Weird News Stories for November 2018

Weird News Stories for November 2018 - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

From drunk raccoons to a Florida man (surprise!) who dove half-naked into a crocodile pond, these are the weirdest news stories from November 2018.

Crabapple-Drunk Raccoons Locked in the Clink

A West Virginia neighborhood was apparently being terrorized by rabid raccoons in November – but it turned out that the “trash panda” suspects were just drunk.

“We have had calls on suspected rabid raccoons twice over the last two days,” the Milton Police Department wrote on Facebook. “Turns out they appear to be drunk on crabapples.” Police say that catching the raccoons was a community effort, but that it had to be done. Officials held the raccoons until they sobered up and released them without charges.

Mississippi Man Tells Police His Drug Paraphernalia Was Stolen

In Gulfport, Mississippi, a man whose drug paraphernalia was stolen decided to notify the authorities by driving his vehicle into the Harrison County Courthouse. He said that was the best way to let them know, but officials disagreed – he’s been charged with driving under the influence and malicious mischief.

Cold Case in Nebraska

Some people are really serious about the thermostat, especially when temperatures start to dip. One of them, a 46-year-old Nebraska man, was so unhappy about the setting that he threatened his two roommates by wielding an ax. One of his roommates wrestled him to the ground and held him there until officers arrived.

“He said it was too cold upstairs and wanted the heat on,” Officer Angela Sands said. “The male and female couple were sleeping in bed at the time.”

Florida Man Dives Into Crocodile Pond Half-Naked

A Florida man broke into an alligator farm in St. Augustine wearing only his undies and – oddly enough, a pair of crocs – and dove into the pond. The alligators, who live in an exhibit called “Oasis on the Nile,” bit the man’s left foot after he jumped from a 5- to 6-foot structure into 2 feet of gator-infested water.

“In our 125-year history, this is the first time anyone has tried to go swimming with the crocodiles,” said John Brueggen, the farm’s director. The man was taken to the hospital after his arrest (he’s been charged with vandalism), where he tried to escape but was caught in a retention pond lined with barbed wire.

What Do You Think?

I love weird news stories – have you heard any? If you have, please share them on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases on the Rise

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases on the Rise - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The news has been covering a little-known illness called acute flaccid myelitis a lot lately – partly because many people believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped the ball and partly because there have been at least six confirmed cases right here in Wisconsin.

But what is acute flaccid myelitis, and what happens when someone has it?

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Commonly called AFM, acute flaccid myelitis is a condition that mimics polio in many ways. It’s still a mystery to doctors and medical professionals, though – and one of the few things we know about it is that fast treatment is essential. It’s not contagious itself, but the virus that are believed to cause it might be.

Most people who get AFM suffer from a sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes.

AFM in Wisconsin

Acute flaccid myelitis isn’t just affecting kids – it’s sickened six people in Wisconsin, one of whom is an adult.

AFM Symptoms

While AFM is rare, it can lead to serious and permanent conditions. Some of the symptoms to watch for include:

  • Weakness and loss of muscle tone
  • Loss of reflexes in arms or legs
  • Facial droop or weakness
  • Difficulty moving the eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred speech

What is the CDC Doing About AFM?

This is the CDC’s job. This is what they’re supposed to do well. And it’s a source of frustration to many of us that they’re apparently not doing these things,” said Dr. Kenneth Tyler, a professor and chair of the department of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and adviser to the CDC on AFM.

But the CDC says it’s racing to determine AFM’s cause and to find the best treatments.

“As a mom, I know what its like to be scared for your child. And I know parents want answers,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We’ve learned a lot about AFM since 2014, but there are things we still don’t understand.”

What Do You Think?

Do you think the CDC is doing enough to find the cause and possible cures for AFM? Do you know how to recognize the symptoms?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Nike’s Inspiring New Runner

First Athlete With Cerebral Palsy Signs With Nike - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Oregon cross-country runner Justin Gallegos didn’t know that reps from Nike were waiting for him as he rounded the last bend in a race on National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day… but there they were, waiting to sign him as the company’s first pro athlete with cerebral palsy.

As Gallegos finished the race, the camera crew, his teammates and Nike’s Insights Director John Douglass were there waiting. (You can watch the amazing video here.)

“I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other!” Gallegos wrote on Instagram. “Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running!”

Gallegos used a walker as a child, but he began attending physical therapy to “improve his gait,” according to Running Magazine. He helped Nike develop a shoe for runners with disabilities while he was in high school. The shoe is called the FlyEase, and it features a zippered heel to make it easier to get on and off.

Now, Gallegos is a junior at the University of Oregon and a member of the school’s running club. He ran his first cross-country meet in October of 2016. According to the student paper, Gallegos lost a shoe just 50 meters into the 8-kilometer race – but he picked it up and kept running. Although he finished last in that race, he kept competing… and earlier this year, he completed the Eugene, Oregon Half Marathon in 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Nike is known for celebrating athletes across all sports. Will Burns, CEO of Ideasicle.com, has this to say: “Nike is layered. Lebron is about winning. Justin is about overcoming. Kaepernick is about believing in something… But with Justin Gallegos we see a deeper, more human depth to Nike’s 30-year-old brand idea. It redefines what ‘it’ is when saying ‘Just do it.’ With Justin, there’s no talk of how many 800s he won. There’s no talk of speed records. There’s no talk of outcomes at all.”

What Do You Think?

Have you seen the video, or even better, have you shared it? It’s incredibly inspiring. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Sears May File for Bankruptcy as Toys “R” Us Makes a Comeback

Sears Bankrupt, but Toys “R” Us Might Make a Comeback - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Sears is on its way through bankruptcy court after years of losses and store closures – but at the same time, it looks like Toys “R” Us is making a comeback.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Sears has hired advisers to prepare for bankruptcy and that the once-largest retailer is poised to pay back all the $143 million in debt it owes. The company’s CEO, Eddie Lampert, has been bailing it out for years – he owns 31 percent of Sears’ stock, while his hedge fund, ESL Investments, owns 19 percent.

“There was a time when Sears was the Amazon of its day. “R”emarkably innovative, daring, diverse in strategy and deadly as a competitor,” retail expert Doug Stephens wrote on Twitter.

But Lampert, who thought he could turn around Sears and Kmart, chose to cut costs by slashing employees. One former vice president told Business Insider, “He refuses to put a dime in updating stores.” “R”ather than updating stores, he focused the company’s efforts into a confusing and complex discount program that ended up only angering customers.

And then the high-level executives started to leave.

“There are so many people running for the door not just because the ship is sinking, but because the captain of the ship is screaming at them, blaming it on them, and telling them it’s their fault,” one former vice president told Business Insider in January 2017.

While all this is happening at Sears, experts say that Toys “R” Us, which filed for bankruptcy over a year ago and officially closed in June, may be ready for a comeback. The company was going to auction off the rights to its name (as well as the Babies “R” Us brand), but the company’s owners cancelled the auction. Under a new plan, the company said, they’d “create new, domestic, retail operating businesses under the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us names, as well as expand its international presence and further develop its private brands business.”

What Do You Think?

Will you miss Sears the way people missed Toys “R” Us? Have you even shopped at a Sears location recently? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Brain-Eating Amoeba at Water Parks: Would You Still Go?

Brain-Eating Amoeba at Water Parks - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A New Jersey man died from what officials suspect is a brain-eating amoeba he picked up at a Texas water park last month, and it’s not the only time this has happened. For the past several years, the news has been sprinkled with stories of people who have died as a result of amoeba in water parks, including a teen in North Carolina, a young girl in Arkansas and an Ohio woman.

So what is this amoeba, and is it safe to go to water parks?

Naegleria Fowleri: What You Need to Know

You might have heard of the deadly amoeba that’s been found in many water parks and public swimming areas – it’s called Naegleria fowleri, and it’s not dangerous on its own. In fact, you won’t even get sick if you drink water that’s been contaminated with it.

The problem arises when the water gets into your nose and travels up to your brain.

When the amoeba, which is found in warm freshwater, improperly chlorinated pool water, heated tap water and soil, gets into your brain, it causes swelling and death.

But still, there have been fewer than 150 cases of Naegleria fowleri infections since 1962 in the U.S. While the illness is about 97 percent fatal, it’s still not a huge risk to most swimmers.

Health officials say you can limit your risk by:

  • Taking steps to prevent water from going up your nose. You can hold your nose shut, use nose clips or simply keep your head above water when you’re in warm freshwater.
  • Avoiding getting in the water when it’s warm and water levels are low.
  • Avoiding digging up sediment from the bottom of the water when you’re in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

What Do You Think?

I feel like the risk of illness from Naegleria fowleri is extremely low, and I wouldn’t let it stop me from having fun in the water – but I might take extra precautions. What do you think? Will you stop playing in warm freshwater lakes or going to water parks? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Old (REALLY Old) News From Milwaukee

By Carlos Gamino

Ever wonder what Wisconsin’s news looked like more than a century ago? Thanks to Newspapers.com, we can see what was widely reported during that time – crime, society and politics, all rolled neatly into dozens of newspapers that were widely distributed around the city.

Check out some of the most interesting finds we dug up using this time-machine of a website.

Notice That All Able-Bodied Males Can Be Called to Military Duty, March 1847

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Woman Indicts Her Paramour, Who Fled the City in March 1851

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connaughty and McDonald Found Guilty of Murder, June 1852

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death Penalty Abolished in Wisconsin, July 1853

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln’s Assasination, April 1865

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold Discovered in Northern Wisconsin, April 1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics of People in Mental Institutions, May 1890

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Officers Start Getting a Salary, December 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forest Fires Rage Across Wisconsin, October 1908

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress Decides on World War I, April 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Think?

Have you ever explored a site like Newspapers.com and looked up the past? I’d love to hear about cool stories you’ve found, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

DHS Transferred $10M From FEMA to ICE Ahead of Hurricane Florence

DHS Transferred $10M From FEMA to ICE Ahead of Hurricane Florence - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

In a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scenario, the U.S. government transferred $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement – and the move has prompted FEMA to cut back on training, IT security and infrastructure investments.

Part of the reason is that the Department of Homeland Security, which runs both FEMA and ICE, told Congress it needed at least $200 million more than what they were currently budgeted for in order to cover the costs of detaining and deporting more people. In a statement, DHS wrote that FEMA “will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance” and that without the transfer, “ICE will not be able to deport those who have violated immigration laws. ICE could also be forced to reduce its current interior enforcement operations.”

The document showing the transfer was released by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. in mid-September. Merkley appeared on MSNBC to discuss the transfer.

However, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said that the funds did not come from disaster relief funding.

Ray Zaccaro, Merkley’s communications director, wrote, “This comment from FEMA’s spokesperson is as factual as the president’s assertion that Administration’s response to Hurricane Maria was ‘incredibly successful’ and ‘one of the best jobs that’s ever been done.”

And Moira Whelan, a former DHS official, said that Houlton is simply “parsing words.” FEMA’s money, outside its Disaster Relief Fund, is still used to prepare for disasters and improve responses.

Republican subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., issued a report that described Congress’s “persistent and growing concerns about ICE’s lack of fiscal discipline.” Her report also stated, “The Committee strongly discourages transfer or reprogramming requests to cover ICE’s excesses” and that future requests should provide evidence that the agency needs money because of circumstances beyond its control.

What Do You Think?

Do you think it’s okay to transfer money between agencies without congressional approval? Do you agree with DHS’s decision to take money from FEMA and feed it into ICE? I’d love to hear your opinion, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

 

 

2020 Census Set to Include Citizenship Question

2020 Census Set to Include Citizenship Question - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The 2020 census might have a new question: “Is this person a U.S. citizen?”

While Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency is in charge of the Census Bureau, is eager to add the question, many other officials – and members of the public – say it’s a horrible idea.

So far, the decision to add the question to the census has caused several states and cities to file lawsuits, and even the Census Bureau’s own chief scientist advised against it, citing research that suggests asking about citizenship status could “discourage noncitizens from taking part in the census given increased concerns about immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.”

Ross testified to Congress that the Justice Department wanted the question added so it could enforce the Voting Rights Act’s provisions against racial discrimination.

However, several emails and memos that came out as part of the lawsuits directly contradict that testimony.

In an email chain between Ross and another official, Earl Comstock, Ross asked Comstock, “Where is the DOJ in their analysis? If they still have not come to a conclusion please let me know your contact person and I will call the AG.”

A memo signed by Ross says, “My staff and I thought reinstating a citizenship question could be warranted, and we had various discussions with other governmental officials about reinstating a citizenship question to the Census. As part of that deliberative process, my staff and I consulted with Federal governmental components and inquired whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) would support, and if so would request, inclusion of a citizenship question as consistent with and useful for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.”

It’s clear that Ross’s testimony was false, but the issue is still on the table. In fact, it’s likely to end up before the Supreme Court. Federal trials for lawsuits in New York will likely start in October, and lawsuits in California and Maryland, are going to begin in January.

An accurate census is incredibly important, because population counts determine how congressional seats and Electoral College votes are distributed. Further, these counts determine how approximately $800 billion each year in federal funding is divided between states.

What Do You Think?

The government hasn’t asked households about citizenship in a census since the 1950s. Do you believe we need that question on the census, or do you think, as some critics claim, that it’ll discourage people from answering the census at all and prevent the government from getting an accurate count of residents? I’d love to hear your opinion, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Baby Boomers Use More Pot Now Than Ever Before

Baby Boomers Use More Pot Now Than Ever Before - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Baby boomers are smoking pot in record numbers, according to NPR, and they’re using a lot of it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2016 found that about 9 percent of American adults between ages 50 and 64 had used marijuana, while about 3 percent of those over 65 did the same.

But the data is self-reported, and experts believe the numbers are significantly higher.

Most of the boomers using marijuana are new to it, too; approximately 45 percent of the people over 65 who use it now never used it before the age of 21.

Why People Are Turning to Pot

Recreational use is becoming legal in more states, and so is medical use – and both are reasons people are using more marijuana now than before. Doctors are now more likely to suggest it as a treatment for a variety of ailments, including pain and chronic medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia and cancer.

“We prescribe substances that are far more dangerous than cannabinoids,” says Dr. Joshua Briscoe, a palliative care physician at Duke University School of Medicine. Briscoe studies medical marijuana use in the elderly.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so even though states can legalize it for recreational and medicinal use, users can still be busted by the feds.

And some churches are issuing statements about its use. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for example, said that recreational use of marijuana goes against the organization’s Word of Wisdom Health Code (but that if it’s been prescribed by a doctor, it’s okay).

What Do You Think?

On November 6, 2018, Wisconsin voters in 15 counties and two cities get to vote on marijuana legalization (Milwaukee and Waukesha are both on the list).

In Milwaukee, your question on the ballot will read, “Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?”

In Waukesha, your question on the ballot will read, “Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?”

The questions are intended to give lawmakers a good sense of how voters across the state feel about it for future policy decisions.

How do you feel about legalization of marijuana, either for medical or recreational use? I’d love to hear your opinion, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

 

Missouri Drug Company Hikes Drug Price More Than 400%

Nirmal Mulye Hikes Price of Nitrofurantoin to $2392 per Bottle - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Nirmal Mulye, CEO of a Missouri drug company, might be the new Martin Shkreli. And while Shkreli might be known for having the world’s most punchable face, Mulye could well take the award for most punchable personality.

Mulye, who heads Nostrum Laboratories, is responsible for jacking up the price of a life-saving antibiotic by 400 percent. The decades-old drug, nitrofurantoin, is classified as an essential drug by the World Health Organization. Nitrofurantoin is often used to treat urinary tract infections caused by E. coli and other Gram-negative bacteria.

If you look back farther, the average price for one nitrofurantoin pill was just $0.05 in 2010. In July 2018, the price for a bottle was $474.75 – but by August, it was $2,392 per bottle.

It’s not just the price hike, though.

It’s that Mulye said it was a “moral requirement” to “sell the product for the highest price. He went on to say that he was “in this business to make money.” Certainly every business owner can relate – but when it comes to an essential drug, that might not be the best course of action.

And perhaps worse, Mulye publicly aligned himself with Shkreli’s principles.

“I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders… If he’s the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can… We have to make money when we can. The price of iPhones goes up, the price of cars goes up, hotel rooms are very expensive,” Mulye said.

Later, he walked back his statement and said that he wasn’t defending Shkreli; he was simply condemning the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration disagrees with Muley. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted, “[T]here’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients. FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public-health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine.”

What Do You Think?

Do you think Mulye is right in agreeing with Shkreli, or should he have done what he could to keep the price of this essential drug down? I’d love to hear your opinion, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino