News of the Weird M525 (May 30, 2017)

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Chuck Shepherd

Apr 30, 2017, 10:17:12 AM4/30/17
WEIRDNUZ.M525 (News of the Weird, April 30, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.

Lead Story

* Robotic models of living organisms are useful to scientists, who
can study the effects of stimuli without risk to actual people.
Northwestern University researchers announced in March that its
laboratory model of the "female reproductive system" has reached
a milestone:  its first menstrual period.  Human tissue, working on
an "ovary," had produced hormones that stimulated the system
(uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes, liver) for 28 days, reaching
the predictable result.  Chief researcher Teresa Woodruff said she
imagines eventually growing a system from tissue provided by the
patient undergoing treatment.  [New York Times, 4-4-2017]

Recurring Themes (and Updates on Previous Characters)

* Chutzpah!  Henry Wachtel, 24, continues in legal limbo after
being found "not criminally responsible" for the death of his
mother in 2014, despite having beaten her in the head and
elsewhere up to 100 times--because he was having an epileptic
seizure at that moment and has no memory of the attack.  A judge
must still decide the terms of Wachtel's psychiatric hospitalization,
but Wachtel's mind is clear enough now that, in March, he
demanded, as sole heir, payoff on his mother's life insurance policy
(which, under New York law, is still technically feasible).   [New
York Post, 3-30-2017]

* Epic Smugglers:  In February, federal Customs agents seized 22
pounds of illegal animal meat (in a wide array) at the Dallas-Fort
Worth International Airport.  Among the tasty items were raw
chicken, pig and cow meat, brains, hearts, heads, tongues, and feet-
-in addition to (wrote a reporter) "other body parts" (if there even
are any other edible parts).  In a typical day nationwide, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection seizes about 4,600 smuggled plant
or animal products.  [WFAA-TV, 2-10-2017]

* Over the years, News of the Weird has covered the longstanding
campaign by animal-rights activists to bestow "human" rights upon
animals (begun, of course, with intelligent orangutans and
gorillas).  In March, the New Zealand parliament gave human
rights to a river--the Whanganui, long revered by the country's
indigenous Maori.  (One Maori and one civil servant were
appointed as the river's representatives.)  Within a week, activists
in India, scouring court rulings, found two of that country's
waterways with similar status--the Ganges and Yamouna rivers,
designated by judges in Uttarakhand state.  (The Ganges's "rights"
seem hollow since an estimated one billion gallons of waste still
enters it every day despite its being a holy bathing spot for Hindus.)
[Washington Post, 3-21-2017]

* Yet another weak-securitied intimate accessory drew attention
when hackers broke down a $249 Svakom Silme Eye personal
vibrator in April, revealing a lazily-created default password
("88888888") and wi-fi network name ("Silme Eye").  Since the
Eye's camera and Internet access facilitate livestream video of a
user's most personal body parts, anyone within "Bluetooth" range
can break in (and be entertained) by just driving around a city
looking for the "Silme Eye" network.  [, 4-3-2017]

* Ewwww!  Luu Cong Huyen, 58, in Yen Giao, Vietnam, is the
most recent to attract reporters' attention with disturbingly long
fingernails.  A March report, with cringe-
inducing photos, failed to disclose their precise length, but Huyen
said he has not clipped them since a 2013 report on VietnamNet
revealed that each measured up to 19.7 inches.  Huyen explained
(inadequately) that his nail obsession started merely as a hobby and
that he is not yet over it.  (The Guinness Book record is not exactly
within fingertip reach:  73.5 inches per nail, by Shridhar Chilal of
India.)  [Oddity Central, 3-23-2017; VietnamNet (Ho Chi Minh
City), 5-11-2013; LiveScience, 10-1-2015] ]

* And a Partridge in a Pear Tree:  In February, a pet welfare
organization complained of a raid on a home near Lockhart, Tex.,
that housed more than 400 animals (and, of course, reeked
"overpowering[ly]" of urine).  The inventory:  86 snakes, 56 guinea
pigs, 28 dogs, 26 rabbits, 15 goats, 9 doves, 8 skinks, 7 pigs, 6
pigeons, 4 gerbils, 3 bearded dragons, 2 ducks, and 1 tarantula--
plus about 150 rats and mice (to feed the menagerie) and 20 other
animals whose numbers did not fit the above lyric pattern.  [San
Antonio Express-News, 2-22-2017]


* For more than a decade, an "editor" has been roaming the streets
at night in Bristol, England, "correcting" violations of standard
grammar, lately being described as "The Apostrophiser" since
much of his work involves adjusting (or often obliterating) that
punctuation mark.  On April 3rd, BBC television at last portrayed
the vigilante in action, in a "ride-along" documentary that featured
him using the special marking and climbing tools that facilitate his
work.  His first mission, in 2003, involved a government sign
"Monday's to Friday's" ("ridiculous," he said), and he recalled an
even more cloying store sign--"Amys Nail's"--as "so loud and in
your face.")  [The Guardian, 4-3-2017]

* Unclear on the Concept:  Rhinoceros herds are dwindling in
South Africa despite an international ban on selling rhino horns
(which bring astonishingly high prices, apparently based on
their trophy value).  In April, South Africa's highest court ruled that
the existing ban on domestic sales of rhino horns is
unconstitutional--on petition from local ranchers who had
complained that they need to sell horn to protect the animal from
illegal rhino poachers--since their expenses for security (such as
armed patrols, even by helicopter) have risen dramatically).
[Christian Science Monitor, 4-6-2017]

* New York City health officials have convinced most ultra-
Orthodox Jewish "mohels" to limit their ritual circumcisions with
sterile tools and gauze, but still, according to a March New York
Post report, a few holdouts insist on the old-fashioned way of
removing the blood from an incision--by sucking it up with their
mouths (and thus potentially passing along herpes from one infant
to another).  Some local temples are so protective of their customs
that they refuse to name the "offending" mohels (who are not
licensed medical professionals), thus restricting parents' ability to
choose safe practitioners.  [New York Post, 3-31-2017]

* A "locked" cell phone (tied to a particular carrier), though a
nuisance to purchasers, is only a several-hundred-dollar nuisance.
A more serious crisis arises, as News of the Weird noted in 2015,
when farmers buy $500,000 combines that they believe they "own"
but then find that Deere has "locked" the machines' sophisticated
software, preventing even small repairs or upgrades until a Deere
service rep shows up to enter the secret password (and, of course,
leaves a bill!).  Deere's business model has driven some farmers
recently to a black market of fearless Ukrainian hackers (some of
the same risky dark-net outlaws believed to pose online dangers),
who help put the farmer back on track.  Eight state legislatures are
presently considering overriding Deere's contract to create a "right
to repair."  [NPR via High Plains Public Radio, 4-20-2017]

* Paul Cobb (also known as Craig Cobb) continues to look for a
tiny North Dakota town in which he (and, potentially, fellow white
supremacists) can buy enough land to establish a Caucasian
enclave.  News of the Weird first noticed his work in 2013 when
he was eyeing (unsuccessfully, it turned out) Leith (pop. 16) and
Antler (pop. 28), but recently he purchased an old church in
bustling Nome, N.D. (pop. 61), likely renewing his quest.  (His
Leith plans ended badly after locals convinced him to prove his
whiteness with a DNA test, which revealed him to be 14 percent
"sub-Saharan African.")   [WDAY-TV (Fargo), 3-21-2017] .

* No Longer Weird?  For the 31st consecutive Easter in the
Philippines, Ruben Enaje, 56, was among the throngs of devout
Christians who slashed their own torsos bloody, then flogged
themselves repeatedly as they marched through the streets to
demonstrate homage to God, and dozens of men in San Pedro
Cutud, Santa Lucia, Bulacan, and other villages replicated the
crucifixion of Jesus by having sterilized four-inch nails driven into
their own arms and legs.  When News of the Weird first
encountered the Philippine phenomenon in 1989, the crucifixions
had built a 40-year history and still listed, as an official sponsor,
the Philippines Department of Tourism (but no longer).  (The
Catholic Church, as usual, "banned" the extreme acts, to little
effect.)   [Manila Bulletin, 4-13-2017]

     Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of
Editorial Advisors.

                     ****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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