By Chuck Shepherd

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Matthew Bergstedt, 27, was charged with breaking into a house in Raleigh, North Carolina, in December, though he failed to anticipate that the resident was inside, stacking firewood (which he used to bloody Bergstedt’s face for his mugshot). (2) On Dec. 5 in New York City, a so-far-unidentified man made five separate attempts to rob banks in midtown Manhattan over a three-hour span, but all tellers refused his demands, and he slinked away each time. (Police said a man matching his description had successfully robbed a bank four days earlier.)

Recurring Themes

The Return of Anger Relief: (1) What was billed as the United Kingdom’s first Rage Cage opened in Nottingham, England, in December, allowing patrons to vent with crowbars, baseball bats and hammers to smash crockery, electronics and glassware – at prices ranging from about $15 to about $40. (2) In October, a bookstore in Cairo, Egypt, set aside a small, soundproof room where patrons could go scream at the top of their lungs for 10 minutes about whatever stresses them. The store owner pointed to an academic study demonstrating screaming’s positive effect on the brain. (The prototype store is still Donna Alexander’s Anger Room in downtown Dallas, thriving since 2011, offering a variety of bludgeoning weapons, and especially active this election season, with target mannequins gussied up to be Trump and Clinton.)

The Passing Parade

(1) Two weeks after a Pakistani International Airlines crash killed all 47 on board, some employees of the company figured they needed to dispel the bad karma (for their own safety) and thus sacrificed a black goat on the tarmac at Islamabad airport next to an ATR-42 aircraft (the same model that crashed). (2) Badminton player Mads Pieler Kolding, in a January match in India’s Premier Badminton League, returned a volley at a world’s record for a shuttlecock – 265 mph.

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2013)

Suspicions Confirmed: In January (2013), the National Hockey League labor dispute ended, and players returned to work, but as if on cue, some owners resumed their suspect claims that high player salaries were killing them financially. However, the Phoenix Business Journal reported in December 2012 that the NHL Phoenix Coyotes’ bookkeeping methodology allowed them to turn a profit for the season only if the lockout had continued and wiped out all the games. In other words, based on the team’s bookkeeping, the only way for the Coyotes to make money was to never play.

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2013)

In November (2012), Tokyo’s Kenichi Ito, 29, bested his own Guinness World Record by a full second (down to 17.47 seconds) in the 100-meter dash—“running” on all fours. Ito runs like a Patas monkey, which he has long admired and which (along with his self-described monkey-like face) inspired him nine years ago to take up “four-legged” running. He reported trouble only once, when he went to the mountains to train and was shot at by a hunter who mistook him for a boar.

Ecret-Say Ode-Kay

American gangsters traditionally use euphemisms and nicknames (“Chin,” “The Nose”) to disguise criminal activities, but among details, revealed at a November murder trial in Sydney, Australia, was that members of the “Brothers 4 Life” gang might have used “pig Latin.” In a phone-tapped conversation, played in court, one of the men on trial was overheard cunningly telling a henchman that a colleague had been “caught with the un-gay in the ar-kay.” A helpful witness then took the stand to explain to the jury that the defendant thus knew there was “a gun in the car.” At press time, the trial was still in progress.

Update

Four innocent Texas women, caught up in the 1990s’ “child sex abuse” panics and who served a cumulative 56 years in prison after their 1997 convictions, were completely exonerated in November by a Texas judge following the recanting of one “victim” and the retracting of the principal forensic “evidence.” The four women, then in their 20s, had been accused of genitally abusing nieces, ages 7 and 9, of one of the women. In the 1990s, beginning with the San Diego-area “McMartin School” case, it became easy for prosecutors to convince ready-to-believe jurors that their little toddlers and adolescents were sexually abused in Satanic cults and by hordes of perverts, “proved” by self-assured counselors misapplying “science” and by fantastical “testimony” of children themselves, taken seriously by adults somehow unaware that children have imaginations and a need to please adults.

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Copyright 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick

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