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 V.22 No.12 | March 21 - 27, 2013 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Ukraine

Russian state media agency RIA Novosti reports three trained dolphins, believed to be part of a rumored secret military training program, escaped from a Ukrainian naval training base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. The news organization made waves last year after it reported 10 dolphins were being trained by the Ukrainian navy to detect mines and attack enemy swimmers. At the time, the Ukraine’s Defense Ministry denied reports of any attack dolphin programs. Nonetheless, reports of military-trained dolphin attack squads have circulated since the Cold War. In 2000, the BBC reported on trained dolphins, walruses, sea lions, seals, and a white beluga whale that had been trained to attack enemies with weapons including harpoons and “could also undertake kamikaze strikes against enemy shipping carrying mines.” The United States Navy admits it has trained its own dolphin soldiers for decades, but the website for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program notes that “the Navy does not now train, nor has it ever trained, its marine mammals to harm or injure humans in any fashion or to carry weapons to destroy ships.” The site goes on to say that “dolphins cannot discern the difference between enemy and friendly vessels or enemy and friendly divers and swimmers.” A “former Soviet naval anti-sabotage officer” told RIA Novosti that the escaped dolphins were probably looking for mates and would likely come back in a week or two. No word on whether the missing dolphins are armed and dangerous.

Dateline: Japan

A 44-year-old Japanese politician who won a seat on the Oita City Council in February has been banned from council meetings—because he refuses to remove his Mexican-style wrestling mask. Wrestler-turned-politician Skull Reaper A-ji was narrowly elected on a platform of education reform and improved social welfare facilities, but a procedural technicality banning hats in the council chambers has prevented him from attending council meetings. The ban was apparently enacted just before Skull Reaper’s first council meeting. After being thrown out, Skull Reaper stood outside the meeting in protest and told Japanese media he had no intention of removing his trademark, black-and-red, Lucha Libre-style head gear. “People find it easy to come up and talk to me because I have a mask on,” he told the Nishinippon Shimbun. Skull Reaper isn’t the first masked politician in Japanese history either. A former pro wrestler named Super Delfin was elected as a member of the municipal assembly of Izumi in 2012, while legendary grappler The Great Sasuke served as an Iwate Prefectural Assembly legislator in 2003.

Dateline: California

Four men have been arrested in connection with a Jan. 27 marriage proposal stunt that shut down the 10 Freeway in east central Los Angeles. The Contra Costa Times reports the California Highway Patrol served arrest warrants earlier this month to three L.A. area residents. A fourth man turned himself in at the Baldwin Park CHP office. Hector Martinez, 24, of Covina, Mike John David Gutierrez, 38, of Lynwood, Giovanni Mendez, 19, of La Puente and Rudy Cadena, 24, of Long Beach were booked on suspicion of misdemeanor public nuisance and participation in an unlawful assembly. Martinez used the Jan. 27 tie-up to propose to his girlfriend. At 1:25 p.m., upwards of 250 motorcycles halted traffic on the freeway near Barranca Avenue in West Covina. After his girlfriend got off his motorcycle, Martinez allegedly “performed a speed burn for several seconds.” After that, CHP Sgt. Kurt Stormes told Contra Costa Times, “Several of the riders also dismounted their bikes. Mr. Martinez then proposed to his passenger. Several of the motorcyclists on scene applauded, videotaped and photographed the incident.” Video of the proposal became a viral hit on YouTube, prompting police to hunt down organizers of the romantic traffic jam.

Dateline: Michigan

Grand Valley State University in Allendale has settled a lawsuit, agreeing to pay $40,000 to a student who was barred from keeping a guinea pig in her dorm room. According to Kendra Velzen’s lawsuit, filed in March 2012, her guinea pig was denied a service animal exception to the “no pets” rule at Calder Residents dorm. Velzen said she had a letter explaining her need for a support animal from her medical provider. Velzen has a heart condition that requires the use of a pacemaker. And apparently a guinea pig. GVSU denied her request, saying that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not list guinea pigs as trained service animals. In settling the lawsuit, GVSU will split the $40,000 between Velzen, her lawyer and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. The school also agreed to let Velzen bring her heart-healthy guinea pig if she chooses to live on campus in the future.

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

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