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News » News of the Weird

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Armed thieves in New Delhi, India, left a craftsman deep in debt after they made off with 500 pounds of wigs and raw hair worth more than $20,000 on July 27, according to the Associated Press. "People think wigs are cheap, but they cost a fortune to make," wig-maker Jahangir Hussain said. In fact, he had borrowed more than $17,000 to buy hair last month from South Indian wholesalers. India exports wigs and hair extensions to the tune of $300 million a year; much of the raw materials are collected at Hindu temples where people shave their heads as a religious sacrifice, a practice called tonsuring.

The (Im)perfect Seatmate
Chicago cellist Jingjing Hu, a student at the DePaul University School of Music, found herself being escorted off an American Airlines flight on Aug. 2 after trying to return to Chicago from Miami with her instrument. Hu paid in advance for an extra seat for her cello, worth almost $30,000 and housed in a hard case, and had no trouble on her flight from Chicago to Miami, where she participated in a music festival. But on her return trip, after boarding the Boeing 737 and settling herself and her cello into their seats, a flight attendant approached her and told her she would have to leave the plane because the aircraft was too small for her instrument. Hu was booked on a flight the next day on a 767. American blamed the incident on a "miscommunication," according to WBBM TV, but Hu's husband, Jay Tang, said, "I don't think we did anything wrong here, and I think the way they handled it was humiliating."

The list of offenses was long when Franklyn Williams, 32, appeared in Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court on July 31 to be sentenced for aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft, misuse of credit cards and more—including cutting off his ankle bracelet late last year and fleeing to Nebraska, where he claimed he was hit over the head and lost his memory. But it was his courtroom behavior that spurred Judge John Russo to call for an extreme measure: During the hearing, Williams would not stop talking, even interrupting his own lawyers repeatedly over about 30 minutes. Finally, Russo ordered deputies to tape the defendant's mouth shut, reported FOX 8 in Cleveland. Williams continued to talk until deputies applied more tape, and finally Russo sentenced him to 24 years in prison.

So Many Questions
When an employee of Sarabeth's restaurant in New York City opened the walk-in freezer door on Aug. 5, a man jumped out, yelling, "Away from me, Satan!" and grabbed a knife from the kitchen, which he used to threaten restaurant staff. Carlton Henderson, 54, of Cave Creek, Ariz., struggled with workers but eventually fell unconscious and was transported to Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the New York Post reported. Authorities don't know (1) why and how he entered the freezer and (2) why he died, but they did determine he was charged last year with two 1988 cold-case murders in Boston. He had been released on bail the week before the freezer incident and was scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 14.

West Valley City, Utah, has a malodorous mystery on its hands. The community stinks, and for the past year, officials have been fielding complaints about the smell, which city communications director Sam Johnson described as "a musty sewer smell ... that you can smell in certain parts of the city stronger," according to FOX 13. The city has now launched a campaign recruiting residents to help pinpoint the source of the odor: "If you smell something, say something." They're hoping more complaints will spur Salt Lake County and Utah's Department of Environmental Quality to investigate and take action.

Bright Idea!
Zemarcuis Devon Scott, 18, of Texarkana, Ark., really wanted to attend a rap concert in another state, so on July 4 he executed his plan to get there: Scott was seen by Texarkana Regional Airport security officers around 2:30 a.m. jumping a fence and trying to get into an American Eagle twin-engine jet parked there. When police arrived, Scott was inside the cockpit, sitting in the pilot's seat, the Texarkana Gazette reported. Scott, not a licensed pilot, told officers he thought there wasn't much more to flying a plane than pushing buttons and pulling levers. On July 31, he was charged with commercial burglary and attempted theft; he's been grounded at the Miller County jail.

Nerd Alert
Who knew? Apparently the unofficial "uniform" for Bay Area techies and venture capital investors is a vest, so the Japanese company Uniqlo is cashing in with a vest vending machine at the San Francisco International Airport. The airport's public information officer, Doug Yakel, says the machine is no joke; it earns $10,000 a month on average. Do the math: At $49.90 apiece, the company is selling about 200 of its ultra-light down vests each month. "This is the first time we've had clothing available for sale from a vending machine, which we thought was very unique," Yakel told Business Insider.

The Baltimore Sun reported that a driver's license examiner in Glen Burnie, Md., got a whiff of something illegal on Aug. 6 when she approached a car about to be used in a driving test. She called Maryland State Police, who found Reginald D. Wooding Jr., 22, of Baltimore waiting in his mother's car to take his test. But he never got the chance: Wooding was in possession of marijuana, a scale, more than $15,000 in suspected drug-related money and a 9mm Glock handgun with a loaded 30-round magazine.

Compelling Explanation
In Bluffton, South Carolina, 32-year-old Lauren Elizabeth Cutshaw informed police officers she was a former cheerleader, sorority girl, good student and National Honor Society member after they pulled her over at 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 4 for running a stop sign at 30 mph over the speed limit. According to The Island Packet, she also told officers she shouldn't be arrested because she's a "very clean, thoroughbred, white girl." She said she'd had only two glasses of wine, but then allowed, "I mean, I was celebrating my birthday." Police arrested her anyway and booked her into the Beaufort County Detention Center.

Questionable Judgment
Farah Hashi, 25, of Newport, Wales, is "mad about cars," so while he was visiting friends in Dubai, they arranged for him to drive a $350,000 Lamborghini Huracan. Hashi, who has one leg shorter than the other and typically drives a custom Vauxhall Corsa mobility car, took full advantage: He was caught on roadside cameras 33 times in less than four hours on Aug. 7 as he reached a top speed of 150 mph and racked up more than $47,000 in speeding fines. Farah's brother, Adnan Hashi, said the rental company went to Hashi's hotel room and seized his passport after the fines were issued, so Hashi is stuck in Dubai until the mess can be sorted out. "There is no way he has that money," Adnan told the BBC. "He is out of work at the minute and went to Dubai to visit friends."

Suspicions Confirmed
Airport security at Berlin's Schonefeld Airport evacuated a terminal on Aug. 7 after spotting "suspicious content in a luggage piece" during a routine X-ray, according to CNN. The bag's unnamed owner was summoned, but he was reluctant to identify the mysterious items, calling them just "technical stuff." After an hourlong investigation involving the bomb squad, the 31-year-old traveler admitted to federal police that the items were sex toys, including a vibrator, he had brought along for his girlfriend. He was allowed to proceed with his trip, and the terminal reopened shortly afterward.

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