News of the Weird

Week of February 18, 2007

LEAD STORY

Steaks from Waygu cattle in western Australia were already revered by gourmets worldwide (noted for their marbling), but recently an exporter went a step further: The choice grains fed the cattle are now being soaked in a 2004 cabernet merlot, according to a January dispatch from Sydney in London's Sunday Telegraph. "Our biggest problem is going to be meeting demand," said the managing director of Margaret River Premium Meat Exports, even though the best cuts of steak might run the equivalent of about US$90. Plans are to feed each cow a liter's worth of wine daily during its last 60 days.

Yikes!

-- Doctors Gone Bad: (1) The British General Dental Council found David Quelch guilty in January of professional misconduct for pulling two teeth of a patient, against her will, without anesthesia, because she had complained about previous treatments. He supposedly said, "That'll teach you ..." (2) However, the patient at Romania's Panduri Urology Hospital was not at fault (according to United Press International, from a January story in Bucharest's Sunday Telegram) when surgeon Naum Ciomu lost his temper at his own sloppiness and chopped off a 36-year-old man's penis. Ciomu later admitted that he had overreacted. Nonetheless, the Romanian doctors' union complained that Ciomu's fine (the equivalent of about $190,000) was unwarranted.

-- "The world's most dangerous road," according to a November BBC News dispatch, is a 50-mile stretch of winding, mountain-hugging cliff three miles above sea level, running from La Paz, Bolivia, to the country's Yungas region. At least 200 people a year reportedly die on the road, which is about 10 feet wide with no railing and frequent confrontations when wide-load vehicles meet from opposite directions. Furthermore, bad Andes Mountain storms wash away parts of what road does exist. Bolivians frequently pray to the goddess Pachamama for safe passage.

-- (1) Transgendered patient Gina Tilley filed a lawsuit late last year against New York City plastic surgeon David Ostad (who has been cited by state medical authorities 11 times and sued 14 times), complaining that her 2004 saline breast implants had shifted to her armpits. (2) The fire alarm at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, England, sounded one night in December, attributed to a diet of brussels sprouts fed to a turtle. Marine biologist Sarah Leaney of the Centre explained that the turtle's resulting flatulence probably created bubbles that raised the water level enough to trigger the alarm.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

-- Settling the Gender Wars: (1) German cancer researchers, writing in a January journal article, reported that any exercise helped ward off breast cancer in pre-menopausal women but that housework-type exercise worked for all women and was superior to job-based or leisure-based exercise. (2) A female chimpanzee, Judy, escaped at the Little Rock (Ark.) Zoo in January and, as she moved about, was observed entering a bathroom, grabbing a brush, and cleaning a toilet. She also wrung out a sponge and cleaned off a refrigerator, according to an Associated Press report.

-- Florida state Sen. Gary Siplin was convicted in August of grand theft for paying employees state funds to work on his re-election campaign, but according to senate rules, he retains his office while his case is on appeal. The first bill Siplin introduced for the new legislative session in January would make it easier under state law for convicted felons to have their voting rights restored.

-- The Mexican government is scheduled to consider, as early as March, a proposal from its states' migrant assistance offices to hand out satellite-tracking devices to its citizens who plan to emigrate illegally to the United States, so that they could be located in case of emergency after crossing the border. Skeptics, according to a January report in the San Antonio Express-News, wondered how vigorously the U.S. Border Patrol would assist in rescues.

People Different From Us

(1) The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services issued a warning in January to residents of the city of Ringwood that they should limit their intake of squirrel to no more than twice a week (children once a month). (A toxic waste dump is nearby.) (2) Dan Gulley Jr., 70, and David Brooks Jr., 62, fought in January in Atmore, Ala., and according to police, Gulley pulled out a gun and shot Brooks. The two were arguing over how tall the late singer James Brown was.

Least Competent Criminals

(1) According to police in Hartselle, Ala., Daniel Brown, 22, wore a ski mask to hide his identity from his grandfather when he staged a home invasion-robbery in January, but when he burst in, he yelled, "I need your money, and I mean it, Pa-Paw." (Nonetheless, when arrested, Brown denied that he was the man behind the mask.) (2) Glenn Vickers, 53, allegedly intoxicated, wildly tailgated a driver in January on Interstate 64 that happened to be Kanawha County, W.Va., sheriff Mike Rutherford in an unmarked car. After jockeying behind Rutherford for a while, Vickers peeled off at an exit and flipped Rutherford the finger, but immediately crashed into a guardrail.

Recurring Themes

"I was 6 when I first became aware of my desire to lose my legs," wrote "Susan Smith" in London's The Guardian in January. "The image I have of myself has always been one without legs." News of the Weird has reported several times on people with "body identity integrity disorder" (apotemnophilia), which leads them to remove one or more limbs (or men their scrota). The worst part, said "Smith," was having to kill her leg, by freezing it in dry ice for at least four hours (she tried twice before it succumbed to an infection), because surgeons cannot ethically amputate a healthy limb. (A 1998 News of the Weird story involved a de-licensed San Diego surgeon who illegally removed limbs of needy men.)

The Continuing Crisis

-- Unsavvy: In 2003, Bryn Mawr College student Janet Lee had apparently not watched enough movies or television to understand that drug smugglers often use condoms (swallowed by human "mules") to get cocaine and heroin into the country. Lee attempted to board an airliner with several flour-filled condoms that she said her classmates and she employed to squeeze as stress relievers and said she was astonished to be arrested at the Philadelphia airport and jailed for three weeks until the lab could verify that the substance was flour. In January 2007, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay her $180,000 to settle her lawsuit for her wrongful detention.

-- Britain's National Phobics Society said in November it would launch a campaign to help the estimated 4 million people in the U.K. who are fearful of using public restrooms. According to the NPS, in serious cases, sufferers intentionally avoid liquids and even deprive themselves of good jobs because the workplace restroom situation is unsatisfactory. "(I)t's certainly no laughing matter," said a spokesman.

-- Texas judge Keith Dean, recently defeated for re-election, decided as he was cleaning out his desk in December that he would order the release of a man that he controversially sentenced to life in prison in 1990. Tyrone Brown was 17 when he committed a $2 robbery, and Dean put him on probation but changed it to life in prison when Brown shortly afterward tested positive for marijuana. (The Dallas Morning News in a series of 2006 articles had reported that Dean had failed to additionally punish a murderer who had tested positive for cocaine several times after his release on probation.)

(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)

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