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News » News of the Weird

Compelling Explanation

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



Compelling Explanations
The Philly Voice reported on June 5 that a resident of White Haven, Pa., has solved the mystery of why that state has experienced more tornadoes than usual this year. The unnamed amateur meteorologist called WNEP's "Talkback 16," which allows locals to opine on the issues of the day, and left a voicemail on May 31. In his own words: "We didn't have tornadoes here until we started putting in traffic circles. ... When people go round and round in circles, it causes disturbances in the atmosphere, and causes tornadoes." So there you have it.

New Weapons
A 47-year-old resident of southern Israel approached a teller at a Postal Bank branch in mid-May, handing her a note that read, "Hand over the money in the drawer" (misspelling the Hebrew word for "drawer"), The Times of Israel reported. As the teller hesitated, he said, "Put the money in the bag quickly or I'll throw this grenade," referring to a black object in his right hand. The teller gave him $4,450 in cash, and he left. Five days later, he repeated his method at another branch, where he netted $3,300. Police tracked him through mobile phone records and other clues, eventually discovering the "grenade" he wielded was an avocado he had painted black. No word on whether he whipped up some guacamole while in custody.

When Ya Gotta Go ...
A 16-year-old driver was pulled over by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, Canada, on June 6 after being clocked driving 105 mph, according to Fox News. The teenager was driving a Chevrolet Camaro, but it wasn't the muscle car that made him go so fast, he said. He told police he had just eaten hot chicken wings and really needed to use the bathroom. Officers were unmoved, however, tweeting, "Absolutely #noexcuses for that kind of speed." The teen was fined and is likely to have his license suspended.

Bright Ideas
On June 5, firefighters arrived at an apartment complex in Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles, to find a 14-year-old girl trapped feet-first in a chimney. By removing some bricks, they were able to free her after about 20 minutes, and she was taken to a hospital to be evaluated. "A lot of people think it's plausible to go ahead and get into your house or break into a house (through a chimney)," Brian Stevens, an inspector for the fire department, told the Los Angeles Times. "I can tell you that doesn't seem to work out for most people. It's very narrow." Good to know.

• In Scotland, Zoe Archibald, 34, thought it would be fun to take a ride in a child's Little Tikes red and yellow car on June 7. When she couldn't get in the plastic car in the conventional way, she put it over her head, Fox News reported—and then got stuck. "There was no way she could get herself out," her nephew, Matthew Shepherd-Bull, said. After being trapped for about an hour, her father finally cut her out of the toddler conveyance with a butter knife. "Everyone found it funny, even Zoe," Shepherd-Bull said. "She was a bit panicked but mainly found it funny."

Enterprising Thievery
In the Arctic region of Murmansk in Russia, an abandoned railway bridge was the quarry of ambitious metal thieves who removed the 75-foot-long center span, leaving only the support structures near either shore. Locals noticed the section was missing in May, reported the BBC. And while the span would have weighed about 62 tons, it was estimated to be worth only about $9,000. Russian law enforcement is looking into the theft, but locals are nonplussed: One mused that the remaining structures would be "eyesores" for a long time to come, then shrugged: "Ah, who cares—this isn't Germany, and restoring order to the vandalized landscape is not high on the agenda."

If you're a fan of bubble tea, you might want to add it to your "all things in moderation" list. On May 28, a 14-year-old girl in Zhejiang province in China went to the hospital after suffering from constipation and being unable to eat for five days. Through a CT scan, doctors found unusual spherical shadows in her abdomen, reported Asia One, which they suspected were undigested tapioca pearls from bubble tea. The girl reluctantly admitted to drinking only one cup of bubble tea five days before, but doctors said her condition indicated she had consumed much more and prescribed laxatives. One doctor warned that the bubbles, or "boba," are made of starch and are difficult to digest.

In Caddo Parish, La., sheriff's deputies responded to a call on June 10 about an alligator in the middle of Highway 1. As they waited for wildlife removal experts to arrive, the gator, which was about 8 feet long, bit off a section of bumper on one of the patrol cars, WBRZ reported, and moved into the grass with a rectangular piece of the car's front grill. It dropped its prize and escaped before the animal handlers got there.

Wait, What?
At a Patriot Prayer rally in Portland, Ore., last August, two protesters took a smoother, shinier approach to their opposition. Robert "Jonah" Majure, 28, and Tristan Romine-Mann, 29, were approached by officers at the rally because they were carrying four 5-gallon buckets and super-soaker water guns, The Oregonian reported. When told to empty the buckets, Majure and Romine-Mann did so, splashing the officers with horse lubricant (used in obstetric and rectal procedures on large animals) mixed with glitter. Majure and Romine-Mann were sentenced to serve five days in jail on June 7 for harassment.

Wide World of Sports
Men looking for diversion in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, entered the Male Slapping Championships, part of the Siberian Power Show, in March, wherein contestants slap each other so hard that some of them sustain concussions. According to RT News, female Siberians now have their own contest: the Booty-Slapping Championships. For this event, which took place in mid-June, the women, all fitness enthusiasts, take turns whacking each other on the heinie until one is knocked off balance. Fitness blogger Anastasia Zolotaya, one of the contest's winners, features demonstrations of the serious workouts she uses to toughen her buns on her Instagram page, @sportnastya.

A lock of Ludwig von Beethoven's hair sold at auction on June 11 for an unexpected 35,000 British pounds (about $45,000), Inside Edition reported. Sotheby's said the framed hair was given by Beethoven to a friend, pianist Anton Halm, as a gift for Halm's wife almost 200 years ago. Reportedly, when Halm asked for the gift, a servant snipped some hair from a goat and presented it to Halm. Beethoven was incensed, saying, "You've been tricked. This is not my hair. It's the hair of a goat." He then cut a lock of hair from the back of his own head, wrapped it in paper and turned it over to Halm. A Sotheby's expert confirmed that the auctioned hair was human.

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