By Chuck Shepherd
10:35 AM EDT, April 23, 2013
To counter the now-well-publicized culture of rape in India, three engineers in Chennai said in March that they are about to send to the market women's anti-rape lingerie, which will provide both a stun-gun-sized blast of electricity against an aggressor and a messaging system sending GPS location to family members and the police about an attack in progress. After the wearer engages a switch, anyone touching the fitted garment will, said one developer, get “the shock of his life” (even though the garment's skin side would be insulated). The only marketing holdup, according to a March report in The Indian Express, is finding a washable fabric.
In March, Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt, apparently upset that bicyclists use the state's roads without paying the state gasoline tax for highway maintenance, proposed a 5 percent tax on bicycles that cost more than $500, pointing out that bicyclists impose environmental costs as well. Since carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, he wrote one constituent (and reported in the Huffington Post in March), bike riders' “increased heart rate and respiration” over car drivers creates additional pollution. (Days later, he apologized for the suggestion that bicyclists actually were worse for the environment than cars.)
-So, For a While There, It Actually Worked: The maker of the “all-natural herbal extract” Super Power (which promises “powerful erections”) issued a voluntary recall in January after “independent” lab tests revealed that the supplement mistakenly contained a small amount of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Such unregulated dietary supplements cannot legally contain drugs without Food and Drug Administration approval. (Also, in March, the Federal Trade Commission ordered three retailers, including Neiman Marcus, to re-label some fake-fur garments because they, mistakenly or intentionally, contained real fur.)
-A Boston Herald reporter said in March that he had been kicked out of a State Ethics Commission training session (which might not be unreasonable, as the meeting was for Massachusetts House members only). However, at least two people in attendance refused to give their real names to the reporter as they left. Rep. Tim Toomey insisted he was not a member (though he is) but was “just passing through,” and Commission chairman Charles Swartwood III (a former federal judge magistrate) refused to give his name at all, telling the reporter, “I'm not saying because that's a private matter.”
The Litigious Society
Aspiring rap music bigshot Bernard Bey, 32, filed a $200,000 lawsuit in February in New York City against his parents, alleging that they owe him because they have been unloving and “indifferent” to his homelessness and refuse even to take him back in to get a shower. Bey, who raps as “Brooklyn Streets,” said everything would be forgiven if they would just buy him two Domino's Pizza franchises so that he could eventually earn enough to become “a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop industry.” (His mother's solution, as told to a New York Daily News reporter: “[G]o get a job. He's never had job a day in his life.”)
Latest Human Rights
-Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confiscated five venomous snakes during a February traffic stop, and Pastor Jamie Coots of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name (of Middlesboro, Ky.) is demanding them back. Coots said he possesses them openly during his services in Kentucky, but Knoxville police said they are illegal to own in Tennessee. Said Coots, “If I don't have them, then I'm not obeying the word of God.”
-In Bristol, England, Anthony Gerrard, 59, had been arrested for possessing child pornography, but after an inventory, police found only 11 images of his massive 890GB porn stash were of children (which Gerrard said he unknowingly downloaded in his quest for legal, adult pornography), and he went to court in January to demand his collection back (minus the child porn). So far, police have said that it is “impractical” to cull the child porn images.
Fine Points of the Law
U.S. companies large and small legally deduct the expenses of doing business from their gross profits before paying income tax, but purveyors of marijuana (in states where possession is legal and where prescription marijuana is dispensed) cannot deduct those expenses and thus wind up paying a much higher federal income tax than other businesses. As NPR reported in April, “Section 280E” of the tax code (enacted in 1982 to trap illegal drug traffickers into tax violations) has not been changed to reflect state legalizations. The effect, experts told NPR, is that legal dispensaries in essence wind up paying tax on their gross receipts while all other legal businesses are taxed only on their net receipts. (The federal government, of course, continues to regard marijuana as illegal.)
Life Imitates Art
Ferris Bueller caused lots of mischief on his cinematic “Day Off” in the 1986 movie starring Matthew Broderick, but he never mooned a wedding party from an adjacent hotel window by pressing his nude buttocks, and then his genitals, against the glass in full view of astonished guests. In March, though, a young Matthew Broderick-lookalike (http://huff.to/14XQEJ6), Samuel Dengel, 20, was arrested in Charleston, S.C., and charged with the crime. (Another Bueller-like touch was Dengel's tattoo reading, in Latin, “By the Power of Truth, I, while living, have Conquered the Universe.”)
-Transportation Security Administration rules protect passengers against previously employed terrorist strategies, such as shoe bombs, but as Congressional testimony has noted over the past several years, the perimeter security at airports is shockingly weak.
-“For all the money and attention that in-airport screening gets,” wrote Slate.com in February, “the back doors to airports are, comparatively, wide open -- and people go through them all the time.” Perimeter breaches in recent years astonished officials at major airports in Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and New York City (mentioned in News of the Weird last year, recounting how a dripping-wet jetskiier who broke down next to JFK airport climbed the perimeter fence and made his way past its brand-new “detection” system, and was inside the Delta terminal before he was finally noticed).
Most Gullible Pervert
In March, Stephen Thresh, 47, voluntarily handed in his computer at a police station and confessed to possessing hundreds of (illegal) images of women having sex with animals, including a snake, a tiger and an elephant. Thresh said he had earlier downloaded a message of unknown origin notifying him that “law enforcement authorities have been informed,” and he thought they would go easier on him if he turned himself in. (Police denied knowledge of the message.) Thresh insisted that possessing such images was not a problem that needed addressing.
The Associated Press reported in March that a Philippines man was crucified for the 27th time during the annual Good Friday festivities in San Pedro Cutud. Sign painter Ruben Enaje, 52, once again endured several minutes pierced by the sterilized, 6-inch nails driven into his palms and feet to atone for yet another year's passing in which he had so seriously sinned. Enaje was joined by several other sufferers (as News of the Weird mentioned, by as many as 16 one year and, in 2005, by wayward police officers from a local force who used the crucifixion as proof that they could be safely reinstated). The country's Catholic Bishops Conference, of course, said the crucifixions are “not the desire of Jesus Christ.”
In March, the makers of Lululemon black Luon yoga pants issued a recall, expressing concern that they had been made with an unacceptable level of sheerness. However, a company official initially told customers that “the only way you can actually test” for the too-sheer pants would be for a customer to bend over before a store associate. (The company changed the policy a few days later, and the product manager resigned.)
Thanks This Week to Laura Billington, Steven Bird, John McGaw and Sandy Pearlman, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.