Weird news

Going meatless

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is actively proposing that animal carcasses with cancers, tumors or open sores be regarded merely as unaesthetic but safe for human consumption as long as the offending part is cut away. The proposal is part of a general loosening of slaughterhouse inspection standards, whose public comment period ends Tuesday. One critic already weighed in, saying she did not want to "eat pus from a chicken that has pneumonia," but also included as benign by the proposal are glandular swellings, infectious arthritis and diseases caused by intestinal worms.

Demons and vampires

David W. Bolton, 45, was charged in July with assault for hitting a fellow boardinghouse resident in Clarkstown, N.Y., after trying at first to drive a sharpened wooden stake through the man's heart with a hammer. (Police said Bolton told them he was acting on "instructions from a higher authority.")

Two weeks later, in San Francisco, hitchhiker Eric David Knight was arrested for assaulting a 28-year-old driver who had picked him up; Knight had allegedly bit the driver in the neck and sucked his blood after thanking him for the ride, and had later told police, "I need the cure. I need blood." (San Francisco's 1998 "vampire killer" Joshua Rudiger had an alibi this time: He's in prison, serving 23 years to life.)

Latest rights

After a Schneiders Hot Dog promotion machine (the Blaster, intended to shoot free wieners into the stands at Toronto's SkyDome during baseball games) went awry in April, pulverizing the franks and spraying fragments on fans, a vegetarian Blue Jays' fan told the National Post newspaper she would sue if she got spritzed. "What if I had my mouth open and a piece of hot dog landed in my mouth?"

Chimp champion

According to an April Seattle Times report, the Great Ape Legal Project, headed by a Seattle lawyer, is moving toward a goal of demonstrating, within the next decade, that chimpanzees should have some of the same legal rights as humans (beyond being mere property, according to the Times, "to (becoming) people with rights to life and liberty and perhaps even the pursuit of happiness"). Though it would be possible for a chimp to sue his guardian, a reassuring spokesperson said animals such as cockroaches and ants "will never be eligible for any kind of rights."

Least competent criminals

Inman, S.C., police arrested Donald W. Melton, 29, in July and charged him with robbing a CCB Bank. He was easily tracked down on his getaway because he had failed to ask for a bag at the bank to carry the money away in and thus was left to stuff it all into his pants and socks. The result was that enough of the currency came loose during his run that residents along his escape route called police every few minutes to report that another bill had been spotted, and within 40 minutes of the robbery, Melton was in handcuffs.

Also, in the last month ...

An Iranian judge jailed a man for ogling the judge's wife, but hundreds rioted in support of the man, who they said is merely cross-eyed (Ghir, Iran). Centers for Disease Control found that people who go online to look for sex partners are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than those who do not look for sex online. The governor of Arkansas (where 12 percent of the population live in mobile homes) and his wife moved into a triple-wide manufactured home next to the Governor's Mansion, which will be undergoing repairs for the next year. A holdup man saved his own life by forgetting to load his gun before robbing a pawnshop; the clerk wrestled it away from him and pulled the trigger, but the crook escaped (Miami, Fla.).

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