MAN’S OTHER BEST FRIEND
People’s love for their pets reached a new high in December when a British man paid a veterinarian the equivalent of $500 to perform delicate surgery on a sick office goldfish (typical pet store “replacement” price: $1 to $5). Vet Faye Bethell of North Walsham, England, told the Eastern Daily Press in December that there was “nothing special” about the fish, but that the customer “just liked it a lot.” In fact, the goldfish likely did not even have a pet name–as Bethell in an interview spoke intimately of another patient by name (Cadbury, the skunk). Bethell’s procedure involved removing the patient from the bowl, flooding its gills with anesthetic-fortified water, and using a tiny scalpel to remove lumps that were causing it constipation, with the surgery guided by a miniature heart-rate monitor.
IRAQI TV GOES ‘JERRY SPRINGER’
Iraq’s government-run channel, Iraqiyya TV, has a reality show reminiscent of American confrontational programs, but is designed to force captured ISIS fighters to acknowledge the pain they have created. One episode of In the Grip of the Law (described in a December Associated Press dispatch) showed family members of car-bombing victims on a street corner in Baghdad haranguing one of the men convicted of the crime. A young man in a wheelchair, having lost his father in the attack, faced off against the convict, screaming until the jihadist “began weeping, as the cameras rolled.”
On Nov. 6, a couple (aged 68 and 65) were hospitalized after spending almost 13 hours locked in their car inside their own garage in Alexandra, New Zealand. The night before, they had been unable to remember a salesman’s tutorial on how to unlock their new Mazda 3 from the inside and had spent the night assuming they were trapped because they had forgotten to bring along the battery-operated key. The wife was unconscious when neighbors finally noticed them, and her husband was struggling to breathe. The door unlocks manually, of course.
At first, it seemed another textbook case of a wrongly convicted murderer being released after a long prison stint (15 years), based on a re-examination of evidence. Illinois officials freed Alstory Simon, who had “confessed” in 1999 to killing two teenagers (before a defendants’ advocacy organization convinced a judge that the confession had been coerced). That 1999 confession had allowed the man previously convicted, Anthony Porter, to go free, but prosecutors in October 2014 had second–or third–thoughts. They once again believe that Porter was the killer–even though a different defendants’ advocacy organization had originally worked to free him. (In any event, “double jeopardy” prevents Porter’s retrial.)
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Undersheriff Noel Stephen of Okeechobee County, Florida, acknowledged to WPBF-TV in December that among the public services his office performs is supervising parents’ spanking of children. After two sisters argued on Dec. 29, their father decided to administer a whipping to one and asked Deputy Stephen to drop by and make sure he stayed within the law. That’s “not something we advertise to do,” said the deputy, but he estimates he has monitored about a dozen spankings.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
The Government Accountability Office was on the job in December, issuing an emphatic ruling that the National Weather Service could not legally issue its workers disposable cups, plates and utensils on the job. Such items are “personal,” GAO declared, even though most NWS facilities are in remote locations, staffed by two-person shifts that almost force employees to eat on the premises. “You can’t run out” and “grab a burger,” one employee said. Nonetheless, after a lengthy deliberative process, GAO said its decision is final.
IT’S ABOUT TIME!
In a November ruling, France’s minister of housing and minister of ecology jointly announced further streamlining of law books, removing bulky, out-of-date regulations. Among the rescissions, beginning Dec. 1, is the ban on installing toilets in kitchens.
WORLD CLASS THEFT
In December, China’s Gxnews.com.cn reported the arrest of a man in Yulin City, accused of stealing more than 2,000 items of underwear from women in his neighborhood, taken within the last year. He hid his stash above ceiling tiles in stairwells in his apartment building, but he drew attention when one of the ceiling spaces caved in from the weight of the garments, showering the stairs in an array of colorful lingerie. Just within the last month, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, two other men, in Zhejiang and Hubei provinces, have been detained for similar crimes. In the latter case, the alleged thief was also wearing lingerie.
THIS WEEK IN PORNOGRAPHIC KAYAKS
Artist Megumi Igarashi, 42, known as “no-good girl” in Japan, taunted officials with over-the-top pornography twice in 2014, first in July when she designed a kayak in the image of her genitals and then sought donations by sending contributors data on how to make a 3D-printed model of her vagina. In her December arrest, according to a BBC News dispatch, she had complained of the contradictions in Japanese culture (also cited in previous News of the Weird stories) that allow glorified public displays of the penis as a symbol of fertility, but banish the vulva from public sight.