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Americans Abroad

A weekly roundup of international news oddities



Americans Abroad
Sigh. Security guards at the Eiffel Tower in Paris discovered two American tourists sleeping near the top of the structure on Aug. 14 as they prepared to open to visitors, Yahoo! News reported. Paris prosecutors said the two dodged security the night before and "appear to have got stuck because of how drunk they were." Firefighters were dispatched to collect the men, who were questioned by police; Eiffel Tower management company Sete said it would file a criminal complaint, although the pair didn't "pose any apparent threat."

Police Report
More from Paris: An "experienced climber" got to the top of the Eiffel Tower early on Aug. 17 and parachuted off before guards could stop him, The Guardian reported. The unnamed man landed safely after the leap from about 1,100 feet and was promptly arrested for endangering the lives of others. "This kind of irresponsible action puts people working at or near the tower in danger," scolded Sete, the tower's management company.

Least Competent Criminal
Sure, Mountain Dew has been compared to battery acid, but one suspect thought a can of the stuff could save her from being fingered as a killer. Fox35-TV reported that on Aug. 5, Nichole Maks, 35, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 79-year-old roommate, Michael Cerasoli. Cerasoli was discovered beaten and stabbed in the home they shared in Daytona Beach, Florida, on July 1. Officers tracked down Maks around 3:30 the next morning at a Krystal's restaurant, where she had blood on the side of her leg and part of her shirt had been torn or cut away. As they approached, she dropped a knife and hammer she'd been carrying; she told officers she often carried such items. Police said that as they questioned her about her roommate, she became "agitated" and asked for a drink; they gave her a can of Diet Mountain Dew, which she poured over her body and hair, hoping to eliminate any evidence on her person. Unsurprisingly, that stunt didn't work, and her DNA was found on the knife used to kill Cerasoli. She currently resides at the Volusia County Jail.

The Weirdo-American Community
TikTokker Michaela Witter was on Day 20 of a series she was posting about "100 solo dates"— activities like reading in the park or buying herself flowers. On Aug. 7, as she browsed in Barnes & Noble in Burbank, California, Witter inadvertently captured a stalker on video as he followed her, kneeled behind her and sniffed her (and another woman) repeatedly. Fox News reported that Witter's post unleashed a torrent of similar experiences—even with the same stalker. "Bro that same man was crouching behind me and following me thru Marshalls today," one commenter posted. "The same thing happened to me at Ralph's in Burbank," another said. One TikTokker had the same experience in the same bookstore. Glendale police arrested Calese Carron Crowder, 37, on Aug. 11, but a judge placed him on probation and released him on Aug. 15. Los Angeles County Jail records show Crowder has been booked there 41 times.

• Street performer Lino Tomasen, 32, of Havana, Cuba, retired from boxing after a blow delivered to his opponent fractured the man's skull and killed him instantly, he told Reuters. Tomasen gave all his fight winnings to that man's family and took to the streets, where the "Ironman" now beats on himself and collects tips. He uses a sledgehammer to slam his wrists, elbows and forearms for horrified onlookers, but seems to be unharmed by the abuse. "It's all real, nothing fabricated," said Edward Carbonell, who watched Tomasen's "show." "I want to be remembered as someone who pushed the limits of what was possible," Tomasen said.

• At a sunset "furmeet" on Aug. 12 in Huntington Beach, California, one furry took offense when a man in street clothes started filming the spectacle on his phone, the Toronto Sun reported. Someone in a black wolf costume asked the filmer to stop, then amplified his message with a megaphone: "Leave or we will make you leave." When the filmer didn't budge, the wolf hit him over the head with the megaphone. Others jumped into the brawl, which was finally broken up by California State Parks officers.

The Tech Revolution
The California Public Utilities Commission voted in early August to allow the companies Cruise and Waymo to offer paid driverless rides to customers during daytime hours, The New York Times reported. But on Aug. 15, as Paul Harvey, 74, looked on, a Cruise vehicle in San Francisco drove into a city paving project and became stuck in wet concrete. "I thought it was funny," Harvey said. "It illustrated how creepy and weird the whole thing is to me." Rachel Gordon with the San Francisco Department of Public Works noted that no one was hurt, but added, "That portion of the road has to be repaved at Cruise's expense." Paul Leonardi, a professor of technology management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, chalked up the experience to a teaching moment: "It needs to experience a diverse set of use cases so it can learn, and driving into wet concrete is one of those use cases."

Clothing Optional
At Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island in England, the sunflowers have been in full bloom for several weeks. The colorful fields offer a perfect background for photo shoots, but, the BBC reported, the farm has seen an "increase of reports of naked photography taking place" since July 28. "People are having fun and taking pictures for their Instagram, but we just ask that they keep their clothes on," said Sam Wilson, who runs the site. In an Aug. 11 Facebook post, the attraction cautioned that "this must not happen during our public sessions please." One commenter said her son "got a right eyeful" after stumbling across a woman wearing just a thong. "Should have seen his face!"

It's (Not) a Mystery
When the European Space Agency shared a composite photo taken by the James Webb Telescope in late July, highlighting two actively forming stars, another shape in the photo caught the attention of Earth-bound gazers: an orange formation in the shape of a question mark. Kai Noeske, ESA communication program officer, explained to NPR what scientists think the shape is: "a group or a chance alignment of two or three galaxies. The upper part of the question mark looks like a distorted spiral galaxy, maybe merging with a second galaxy." Galaxy mergers result in "all kinds of beautiful shapes and structures," said Macarena Garcia Marin, a Webb project scientist. They are "a normal phase in the life and evolution of galaxies."

Questionable Judgment
An unnamed man called his dangerous stunt "a joke" after being arrested in Ostrobothnia, Finland, Sky News reported on Aug. 9. The man allegedly stored 26 pounds of dynamite in his friend's two cars before calling the owner and telling him. The owner wasn't laughing: He alerted police, who evacuated nearby buildings. "In addition to the dynamite, detonators were also confiscated from the cars," said Tony Rauma, detective chief inspector with the Ostrobothnia Police. The jokester told police he did not intend to blow up the cars, and links to terrorism have been ruled out.

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