Chuck Shepherd's News of The Weird
The billion-dollar deer-farming industry in America produces generations of bucks growing progressively larger racks of antlers mainly for eventual bragging rights by the so-called “hunters” who will pay large fees to kill them in fenced-in fields just so they can hang the grotesque antlers in their dens. Even before the farm-raised deer are stalked (reported The Indianapolis Star in March in its multipart investigation), bucks’ necks habitually slump from the weight of the freakish antlers. Most states allow such “hunting,” and in some, the activity is lightly regulated, lacking the safety rules and more humane conditions required by open-forest hunting laws and agriculture protocols. The Indianapolis Star also highlighted several captive-deer diseases that doctors still worry might jump species to humans (as “mad cow” disease did).
■ News of the Weird has several times chronicled the sad saga of India’s holy but severely polluted Ganges River, on which millions of Hindus are dependent—through hands-on worship—for worldly success and for salvation. Now, recent reports reveal that the second-holiest river, the Yamuna, is suffering the same fate even though the government has invested nearly $1 billion in programs to clean it up. Currently, for example, more than 400 million gallons of untreated sewage, plus various industrial chemicals, enter the river from Delhi, but still, motivated worshippers come to "bathe" for glory.
■ “Arranged” Bride Fights Back: Fatima Mangre, 8, was granted a divorce from her husband, Arjun Bakridi, 14, in India’s Uttar Pradesh state in November, becoming the youngest divorcee in the country’s recorded history. Bakridi, then age 10, had married Mangre, then age 4, but his father promised that the couple would not cohabitate until she turned 18. When Bakridi tried to move up the date, Mangre’s dad filed divorce papers for his daughter. The legal age for marriage in the state is 18, but a United Nations agency said the law is still widely ignored.
■ Not an Urban Legend: (1) A county official in Portland, Ore., said his office gets “20 to 30 calls” about rats in toilets every year, like the one Daniel Powers reported in March when he spotted the “little guy with beady eyes” looking up at him. (2) The problem is more severe in India, where an emergency crew rushed to the Mumbai-area home of Vipul Desai in February to remove a 6-foot-long cobra from the toilet (but not before it “repeatedly” popped its head out of the commode, terrorizing Desai’s wife and daughter). A team from a wildlife rescue association flooded the toilet, grabbed the snake and released it in the forest.
■ People sometimes stage ruses to avoid unpleasant tasks, such as the student who calls in a bomb threat when he’s unprepared for an exam, but Dwayne Yeager’s motivation was simply laziness. Yeager, 31, called police in Brandon, Fla., in March, reporting a “burglary” at his home, but after questioning, officers charged him with making up the “crime” just so he could stay home from work that day. (Coincidentally, in Kittery, Maine, three days earlier, the U.S. Navy formally decommissioned its nuclear submarine USS Miami, which had suffered irreparable fire damage in 2012 caused by a shipyard worker. The worker started what he wrongly believed would be a small blaze—so that he could get off work for the day—a decision now costing him 17 years in federal prison.) -
The news site medpagetoday.com is keeping tabs on the eventual unveiling of new, obscure, minutely detailed billing codes for doctors to report diagnoses and treatments to insurance companies, and among the latest finds ready to be part of the medical landscape are separate codes for injuries occurring from a “balloon collision” or during “knitting and crocheting” or for injuries during “gardening and landscaping” (though not merely caused by “digging, shoveling and raking,” which seems to require a different code). Distinct codes are necessary if an injury occurred at an opera house or if the patient is injured by walking into a lamppost (with separate codes for the first such lamppost collision and for repeat collisions).
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD