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News » News of the Weird


A weekly roundup of international news oddities



Architect Nick Drummond loves to renovate old houses and was told the century-old home he purchased last year in Ames, New York, had been built by a German baron who turned to bootlegging in the 1920s, but he was still surprised to find evidence within the walls on Oct. 9: dozens of bottles labeled Old Smuggler Gaelic Whisky. "We discovered multiple false walls and secret compartments under the floor in our mudroom," he told Lite 98.7. "The foundation walls and floors in the mudroom are lined with intact cases of 1920s whiskey," he said. Drummond said auction houses and collectors have contacted him, speculating that the value on the some of the bottles might range between $500 and $1,200.

More Things to Worry About
As many as 9 million wild pigs are roaming the United States —expanding from 17 states to at least 39 states over the last 30 years and causing $2.5 billion worth of damage each year to crops and domestic livestock, reported The Atlantic in September. Many of the feral swine are hybrids, a mixture of domestic breeds and wild boars called "super pigs," that multiply so fast "I've heard it referred to as a feral swine bomb," said Dale Nolte, manager of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the U.S. and Canada, government organizations are working to control the numbers; Montana has been especially vigilant, with a 24-hour hotline for residents to call when they see the animals.

Right Time, Right Place
Postal carrier Fernando Garcia in Norwalk, California, heard someone calling for help as he walked his route on Oct. 9 and soon found a man lying on the ground, covered in blood. The unnamed victim had cut his arm with a chain saw, so Garcia leaped into action, using his belt as a tourniquet until paramedics arrived. LA County Sheriff Lt. Pauline Panis told CBS Los Angeles, "I think we should let everybody know that anyone can make a difference ... it's a heartwarming story." The victim's family says he's recovering.

Names in the News
As a fun way to get customers involved with the new Ikea store in Valladolid, Spain, the Swedish retailer asked the public to name the street it's on. The Independent reported that anyone who's been frustrated trying to assemble items bought from the store will appreciate the winning entry: Calle Me Falta un Tornillo, or I'm Missing a Screw Street. And Ikea's OK with that: "We wanted to make our arrival here more special ... always with a touch of humor, which defines our style," a spokesperson said.

Latest Religious Messages
In Guadalupe, Mexico, pilgrims are flocking to a parking lot, leaving candles and flowers beside a detailed portrait of the Virgin Mary that inexplicably reappeared in early October, having been drawn in chalk by an anonymous artist in 2007. Oddity Central reported the artist has confirmed that the drawing is the same one he created as part of a local festival, and the area is now blocked with traffic cones and watered periodically to make the image more visible. Said Felix Palomo, director of culture for the municipality, which is part of greater Monterrey, "Whether you believe in miracles or not, the question is how did this image reappear 13 years after its creation?"

William Hubbard, dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law, was thrilled when he saw that 82% of the school's graduates taking the bar exam had passed, so he shared the happy news in an email to the school's students. Unfortunately, the email also contained attachments with confidential exam scores for all who took the test—those who passed and those who failed, The State reported. "Please delete the message I just sent about bar passage," Hubbard wrote in his second email. "Please do not open and, if opened, do not reveal any information in that attachment to anyone." The former president of the American Bar Association appeared devastated by the error in an interview. "I've sent a personal email to every one of those students ... I am deeply, profoundly sorry for my mistake," he said.

The Spirit World
The New York Post reported on Oct. 14 that Amethyst Realm, 32, of Bristol, England, announced on British morning television that her planned wedding to Ray, a ghost she met in Australia two years ago, was off because he "kept disappearing" and started hanging around with a sketchy spirit group while they were on vacation in Thailand. "He'd disappear for long periods of time. When he did come back, he'd bring other spirits to the house and they'd just stay around for days," Realm, said. She said the decision not to marry was mutual. "He just completely changed."

Alicia Beverly of Detroit was sleeping in the back seat of a red-eye flight home from Las Vegas on Oct. 12 when she felt "something warm" on her side, and woke up to realize a man standing in the aisle was urinating on her, Fox 2 reported. "I screamed and that woke everybody up," she said. "I looked and there was a puddle of pee in the seats!" An off-duty police officer on the flight restrained the unidentified man, described as a well-known pastor from North Carolina, and he was taken into custody upon landing, but has not been charged. Beverly had to sit in her wet clothes for the duration of the trip and is suffering anxiety following the incident. "Since then, I have only gotten four hours of sleep," she said.

Bright Ideas
• The Netherlands is home to a new trend in wellness therapy that promises serenity to those who try it: "koe knuffelen" (cow hugging). The BBC reported that a cow's warmer body temperature and slower heartbeat are thought to increase oxytocin levels in humans, reducing stress and promoting positivity. The practice began more than a decade ago, and now farms in Switzerland and the U.S. along with the Netherlands offer cow-cuddling sessions, which typically begin with a tour of the farm before participants are invited to rest against a cow for up to three hours.

• The Finnish airline Finnair began selling its business-class airplane food in supermarkets on Oct. 13, in an effort to keep its catering staff employed as well as offer a taste of nostalgia to travelers grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ready-made "Taste of Finnair" dishes include reindeer meatballs, Arctic char and Japanese-style teriyaki beef and cost about $12, The Associated Press reported. Marika Nieminen, VP of Finnair Kitchen, said the idea allows the airline to "create new work and employment for our people." (Associated Press, Oct. 15, 2020]

Customs officials at the Jacksonville (Florida) International Mail Facility came across a package from Hungary on Oct. 14 that contained more than 200 equine bones—a complete horse skeleton, United Press International reported. Daniel Alonso, acting director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection in Miami, tweeted a photo of the skeleton with the caption: "No horsing around this Halloween." Because the package did not have a required veterinary services permit, he said it would not be sent to its destination.

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