Chuck Shepherd

On Jan. 31, doctors at Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai, India, removed a live, full-grown cockroach from the nasal cavity of a 42-year-old woman whose nose had been "itchy." Two hospitals were unable to help her, but at Stanley, Dr. M N Shankar, chief of ear-nose-throat, used an endoscope, forceps, and, for 45 minutes, a suction device — because, he said, the roach "didn't seem to want to come out." Another doctor on the team noted that they've removed beads and similar items from the nasal cavity, "but not a cockroach, especially not one this large."

Deal you can't refuse

Zachary Bennett and Karen Nourse have found Manhattan quite affordable, reported the New York Post — by simply not paying, for six years now, the $4,750 monthly rent on their loft-style apartment in the Chelsea neighborhood, citing New York state's "loft law," which they say technically forbids the landlord from collecting. Since the other eight units of their building are "commercial," the landlord believes it doesn't need a "residential certificate of occupancy," but Bennett and Nourse believe the law only exempts buildings with at least two residences, and for some reason, the landlord has obstinately declined to initiate eviction or, until recently, to sue (for back rent, fees and electricity).

Leading economic indicator

In 2001, Questcor Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to make Acthar Gel, a hormone injection to treat a rare form of infantile epilepsy, and gradually raised the price from $40 a vial to $28,000 a vial. The British company Mallinckrodt bought Questcor in 2014 and apparently figured the vials were still too cheap, raising the price to $34,000. However, the Federal Trade Commission noticed that Mallinckrodt also during the latter period bought out — and closed down — the only company manufacturing a similar, cheaper version of the product, thus ensuring that Mallinckrodt had cornered the market. In January, the FTC announced that Mallinckrodt agreed to a $100 million settlement of the agency's charge of illegal anti-competitive practices. ($100 million is only slightly more than the price of giving one vial to each infant expected to need it in the next year.)

Precocious Girl Scout

Charlotte McCourt, 11, of South Orange, N.J., saw her sales zoom when she posted "brutally honest" reviews of the Girl Scout cookies she was selling — giving none of them a "10" and labeling some with dour descriptions. She was hoping to sell 300 boxes, but as of the end of January, had registered 16,430. For the record, the best cookie was the Samoa, rated 9, but longtime favorites like the Trefoil ("boring") rated 6 and the Do-si-do ("bland") 5. The new Toffee-tastic was a "bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland."

Less cowbell!

Applicants for passports in Switzerland are evaluated in part by neighbors, and animal-rights campaigner Nancy Holten, 42, was rejected in January because townspeople view her as obnoxious, with, said a Swiss People's Party spokesperson, a "big mouth." Among Holten's "sins" was her constant criticism of the country's hallowed fascination with cowbells — that make, according to Holten, "hundred decibel," "pneumatic drill"-type sounds.

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