News of the Weird (September 7, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M387, September 7, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

They Didn’t See This Coming? (1) German Rolf Buchholz, who owns the Guinness Book world record for most body piercings (453), said he was upset to be denied entrance into United Arab Emirates in August to fulfill a performance of sorts at Dubai’s Fairmont Hotel. Buchholz said officials gave no explanation, although in addition to the piercings (example: at least 50 beads stuck to his lips), he has also implanted horns in his forehead. (2) Caius Veiovis, 33, is similarly concerned about his forehead horns. He is preparing for trial in Hamden, Mass., this week in a gruesome 2011 triple murder, and has decided to freshen up somewhat by removing the spikes from his nostrils but still needs the judge’s help to warn prospective jurors not to presume guilt from his six horns. [NBC News, 8-17-2014] [The Republican (Springfield, Mass.), 8-18-2014]

The Continuing Crisis

The New Normal: In America, TV pundits merely shout at each other, but twice recently in Middle East TV debates, discussants have roughhoused on the air. Journalist Shakir al-Johari was involved both times, on the Jordanian 7 channel in May and on Dubai TV in July. In the first, the studio was wrecked, according to Al-Arabiya news service, and the latter incident was calmed only after al-Johari threw his chair at lawyer Saleh Khrais. [BBC News, 5-7-2014] [, 7-21-2014]

From the Foreign Press: (1) After police issued a plea for help in July to identify the perpetrators of a porn movie filmed inside an Austrian church and in which actors’ faces were obscured, a serious fan of Austrian porn spoke up, naming the 24-year-old female lead. The nude breasts of the star, he said, were unmistakably those of “Babsi,” a popular actress, and she was subsequently charged with trespassing in the church. (2) Wilfred Mashaya told a magistrate in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June that he wanted to divorce his wife because, when they sleep together, “She would not even make any sexual sound”--which was, to him, unbearable. The magistrate took the case under advisement. [The Local (Vienna), 7-14-2014] [ (Harare), 6-29-2014]

Compelling Explanations

Not Our Fault: In July, two of the four fertilizer manufacturers operating in the vicinity of the April 2013 massive explosion and fire in West, Tex., filed motions contesting the city’s lawsuit against them. According to the companies, it was actually the city’s ill-trained first-responders and volunteer firefighters that caused many of the injuries. [Waco Tribune, 7-26-2014]

A Matter of Scale: (1) Police in Cologne, Germany, wrote a bicycle-equipment infraction against Bogdan Ionescu in April because his bike had no right-side handlebar brake. But since Ionescu has no right arm, he fought the ticket, and in July received a police apology. (2) David Rainsford, 44, is contesting the fee charged for a routine eye exam by Specsavers in Cramlington, England. He wants a discount because he has no right eye. (However, Specsavers says Rainsford’s glass eye can pose risks for the good eye and that the area surrounding both eyes must be checked, as well.) [Agence France-Presse via Daily Telegraph (London), 7-1-2014] [The Chronicle (Newcastle upon Tyne), 7-21-2014]

Leading Economic Indicators

Despite all that has transpired in Ukraine this year, the country’s defense-industry manufacturers continue to sell military gear to Russia (including “key parts for ship engines, advanced targeting technology for tanks, and upkeep for Russia’s heaviest nuclear missiles,” according to an August Washington Post dispatch). The Ukrainian government may be hostile to Russia, but workers at companies such as Motor Sich fear loss of jobs in an already deep recession. Said a Motor Sich spokesman, “We have our own [political] party, the party of Motor Sich.” [Washington Post, 8-15-2014]

Dilemmas of the One-Percent: In July, New York City approved construction for a 33-story condominium/apartment tower housing both luxury units (219, facing the Hudson River) and “affordable” units (55, facing the street)--with separate entrances so the beautiful people could avoid the more-downscale. (The developer, Extell, said it deserves credit for carving out the “affordable” units because the luxury units are more profitable.) [New York Post, 7-20-2014]

Considering the height restrictions zoned into London’s super-prime real estate, the only practical way for some owners to expand is to go underground (as deep as five stories’ worth of “basement”), which requires heavy digging machines. However, by the time the excavation is finished, the machines are mired at the bottom of a huge pit with no easy way to bring the behemoths up. Consequently, on some jobs, reported the New Statesman in June, property owners have elected merely to leave the machines buried under what would be their sub-basement. [New Statesman, 6-5-2014]

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species recently estimated that nearly 50,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks in the last two years, continuing the century-long drastic decline in wild pachyderms. The Fish and Wildlife Service has thus proposed new rules to curb ivory imports into the U.S., to discourage American buying. However, in July, the National Rifle Association warned that the FWS rules would be “disastrous” for America’s collectors of antique pearl-handled guns and urged members to fight the regulations (even though, as NRA advocates acknowledged, few gun owners would be affected). [The Hill (Washington, D.C.), 7-12-2014]


In August, a criminology professor at Rome’s La Sapienza University arranged a two-hour guest lecture on “emergency practices” by an “experienced” hand--Francesco Schettino, the captain currently on trial in Italy for his role in the sinking of the cruise ship Costa Concordia in 2012, when 32 people died. Said the captain, “I was called to speak because I am an expert.” “I know what to do in these sorts of situations.” (Schettino will have to refute alleged evidence that “what to do” included running straight for the nearest lifeboat.) [Associated Press via (Sydney), 8-7-2014]

Least Competent Criminals

Bright Ideas: (1) Bradley Hardison, 24, on the lam in the Elizabeth City, N.C., area from two break-in charges, nonetheless decided to enter a newsworthy contest in August--a public “donut-eating” competition, in which police officers and firefighters were his competitors. Hardison managed to win, downing eight donuts in two minutes, thus attracting even more attention. After one officer recognized him, he fled but was easily caught. (2) Recurring Theme: Raymond Betson became the most recent perp (in July in Swanley, England) to intend to break into a store (this time, a money-lending store) by ramming the wall with a digger--but broke through the wrong wall (and then another wrong wall after that). Police were summoned by the commotion and arrested him. [Reuters, 8-8-2014] [, 7-21-2014]

Readers’ Choice

(1) The tornado that ripped through Kingsport, Tenn., on July 27th damaged Jerrod Christian’s house, leaving furniture and tools strewn about his lawn. Unfortunately, according to police who filed four charges against him the next day, some of the items (an air compressor, a welder, a ratchet, an air hose, a weed trimmer) belong to his neighbors, who had long suspected (without proof) that Christian had burglarized their homes. (2) Russian researchers launched several critters into space on July 19th, including a male and four female geckos (to follow their mating capabilities), but by July 25th reported that they had lost contact with the satellite, drawing comical concern (most notably, from TV’s Stephen Colbert). Although the communication link was restored several days later, with the geckos reportedly still copulating, ultimately only the mission’s fruit flies survived the satellite’s return to Earth.) [ABC News, 7-30-2014] [New York Times, 9-2-2014]

Thanks This Week to Alan Magid, Suzi McCoy, Sarah Del Collo, Tracy Westen, and Christine Van Lenten, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Sep 07, 2014

Re: Donut champ, he should have watched Raising Arizona first. To quote Leonard Smalls, "If you want to find an outlaw, you call an outlaw. If you want to find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop."
Posted by Harvey on 09/07/14 at 09:10 PM
Height restrictions in London meaning equipment left in situ -- what a bonanza for archaeologists a thousand years from now! Tools are vitally important in establishing elements of a culture.

Plebes might laugh at the clunky things used before disintegrator rays became the norm, but scientists will be ecstatic over the deep rumbling a Cat diesel warming up!
Posted by Phideaux on 09/07/14 at 10:16 PM
The proposed new ivory regulations are supposed to allow people to keep antique ivory, but the fine print sets conditions which are impossible to comply with. The NRA is one of many organizations lobbying for a more rational approach to the problem of elephant poaching.
Posted by Cougar Allen on 09/07/14 at 11:19 PM
Horny Defendant Why are these guys, not only allowed but, encouraged to change their 'image' to something other than what they looked like when the crime was committed?

New Normal We're, obviously, not selling enough guns in the region.

Wilfred Mashaya Sounds like Willie's willie isn't willing to wake wifey's willingness to warble for Willie's willie. Say that 10 times fast!

Slow Firemen What's weird about this? Nobody takes blame for their actions any more.

1% Apartments Please tell me there will be paper-thin back walls.


Ivory Trade I've oft wondered why tons of confiscated ivory is destroyed instead of used to flood the market &, at least, make some money off of it to support the effort to protect the remaining critters. Or..... is that just to @#[email protected]#$ing simple an idea?

Capt. Concordia Oh, he KNEW what to do he just didn't do it.

Comrad Gecko See, I told you there was only 1 male!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/08/14 at 03:42 AM
@Expat47 -- even in a good year for law enforcement, the amount of ivory confiscated is usually less that 2% of the trade. It's a huge market.
Posted by Phideaux on 09/08/14 at 06:44 AM
Wasn't the Gecko story more of a Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver rather than Colbert?
Posted by Jon on 09/08/14 at 08:09 AM
Digging: the Channel Tunnel people did the same sort of thing for at least some of the boring machines. When they got to the X on the map, they just turned a little sideways, dug a bit more of a hole, and walled it off as they lined the through tunnel. They did put one machine on display in the center of a roundabout, though.

Concordia: it's a criminology class. I'd say the Captain is experienced in criminal matters.

Ivory: Good idea, Expat, but the fear is that traffickers will all claim that their ivory is legit. It's a similar problem to the one with conflict diamonds.

Willie's willie: Wow! That's quite a mouthful. Er, maybe I should rephrase that...
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 09/08/14 at 08:33 AM
Bogdan Ionescu - he should have been arrested instead for riding a bike with only one arm. That sounds really dangerous.

Motor Sich - you have to love these cross-conflict love stories - sort of like Romeo and Juliet.

Babsi- the linked article didn't mention anything about an arrest, and no pictures either.
Posted by RobK on 09/08/14 at 11:42 AM
RobK: If you've been doing it all your life, as most people in the Netherlands and at least the lower parts of Germany (including Köln) have, riding a bike single-handed isn't particularly dangerous at all.
Posted by Richard Bos on 09/09/14 at 03:35 PM
CITES: I gather the NRA thinks pearl grows on elephants?
Posted by John Ayer on 09/09/14 at 11:12 PM
Naaa.. Pearl works down to the whoor house on State Street.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/10/14 at 01:05 AM
Ayer: what's the betting that a sizable part of the elephant shooting is done by NRA members on safari?
(Granted, probably not nearly as much as Chinese poachers as a change from killing rhinos for their horns. But still, I suspect a vested interest.)
Posted by Richard Bos on 09/10/14 at 08:41 AM
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