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And So It Begins

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



And So It Begins
Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely is on trial in Athens, Ala., facing 11 counts of theft and ethics charges related to his job. On March 6, Blakely went to the hospital, where his lawyers told the court he was being tested for COVID-19. But in a special hearing on March 7, Dr. Maria Onoya told Judge Pride Tompkins that while Blakely was indeed admitted to the hospital, and received multiple tests, none of them were for COVID-19. In fact, she said there was no evidence to suggest he should even be tested for it, The News Courier reported. Judge Tompkins ended the hearing with harsh words for Blakely's defense team: "I don't know what your tactic is, but it's condemned by the court," he said. He went on to note that he was "very disturbed" by the defense's mention of COVID-19 in the motion to continue, calling it irresponsible, reckless and unfair to the community.

n Meanwhile, in Queensland, Australia, people are panicking about running out of toilet paper during the pandemic. Which makes Haidee Janetzki of Toowoomba extra popular, after she made an error in her regular online TP order with online retailer Who Gives a Crap. "When it asked for quantity, I put 48," she told 7News, "thinking that would be a box of 48 [rolls]. Turned out it was 48 boxes." At first she thought it was the online retailer's fault—until she checked her credit card, which showed an expense of $3,260 plus almost $400 shipping. Janetzki is selling the hot commodity to friends at a slight markup, hoping to raise money to send her kids on a school trip to Canberra. She's now known Down Under as the Queen of the Toilet Paper.

• Two state attorneys general and the Food and Drug Administration are cracking down on disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker, who is now the host of The Jim Bakker Show on cable TV. On March 3, the New York attorney general's office sent a cease-and-desist order to Bakker, and on March 10, the Missouri attorney general filed suit against him. At issue is Bakker's hawking of "Silver Solution"—a "medication" made from silver that supposedly cures all sorts of ailments, for use in treating COVID-19. The previous month, Bakker had asked a guest on his show whether the gel could cure the coronavirus. "It hasn't been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it's been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours," said "naturopathic doctor" Sherrill Sellman. In the letter, the "extremely concerned" Lisa Landau, chief of the attorney general's health care bureau, called the segment false advertising and said it violates New York law. She gave Bakker 10 days to comply.

• A man in Vilnius, Lithuania, with help from his sons, reportedly locked his wife in their bathroom after she expressed worry to him that she had contracted COVID-19 from traveling to Italy, where she came in contact with some Chinese people. The husband called a doctor, who suggested she isolate herself; she contacted police because her husband wouldn't let her out. It's unclear how long she was locked in the bathroom, but reported that she was tested for the virus and did not have it.

• The U.S. State Department has advised people, particularly older adults, to avoid cruise ships and air travel during the coronavirus onslaught. But some travelers just can't be dissuaded. Take, for example, Ben Stults, a sophomore at Florida State University, who will head out on a cruise to Mexico this week for spring break. He's hoping to "hit the sweet spot"—get there and get home before the virus takes hold in Mexico. To be safe, however, he's bringing along a respirator face mask and a deck of cards in case, you know, quarantine. The Daily Beast asked Stults if he thought his plan was a sound one, to which he replied, "Honestly, no."

Animal Antics
Firefighters were called to a farm near Bramham, Leeds, in England on March 7 to put out a fire in a large pigpen. At this particular farm, the pigs wear pedometers to prove that they're free-range, Fox News reported, but one of those gadgets was the probable cause of the blaze, firefighters said. They theorize that one of the pigs ate one of the pedometers, then passed it in its excrement, sparking a fire in the pen's hay. The culprit was the copper in the battery reacting with the pig poo. No pigs were hurt in the fire; let's hope they're getting all their steps in as usual.

The Continuing Crisis
A Polish tattooist known only as Piotr A. has pleaded not guilty to causing blindness in model Aleksandra Sadowska, 25, from Wroclaw, Poland. Sadowska engaged the artist to dye her eyeballs black in 2016. Following the procedure, she had pain in her eyes, which the tattooist said could be treated with painkillers. But she lost sight first in her right eye, and doctors told her there was nothing they could do to prevent the same fate for her left eye. "There is clear evidence that the tattoo artist did not know how to perform such a delicate procedure," Sadowska's lawyers said, according to the Daily Mail. "And yet he decided to perform it, which led to this tragedy." As he awaits his trial, the tattooist continues to run his salon in Warsaw, where he mainly pierces ears.

Crime Report
On Feb. 28, fourth-grade teacher Nancy Sweeney, 45, was arrested in Niles, Ill., for assaulting a neighbor and calling her "a [expletive] Nazi." According to the Chicago Tribune, Sweeney attacked the 87-year-old woman, who is of German descent, in the parking garage of their condominium building, where the woman was exercising. The victim was struck in the face with a purse and fell, suffering cuts and bruises. The Cook County state's attorney's office approved not only an aggravated battery charge, but also a hate crime charge, based on the Nazi reference. The Park Ridge-Niles school district placed Sweeney on paid leave upon learning of the charges, district spokesman Peter Gill said.

Professor Peter Davies, 70, is an expert in tuberculosis at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital in England—and a lay leader of the Church of England. He admittedly also has a porn addiction, which caught up with him in late 2018, when it was discovered that Davies had been engaging in "inappropriate browsing activity" on his work computer—including viewing someone having sex with a horse and a dog. According to Metro News, Davies told the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service: "In 2010 I made a confession to my wife. ... She put a filter on all my computers ... I had some counseling and I stopped for a period of two years. ... But when I came back to it, I realized that I was in really deep trouble." Davies was scheduled to go before the General Medical Council on March 11, which conceded that Davies had "shown insight and took some steps to remedy his conduct."

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