Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: December 21, 2010

NEW NEWS…

U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole say more letters ask for basics — coats, socks and shoes — rather than Barbie dolls, video games and computers.  ***MARLAR: Question – what’s the post office doing reading my personal letter to Santa?

U.S. soldiers are going to extremes — taking diet pills and laxatives, even starving themselves and getting liposuction — in order to meet the military’s weight standards, according to the Army Times.  More than a third of uniformed men and women do not meet the Army’s weight standards, according to a 2009 military fitness report, and those officers are subjected to dreaded tape measurements to determine body fat percentage.  If soldiers exceed the body fat limits, they cannot earn leadership roles or promotions.  ***MARLAR: Apparently only thin people can scare terrorists – so the Army is now trying to recruit Lara Flynn Boyle and Calista Flockhart.

CNN founder and billionaire Ted Turner wants China’s one-child policy to be imposed on the entire world because he believes it will help reduce global warming — a theory disputed by many scientists.  ***MARLAR: Wouldn’t you think he’d want the population to explode in hopes of someone being born who will still watch CNN?

Girls, but not boys, who walk or bike to school instead of getting a ride perform better in tests of verbal and math skills, according to a new study of teens living in Spanish cities. And the longer the commute, the higher the test scores, regardless of how much exercise girls got outside of school.  Still, it’s unclear whether the commute itself matters, or if exercise in general or some other factor is at play.  ***MARLAR: In light of these new findings, all new schools in Mexico will be built in motor homes and painted yellow.

RETRO NEWS: FORMERLY NEW, NOW NOT NEW, BUT STILL ENTERTAINING…

Swede Jan-Erik Olsson, famous for the 1973 bank robbery that gave rise to the term “Stockholm Syndrome” in which hostages start to support their captors, allegedly continued his life of financial crimes after prison, then fled to Thailand.  After 15 years, he felt guilty, so he returned to Sweden and turned himself in to police.  But the cops urged him to stay on the lam, saying “Take off, Jan, you’re wanted.”  He insisted on confessing, but prosecutors told him it was so long ago, they weren’t interested.  So since he’s now 66, he applied for generous Swedish government retirement benefits.  ***MARLAR: So if I understand this correctly, the solution to crime in Sweden is to simply pay criminals to retire?

Avis continues to try harder.  The rental car company is offering customers a wireless Internet service to use in its rented cars, hotel rooms and other places a traveler might go.  The Avis Connect service — as it is called — can transmit a Wi-Fi signal to multiple laptops and other mobile devices at the same time.  ***MARLAR: We complain about people using cell phones and eating Big Macs while driving – now they’ll be watching YouTube.

There are a lot of dumb reasons people shoot each other — but this may be the dumbest! In Savannah, Georgia, a 22-year-old man misdialed when he called the cell phone of another 24-year-old man. Neither of the men knew each other but began arguing on the phone and then sent each other hostile text messages. They then agreed to meet in a CVS store parking lot to “settle their differences.” That’s where the younger man pulled out a gun and shot the other man. The victim was taken to Memorial University Medical Center in serious condition. Police arrested the shooter who now faces an aggravated assault charge.  ***MARLAR: All of this over a wrong number?  I sure hope the number the guy was trying to call was to his anger management counselor.

62-year-old Edward Ates is up on murder charges in Hackensack, New Jersey, and he’s chosen an interesting defense. Ates says he’s too fat to have killed his former son-in-law– at least not the way prosecutors claim it happened. The victim, 40-year-old Paul Duncsak, was shot six times as he walked down a hallway in his home. The shooter first fired from a staircase leading to the basement. That was followed by several shots fired head-on. In order to do that, Ates’ attorney says his client would have had to run up the stairs. At 5- feet-8 and 285 pounds, the attorney says he was just too fat to have pulled it off. At the time of the killing, Duncsak and Ates’ daughter were involved in a bitter custody dispute after their divorce. Early in court testimony, Ates’ doctor testified that bounding up the stairs would have caused Ates to become short of breath and shake, making it difficult to keep his wrist straight enough to accurately fire a gun at someone from a distance. (myway.com)  ***MARLAR: Not guilty by reason of gluttony!

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