Dateline: India—A herd of drunken elephants went on a rampage in eastern India, destroying 60 homes and killing three people, after downing gallons of liquor. Villagers along the remote border of neighboring states Orissa and West Bengal had been stockpiling a popular fermented-rice-based drink for an upcoming festival. According to Bijay Kumar Panda, a local administrator, the elephants found the earthenware containers full of rice wine and proceeded to guzzle it all. They then staggered through a string of villages, only “to fall asleep hither and thither, throwing local life completely haywire.” According to New Delhi’s Pioneer newspaper, the elephants are known for “their love for local country-made brew” which they “gulp down” and “make merry at the cost of villagers.”
Dateline: Germany—Police in the western city of Koblenz confiscated a 6-foot marijuana plant decorated like a Christmas tree from the home of “an old hippie.” The news came in the form of a press release titled “All You Need Is Love; or How a Hippie Celebrates Christmas.” According to the humorous press release, “The two-metre-tall marijuana plant had been put in a Christmas tree stand and decorated with a string of lights.” The press release went on to note that, “When asked, the hashish fan told the perplexed officers that he had intended to add more decorations to the ‘tree’ and place presents under it, according to tradition.” Police seized the festive weed and another 5.3 ounces of marijuana from the apartment. The seasonally minded stoner was released but still faces charges of drug possession.
Dateline: Rhode Island—Arson investigators in Central Falls have pinned an early morning apartment fire on an alligator. Firefighters say the blaze started when the pet reptile’s heating lamp fell into the gator’s plastic kiddie pool. Owner Jesus Romero said this isn’t the first time his 3-foot-long pet has tried to burn the apartment down with a heat lamp. “The alligator normally knocks it over and it usually just shuts off,” Romero told WPRI Eyewitness News. “This time it didn’t shut off.” Neighboring tenants called 911 when they smelled smoke. “We don’t live in South Africa. We live in Central Falls, R.I.,” neighbor Michelle Florez told reporters. “That shouldn’t be taking place at all.” No one was hurt and damage was described as minor. In addition to the alligator, Romero also owns three 10-foot snakes and an iguana. Rhode Island’s housing authority is now investigating whether Romero’s apartment menagerie is legal.
Dateline: Wisconsin—A jewelry store owner in the city of Superior has caused a local stir with his Rapture-inspired ad campaign. According to the Superior Telegram, LTD Jewelers owner Larry Falter, decided to combine a storewide sale with his belief that the end is nigh. In his latest television commercial—which opens with a trumpeting of horns and a vision of the land being destroyed by fire and lightning—Falter explains that the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem is imminent. “Nonetheless,” he announces in the 30-second ad, “here and now, if you want jewelry, I have access to millions.” During the storewide “Second Coming Sale,” all of the merchandise in Falter’s store has been reduced 50 percent. Falter made the controversial commercial after returning from Israel earlier this year. It began airing on two Duluth stations in November. In addition to owning a jewelry store, Falter is the head elder of Beth Yeshaa Twin Ports, a Messianic congregation. “If anybody wants to see my jewelry or talk about the Lord’s coming, I’m here,” Falter told reporters. The Superior Telegram showed the commercial to Michael Gatlin, senior pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Duluth. “I can’t picture anyone rushing out to buy jewelry because the Day of the Lord is imminent,” Gatlin was quoted as saying. “Other than that, I just find that stuff kind of sadly humorous.”
Dateline: Oregon—Last month, a Circuit Court judge in Lane County approved Douglas Allen Smith Jr.’s petition for a name change. Now, the former Mr. Smith is known as Captain Awesome. Most people seeking a legal name change are granted one in an informal “ex-parte” hearing, but the newly crowned Captain Awesome had to work his way though several legal hearings. The original judge in Awesome’s case did not believe the seriousness of his cause. But in November, Lane County Circuit Judge Douglas Mitchell allowed the identity swap—even giving the Willamette resident permission to change his legal signature. Per his wishes, Awesome can now sign his name as a right-facing arrow, a smiley face and a left-facing arrow. Awesome’s new identity hasn’t come without a few bumps, however. His bank has refused to accept the flashy new signature. “They say it was to easily forgeable,” explained Awesome. According to the Register-Guard newspaper, the freshly monikered Awesome is an out-of-work cabinetmaker.