MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Researchers are now preparing a study seeking to confirm that dog slobber, by itself (and not just the psychological advantages of playing with and petting a dog), might provide human health benefits (such as relief from asthma, allergies and inflammation). Specialists from the University of Arizona and University of California San Diego point to existing evidence of the comparative healthiness of dog-owning families and suspect that canine saliva, like yogurt, may have unusual probiotic value.
Since News of the Weird last visited the judicial backlog in India (2013), the problem has worsened. The open caseload grew to 31,367,915 by the end of that year–a quantity that, if all of the country’s judges, working around the clock, each resolved 100 cases an hour, it would still take 35 years to clear. Bloomberg Business Week reported in January that lawyers needlessly fatten the backlog with multiple filings, mainly to jack up their fees (and thus encouraging “extortion threats,” in place of “law,” as the preferred method of resolving disputes).
Death-penalty opponents have long sought a clear-cut case in which an obviously innocent person was wrongfully executed, and unsurprisingly, the great state of Texas appears about to provide that, in Cameron Todd Willingham (convicted in 1992 and executed in 2004). Since his trial, the arson evidence “proving” murder has been thoroughly discredited, and recently an ex-cellmate’s 1996 letter surfaced–demanding that his own prosecutor comply with the sentence-reduction he was promised if he claimed that Willingham had “confessed” to him (and in fact the cellmate’s sentence was substantially reduced after he wrote the letter, though the cellmate later appeared grievously remorseful). Prosecutor John Jackson is facing a state investigation for not disclosing the sentencing promise before trial.
Public policymaking in the United States is often gridlocked by recalcitrant ideologues, but at least administrators are not constrained by elves, as in Iceland. After seven years of controversy, the country’s Road Administration recently approved a new pathway near Reykjavik that had been delayed by a troublesome, 70-ton boulder in the right-of-way–which could not be dislodged because it is believed to be a “church” for the country’s legendary “hidden people.” The elves’ leading spokeswoman, Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, finally declared, to officials’ relief, that the elves had accepted the boulder’s relocation (to the side of the road), having “been preparing for this for a long time, moving their energy to the new location.”
GREAT MAYO PROTESTS OF 2015
Four weeks ago, News of the Weird noted that a United Nations representative opposed a suggestion to open certain meetings to the public, fearing that it would only invite spectators in the gallery to throw “mayonnaise” at the delegates. However, two months earlier (and unknown to News of the Weird), the Belgian prime minister, defending his country’s austerity measures, had faced a group of protesters who had rained upon him french fries topped with mayonnaise.
Japan may have its cat restaurants (where loaner felines lounge during meals) and even its penguin bar in Ikebukuro, and London (as reported here a month ago) an experimental owl cafe (with specially domesticated birds perched on diners’ shoulders), but not to be outdone, an entrepreneur in Seoul, South Korea, guesses that his Thanks to Nature Cafe will be a big hit–with sheep wandering through the dining room. (After all, according to the lunar calendar, 2015 is the Chinese zodiac Year of the Sheep.) Owner Lee Kwang-ho said his novel business model has attracted visitors from Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand, among other countries.
Fred Horne of Columbus, Ohio, burned down his house in February trying to smoke the bedbugs out of his couch. Only that one piece of furniture caught fire, but carrying it out of the house, Horne got stuck in a doorway, and the blaze spread. And near Darwin, Australia, in February, an unnamed woman living in an RV came face-to-face with a snake and decided to encourage the serpent to leave–by lighting a fire beneath the RV’s floor. The vehicle was destroyed but, said the police superintendent, “we don’t know what happened to the snake.”
SUPPORTING THE TROOPS
Federal law prohibits foreclosures and repossessions (unless by court order) against active-duty military members, but Americans would hardly know that from observing creditors. A 2012 Government Accountability Office report found at least 15,000 violations by U.S. financial institutions, small and large, including JP Morgan Chase (violations News of the Weird reported in 2011). In February, auto lender Santander Consumer USA agreed to pay $9.35 million to settle charges that it illegally seized cars of 760 service-members (some while deployed in war zones) over the last five years.