People Different From Us

Researchers at St. Mary’s Hospital in London had been stumped how 10 British men had contracted a rare virus called human T-cell leukemia virus type 1. The men weren’t intravenous drug users and hadn’t had transfusions; none of them displayed any symptoms, but doctors had identified the virus through bloodwork. Dr. Divya Dhasmana, co-author of a study published March 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was eventually tipped off to the source of the infections when she saw scars on one of the men’s back: The men participate in blood-shedding religious rituals, such as cutting or whipping themselves. The rituals the men reported include striking the forehead with a knife, then passing the knife to other men; or striking the back with a chain of blades. Dr. Dhasmana told the Associated Press that one infected man told her the blades were soaked in a bucket of antiseptic solution between uses, but that didn’t prevent the virus’ spread. “Our message is not ‘Don’t do it,'” said Dr. Dhasmana. “Our message is, ‘If you do it, don’t share equipment.'”


A 43-year-old man in Nimbin, Australia, has the proliferation of modern technology to thank for his life. Reuters reported that on March 13, the unnamed man arrived home only to find a 39-year-old man “who was known to him,” waiting outside with a bow and arrow. As Man A raised his mobile phone to take a picture of Man B, Man B “engaged the bow and was ready to fire,” according to a police report. Man B “fired the arrow at the resident, which pierced through the man’s mobile phone, causing the phone to hit (Man A) in the chin. It left a small laceration that didn’t require medical treatment.” Man B was arrested at the scene, police reported.

The Litigious Society

Joanne Cullen, 64, of North Bellmore, Long Island, wants to make administrators of St. Charles Resurrection Cemetery in Farmingdale pay for the horror she experienced in December 2016 as she visited her parents’ graves. On that day, Cullen was reaching down to straighten a bow on a wreath when the ground opened up beneath her and a sinkhole “caused her to fall forward and smash her head on the tombstone,” cracking a tooth, her attorney, Joseph Perrini, told the New York Post. As Cullen sank, she grabbed the sides of the tombstone and yelled for help, but no one heard her. Cullen filed suit in March in Queens Supreme Court, asking for $5 million to overcome the nightmares and headaches she experiences, along with the fear of walking in open fields. “I will never go back there again,” Cullen said. “Getting sucked into your parents’ grave … it’s terrifying and traumatizing,” Perrini added.

Criminal Ingenuity

Outside the North Fork Correctional Unit in Sayre, Oklahoma, Kerri Jo Hickman was arrested on March 10 for delivering contraband to prison inmates, reported the Associated Press. Hickman’s clever delivery method was a T-shirt gun, used by sports team mascots to shoot promotional shirts at fans. Hickman, however, launched methamphetamines, cellphones, ear buds, phone chargers, digital scales, marijuana and tobacco to some lucky con on the other side, but police discovered the gun and another package in her car, and she was booked on charges of introducing contraband into a penal institution, conspiracy and drug trafficking in Beckham County.

Oh, the Drama

Dog walker Michele Bilsland has become accustomed to strangers’ alarm when her charge, Begbie, throws himself to the ground as they start out on their constitutional. Begbie, who lives with Roz Niblock and Matt Kennedy in Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland, stages his protest when Bilsland leads him on what he knows is the shorter route around the block, rather than his usual hour-long jaunt through fields. On March 15, two workmen stopped to see if Bilsland needed help: “I told them he was fine and just having a tantrum and sulking,” she told Metro News. Begbie, a 4-year-old Old English bulldog, continued his charade for at least a minute before getting up and getting on with his walk. “Begbie just has a very strong personality,” Bilsland noted.


Arby’s manager Le’Terria Akins, 21, was arrested in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, for aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief on March 16 after an altercation with Ernst Point Du Jour, an employee. FOX 35 reported that trouble started after Akins asked Point Du Jour if he could work late that evening, according to police. When he refused, the two began arguing, and witnesses reported that as Point Du Jour got very close to Akins, she pepper-sprayed him. Point Du Jour ran out of the building with Akins in hot pursuit, wielding a long kitchen knife. Police said Akins did not stab Du Jour but did scratch his car with the knife.

Bright Idea

Topeka, Kansas, police took the joy out of “joyride” on March 16 for Nicholas Hodgden, 40, who climbed into a forklift outside a Dillons grocery store that evening and set off down the road. The forklift, valued at $1,500, had been left outside the store with the keys in the ignition, The Topeka Capitol-Journal reported. A spokesperson for the police department said bystanders saw what happened and called police, who apprehended Hodgden as he drove along, holding an open can of beer. He also had a six-pack in the back. Hodgden was booked into the Shawnee County Jail on one count of felony theft and misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and transporting an open alcoholic beverage container.

Government in Action

Ah, the winds of politics blow fickly. Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II, 27, watched his fortunes both fall and rise, all on one ballot, when residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, voted to recall him. Correia was charged last year with 13 counts of wire fraud and filing false tax returns, which he has denied, and on March 12, 7,829 citizens voted to kick him out of office, The New York Times reported. But of the five people vying for the mayor’s job on the same ballot, Correia won a plurality — about 35 percent of the vote. Looks like he can unpack his banker’s boxes and hang his pictures back up — at least until September, when a mayoral primary will give other candidates another chance.

Insult to Injury

The last thing Ohio defense attorney Aaron Brockler remembers after hearing the judge pronounce a 47-year sentence for his client, David Chislton, 42, was a “swoosh” sound. That was the sound of Chislton’s fist speeding through the air toward Brockler’s face. On Feb. 19, Chislton had pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County to domestic abuse, aggravated arson, felonious assault and cruelty to a companion animal, and Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo handed down his sentence as he stood handcuffed next to his lawyer. But before Brockler could tell him that he would try to get the sentence reduced, Chislton had knocked him to the floor. “All I remember is waking up on the floor underneath the table,” Brockler told WKYC TV. Brockler suffered a concussion and a broken nose. Chislton faces additional charges.

I’ve Had It Up to Here!

It seems Cynthia Grund, 58, is not one to back down from a challenge. Particularly after her 37-year-old son had been drinking all day at her home in Salem Township, Minnesota. So when he lay down on the driveway and asked, “Why don’t you just run me over?” she was happy to oblige, reported KIMT TV. “He didn’t believe I would. He has been drinking all day. We gave him a chance,” Grund told deputies who responded to her husband’s 911 call on March 18. Grund said she had arranged for her son to stay with a friend and was prepared to give him a ride when he stretched out on the ground. He suffered significant injuries to his head and pelvis, and Grund is accused of second-degree assault and may face an attempted murder charge. Neighbor Samuel Haefner was shocked by the incident: “They were always friendly … I would never describe them as off or malicious in any sort of way.”

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