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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Beef from Wagyu cattle, originally bred in Japan, has long been considered by chefs and gourmets to be the finest in the world. Now, according to a January dispatch in Britain's Sunday Telegraph, an exporter in southwest Australia has created a new tier of high-end meat by having a local Wagyu herd consume feed mixed with wine--specifically a 2004 cabernet merlot, said to display "complex blackcurrant and subtle menthol with fruit cake and vanilla bean flavours." Though a single wine-fed Wagyu steak can cost as much as $90, the exporter said it's received such a flurry of orders that it may have trouble meeting demand.

Substandard Medical Care

In January Britain's General Dental Council found David Quelch, a dentist in Bexhill, England, guilty of serious misconduct and barred him from further practice. According to testimony, after hearing that an 87-year-old patient had told her doctor she'd found Quelch's previous conduct unprofessional, Quelch pulled out two of the woman's teeth over her objections and without anesthetic, shouting afterward, "That'll teach you not to complain to the doctor." Also in January, a Romanian court suspended the license of surgeon Naum Ciomu and ordered him to pay a patient about $200,000 for an incident at Panduri Hospital in Bucharest: after making an incision error during testicular surgery, Ciomu lost his temper, cut off the patient's penis, sliced it into three pieces, and stormed out of the operating room.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported several times on people with apotemnophilia, or body integrity identity disorder--the consuming desire to have one or more healthy limbs removed. In a January column in the UK's Guardian, one sufferer described (under a pseudonym) a lifetime of dealing with the condition: her awareness at age six that she wanted to lose her legs; her repeated, excruciating attempts as an adult to irreparably damage her left leg and thus necessitate its amputation by sitting in the back of her car with the leg immersed in dry ice for as long as four hours ("I now know you need a minimum of six hours to kill a leg completely"); the eventual removal of the leg last summer after it finally became dangerously infected and her feeling more confident and "complete" afterward; and her promise to her husband "to leave the remaining leg on for as long as possible."

News That Sounds Like a Joke

Florida state senator Gary Siplin was convicted in August of grand theft for having staff members spend state time working on his reelection campaign but retains his office pending an appeal. In December he introduced a bill that would make it easier for felons to regain their voting rights once they've served their sentence.

Least Competent Criminals

One afternoon in January, according to authorities in Hartselle, Alabama, 22-year-old Daniel Brown put on a ski mask, armed himself with a jack handle, and walked the ten feet from his house to his grandfather's, where he announced: "This is a robbery. I need your money, and I mean it, Pa-Paw." Brown allegedly found his grandfather's wallet in a pair of pants hanging on a chair; the grandfather tackled him, but he broke free after a scuffle and returned to his own home. Police said that when they arrived they found the pants, the wallet, the jack handle, and $5 on the ground between the two houses. Brown denied he was the robber.

Least Competent People

Glenn Vickers, 53, of Charleston, West Virginia, was charged in January with DUI and failure to control his vehicle. Driving west on Interstate 64, Vickers allegedly tailgated for some distance a car driven by Kanawha County sheriff Mike Rutherford; after nearly hitting Rutherford at least three times, police said, Vickers then pulled around him, gave him the finger, and promptly drove into the guardrail.

The Continuing Crisis

In Atmore, Alabama, in January 70-year-old Dan Gulley Jr. allegedly shot his friend David Brooks Jr., 62, twice in the abdomen during an argument over how tall James Brown was. Police said Brooks returned fire but missed before being taken to the hospital. Also in January, New Jersey health officials issued an advisory warning people living near a toxic waste dump in Upper Ringwood to eat squirrel no more than twice a week. (It was further recommended that pregnant women eat squirrel only twice a month, children once a month.)

The city of Philadelphia announced in January that it would pay $180,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by Janet Lee, a 21-year-old student at Bryn Mawr. In December 2003 Lee--possibly unfamiliar with smuggling techniques notoriously used by drug mules--tried to board a flight to Los Angeles with a carry-on bag containing three condoms filled with flour, apparently joke items that she and her friends squeezed to relieve stress while studying for exams. Police at the airport didn't believe her story, and Lee spent three weeks in jail before lab tests proved the condoms' contents were perfectly legal.

An alarm indicating an overflowing tank went off in late December at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, England, but when marine biologist Sarah Leaney arrived to check, water levels were normal. As it turned out, a sea turtle had become unusually flatulent following a special Christmas meal of brussels sprouts, and the resulting bubbles tripped the overflow sensor.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belshwender.

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