The Aristocrats!

Among the facts revealed in the ongoing criminal proceedings against U.S. Navy officials and defense contractor Leonard (“Fat Leonard”) Francis, who is charged with arranging kickbacks: In 2007, Francis staged a party for the officials at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Philippines during which (according to an indictment unsealed in March) “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts.”

Perspective

American chef Dan Barber staged a temporary “pop-up” restaurant in London in March at which he and other renowned chefs prepared the fanciest meals they could imagine using only food scraps donated from local eateries. A primary purpose was to chastise First World eaters (especially Americans) for wasting food, not only in the kitchen and on the plate, but to satisfy our craving for meat (for example, requiring diversion of 80 percent of the world’s corn and soy just to feed edible animals). Among Barber’s March “WastED” dishes were a char-grilled meatless beetburger and pork braised in leftover fruit solids.

Undignified Deaths

(1) Smoking Kills: A 78-year-old man in Easton, Pennsylvania, died in February from injuries caused when he lit his cigarette but accidentally set afire his hooded sweatshirt. (2) Pornography Kills: A Mexico City man fell to his death recently in the city’s San Antonio neighborhood when he climbed up to turn off a highway video sign on the Periferico Sur highway that was showing a pornographic clip apparently placed by a hacker.

Least Competent Criminals

Oops! An officer in Harrington, Delaware, approaching an illegally parked driver at Liberty Plaza Shopping Center in March, had suspicions aroused when she gave him a name other than “Keyonna Waters” (which was the name on the employee name tag she was wearing). Properly ID’ed, she was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

The Passing Parade

(1) In his third try of the year in January, Li Longlong of China surpassed his own Guinness Book record by climbing 36 stairs while headstanding (beating his previous 34). (Among the Guinness regulations: no touching walls and no pausing more than five seconds per step.) (2) The online live-stream of the extremely pregnant giraffe “April” (at New York’s Animal Adventure Park) has created such a frenzy, and exposed the tiny attention spans of viewers, that, as of March 3, they had spent a cumulative 1,036 years just watching. (Erin Dietrich of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 39 weeks pregnant herself, mocked the lunacy by livestreaming her own belly while wearing a giraffe mask.) (By press time, Erin had delivered; April, not.)

Readers’ Choice

Miami defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez caused quite a spectacle on March 8 when, representing a man accused of arson, he rose to address jurors, and his pants appeared to catch fire. He insisted afterward that a malfunctioning e-cigarette caused smoke to billow from his pocket, but observers had a field day with metaphors and “stunt” theories.

Despite an exaggerated, widely read headline in London’s Daily Mail, the recent death of a 50-year-old man in Japan was indeed pornography-related. The man was a hoarder of porn magazines, living alone with an unimaginably large collection, and when he suffered a fatal heart attack sometime early this year, he collapsed atop the piles, where his body was found in February. (The Daily Mail headline had him “crushed” to death under a six-ton stack, but the Mail conceded below the headline that he might have just fallen.)

A News of the Weird Classic (June 2013)

Maryland state troopers stopped when they caught sight of a drummer working out all alone on the side of traffic-packed Interstate 695 near Windsor Mill Road in Baltimore on May 21 (2013), at about 10:30 a.m. As the troopers later reported, the man had run out of gas and, rather than just sit around in his car, had set up his full drum kit on the shoulder and practiced while he awaited assistance. After a utility truck arrived, with gasoline, the drummer packed up and went on his way.

Not Clever Enough

Daniel Crowninshield, 54, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento in 2016 to illegally manufacturing assault weapons that had no serial numbers—despite efforts to circumvent the law by claiming that his customers actually “made” their own weapons using his equipment. Crowninshield (known as “Dr-Death” online), an expert machinist, would take a “blank” metal casting and, using special equipment and computer programs, create the firing mechanism for a numberless AR-15—provided the customer presses a button to start the process. “Pressing the button,” Crowninshield figured, made the customer the creator, not a buyer or transferee of the gun, and thus exempt from federal law. In February, Judge Troy Nunley, unimpressed, sentenced Crowninshield to three years and five months in prison.

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Chuck Shepherd
Copyright 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick

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