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News » News of the Weird

Bright Idea

A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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Bright Idea
For Alexander Leszczynski, 22, of North Redington Beach, Florida, it wasn't enough to be charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa claimed Leszczynski might face up to 30 years in prison for making up charitable entities to receive Payroll Protection Plan loans totaling almost $200,000 and trying to deposit fake checks to the tune of $2.7 million, among other schemes. But wait, there's more! "When he discovered that the money had been frozen, he attempted to have it released by producing a fabricated pardon purportedly signed by former President Donald Trump," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. One of Leszczynski's fake charities was trying to seize control of two properties that belonged to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who died in prison while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. Leszczynski is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail.

Wait, What?
During a preliminary hearing on May 16 in Saginaw County (Michigan) District Court, a 32-year-old, unidentified woman testified that her "friend with benefits," 29-year-old Cortez L. Gill, accidentally shot her once on Nov. 11—but then proceeded to shoot her eight more times as she and her child struggled to escape him. MLive.com reported that the victim explained that she and Gill "tussled" over some car keys and he pulled out a gun, which he lowered to the ground. "The gun goes off and the bullet hit me ... in my abdomen. ... I was like, 'Cortez, I got hit. You have to call the police or get me in the car and take me to the hospital immediately.'" Instead, she said, Gill replied, "You see what you made me do?" and fired again at her, hitting her in the chest. She and her daughter ran outside, where she collapsed in a neighbor's yard. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital on the day before Thanksgiving, where she learned that she had been shot nine times in total. Gill was bound over for trial.

Crotch Shot
Kingsland, Arkansas, about 70 miles south of Little Rock, is the birthplace of Johnny Cash, and the town has honored him with a silhouette of the Man in Black on its water tower, The Wichita Eagle reported. But when Betty Graham, water office manager, arrived at her office early on May 11, she noticed what she first thought was a leak from the tower. Later she realized a sharpshooter had hit the tank right at Cash's sweet spot, creating the illusion that the famous singer is relieving himself. Graham said it could take at least a week to repair the damage; in the meantime, comments on a local Facebook page ranged from "would be a better tourist attraction than Old Faithful" to "Someone here knows who did this. I hope they'll come forward and turn the vandal in." "People think it's funny, but a lot of hard work and effort went into getting the grant to get this painted," Graham said.

Skills
Ayumi Takada, 37, of Tokyo, has been compared to Elastigirl from The Incredibles because of her incredibly elastic earlobes. Oddity Central reports that Ayumi can stretch her earlobes up to 4.5 centimeters, or about 1 ½ inches—enough to, say, wrap them around a selfie stick, a calligraphy brush or the shaft of an umbrella. It's practically like having another hand. "People always ask me if it's painful," she said. "But there's no pain at all when pulling them or holding an item. The earlobe naturally bounces right back into place straight away."

News You Can Use
Students at Johns Hopkins University are putting their expensive education to good use. Whiting School of Engineering students have invented Tastee Tape for their school's Engineering Design Day, United Press International reported. The chemical and biomolecular engineering students hope their invention will help themselves and others make their favorite foods less messy by taping burritos, tacos and other dishes closed, keeping the fillings inside. "All its ingredients are safe to consume, are food-grade, and are common food and dietary additives," said team member Tyler Guarino. They are in the process of obtaining a patent.

Shocking
During an electrical storm on May 16, 15-year-old Giana Scaramuzzo of North Huntingdon Township, Pennsylvania, was inside her home when she was struck by lightning, WTAE-TV reported. At least four other homes in the area were also hit during the storm. "All of a sudden I feel like a shock in my pinkie, and then it goes up my body and out through my leg," Scaramuzzo said about the strike. Paramedics checked her blood pressure and took an EKG, but, shockingly, she didn't go to the hospital.

'I'll Have a Beer'
Olaf Brewing in Finland is launching a new brew to celebrate the country's likely acceptance to NATO, the Associated Press reported. The "OTAN" lager's blue label, with its cartoon medieval knight and NATO's compass symbol, uses a play on the French abbreviation for the multinational organization, OTAN. In Finnish, "Otan olutta" means "I'll have a beer." CEO Petteri Vanttinen said the new lager has "a taste of security, with a hint of freedom." Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, the longest of any European Union member.

Police Report
Dawn LaShawn Laprade, 54, really wanted to get away from cops on May 18 in Martin County, Florida, ClickOrlando.com reported. Laprade allegedly intentionally hit a sheriff's office vehicle as she tried to evade a traffic stop. Next, she drove up to 100 mph, hitting another patrol car and a civilian truck, injuring people inside, and motioned to officers that she had a gun. But the real coup de grace came when officers finally caught up to her and she threw a fake snake at them. Laprade was booked and held on $90,000 bond.

Bond. High Bond.
Irvine, California, police were tipped off on May 17 by neighbors to a suspicious vehicle belonging to Yasmine Kambour, 37, and Chris Huynh, 44, of Garden Grove. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 looked innocent enough, but, as NBC4-TV reported, it had some unusual features that James Bond might have appreciated. "The suspect vehicle was something out of a 007 movie," police posted on Instagram. "Officers discovered a device that would flip the vehicle's license plate with the push of a button and an elaborate gas siphoning device that transferred fuel directly into the vehicle's gas tank." They also found burglary tools, evidence of ID theft and stolen property. The pair were arrested on multiple charges and held for bail. Low bail.

I'll Just Have Water, Thanks
Investigators in Vancouver, Washington, looking into the sexual exploitation of children uncovered another nasty habit of Stephen Sharp, a night manager at an Arby's restaurant there. On May 10, Fox11-TV reported, Sharp admitted that he had downloaded and distributed child pornography. After conducting a search of his digital devices, police also found a video of him urinating into a container of milkshake mix from Arby's. He confessed that he had done so at least twice for sexual gratification. Sharp said it would have been added to another bag of mix and used during the next shift to make shakes for customers. Officers are seeking people who might have ordered a shake on Oct. 30 or 31, 2021, and still have a receipt; Sharp is facing multiple charges and eating institutional food at the Clark County jail.

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