's ecology minister said the uncomfortably warm and rainy spring and summer weather was caused by NATO aggression. And in May, a mother in St. Cloud, Florida, told police that the reason she let her teenage daughters smoke marijuana was so they wouldn't become alcoholics like their father. And Yuji Nishizawa, who hijacked the All Nippon Airways Boeing 747 in July and killed the pilot before being captured, told police his main motivation was to see how a real plane flew, after all the flight-simulation video games he had played.

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