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News of the Weird


Tony Alleyne, 50, recently placed his small Leicestershire, England, apartment on the market for the equivalent of $1.7 million (U.S.), a price he said was realistic because he has spent nearly 10 years crafting the premises as a finely detailed model of the "Star Trek" starship Enterprise. Included, according to an April report in Australia's Herald Sun, are a life-size transporter control, a gigantic warp core drive, voice-activated lighting and security, and an infinity mirror. Alleyne said he started the project as therapy when his wife walked out on him.

Hurl or die:
Connecticut's Supreme Court heard arguments in April on a rather fine point in "Miranda warning" law: whether the police can use a drug suspect's vomit against him (or at least use the eight bags of heroin that came up with the vomit). Arresting officers apparently asked suspect Vincent Betances if he had just swallowed heroin, and Betances (without a Miranda warning) said that he had, leading officers to summon medical help. Betances now says the officers' question was unconstitutional "interrogation," even though without immediate treatment, he could have died.

Democracy in Action:
Pro wrestler The Great Sasuke won a seat in Japan's Iwate Prefectural Assembly, and said he would continue to wear his trademark mask to work. "This is my face," he said (April). And members of India's lower house of parliament, opposed to the finance minister's attempt to raise the price of fertilizer, did the Indian equivalent of a U.S. filibuster by screaming raucously for more than four straight hours on March 15 until the minister withdrew the proposal. Also in March, India's prime minister came under vicious attack from members of the opposition Congress party, who played Indian political hardball by accusing him of eating beef.

Irony Strictly Enforced:
The CIA convened an open panel of scientists in January to discuss potential terrorist uses of life-science research, and the panel concluded that, despite the risks, openness in scientific study was absolutely crucial; in April, the CIA suppressed the panel's conclusions on openness as classified. And in March, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia accepted an award by the Cleveland City Club for his contributions to freedom of speech, which Scalia said he would be glad to accept at the club's meeting provided no television or radio coverage was allowed.

Car karma:
Lisandro Mateo, 16, and Justine Hayes-Hurley, 18, were charged with criminal mischief in Central Islip, N.Y., in March after vandalizing a car. The car belongs to Winston Hill, 20, who both girls thought was their exclusive boyfriend until they began innocently discussing their love lives at school and realized they were both talking about the same man, at which point they decided to touch up Hill's windshield and paint job with hedge clippers.

Like father, like son:
Heredity theory got a boost in March when CNN reported that Mr. Shirl Mitchell, 83, the father of accused Elizabeth Smart abductor Brian Mitchell, blamed himself for the way Brian turned out. Shirl said he showed Brian sexually explicit photos at age 7, which perhaps provoked Brian's arrest years later for indecently exposing himself to a 3-year-old girl. Shirl also described himself as a voyeur and the author of two, thick-volumes of personal theology that are sexually explicit, dealing largely with diet and reproduction (and having nothing to do with Brian's own tract that authorities found when they arrested him for the abduction).

Life threatening:
A February Boston Globe dispatch from Guangzhou, China, reported that a recent favorite tactic of employees who are owed back pay is not to sue but rather to make serious attempts to commit suicide in public; said one construction worker who dangled from a high-rise, "There was no other way to get what the company owed us." And a 22-year-old man robbed a bank in Cleveland March 12 by walking up to a teller and sticking a gun in his own mouth, threatening to kill himself if he didn't get the money. (Five days later the man was shot to death after he pulled a gun on an Akron, Ohio, police officer.)

Also, in the Last Month ... :
Firefighters in training, erroneously believing they had permission, set fire to a vacant house that belonged to the police chief, who was planning to fix it up for his parents (Elma, Wash.). The Rev. William Keller (an evangelical Christian), who has led the Muncie, Ind., May 1 National Day of Prayer program for 10 years, said priests from other religions were welcome to attend but could not use the microphone to pray because he doesn't believe "in other gods."

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