Alibi V.27 No.7 • Feb 15-21, 2018 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Japan

A Tokyo public school is being criticized for adopting Giorgio Armani uniforms valued at around $700 each. Officials at Taimei Elementary School, located in the upscale Ginza district, announced that the school plans to implement a uniform consisting of a navy jacket, navy slacks or skirt, a long-sleeve shirt and a hat—all designed by Armani and sold at a boutique located near the school. The entire ensemble costs around 80,000 yen (around $730). In a letter, Taimei principal Toshitsugu Wada told parents that the new uniform would fit the school's identity as a “landmark” in the Ginza shopping district. The subject was brought up before a House of Representatives' Budget Committee last week by lawmakers who said the school should have been more considerate of parents who couldn't afford the high-priced uniforms. The school was also criticized for not discussing the matter with parents before implementing the new policy. After the comments were made, Wada issued a statement saying that he “accepted criticism” and said he will “explain” the situation “carefully” to parents. Uniforms are not strictly enforced in Japanese schools, though most students reportedly choose to wear them.

Dateline: Maryland

A college student is claiming that an airline employee convinced her to flush her hamster down an airport toilet. Belen Aldecosea, a 21-year-old student from South Florida, told the Miami Herald that employees from Spirit Airlines on two occasions told her that she could bring her certified emotional support animal—a dwarf hamster named Pebbles—aboard her flight home from college last November. At the airport, however, Aldecosea was told that she had been misinformed and that the animal would not be allowed on the airplane. She then traded her ticket in for a later flight while plans could be made. According to Aldecosea, an employee working for the airline suggested she either let the rodent free outside or flush it down the toilet of the airport bathroom. Aldecosea claims that her attempts to rent a car or catch a bus were fruitless and there weren't any friends near enough to take care of the animal, so she was forced to euthanize it. She told reporters that the decision to flush Pebbles was arrived at after painful deliberation, and that flushing the hamster seemed a more humane answer than letting it free in the cold. A spokesperson for Spirit confirmed that the wrong information had been given to the student regarding the transport of rodents, but denied that any employees suggested killing the animal. The US Transportation Safety Administration says hamsters are allowed on planes, but it's only at the discretion of each airline. Most major airlines do not allow rodents. After filing a complaint over the incident, Aldecosea was offered a voucher from Spirit for a free flight to certain cities. She declined the offer and told reporters that she is considering filing a lawsuit against the company for the conflicting instructions she received.

Dateline: Florida

Firefighters were called to a restaurant last week to rescue a boy who was trapped inside an arcade claw game. Titusville Fire Department officials say a 4-year-old boy whose family was dining at the Beef 'O' Brady's restaurant managed to climb up through a door located on the bottom of an arcade claw machine designed to deposit prizes. The boy was reportedly attempting to retrieve a stuffed football. At the time, an off-duty lieutenant with the fire department was eating dinner at the restaurant and noticed the child's predicament. Firefighters responded to the call and were able to free the boy within minutes by prying open the machine. Damage was reportedly minimal. According to the emergency team, during the extraction process, the boy was somewhat agitated, but the adults seemed calm. The boy was allowed to choose a number of toys from the machine before rejoining his family for dinner.

Dateline: Japan

A stem cell research team is claiming it has discovered the cure to baldness—an ingredient in McDonald's french fries. According to researchers from Yokohama National University, the chemical dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone used by McDonald’s restaurants to prevent oil from splashing, can be used to produce “hair follicle germs” (HFG) in mice. Scientists attempting to solve the problem of baldness transplanted HFGs—which are said to aid in the growth of hair follicles—onto the backs of mice, and found that new hair growth began in those areas. The technique utilized oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane to help produce 5,000 HFGs simultaneously in the mice. The research team claims the procedure will also work for humans, but will only support growth that is already present. McDonald's says the chemical appears in very small doses in its french fry oil.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.