Jeff Mizanskey, 61, is a poster child for one well- known criticism of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws — that nonviolent marijuana users (and small-time sellers) may wind up doing decades of hard time and in fact more time than some sociopathic offenders serve for heinous offenses. Mizanskey is 20 years into a life sentence with no possibility of parole for several violations of Missouri’s “prior and persistent drug offender” law, and his only chance for freedom is a clemency plea now under consideration by Gov. Jay Nixon (and still opposed by Mizanskey’s prosecutor).
Weird Old World
— Unconventional Food Prep: Leaked photographs taken by an undercover health and safety officer at China’s Tongcheng Rice Noodle Factory in Dongguan city in June show workers in street clothes casually walking back and forth atop piles of vermicelli noodles about to be packaged for shipment to stores. Some workers were even seen lounging or sleeping on the mountains of noodles. (In 1992, News of the Weird noted that health officials in South Dennis, Massachusetts, had closed the Wing Wah Chinese restaurant for various violations, including the restaurant’s habit of draining water from cabbage by putting it in cloth laundry bags, placing the bags between pieces of plywood in the parking lot and driving over them with a van.)
— Unclear on the Concept: Werner Purkhart, who has been running a “silent disco” in Salzburg, Austria, for four years, was denied renewal of his business permit in July, supposedly because his parties were too loud. At a silent disco, each dancer wears headphones to hear radio-transmitted music; to those without headphones, the roomful of swaying, swinging dancers is eerily quiet. Salzburg Mayor Heinz Schaden said it was still too loud. “The noise … is keeping (the neighbors) up.”
— “The Chinese fondness for napping in odd places is a well-documented phenomenon, one that’s spawned a popular website and even a book,” wrote The Wall Street Journal in a July dispatch. In a recent photo essay, a Getty Images photographer captured a series of shots of customers catching 40 winks in various furniture departments of IKEA stores, which officially does “not see it as a problem,” according to a spokesman. Maybe “we can sell an extra mattress or two.”
— Five siblings in a rural Turkish family near the Syrian border were discovered by researchers in 2005 to be natural, fluid quadruped walkers (hands and feet to the ground, rear ends up), which was thought at the time possibly to mark the first known “turnaround” in human evolution. However, the siblings were re-characterized by recent PLOS One journal research as merely accommodating a musculo-skeletal imbalance in the brain. Other members of the family have normal gaits, and the five quadrupeds show additional developmental issues.
— Also, from the foreign press: (1) Moscow Times reported the arrest of “Tomas” in Moscow in March for allegedly stealing a mobile phone, noting that he was referred to adult court even though family members claim he is only 13. Officials decided he must be at least 16, based on medical examination — especially “of his genitals.” (2) Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported in May that a 62-year-old man on an Istanbul TV dating show said he was just “an honest person looking for a new wife” — while also casually mentioning that he had served two prison terms, one for murdering one wife and the other for murdering a girlfriend. “Bad luck always found me,” he said. “This time I’ll leave it to God.”
Inexplicable: (1) Alonzo Liverman, 29, was arrested in June in a Daytona Beach, Florida, police sting on prostitutes’ johns. “I’m hungry,” was the female officer’s come-on. Responded Liverman, “I got a salad.” Even though no salad was found on Liverman, police determined the banter constituted a sufficient offer for paid sex. (2) The robber of a Chase Bank in Tucson, Arizona, in March is still on the loose even though surveillance video has been widely distributed. An additional detail from the video: The man pulled the holdup while carrying a small dog in a basket.
The Justice Angle
— In the midst of the city of Detroit’s water crackdown — shutting off the spigots of residents delinquent on their bills — the Council of Canadians has come to the rescue. First, the council pressed the United Nations to label Detroit’s program a “human rights” violation (the denial of clean drinking water to the 3,000 homes per week being shut down). Said the council chair, “I’ve (only) seen this (oppression) in the poorest countries in the world.” Second, the council arranged a convoy of “good Canadian, public, clean water” into Detroit in July to modestly help the estimated 79,000 homes in peril.
— Ms. Ajanaffy Njewadda and her husband recently filed a lawsuit against New York City’s transit authority (MTA) following her tumble down some stairs at a subway station (which caused a broken ankle, concussion and lingering trauma that has required psychiatric care). The MTA had placed a large ad for the serial-killer TV series “Dexter” on station stairs, positioned to be seen just as visitors left the subway. Ms. Njewadda said she was momentarily terrified by the ad and lost her balance.
— Oh, Dear!: A man whose name was withheld (“D.B.”) filed a lawsuit in April against medical clinics and physicians who performed his colonoscopy in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2013, based on what the patient learned from audio his smartphone recorded while he was unconscious. Though he originally intended to record only doctors’ instructions, he was dismayed to know that they began “mocking” him the second he went under, making disparaging and untrue statements about his health, feigning disgust at his body (“Oh! Oscar Mike Goss!”) (slang for “OMG” — oh, my God), threatening to “fire a gun up his rectum,” “diagnosing” him with syphilis or “tuberculosis in the penis,” and threatening to (falsely) note hemorrhoids on his record — all done amidst gales of laughter.