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 V.18 No.7 | February 12 - 18, 2009 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: South Korea—A 68-year-old woman who has taken the written exam required for a driver’s license nearly every day since 2005 has failed for the 771st time. The woman—identified only by her family name of Cha—has spent at least 4 million won ($3,000) on fees for the test, which she has taken a record 771 times. Applicants must score at least 60 on the written exam before they can get behind the wheel for a driving test. According to Choi Young-Chul, an official at the North Jeolla Province driver’s license agency in Jeonju, the woman has never scored more than 50 on a test. “I feel sorry every time I see Cha fail,” Park Jung-seok, a traffic police officer at the agency, told the Korea Times newspaper. “When she passes, I’ll make a memorial tablet myself and give it to her.” The woman is allegedly ready for her 772nd attempt.

Dateline: Ukraine—The Ukrainian secret service has impounded hundreds of tons of bananas and is refusing to release the rapidly spoiling fruit for five months. Agents for the Ukrainian secret service—known as the SBU—impounded a Greek-owned cargo ship loaded with tropical fruit as part of a drug-smuggling operation. No drugs were found, but security chiefs have said they will not release the ship, the crew or its cargo, which are being held in the city of Odessa. Now, the ship’s crew has been issued with nuclear war-style biohazard suits and respirators to protect them from the toxic stench of the rotting bananas. Valery Osipov, head of a local ecological group, told reporters, “We are now raising this with the SBU, the port authority and the regional environmental department. They need to understand the situation and release the crew from this ‘banana prison.’ ”

Dateline: England—A graduate student is suing Leeds University after the school accidentally threw out lizard excrement the student had spent seven years collecting for his PhD thesis. Daniel Bennett is threatening legal action against the school after more than 100 pounds of rare Butaan lizard dung, collected in remote areas of the Philippines, was incinerated. The Butaan—a close relative of the Komodo dragon—was believed to be extinct for more than 100 years and little is known about it. Mr. Bennett spent five years investigating its diet, population size and behavior by sifting through feces found on the jungle floor. Bennett eventually won a scholarship to Leeds where he was paid to analyze more samples at the university’s Faculty of Biological Sciences. Two years into his PhD thesis, Bennett returned from fieldwork to find his priceless collection of poop had been “accidentally” thrown away by technicians clearing space in a laboratory. “Returning to Leeds from fieldwork, I was surprised to find my desk space occupied by another student and to see that photographs of my daughter, my girlfriend and my favorite lizards had been removed from the wall,” Bennett told the U.K.’s Telegraph. “My personal effects had been carefully stowed in boxes, but there was no sign of my 35 kg bag of lizard ****.” The lizard lover claimed the department took a further 18 months to issue a formal apology and to offer £500 ($740) in compensation. Bennett turned down the offer and is now suing for unspecified compensation.

Dateline: Florida—Either he’s a really bad driver or he was going for a world record. Elvis Alonzo Barrett was arrested by police in Boynton Beach after racking up more than 50 traffic violations in a single day. Police said they originally tried to pull over the 46-year-old motorist for a traffic violation last Thursday morning. According to officers, Barrett sped away, ran through red lights and eventually crashed into another car and a fence. When he was finally pulled over, Barrett was found with crack cocaine and a crack pipe in his possession. Among his numerous charges, Barrett racked up violations for fleeing and eluding and reckless driving. Barrett has a lengthy criminal history and his driver’s license was suspended. He was also not wearing his seat belt.

Dateline: Florida—A man arrested in the parking lot of a supermarket for allegedly having sex with two naked plastic blowup dolls told police he was just on his way to Target to buy them some clothes. The Cape Coral police report shows George Bartusek, 51, had a large crowd gathered around his Lincoln Town Car last Wednesday evening as he kissed and fondled the dolls. Other witnesses told officers Bartusek was simulating sex with his dolls and masturbating. The manager of the supermarket where Bartusek was parked told police he asked Bartusek to leave, but the man refused and stayed inside his car. Bartusek was arrested and charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace. A judge set his bond at $6,500.

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

 
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