Odds & Ends
Dateline: Brazil—You’re not supposed to kill the messenger, but a 12-year-old boy died after delivering poisoned cookies for a pair of schoolgirls in northeastern Brazil. Agence France-Presse reports that the girls, ages 13 and 14, admitted putting a deadly dose of rat poison in the cookies, which they say were intended for two rival girls at their school on the outskirts of the city of Recife. Rather than deliver the cookies themselves, the girls attempted to throw off suspicions by recruiting the boy. Unfortunately, being a 12-year-old boy, he opted to scarf some of the cookies en route. He was taken to a hospital and died shortly afterward. An autopsy revealed the poison, and local police traced the boy’s movements back to the two girls. A police spokesperson said the two were not in jail but were “responding to a special police procedure that will later be sent to the prosecutor.”
Dateline: Italy—Archeologists near Mt. Vesuvius have located what is decried as the largest deposit of human excrement ever found in the Roman world. In an 86-meter-long tunnel under the ancient town of Herculaneum, a team of experts unearthed 750 sacks full of petrified human waste. Specialists for the Herculaneum Conservation Project recently discovered the 3.6-meter-high sewer running under an entire block of the town’s well-preserved ruins. Archeologists had used high-pressure water hoses to clean out the town’s smaller sewer tunnels, but as project manager Jane Thompson told Italy’s ANSA news agency, “The sewer we found under the Cardo V road in the lower stage of the city is so large and spectacular we could use human beings instead of pressure hoses. This was crucial because it has never been completely excavated, and we found a half-meter deposit of organic waste along its entirety.” The ancient poop is said to be a treasure trove of information about the diet and general health of the Roman people. Early analysis has confirmed the plentiful human feces was rich in vegetable fibers. Herculaneum, along with neighboring Pompeii, was destroyed in 79 A.D. when the Vesuvius volcano exploded in a cloud of ash.
Dateline: England—A Yorkshire man was left with a stump on his left hand and a suspended 16-week prison sentence after attempting to rid himself of a troublesome wart with a 12-gauge shotgun. According to the U.K.’s Telegraph, 38-year-old Sean Murphy decided to remove the growth with a Beretta shotgun “after fortifying himself with several pints of beer.” Murphy stuck his left hand out over the gun’s barrel, used his other hand to hold the stock steady and pulled the trigger. The wart went away, along with most of his finger. Murphy denied the alcohol affected his aim, blaming instead the recoil of the weapon. “I didn’t expect to lose my finger as well when I shot it, but the gun recoiled and that was it,” he told the newspaper. In court, Murphy pleaded guilty to “theft by finding” for the shotgun and a second charge of possessing a firearm without a valid certificate. In Doncaster Magistrates’ Court, Murphy’s solicitor called his client “a victim of his own stupidity.” In addition to his suspended sentence, Murphy was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay court costs of £100. “I’m happy with that,” said Murphy, expressing no regrets over his decision. “The best thing is that the wart has gone. It was giving me a lot of trouble.”
Dateline: Washington—A mustelid by any other name ... Police in western Washington have reported an usual case of assault involving a dead weasel. Or something. According to the police report, a man burst into an apartment in the town of Hoquiam looking for his girlfriend. For undetermined reasons, the man was holding a dead animal at the time. The apartment apparently belonged to an ex-boyfriend of the errant girlfriend. Neither she nor the ex-boyfriend were at home at the time. In the apartment was a guest, however, who asked the intruder, “Why are you carrying a weasel?” The attacker answered, “It’s not a weasel, it’s a marten,” then punched the man in the face and fled. Police later located the 33-year-old attacker arguing with his missing girlfriend at another location. He was arrested on the scene. He told officers he had found the dead animal near Hoquiam but didn’t say why he was carrying it around. The local news went on to report that the animal was, in fact, a mink.