Dateline: Japan--An aquarium in Tokyo has turned to a Japanese inventor for a novel way to light a Christmas tree--using electric eels. Inventor Kazuhiko Minawa said it took him more than a month to devise a system that would effectively harness eel power. Two aluminum panels were eventually placed inside the eels’ tank to serve as electrodes. Cables attached to the panels supply the lights on a nearby tree with electricity. “If we could gather electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree,” Minawa told Reuters Television. The tree, which will stay illuminated until Christmas, is proving itself a popular attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.
Dateline: Germany--A man nearly died from alcohol poisoning after chugging down two quarts of vodka at an airline security checkpoint because rules about carrying liquids onboard a plane prevented him from taking the booze with him. The incident occurred last Tuesday at the Nuremberg airport, where the 64-year-old man was switching planes on his way home to Dresden from a vacation in Egypt. New airport rules prohibit passengers from carrying larger quantities of liquid onto planes. The traveler was told he would either have to throw out the bottle of vodka or pay a fee to have his carry-on luggage checked. The man chose a third option, however: guzzling the entire bottle of vodka as he stood in line. Police report the man was quickly unable to “stand or otherwise function.” A doctor was called to the scene and determined the man had possibly life-threatening alcohol poisoning. The pixilated passenger, whose name was not released, was sent to a Nuremberg clinic for treatment.
Dateline: England--A pie-eating competition was nearly ruined when a dog belonging to the contest’s organizer wolfed down 20 pies in one sitting. Charlie, a bichon frisé, raided the fridge of 1995 champion Dave Williams while his owner was distracted by a pigeon flying up the chimney of his home in Preston, Lancashire. Charlie managed to gobble 20 of the meat pies and damage another 10 before he was caught. Fortunately, a bevy of local bakers pitched in to whip up a new batch just in time for the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan. Instead of being punished, however, the hungry hound got signed up for the competition. Tony Callaghan, owner of Harry’s Bar, which stages the competition, told the Wigan Evening News, “We’ve got nothing in the rules to say dogs can’t compete, so he will be lining up against the other pie eaters; and judging by his performance yesterday, he’s got a great chance of winning.” Unfortunately, Charlie must still have been stuffed from his earlier fridge raid, as he barely touched his competition pie. “It seems he didn’t have much room for anymore today when the competition was staged,” said Williams. The winner was 42-year-old human Adrian Frost from Wigan, who downed his pie in a record-breaking 34 seconds.
Dateline: Connecticut--A teacher working after hours at her school became panicked when she heard what she interpreted as threats being broadcast over the school’s public address system. Turns out the school’s custodian was just using the P.A. system for a late-night karaoke session. State police say the teacher at Booth Free School in Roxbury barricaded herself inside a classroom last Wednesday after she heard someone singing the Guns N’ Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle.” Six troopers and three police dogs showed up and found three teenagers, one of whom was working as a janitor at the school, playing with the P.A. system. Police say one of them sang “Welcome to the Jungle” through the school’s loudspeaker. The song does contain the line “You’re in the jungle, baby; you’re gonna die.” The teenagers were cuffed for about 15 minutes while police investigated. Apparently, neither of the two parties involved realized anyone else was in the school at the time. No charges were filed.
Dateline: Ohio--It’s a case of finders vs. weepers. An Ohio contractor and a Cleveland homeowner are fighting over bundles of money that were discovered inside the walls of an 83-year-old house. Home-improvement contractor Bob Kitts was ripping plaster from the walls of a bathroom in the home when he stumbled across $182,000 wrapped in pre-World War II newspaper, the Plain Dealer reported last Wednesday. Kitts said one currency dealer appraised the old bills as being worth $500,000. Kitts and his attorney have filed a lawsuit claiming the contractor should get to keep the money, citing an old legal doctrine called “treasure trove.” Homeowner Amanda Reece said she would have accommodated Kitts but now feels like she is facing a shakedown. The money was traced back to the home’s Depression-era owner, a businessman named Peter Dunne, who apparently died unmarried and childless, the newspaper said.