Pro-nationalism English Defence League activists seemed to be itching for a street brawl to break up a scheduled anti-nationalist demonstration in downtown Birmingham, England, on July 18, causing the city to mobilize more than 1,000 police -- when officials arrived at a solution. Police shepherded "hundreds" of rowdy EDL operatives into the popular Bar Risa pub at 11 a.m., confining them for three hours, until the anti-EDL rally had dissipated. (Given British habits, many EDLers decided to enjoy their confinement with a brew.) As a result, police reported only sporadic street scuffling. (Bar Risa, perturbed by police pressure to host alleged "fascists," donated its profits to the Midlands Air Ambulance service.)
-- For "beach season" in Qingdao, China, recently, middle-aged ladies returned to the shore of the Yellow Sea sporting their relatively revealing (though age-appropriate) bathing suits -- but wearing distinctive cloth hoods with tiny holes only for the eyes, nose and mouth. To many in China, dark skin still signals laborers and fair skin the indoor "leisure" class, according to a July report on the business Web site Quartz.
-- In Shenzhen, China, one of the country's richest cities, services are being openly advertised by "wet nurses" to supply adults with breast milk, either directly from the source or after pumping (and purchased by either the infirm or just rich people overconcerned with nourishment). These milk "suppliers" can earn at least four times the average personal income, with healthy, attractive women earning even more, of course, according to a July Agence France-Presse dispatch. Comments on China's social media ranged from "It's just a business" to "People become perverts when they are too rich and tire of other forms of entertainment."
-- Because Zimbabwe is reputedly among the world's most corrupt countries, bribery is normal and makes the news only when innovators go above and beyond. The anti-poverty organization Transparency International reported in July that one hospital in Harare had recently been imposing a $5 charge on mothers each time they screamed during childbirth (in addition to the $50 delivery fee). Furthermore, it has long been rumored that hospitals in Zimbabwe (and other countries) may detain mothers and their children at the hospital if they cannot pay the fees. (Transparency International reported several days later, after finally obtaining a meeting with a government official, that the per-scream charge will be lifted.)
Latest Religious Messages
-- Satan was thrust into the recent Texas legislature debate with pro-choicers shouting, "Hail, Satan!" at the right-to-life faction. However, whom Satan had endorsed was not clear. A British organization called UK Church of Satan appeared to criticize the pro-choicers (according to Twitter comments) while the New York-based Church of Satan (founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey) insists on a woman's right to choose, said its High Priest Peter Gilmore -- although he acknowledged that shouting "Hail, Satan" to anti-abortion activists was "ludicrous and meaningless."
-- Megachurch bishop Ira V. Hilliard told his Sugarland, Texas, congregation (New Light Christian Center) in June that one of his two private aircraft -- a helicopter valued at about $1 million -- needs new blades, but rather than pay it himself, he asked parishioners to each find it in their hearts to send him $52 "favor seeds" for the blades. (His ministry also owns a $2 million Hawker jet and a $3 million hangar.) To sweeten the deal, he virtually promised that a donor's gift would be met by a "breakthrough favor" from God in the form of a car repair or their very own "dream" car either 52 days or 52 weeks later (according to a church letter described by the Christian Post).
-- Sharon Jobson thought her major grieving was over at the two-year mark after her son had been killed driving into a CN Rail train at a crossing that had not then been updated with safety features. (John Jobson, 22, was speeding and failed to stop, perhaps because of a partially obscured warning sign and a nonstandard train horn.) The government subsequently ordered upgrades, and Sharon decided not to sue, but CN Rail had no such reluctance and filed in July for $500,000 against John's estate to cover damage to its tracks and the subsequent customer slowdown caused by the collision. (At press time, with grief forced upon her once again, Sharon was re-evaluating litigation.)
-- Inexplicable: (1) In May, a 24-year-old man accidentally shot a teenage boy in the leg with a high-caliber gun at a home in Santa Fe, Texas, in front of the boy's mother, whose first reaction was to look up "gunshot" on WebMD -- and then not to take her son to Mainland Medical Center until seven hours later. Deborah Tagle was charged, along with the shooter, for injury to a child. (2) Carole Longhorn, 66, struck a metal object in her garden in Norfolk, England, in June, and, though it looked like a projectile-bomb, she said she decided to take it inside and wash it off in the sink before calling police (who later detonated the World War II-era munition in a controlled explosion). (Said her husband later: "You can imagine what I said to her.")
News That Sounds Like a Joke
-- In May (before Edward Snowden began releasing his previously classified document cache), the American Civil Liberties Union released its own attempts to learn some of the same information from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. Two of the documents, totaling 69 pages, were completely "redacted" -- solid black boxes covering the entirety of every page except for page numbers and document title.
-- A June performance-art street demonstration in Glastonbury, England, got out of hand when a spectator took offense at one of the characters, who was dressed as a giant penis to promote a show by the troupe Nomadic Academy of Fools. The bystander grabbed the penis' costume, but the penis' colleague, Joanne Tremarco, who was dressed as a giant vagina, went to his defense, trying to calm the bystander until police arrived.
The Redneck Chronicles
(1) Police in York, Pa., arrested both Karen Harrelson, 48, and Gregory Stambaugh, 57, in May because they could not figure out which one started the couple's knife fight -- over which contestant (Candice or Kree) deserved to win this year's "American Idol." They had apparently stabbed each other with the same knife. (2) Dewayne Eddy, 54, was charged in Yuba County, Calif., in May with beating his adult daughter with folding lawn chairs and a can of beans after discovering that a bolt was missing in the chicken coop in his yard.
The Weirdo-American Community
Ronald Rock, 31, was arrested in Malone, N.Y., in May after surveillance video convinced police that he was the man at a Sears store who told a female stranger that he loved her shoes and wanted to buy a pair for his mother -- and asked if she would take one off to show him. Rock then appeared to stuff the shoe down his pants and masturbate vigorously. (Malone is within 25 miles of the small town of Massena, which was the site of the man caught on video stuffing the Hannaford's pepperoni down his pants for the same purpose -- reported in News of the Weird seven weeks ago.)
A News of the Weird Classic (August 2009)
The New Waterboarding: In April (2009), the district attorney in Vilas County, Wis., announced that he was seeking volunteers for a forensic test to help his case against Douglas Plude, 42, who (was) scheduled to stand trial soon for the second time in the death of his wife. The volunteers must be female, about 5 feet 8 inches and 140 pounds, and will have to stick their heads into a toilet bowl and flush. Plude is charged with drowning his wife in a commode, but his version (which the prosecutor will try to show is improbable) is that his wife committed suicide by flushing herself.
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