Introducing … Bizarro Briefs

Last week we got the surprising news that longtime News of the Weird feature writer Chuck Shepherd is retiring! Like, very surprising, because we had no idea this was coming. BUT, the Advocate is all about weird news, so we’re going to keep it going ourselves!

Without further ado, the following are the strange, eclectic, zany, madcap, and — as Chuck might describe them — weird stories we found in the news this week:

Putting The Weed In Wedding …

Photo by Carol Lollis

The day that Nevada became the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana, Anna and Mark Balfe-Taylor had a Las Vegas wedding inside a huge greenhouse for one of the city’s largest marijuana dispensaries. Anna carried a bouquet of weed plants down the aisle and Mark had a bud tucked into his coat pocket. In describing Mark’s unusual marriage, Anna told local Las Vegas NBC affiliate that she had to think about it, but that she supported the cause. The couple met in yoga class.

Chris Christie Burns

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made headlines last month for ordering a government shutdown of the state parks and beaches on the eve of the 4th of July weekend. He made them again when he was spotted with his family enjoying the nearly empty public beach he had closed to the people who pay to keep it open. In a statement, Christie spokesman Brian Murray admitted that Christie was on the beach, but added, “He did not get any sun. He was wearing a baseball cap.”

Watch Where You Sit

A 25-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, woman was surprised when a 38-year-old man came to her door in a panic and ran straight to the bathroom. She followed him and saw he had a gunshot wound to his penis. The man told her he accidentally sat on a firearm that was on the driver’s seat of his car. She took him to the hospital where he underwent surgery.

An Unlikely Story

A pregnant 26-year-old woman in Florida was struck by lightning just seven days before her due date while walking with her mother outside her Fort Myers home. Both woman and child survived, but the woman was still in the intensive care unit nearly a week later and the newborn is also being treated, according to a local CBS affiliate.

Separation of Church and Emoji

Last month Facebook introduced a “pride” emoji, a rainbow flag that joins the “Like” thumbs up, the “Love” heart, and the laughing and angry faces. But a few weeks later, as a reaction to the rainbow flag, a Christian evangelist shared a plea for a Christian cross emoji. “Hey Facebook! You added this one,” the post reads, then points to a rainbow flag, then continues, “We’re waiting for this one” and displays a small icon of the cross. A Facebook spokesperson wrote the Huffington Post in an email: “This reaction is not actually available on Facebook, and is not something we’re working on.”

Going Dutch

As part of a humanitarian aid project, the government of The Netherlands donated half a million euros to help electrify Palestinian villages in the West Bank. Nine months after solar panels were installed in the village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, however, the Israeli body governing the area confiscated them, stating the energy array did not have required permits, and plunged 30 families and the village’s public buildings into darkness. The Dutch, who paid for those solar panels, are now filing a formal complaint with Israel.

Plant A Tree … Or A Million

Indian volunteers in the state of Madhya Pradesh broke a record on July 2, planting 66.3 million trees in 12 hours. India committed under the Paris Agreement to increase its forests by 5 million hectares before 2030, and those saplings placed along the Narmada river will put a dent in that, though a small one. Previously, the record was 50 million trees planted in one day, and was set by volunteers in India’s Uttar Pradesh state in 2016, and made up about 850 hectares of forest.

Embarrassing  Secrets

The safety and security of nuclear weapons in the United States is no longer public information, according to a July 3 report by the Associated Press. Overall results of routine inspections at bases housing nukes used to be available to anyone. Now they will remain secret. The potential irony: the internal review that may have implemented the new secrecy was prompted by reporting by the AP, which had previously uncovered security lapses, training failures, and morale problems surrounding the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The AP couldn’t confirm that, however, because the findings and recommendations of that review are secret. Government secrecy expert Steven Aftergood told the AP the new policy “smells bad,” conflating valid secrecy with “shielding incompetence.”

The Most  Dangerous Game

The North Korean owner and trainer of a fighting water buffalo was killed by his own animal earlier this month. Traditional water buffalo fights were halted during the Vietnam War and restarted 27 years ago. This has been the first human fatality since the sport resumed. The animal, which was killed following the attack, at first chased the owner of the animal he was fighting. Unable to catch that person, however, he turned on his own owner, who died from multiple wounds. Samples were taken from the water buffalo to see whether it had been given a stimulant to make it more aggressive, according to a local official.

There’s No “I” In Terror

A new Vietnam War memorial was installed in Columbia City, Indiana, late last month. The only problem was that a misspelling on a bench that is part of the memorial is getting all the attention. The bench says “War on Terriorism.” Memorial designer Ty Murphy put tape over the extra “I” and told local television station WANE that phones have been ringing off the hook with people pointing out the error. Murphy told the TV station that many people missed the mistake, including the Muncie, Indiana, company that made the bench. In other news, the National Education Association reported that nationwide, Indiana spent the third lowest amount of money per-pupil on public education last year.

Now We’re The Keystone

Delayed for nearly 10 years by protests and a slow wave of political opposition, the Keystone XL pipeline has a new problem — the oil producers and refiners who fought for the pipeline aren’t interested anymore. But that might not actually be a big deal for investors in pipeline owners TransCanada, who told Fox Business News last month that it was actually pipelines being built in the Northeast (like the one dozens of people are being arrested to stop in Sandisfield) that would be profitable.


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