In January, the upscale Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana introduced stylish hijabs and abayas aimed at Muslim women unafraid to call attention to themselves as they exercise their obliged modesty. D&G’s marketing effort even accessorized models’ headscarves and cloaks with stiletto heels and oversized, gaudily framed sunglasses. It was clear from the suggested retail prices that D&G would be pitching the line mainly in wealthy Persian Gulf countries like United Arab Emirates.
Awkward signals in New Jersey
The government watchdog MuckRock requested records on the cause of death of a dolphin in New Jersey’s South River last year (to investigate larger dangers to the animal), but last month the state’s Department of Agriculture initially declined to release them — citing “medical privacy” (usually requested, for autopsies, by “the deceased’s family”). At the same time, Maria Vaccarella is facing a $500 fine in Howell, N.J., for violating a state law because she illegally rendered “care” to two apparently orphaned baby squirrels when their mother abandoned them. She was due in court as News of the Weird went to press.
The director of senior services for Cranston, R.I., resigned in January after a mayor’s press conference went badly. To publicize a snow removal program that would benefit seniors unable to shovel for themselves, the director (needing a proper example of a beneficiary of the program) instructed a middle-aged male subordinate to (unconvincingly) don a wig and dress and stand beside the mayor during the announcement.
Weird Japan, again
Among the sites Japan has submitted for 2017 United Nations World Heritage status is the island of Okinoshima, home of a sacred shrine with which Shinto gods have been “protecting” fishermen as long ago as the fourth century. (The island is so sacred that females have never been allowed on it — judged either too delicate to make the trip or menstrually unclean.) A current Tokyo craze, reported an Australian Broadcasting correspondent, involves “stressed out” professionals and office workers publicly outfitted in colorful, full-body spandex suits (“zentai”) in a rebellion against the nation’s stultifying conformity. Said one, “I’m a different person wearing this. I can be friendly to anyone.”
Crescent City, Calif., drug dealer James Banuelos pleaded guilty in January in exchange for a lighter sentence (three years in prison), thus avoiding for police the airing of an embarrassing hidden-camera video of the raid showing arresting officers stealing the dealer’s money and valuables. “Multiple” officers were shown laughing and helping themselves, and a gold chain belonging to Banuelos wound up for sale a few days later on Craigslist. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecutor agreed to give all Banuelos’ stuff back to him.
The United Nations announced at year’s end that the book most often checked out last year at its in-house Dag Hammarskjold Library in New York was the nearly 500-page “Immunity of Heads of State and State Officials for International Crimes.” The list of borrowers was not revealed. (In general, the book concludes, current heads of state have immunity but not past ones.)
New-age medical care
Surgeons treating 4-month-old Teegan Lexcen (born with only one lung and a critically deformed heart) had given up on her, but doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami jury-rigged a surgical tool that saved the infant’s life. In a delicate seven-hour procedure, using an iPhone app and $20 Google Cardboard box virtual-reality viewers, doctors guided themselves through Teegan’s chest based on two-dimensional body scans that the app had converted to 3-D. (Old-style 3-D images, they said, were too grainy for precision surgery.)
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