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News » News of the Weird

Can't Help Herself

A weekly roundup of international news oddities



Can't Help Herself
Two weeks after a plea deal fell through in connection with a 2019 attempt to stowaway on a flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Marilyn Hartman, 69, was arrested and charged with trespassing March 16 as she attempted to sneak onto another flight at O'Hare, the Associated Press reported. At the time of her 2019 arrest, Hartman was on probation after having bypassed security in January 2018 and boarded a flight from Chicago to London without a ticket. The Cook County Sheriff's Department says it plans to seek a felony escape charge for Hartman.

In March, Einstein Cafe, an upscale dessert chain with outlets across the Gulf Arab states, started a fad by selling its thick, milky drinks in plastic baby bottles, complete with nipples. The Associated Press reported the cafe was inspired by photos of trendy bottles on social media, and the idea was an instant hit. People lined up at Einstein stores, they "took photos, they had fun, they remembered their childhood," said Younes Molla, CEO of the chain, but others "were so angry they said horrible things." In Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, the government cracked down on the new cafe offerings, saying the bottles violate the countries' customs and traditions; in Oman, citizens were asked to report sightings of the baby bottle confections to a consumer protection hotline.

Recurring Themes
• Laura Rose Carroll, 50, and her daughter, Emily Rose Grover, 17, were arrested in Pensacola, Florida, on March 16 after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found the duo had allegedly stuffed the ballot box with votes for Emily for homecoming queen last fall. Suspicions were raised when the Escambia County School District reported illegal accessing of hundreds of its students' digital accounts. Authorities said Carroll, an assistant elementary school principal, had access to the district student information system, and investigators traced unauthorized entries into the system to Carroll's cellphone and computers, where nearly 250 votes were cast. Fox News reported that investigators also said students reported being told by Grover about her mother's activity. Each of them was charged with offenses against computers and other cybercrimes, along with conspiracy.

• Raffaela Spone, 50, was arrested in early March in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after prosecutors say she created "deepfake" videos and photographs of at least three girls on her daughter's cheerleading squad in an apparent attempt to embarrass them and force them off the team. Prosecutors said Spone allegedly sent the manipulated images to the girls—shown drinking, smoking and naked—anonymously and suggested they kill themselves, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Parents of one of recipients contacted police, and detectives traced the IP address where the messages originated to Spone's home. Investigators believe Spone's daughter was unaware of what her mother was doing.

Compelling Explanation
Andrew Almer of Fargo, North Dakota, has flown an American flag from the balcony of his condominium for two years, but the condo association is now demanding the flag be taken down because it creates too much noise flapping in the wind. "You've got to be kidding me," Almer told reported KVLY-TV. "It's not rude, it's not nasty, it's the American flag. ... It's not coming down anytime soon."

Home Sweet Home
Vietnam veteran Tom Garvey, 78, of Ambler, Pennsylvania, has released a new memoir, not about his service in Southeast Asia, but about the "secret apartment" he maintained for two years in an empty concession stand in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, once home to both the Phillies and the Eagles, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. From 1979 to 1981, Garvey lived in an "off-the-wall South Philly version of The Phantom of the Opera," he said, furnishing the apartment with a bed, sink, refrigerator, stereo, coffeemaker, hot plate and seating for guests, who included players' wives waiting for their husbands after games. Leftover Astroturf served as the carpeting. Cousin Terry Nilon said being in Garvey's apartment, located literally in leftfield, felt like "Vet stadium was in his living room."

Sour Grapes
Andreas Flaten of Peachtree City, Georgia, quit his job at Walker Luxury Autoworks in November, visibly annoying his boss, he told WGCL-TV, but he was promised his final $915 paycheck would be paid in January. When the check didn't come, Flaten contacted the Georgia Department of Labor, and one night in mid-March, 500 pounds of oily pennies were anonymously dumped in his driveway, presumably totaling $915. Flaten has been storing them in a wheelbarrow, but they can't be cashed until they are cleaned.

Blessing or Curse?
Work had begun on the small bungalow retired banker Charles Pole, 81, of Wiveliscombe, England, was building for himself on his property when excavators unearthed the remains of a 13th-century bishop's palace, simultaneously solving a local mystery and bringing construction to a halt. Historians had been looking for the site, once home to bishops of Bath and Wells, for 200 years, and a spokesperson for the South West Heritage Trust described it to the Somerset County Gazette in early March as a "significant find." In the meantime, though, Pole is stuck with the bill. "The cost of the investigation is going to cost me around ($26,000)," he said. Building will continue after the site is protected and covered over again.

Fine Points of the Law
Lawyers filing briefs for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit were advised on March 16 the court would be officially discouraging the use of the Garamond typeface, a centuries-old font widely used in printed books, because it "can be more difficult to read," wrote court clerk Mark J. Langer. Fox News reported the font is popular among attorneys, but author and web designer David Kadavy, gets it: "Garamond is considered one of the best fonts in existence, (but it) "can be a disaster on the web. ... It's better to use a modern font that has been drawn with the screen in mind."

Least Competent Criminals
• Robert Radek, 29, of Marlboro, New York, scored a hat trick on March 7 when he was arrested three times in one day, the Daily Freeman reported. First stopped that morning in the city of Newburgh, driving a Jeep Cherokee, Radek was found by the trooper to have a suspended license and crack cocaine with him, for which he was charged with a misdemeanor and released, according to authorities. At 2:30 p.m., police said, the same trooper stopped him again, this time in a Honda Civic, and again found him in possession of crack cocaine, along with heroin. His final arrest came at 5:45 p.m., when Radek was stopped driving the Cherokee again and detained after the trooper determined he appeared to be under the influence of drugs, said police. Radek was released with tickets on all three violations and ordered to appear in court in April.

• Volusia County (Florida) Sheriff's deputies responding to a fire at Myers Marine Service in Deland on March 13 were met by witnesses who said they saw Sean Sword running out of the building saying, "I lit a tow rope on fire." Sword, who was severely burned, told deputies conflicting stories about his motives, according to court papers, but after being interviewed at the hospital, he admitted he was looking for a vehicle to steal, but "it didn't work out," so he set a tow rope on fire and the flames spread, adding that he hoped to be in jail for a long time. Boats and equipment valued at nearly $100,000 were damaged, records show, and Sword faces arson and burglary charges.

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