News of the Weird


Modern times
Berjuan Toys is already selling its Breast Milk Baby online ($70) and expects to have it in stores later this year. The doll works by the child-”mother” donning a halter top with flowers positioned as nipples, and when the baby comes into contact with the a flower, sensors mimic sucking sounds. Although dolls that demonstrate toileting functions are already on the market, breastfeeding activists are more enthusiastic about this one, hopeful that girls’ comfort with breastfeeding will result in decreased bottle-feeding later on. (Opponents have denounced the doll as forcing girls to “grow up” too soon and with choices too complicated for their age, which according to the manufacturer is as young as 3.)
The Continuing Crisis
• Frances Ragusa, 75, was back in court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June claiming child support she said was never paid by husband Philip Ragusa, 77, in their divorce settlement of 33 years ago. (The “children,” of course, long ago became adults, but the $14,000 judgment has grown, with interest, to about $100,000.) Frances told the New York Post in July that she called Philip several months earlier to discuss the amount but that Philip merely began to cry. “Don’t let this case go to trial,” she recalled telling him. “(I)f you think I’m going to forget it, Phil, you’re stuck on stupid.”
• Carole Green was fined $1,000 in July by a court in Leavenworth County, Kan., for littering the property of the same Bonner Springs resident “most afternoons” for the past two years. Green apologized and said the charge was a complete surprise. She said when she starts out in her SUV every day, and drinks a bottle of tea, it just happens that she finishes it at about the same spot on her journey — in front of Gary Bukaty’s property — and that’s where she tosses the bottle. She promised to stop.
• The Perfect Society: Rules to assure correct, “progressive” behavior were recently proposed by the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare and the Colorado Department of Human Services. The San Francisco agency would ban the sale of all pets in the city limits, from dogs to gerbils to goldfish. (“Why fish? Why not fish?” asked one exasperated commission member, bristling at criticism.) Animals sold as food for other animals would be included but not animals sold as food for humans. Day care centers in Colorado would be required, if it made dolls available at playtime, to have dolls of three different races.
• A Southampton (England) University researcher told an academic conference in Stockholm in July that his work, demonstrating that women who stop smoking even after becoming pregnant will have healthier babies, is important because he found that pregnant women rationalize continued smoking, in part to have smaller babies that will be less uncomfortable to deliver.
• Small Town Democracy: The City Council of Gould, Ark. (pop. 1,100), voted in July to make it illegal for its citizens to form “groups” without written permission from the council. (The mayor and the city council are feuding over the budget, and the council, attempting to stifle lobbying by a group supporting the mayor, has taken down all “groups” — except that the ordinance appears to blatantly violate the First Amendment.)
• Inmate Johnathan Pinney, 26, petitioned U.S. District Court in Chicago in July, demanding that state and federal officials stop arresting him (because he did nothing illegal, he wrote, despite his current four-year sentence for aggravated battery on a police officer). Pinney helpfully suggested a way for the federal government to compensate him for all the grief it has caused him: The government should give him $50 billion “restitution” and award him uninhabited land so that he can start his own country, with sovereign and diplomatic immunity. WBBM Radio noted that Pinney appeared to solicit romance on his MySpace page by writing that he “hopes to get into a committed relationship with a woman, but wouldn’t mind if it meant ‘leaving this world and marrying an alien with similar attonomy (sic) and genetics.’”
• Even though Michigan schoolteacher Marcie Rousseau was sentenced in December to at least four years in prison for having sex with a high school boy in Saginaw and Midland counties, the episode is not over. Now, the “victim” has filed a lawsuit against Rousseau and school officials for what his lawyer described as “not consensual” sex. The unnamed, then-16-year-old admitted to at least 100 acts of sexual intercourse, and 75 “other” sex acts, and asks at least $1 million for “physical, psychological and emotional injury.” (To use the “minimum” numbers, that works out to at least $5,700 per sex act, and since $1 million is sought on each of the seven federal-law claims and three state-law claims, the best-case scenario regards each sex act as a $57,000 burden.)
Plan B
Jonathan Schwartz called 911 in New York City in July to report that he had stabbed his mother to death. A few minutes later but before police arrived, Schwartz called back 911 to report a correction: “No, she committed suicide.” (The mother’s body was found with multiple stab wounds, and police, notwithstanding Schwartz’s “correction,” charged him with murder.)
The Pervo-American Community
Jerry Prieto, 38, pleaded guilty in July in Benton County, Wash. (possession of methamphetamine and “malicious mischief with sexual motivation”), and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. Prieto had been arrested with the drugs in October 2010 in a stall at a highway rest stop. According to the prosecutor, Prieto had written sexual notes on the floor with a felt-tipped pen and drawn an arrow pointing directly to his stall. (As a condition of his sentence, Prieto is allowed in rest-stop bathrooms only for “traditional” purposes.)
Redneck Chronicles
(1) Ronald Adams, 49, was arrested in June for assaulting an 8-year-old boy in his home in Ouachita Parish, La., after an argument over which TV program to watch. Adams allegedly threw a TV remote, hitting the child in the head, because the kid insisted on “cartoons” while Adams preferred “wrestling.” (2) Authorities in St. Lucie County, Fla., investigated an incident in May in which a woman allegedly fired an AR-15 rifle at a target inside her bedroom closet and in which the gunshots went through the wall and damaged a washing machine, springing a water leak throughout the residence. (Officials said the woman’s husband fired shots, too, and that it wasn’t the first time the couple had engaged in bedroom target practice.)
A News of the Weird Classic (February 2001)
In November (2000), Mr. Auburn Mason, 62, was sentenced to four years in prison in England for a 1999 British Airways hijacking. He had grabbed a flight attendant, held scissors to her neck, and threatened to blow up the plane with the bomb he was holding, screaming “Take me to Gatwick (airport in London)!” At that point, the flight was 15 minutes away from its scheduled destination, which was Gatwick airport. (Minutes later, passengers disarmed Mason.)