Odds & Ends
Dateline: Australia—An innovative “airborne” sculpture 18 months in the planning broke free from its tethers and sailed away during its unveiling at the Perth International Arts Festival. Argentinean sculptor Tomas Saraceno’s “Cloud City” was a massive, helium-filled structure made up of interconnected, balloon-like polyhedrons. But just hours after it was inflated at a park in the center of the western Australian capital, chunks of the white, cloud-like creation tore apart and were carried away by gusts of wind. “We had a wonderful start,” the festival’s general manager Julian Donaldson told Agence France-Presse. “We had a glorious launch and a very nice party to christen it and to acknowledge all those that supported us and then ... it blew away.” One 90-foot-long chunk of the sculpture was found 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) away in the ocean off Perth. Donaldson told reporters it was too early to say what had caused the technical fault, although he did confirm that maximum wind speeds at the time the failure occurred were well below the projected safety standard.
Dateline: Latvia—One man was shot dead over an argument about eating popcorn too loudly during a screening of the Academy Award-nominated film Black Swan. The shooting took place at Forum Cinemas, the largest movie theater in the nation’s capital of Riga. According to a report in the Baltic Times, 28-year-old Nikolai Zykov had a brief argument with the man seated next to him, 43-year-old banker Aigars Egle. The argument was allegedly sparked by the younger man’s loud popcorn munching. When the movie ended, Zykov pulled out a handgun and shot Egle four times in front of Egle’s 14-year-old daughter. The shooter, who was a graduate of the police academy and held a doctorate in law from the University of Latvia, waited for the police to arrive and was arrested. His gun was legally registered. The shooting, dubbed “the popcorn murder” by local media, has kicked off a debate in Latvia’s parliament about the country’s lax gun control laws.
Dateline: Russia—For the first time in its history, Russia has legally classified beer as an alcoholic drink. In the vodka-swilling country, beer has traditionally been classified as a foodstuff, meaning producers of the beverage could avoid restrictions placed on alcohol. “Normalizing the beer production market and classifying it as alcohol is totally the right thing to do and will boost the health of our population,” Yevgeny Bryun, the ministry of health’s chief specialist on alcohol and drug abuse, said in a statement. The new regulations will allow officials to restrict sales at night, ban sales in or close to many public places such as schools, and limit cans and bottles to a maximum size of .33 liters (just under a pint). Russia’s beer consumption has tripled in the last 15 years, with many regarding it as little more than a soft drink. According to Kremlin estimates, Russians consume 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year. That’s more than double the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum.
Dateline: New Jersey—Authorities in Cumberland County have arrested a reluctant shoplifter who said he only did it to settle a bet. Irwin Krakow, 58, was arrested at 2:28 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, at a Wal-Mart in Millville. Krakow told police he had to pick between shoplifting $50 worth of merchandise from Wal-Mart or running “through the street naked” after losing a bet. After his arrest, Krakow speculated he should have chosen the streaking because “the fine would be smaller.” According to the police report, Krakow was caught with a USB card, two dinner spoons, a nutcracker, a decorative tree and some T-shirts. Unfortunately, the value of the items rang up to just $43.82. That wasn’t enough to satisfy the conditions of Krakow’s bet, so it looks like he’ll be streaking after all.
Dateline: Nebraska—A sheriff’s deputy investigating a suspicious vehicle in Lancaster County in the early morning hours of Feb. 18 got himself an eyeful. Chief Deputy Bill Jarrett told the Journal Star that, after pulling over the pickup truck in question, the deputy noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from the cab. In the pickup’s bed, the deputy spotted an assortment of clothes and a half-empty case of Busch Light. Inside the cab of the pickup were two men and two women—all naked. The deputy asked what the four were doing. “Well, I think we’re getting in trouble,” responded one of the stripped tipplers. The driver, 32, was arrested on suspicion of third-offense driving under the influence, open container, not wearing a seatbelt and overloading the front seat of a vehicle. The passengers were not cited.