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 V.18 No.51 | December 17 - 23, 2009 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Russia—A chemistry student in the Ukraine city of Konotop has been killed by what is believed to be exploding chewing gum. Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports that the unnamed 25-year-old was found dead with his jaw blown off after he was working on a computer at his parents’ house. “A loud pop was heard from the student’s room,” a city police chief aide told ukranews.com. “When his relatives entered the room, they saw that the lower part of the young man’s face had been blown off.” Family members say the man had a habit of dipping his chewing gum in citric acid. Ria Novosti reports police found both citric acid packets and “some kind of explosive material” on a table in his parent’s room. The parents believe their son, who was a student at Ukraine’s Kiev Polytechnic Institute, mistakenly mixed up the packets, dipping his gum into the explosive powder.

Dateline: Germany—A group of overly enthusiastic train buffs has confounded German rail officials after building and going for a joyride on their own locomotive. The six-seater train car was cobbled together from garden benches, salvaged train parts and lots of duct tape. The vehicle was powered by an electric motor and designers even saw fit to include a refreshment cart in the form of a crate of beer. Police in the town of Erfurt, in central Germany, were alerted to the existence of the jerry-built vehicle after residents along the local railway line reported seeing it pass by. “It seems to be one of those mad pub ideas that actually happened,” one police officer was quoted on ananova.com as saying. “They didn’t seem to realize they could have caused a serious accident if they’d got anywhere near a real train.” Since police cars couldn’t follow along the public railway line, police ended up chasing down the six amateur engineers in a helicopter. The six were arrested and charged with violating public safety.

Dateline: England—The Warwickshire County Council has spent thousands of pounds on a plan to teach older people how to wear slippers. The new service allows those over the age of 50 to bring in their old, ill-fitting slippers and replace them with a new pair to cut the risk of falling over. For a fee of £5 ($8), participants receive a fitting session, a pair of Velcro-fastening bootees and advice on how to wear them, reports London’s Daily Telegraph. The council claims the program will save money in the long run since it will prevent costly injuries due to elderly slip-and-falls. Critics of the “Sloppy Slippers” project say it is a waste of money, costing more than $5,500 so far, and is insulting to elderly people. “This is a patronizing campaign that treats responsible adults like children,” Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told the Daily Telegraph. “People in their 50s in particular will be surprised to learn that they are judged incapable of buying and putting on slippers without interference.”

Dateline: Scotland—A teenager bungled a job interview after shoplifting from a sports store mere minutes after he turned in an application to work there. The teenager stopped by the JJB store in Aberdeen in hopes of landing an interview. On his way out, the teen passed through the clothes department and helped himself to a couple of tracksuits—one valued “at a high two-figure sum”—before fleeing the building. Workers spotted the youth leaving the store two outfits heavier than when he came in and reported it to police. Investigating officers had little trouble tracking down the alleged thief, since he left all the pertinent information of his job application. “Whatever his reasons, it looks highly unlikely now that he will be in the running to get the job,” one source told local news.

Dateline: Tennessee—How many licks does it take? According to an article in the Kingsport, Tenn., Times-News, Jerry Lynn Davis is asking police to stop some neighboring cows from damaging his property with their tongues. Davis told the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office last Thursday that cattle had damaged his home by ripping off a screen window, cracking the glass and pulling down a gutter. He estimated the damage at around $100. “According to Mr. Davis, the incident occurred sometime during the prior night,” HCSO Deputy Chris Funk wrote in his report. “He said the fence is approximately two feet from his home and cattle have been ‘poking their heads through and licking the side of the house.’ ” Davis told the deputy that the owner of the cattle only uses the pasture adjacent to the Davis house every few years, so cow tongues are usually not a problem. Davis said he was unable to contact the owner of the cattle and asked Funk to do so. The owner of the cattle was eventually contacted and agreed to look into the problem.

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

 
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