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Friday, Jan. 6, 2012

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Recurring Themes & Updates

So much "weird" news just involves different people caught in the middle of the same old weirdness. Once again this week, check out recent recurring themes, as well as an important update of a previous story.

Recurring Themes

  • Once again, a genius tried to pass off a piece of U.S. currency in an amount not even close to being legal tender: a $1 million bill. (The largest U.S. denomination currently is $100.) Michael Fuller, 53, was arrested in Lexington, N.C., in November when a Walmart cashier turned him in after he attempted to buy merchandise totaling $475.78 (apparently expecting change of $999,524.22).
  • News of the Weird often reports on cases of "scorned" lovers who can't let go. In October, Toni Jo Silvey, 49, was arrested in Houston when her ex (Peter Main) reported that she had made 146 phone calls in one day and more than 1,000 calls (in addition to 712 emails) in three months, following their 2009 breakup. She was also charged with attacking his home with a tire iron, eggs and a sword.
  • A cutting-edge treatment when News of the Weird first heard of it in 2000 is now mainstream for those suffering from extreme diarrhea due to a lack of "predator bacteria" in the colon. Among the primary treatments now is a transfusion of "fecal flora" from the gut of a bacteria-normal person to restore the natural balance. Following months of failed alternatives, Jerry Grant, 33, said in October that his transplant, at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., worked remarkably well. (A recent study reported success in 70 of 77 patients.)
  • Forgetting to pay the monthly rental fees on a storage locker can have serious consequences, especially if the locker was used to store embarrassing or even incriminating materials. News of the Weird reported one such hapless client in 2007: a Florida Republican political operative under investigation whose locker yielded a rich trove for a local reporter.
  • Hospital protocols may be changing, but not fast enough for Doreen Wallace, who fell in the lobby of the Greater Niagara General Hospital in Ontario in October and broke her hip. Though it was less than 150 feet from the lobby to the emergency room, hospital personnel, following rules, instructed her to call an ambulance to take her around to the ER. The nearest such ambulance, in the next city, did not arrive for 30 minutes. Hospital officials said they would handle things better in the future.
  • Some themes appear so frequently as to be boring even to the creator of News of the Weird—for instance, people who go to great lengths to steal scrap metal for sale to recyclers. Two brothers, Benjamin and Alexander Jones, of New Castle, Pa., were charged in October with having dismantled an entire, little-used, 15-ton bridge in the area. They had anticipated a big payday, but ultimately cleared only about $5,000 from their laborious work with blowtorches. (Kirk Wise, 45, told the Phoenix New Times in August that he had earned about $95,000 in the previous 18 months selling scrap metal—though he admitted to blowing most of it on methamphetamines.)


Update

In October, Colorado state Sen. Suzanne Williams settled 2010 traffic charges by pleading no contest to a misdemeanor and paying $268 to a court in Amarillo, Texas. State troopers had accused Williams of driving an SUV in which her grandchildren were not wearing seatbelts. The SUV drifted across a center line and hit another vehicle, killing that vehicle's driver and ejecting the kids from Williams' SUV. The Texas troopers suggested that Williams scooped up one of the injured grandchildren, returned him to the SUV and belted him into a child seat. The case was significant because Williams had sponsored a mandatory child-safety belting law in Colorado in 2010. A grand jury declined to indict her.

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd