News of the Weird December 10 2008

Superjuice, swollen rectums and more

LEAD STORY: When a four-bedroom house inhabited by 50 tenants partially collapsed in October in Honolulu, at least 10 of the residents said they had been pressured to let the property manager give them experimental “stem-cell” injections. Manager Daniel Cunningham, 56, and a de-licensed chiropractor, said he has been injecting the substance phenol into himself for years to treat gnarled hands (though the hands appeared to a Honolulu Advertiser reporter to be deteriorating to the point where Cunningham wears socks over them). One man said Cunningham injected him directly into the eye, and others complained of various side effects. Cunningham ran for mayor of Honolulu this year and in the September primary received 737 votes on a platform of complaining about government’s meddling into health care.

The Continuing Crisis: The remote Manitoba First Nations tribes in Canada have largely moved away from alcohol abuse, according to an October Winnipeg Sun report, to the abuse of much more potent “superjuice,” made with a fast-acting yeast that encourages quick brewing. According to a local probation officer, though, underbrewing results in the swill’s continuing to ferment in the stomach after consumption, causing violent pain and progressive inebriation lasting for days.

In 2003, retired Colorado businessman John Haines, who was concerned about dangerous cracks in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, went to great lengths to find and purchase a huge slab of the identical high-grade white marble of the Tomb and offered it, free of charge, shipping included, to the Army (which has been considering reconstruction of the Tomb since 1987). In the ensuing five years, according to an August Denver Post story, the Army continues to ignore Haines, yet periodically shows interest in opening the reconstruction to competitive bidding, but mostly just allows the idea to languish.

The Sacred Institution of Marriage: In September, a Wisconsin appeals court suppressed the surveillance video that allegedly captured David Johnson, 59, having sex with his comatose wife in a Portage nursing home, obviously violating the state law against sex without consent. Nursing home caregivers had installed the camera to protect the wife, but the court ruled it an invasion of the privacy of the marital relationship.

The New Nature of Work: Officer Keith Breiner, suspended from the police force in Beaumont, Texas, for crossing the line during an undercover prostitution sting (that is, he actually had sex), defended himself in an August hearing: “It was a job, sir. I didn’t have pleasure doing it.” It was, he said, “something I did for the city.”

News That Sounds Like a Joke:

1) In October, the local government council in Worcester, England, ordered Bill Malcolm to take down the 3-foot-high, barbed-wire fence he had installed to deter the thieves who had broken into his storage shed three times in the previous four months. According to the Daily Mail, the council said it feared the government would be sued by a wounded trespasser.

Kids, Let a Professional Handle This: Two high school boys in Markesan, Wis., were hospitalized in September with broken pelvises after a “prank” went bad and a classmate inadvertently drove over them as they lay in the road in front of her car. On the other hand, a professional, Tom Owen (known as the “Human Speed Bump”), was hospitalized in October with similar injuries after he attempted to break the Guinness Book record by being run over by eight vehicles (with the last one, a box truck, leaving him in bad shape). Owen got certification, though, because the truck did pass completely over him.

Failure to Keep a Low Profile:

1) University of New Hampshire officials banned Bert Allen III, 44, a convicted sex offender, from campus in September for posting fliers without permission, seeking a “trophy wife.” To further draw attention to himself, Allen sued for a restraining order (unsuccessfully) to allow the continued solicitation. 2) Police in Covington, Ky., arrested Gregory Griggs, 19, in October at the USA Motel, a suspected drug market. Though several people were booked that night, Griggs was the one wearing the T-shirt that read, “It’s Not Illegal Unless You Get Caught.”