News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• Unconventional Medicine: British construction worker Martin Jones, 42, who lost one eye and was blinded in the other in a 1997 explosion, regained his sight this year as a result of surgery in which part of his tooth was implanted in the eye. Dr. Christopher Liu of the Sussex Eye Clinic used a piece of tooth because a “living” “anchor” was necessary to hold a patch of Jones’ skin underneath his eyelid, to generate blood supply while a new lens formed. When the lens was healthy enough, Dr. Liu made a hole in the cornea for light to pass, and Jones feasted his eye on his wife, whom he had married four years ago, sight unseen.
Can’t Possibly Be True
• Until Mayor Sharon McShurley changed the protocol this year, fire stations in Muncie, Ind., had been delivering reports to department headquarters downtown by dropping them off in fire engines. McShurley ordered the department to learn how to send reports by e-mail.
• In June, the New York Police Department spent $99,000 on a typewriter repair contract, which will take on increasing importance since last year NYPD bought thousands of new typewriters, manual and electric, costing the city almost $1 million. The NYPD still is not even close to computerizing some of its daily-use forms, such as property and evidence reports.
• Hundreds of Los Angeles’ down-and-out live not just underneath local freeways but inside their concrete structures, according to a June Los Angeles Times report. The largest “home” is a double-gymnasium-sized cavern under the Interstate 10 freeway in the suburb of Baldwin Park. That space is nearly inaccessible, requiring squeezing through a rusty grating, traversing a narrow ledge, and descending a ladder to reach “a vast, vault-like netherworld, strewn with garbage and syringes,” with toys and rattles and a cat carcass visible on an upper platform marginally harder for rats to reach. Authorities shy away from the area, out of fear, but every few years, state officials try to seal the entrance (which the homeless quickly unseal as soon as the officials leave).
• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was livid in June when he learned that inmate Tuvia Stern, housed in the city’s notorious lockup The Tombs, had arranged a privately catered, 50-guest bar mitzvah for his son inside the facility’s gym, officiated by a prominent rabbi and assisted by five jail guards. The caterers were even allowed to bring in knives for food preparation and dining. It was not surprising that it was Stern who pulled it off, because at the time he was awaiting sentencing for running two slick business scams.
• According to the Pentagon, there are only 566 surviving U.S. prisoners of war from the Vietnam era and 21 from the first Gulf War, but the Veterans Administration has been paying POW-labeled disability benefits to 966 and 286 people, respectively, according to an April Associated Press investigation. The AP found that, even though the Pentagon POW list is posted online, the VA does not routinely check it when a veteran applies for POW status. (POW claimants go to the front of the VA disability-application line and receive various other privileges.)
• (1) Thomas Stites, 25, was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child in Manitowoc, Wis., in June, thus becoming the fourth Stites brother to face sex charges recently. (In addition, brother Michael Stites’ wife and their son have also been charged with sexual assault.) (2) Mykal Carberry, 13, was arrested in Hyannis, Mass., in March and charged with arranging for the murder of his 16-year-old half-brother, Jordan, so that, according to police, he could take Jordan’s place atop the family’s prosperous Cape Cod cocaine distribution ring. (The boss’s job was open following the boys’ father’s recent imprisonment.)
More Sci-Fi Movie Ideas
• (1) Researchers in Japan and Spain found recently that Argentine ants, normally highly aggressive and territorial, are actually one huge global colony with three expanding centers: a 3,700-mile-long stretch in Europe, a 560-mile strip in California, and a swath of Japan’s west coast. Researchers hypothesized the kinship because, when members from those groups were thrown together, they became docile. (2) A June article in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases reported the worldwide reach of incidents of tapeworms that grow inside humans to nearly 40 feet in length. The most serious carrier, according to a Scientific American summary, is salmon sashimi. (Anthony Franz’s 2008 lawsuit against a Chicago sushi restaurant, for a 9-foot-long tapeworm, is still pending.)
Fetishes on Parade
• Former elementary school principal John Stelmack, 62, was sentenced in July in Bartow, Fla., to five years in prison for a collection of child pornography, even though no child was directly involved. Without the aid of computer software, but rather, using scissors and paste, Stelmack had meticulously placed photos of the faces of young girls over the faces of adult women in sexual poses.
Least Competent Criminals
• Questionable Judgments: (1) Christopher Lister, 21, pleaded guilty to a home burglary in June in Leeds (England) Crown Court. He and two pals had attempted to steal a plasma TV in broad daylight last year, but witnesses easily identified Lister. He is 7 feet tall and lives only a few doors down from the crime scene. (2) Markeith Webb, who was wanted by police for a bank robbery in Easton, Pa., in June, left a string of indignant phone messages at a police station, angry that cops had released his photograph to the media. Just for that, he said, he would make sure they never caught him. He was captured six days later.
• News of the Weird reported in 2003 on San Francisco artist Jonathon Keats’ project to sell “futures contracts” on his brain cells (provided science discovers how to keep them alive after he dies), with $10 buying a million of Keats’ radically imaginative neurons. In a new recent project, which critiques today’s hyperactive media, Keats has published a story in print that will take almost 1,000 years to read beginning to end. Actually, it is only nine words long (published in the interactive multimedia print magazine Opium) and, according to the instructions, the ink will reveal itself, ever so slowly, as it is exposed to air and light, taking about one century per word.
It’s Good to Be a British Prisoner (continued)
• (1) A British prison research organization revealed in July that, over the last 10 years, the country’s notoriously generous inmate furlough program has seen almost 1,000 of its prisoners escape, including 19 convicted murderers. (The government said the rate of “non-return” is less than it used to be.) (2) The East Anglian Daily Times reported in July that its Freedom of Information Act request for the names of recent escapees from the Hollesley Bay prison had only been partially fulfilled by the government. A list of the crimes represented by the 39 escapees was handed over, but not their names, because prison officials said that would violate the escapees’ right of privacy.
A News of the Weird Classic (February 2005)
• Michael Warner, 58, passed away in May 2004 of acute alcohol poisoning (with a 0.47 blood-alcohol level) in Lake Jackson, Texas, from ingesting three liters of sherry wine, which entered his body by enema. His widow, Tammy, told authorities that he had been addicted to taking them since childhood and even had favorite recipes, such as enemas by coffee, by Castile soap, by Ivory soap. Said Tammy, “I’m sure that’s the way he wanted to go out because he loved his enemas.” Tammy was originally charged with negligent homicide for helping prepare Michael’s fatal wine dose, but the prosecutor dropped the charge.blog comments powered by Disqus
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