Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird
■ Happy New Year: In the Hillbrow neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, celebrants apparently decided to abandon an ensconced tradition and not hurl furniture from high-rise apartments. (The Hillbrow custom was highlighted on one social-networking website, along with the New Year’s graveyard gathering of relatives in Chile and Ireland’s banging bread on walls to dispel evil spirits.)
■ Holy Mutations: Deformed animals born in developing countries often attract streams of pilgrims, seeking to touch a creature considered divinely blessed. In December, a five-legged cow in Raipur, India, had supposedly “caused” the last 30 women who touched it to give birth to boys. And a day after that report came one from Phuket, Thailand, in which a newborn gecko with six legs and two heads has become a magnet for visitors seeking clues to winning lottery numbers.
■ In November the Journal-News of Hamilton, Ohio, examining various police union contracts in the state, learned that in several jurisdictions, officers are allowed to work their shifts even when less sober than some drivers whom they ticket for DUI. In Lebanon, Ohio, for instance, cops can work with a .04 blood-alcohol reading. In Butler County, a .04 reading triggers legal protections for officers that are unavailable to ordinary drivers. (However, in Lebanon, an officer’s right to suck on a breath mint before taking the test was recently removed from the contract.)■ News of the Weird has reported the emerging mainstream treatment (for various bowel disorders) of fecal transplants, in which a healthier relative “donates” via enema supposedly healthier microbes to a sickly patient to normalize intestinal activity. The process, still strange to many patients despite its apparent success, has become so popular that in October Canadian officials felt the need to warn patients not to perform amateur transplants. Said one mother, after successfully having her 10-year-old daughter treated, “I think one day…we will have fecal-matter banks like [blood banks and sperm banks].”
■ Unclear on the Concept: In December, after Carmen Reategui, 34, was arrested for DUI in Readington Township, N.J., and was too impaired to drive home, she called Nina Petracca, 23, who arrived at the police station impaired herself (and was arrested for DUI), and both women called Ryan Hogan, 33, to take them home, but he also arrived impaired and was arrested.
■ Classics: Daniel Severn, 27, pleaded guilty to burglary in England’s Hull Crown Court in December, for trying to enter a home through the roof but getting trapped, upside down, in the bathroom. He dug his phone out of his pocket, but it fell into the bath, and he remained hanging for an hour and a half until a resident arrived and found him.
Updates on News of the Weird Stories
■ Unrelenting, swastika-tattooed New Jersey neo-Nazi Heath Campbell, 40, saw child No. 9 born in November, and once again, the county family welfare office removed her almost immediately. “I’m not allowed to have children because I’m a Nazi,” he lamented. Campbell first made headlines in 2008 when a bakery declined to decorate a birthday cake for his son, Adolf Hitler Campbell, leading child welfare officials to investigate, and more seizures followed, now including the November-born Eva (Lynn Patricia) Braun. Campbell told reporters he would continue to fight for offspring. “I’ll stop making them when they stop taking them.”
■ Among planet Earth’s most bizarre local
customs is the Christmas tradition in Spain’s Catalonia region of decorating
Nativity scenes with figurines of famous people squatting and answering nature’s
calls. News of the Weird has noted that presidents (Bush and Obama) have been
“honored” with posterior-baring statuettes, along with Queen Elizabeth. Right
on cue this past Christmas, Spanish artists unveiled
caganers in the images of Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela. (Perhaps the least-illogical explanation for the tradition is that if the manger is fertilized, the coming year's crops will flourish.)
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD