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 V.14 No.20 | May 19 - 25, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Russia—A Russian astrologer named Marina Bai wants nearly $250 million in damages from NASA for upsetting the balance of the universe. According to Russia's Pravda news site, Bai believes that NASA's Deep Impact space probe, due to smash into the Tempel 1 comet on July 4, is a “terrorist act.” NASA scientists hope the mission will reveal what comets are made of when they observe the probe's impact. In addition to disturbing the movement of cosmic forces, Bai believes that the comet impact is also a personal assault on her grandparents, as the comet heralded the beginning of their relationship. One court has already thrown out the case on the grounds that Russia has no legal jurisdiction over the American space agency. Bai's lawyer has taken the case to a higher court which is debating if NASA is in fact representing Russia through the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

Dateline: Brazil—A Brazilian man is raising a stink after being hit with a “puke tax” at his local watering hole. Luiz Fernandes Peres says the $5 tax was added to his bill at the Taverna Pub Medieval Bar in Natal after a friend of his got sick in the bar's toilet. The establishment imposes the set fee on anyone who throws up on the premises. “I consider this extortion,” Mr. Peres told the Terra Noticias Populares.

Dateline: New Zealand—A 17-year-old boy had to be rescued from a mountain of peas after he forced open an industrial shipping container. The unnamed teenager and two friends used a lighter to burn plastic ties securing the shipping container in Ashburton port. As soon as the doors were open, an avalanche of fresh peas poured out, covering the teen up to his neck. Police and ambulances were called to the scene and used a forklift to free him. He was sentenced to 200 hours community service and was required to pay just over $125, half the value of the peas.

Dateline: Canada—Human poop has been banned from government meetings in Canada. Or, rather, a human dressed as poop has been banned. James Skwarok arrived at a cross-party meeting in Victoria-Beacon Hill dressed as “Mr. Floatie,” a giant piece of feces. The costume was intended to represent P.O.O.P., the People Opposed to Outfall Pollution. Skwarok told Canada.com that he wanted to protest against the daily dumping of 120 million liters of raw sewage into the Pacific Ocean. He admitted he was “a little bummed out” that the politicians booted him from their meeting. Skwarok believes that the British Columbia province needs to clean up its act if it wants to host the 2010 Olympics.

Dateline: Ukraine—Ukranian firemen fled in panic from a blazing building in the town of Donetsk after one of them grabbed a firehose that turned out to be a 10-foot python. The firefighters had arrived to fight a blaze at a health club. Inside the building, one of the men tripped over what he thought was a hosepipe. Picking it up, he quickly realized that it was alive. The men were eventually talked into going back to fight the blaze by the owner of the building, who insisted the python, named Yashka, was harmless and had been kept in the office as a pet. According to local media, the fire was put out and the snake was eventually dragged to safety by its tail.

Dateline: Laos—According to an article in New Scientist magazine, biologists in southeast Asia have discovered a brand new species of rodent--by purchasing it for sale at a food stand. The rock rat--or kha-nyou--is unlike any rodent species previously discovered. It was spotted by conservation biologist Robert Timmins in the Khammouan region. “It was for sale on a table next to some vegetables,” said Timmins. “I knew immediately it was something I had never seen before.” Locals prepare the rodent for eating by roasting it on a skewer. Timmins and his team subsequently trapped one of the rodents in the wild, but none has yet been captured alive. The creature, which looks like a cross between a large dark rat and a squirrel, is actually more closely related to guinea pigs. Since it is so different from other species, researchers had to create a whole new family, the Laonastidae, to accommodate it. The last new mammal family was created in 1974 with the discovery of the bumblebee bat.

Dateline: New Jersey—State troopers looking for a brothel in Woodbridge spent several hours searching the home of 63-year-old widower Philip Petronella, before realizing they might have the wrong tenant. After being informed that his house was a suspected site for prostitution, Petronella told officers, “You gotta be kidding. I ain't getting any. Nobody else is getting any out of here.” In fact, state police officers had served a search warrant for the property, not realizing that the suspects they were looking for had moved out nearly a year previous. Petronella has lived at the rental home with his daughter and son-in-law since last July. “It happens,” State Police Capt. Al Della Fave told the Home News Tribune. Police have offered to resolve any property damage caused when officers, armed with semiautomatic rifles and bulletproof vests, smashed down Petronella's unlocked front door.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.


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