News of the Weird September 05 2007

Vacuum obsessions, polygamy and more

Lead Story: Kyle Krichbaum, 12, of Adrian, Mich., has had an obsession with vacuum cleaners since infancy, when he was mesmerized by the whirring, said his mother, and for years, he says, he has enjoyed vacuuming so much that he does the house up to five times a day, with one of the 165 new and used vacuum cleaners in his collection. Said a former teacher, "It's not that he didn't like recess. He just preferred to stay inside vacuuming." Older sister Michelle, interviewed for a July CBS News profile of Kyle, spoke for all of us: "He's constantly vacuuming. I'm just like 'why, why, why, why, why, why?' I don't understand."</
Government in Action! In April, Britain's Office of Work and Pensions acknowledged to the Daily Mail that the multiple wives of polygamous husbands who are legally in the country routinely draw dependents' unemployment allowances from the government (even though polygamy itself is illegal in the U.K.). A single person receives the equivalent of about $120 a week, and a married couple about $180, with each additional wife about $60.</
It's Good to Be a British Prisoner: Faced with overcrowding, the government announced earlier this year that 25,500 inmates would be early-released, and since that would take away their "free" housing for the remainder of their sentences, awarded each released person "room and board" expenses to live on until their terms expired.</
Great Art! The Horror of War: A U.S. law professor representing Guantanamo prisoners compiled a book of poems by some of the detainees, to be published this month by University of Iowa Press and featuring a cover blurb by former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Among the verses, for example, by Sami al Haj, quoted in a June Wall Street Journal story: "When I heard the pigeons cooing in the trees/Hot tears covered my face" and "My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish/Violent with passion." The U.S. military had to approve the text, citing the ease with which imagery could be used as coded messages to colleagues outside.</
Police Report: 1) James Coldwell, 49, was arrested in Manchester, N.H., in July and charged as the man who robbed a Citizens Bank branch dressed as a tree (branches duct-taped to his body and head, obscuring much of his face, though he was still identified from the security camera). 2) A prosecutor in Chelsea, Vt., refused in June to pursue police officers' charges against Jayna Hutchinson, 33, that she had committed a crime because she made faces at a police dog and "star[ed]" at him.</
Community Policing: One traditional opportunity for police in the United States to mediate problems occurs when they facilitate the exchange of driver information (identification and insurance) in traffic accidents. Similarly, in Braunschweig, Germany, in June, police were called to a legal brothel to mediate a prostitute-client dispute following the rupture of a condom during their encounter. Police were successful in encouraging the prostitute, and the reluctant customer, to exchange information, in case of future health problems.</
Public Urination and Drug Law Enforcement: 1) Authorities in Doylestown, Pa., arrested 34 people after a seven-month police investigation of drug-dealing that began last December when a man on probation gave the police information about the ring in order to avoid going back to prison. He had been facing a charge of public urination. 2) Chicago police arrested three alleged dope sellers in June after casually spotting one of them inside a garage with the door open, bagging $670,000 worth of marijuana. The police came upon the garage while chasing a man who had been urinating in public.</
Recurring Themes: Accidents that leave victims relatively normal but with severely heightened sexual desires have been mentioned several times in News of the Weird, back to a 1978 collision with a Pepsi truck that, according to a jury in Detroit, left a man with a spontaneous, intense desire to become a woman. In 2002, motorcyclist Kunal Lindsay was hit by a car and, after an arduous physical recovery, realized he had become maniacally horny (and, incidentally, unusually interested in cell phones) and that his marriage was near collapse because he constantly pestered his wife for sex, often in "pornographic" terms. London's High Court approved an insurance settlement in March 2007 for the equivalent of about $2.4 million (with more, should Lindsay's condition "deteriorate").</
Least Competent Criminals: 1) In May, Damion Mosher, 18, of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., became the most recent person to injure himself by needing to find out if putting a bullet into a vise and hitting it with a screwdriver would cause it to fire. (It would; he was slightly wounded.) 2) Two men and a woman were among the recent wave of people trying to cash in on the high price of copper scrap metal when they broke into an abandoned nursing home in Gainesville, Ga., in July. However, they had missed the sign at the entrance announcing that the building had recently been converted into a training facility and kennel for police dogs, and they were quickly sicced on and arrested.</
Undignified Deaths: 1) Police in Brandon, Fla., arrested Willie Tarpley Jr., 46, in May, alleging that he killed his ex-wife's boyfriend because he was upset she was dating a man who was a registered sex offender (even though Tarpley and his ex-wife are reportedly also registered sex offenders). 2) At a Toronto nursing home in May, a 69-year-old resident angrily kicked a 79-year-old fellow resident, causing him to fall and fatally hit his head. The victim had taken up with a female resident, thinking she was his wife, but the jealous younger man thought the woman was his own wife. She was actually married to neither; all three had Alzheimer's disease. (No charges were filed.)</