Special Report

Weirdest News Stories of the Year

Source: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

1. Smollett saga
> Date: Jan. 29

Many were shocked when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by white men yelling slurs. The men, Smollett claims, beat him, poured a chemical on him, and tied a rope around his neck. It later came out that the attack was orchestrated by Smollett. The two men seen in a footage of the incident told police Smollett paid them to fake a hate crime. Police say the actor orchestrated the scheme because he was dissatisfied with his “Empire” salary. He was charged with filing a false police report, but those charges were later dropped.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Trees and lake given human rights
> Date: Feb. 26

As pollution has wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes and surrounding areas, the city of Toledo turned to an unusual solution. Residents proposed a “bill of rights” for the ecosystem of Lake Erie, which borders the city. This symbolic measure, which passed in a referendum in February, gave the lake and surrounding ecosystem the right “to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve”.

Source: Courtesy of Macs Mission

3. Mystery of Garfield phones answered
> Date: Mar. 22

An odd question of more than three decades — why Garfield phones keep washing up on the shore of Western France — finally got its answer in March 2019. Since the 1980s, plastic telephones shaped like the beloved comic strip cat Garfield have consistently washed ashore around Brittany, France. A local farmer decided to get to the bottom of the mystery, and after some exploring, he came upon the smashed remnants of a shipping container tucked in a cave filled — or that was once filled — with the feline phones.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

4. Sonic movie delayed
> Date: Apr. 30

Fans are using Twitter to exercise more control over their favorite film franchises. The biggest example of this came in April, when fans were universally horrified by the appearance of Sonic when the trailer to the upcoming video game adaptation, “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie, was first released. Sonic’s legs, teeth, and eyes were alarmingly different than the video game version, and fans were upset, calling it “creepy.” The film’s director acknowledged the gripes, and the studio elected to redo Sonic’s design, pushing the film’s release to February 2020.

Source: Courtesy of Rio de Janeiro's Penitentiary Administration Secretariat

5. Prisoner dresses as daughter in escape attempt
> Date: Aug. 5

Convicted drug trafficker and gang leader Clauvino da Silva thought he had a brilliant plan to escape from prison in Rio de Janeiro. After a visit from his teenage daughter, da Silva donned a wig, glasses, a mask, and a feminine outfit, and attempted to walk out the front door. Guards noticed the “girl’s” nervousness and busted da Silva before he could escape, returning him to serve the rest of his nearly 74-year sentence.