Alibi V.27 No.11 • March 15-21, 2018 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Europe

Experts say an almost six-minute slowdown in Europe's clocks can be blamed on a feud between Serbia and Kosovo over an energy bill. According to Motherboard, a large number of non-quartz electric clocks in Europe are six minutes late. The problem, as explained by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE) in a press release, is caused by the clocks' timing mechanism, which measures the frequency of cycles in the Continental European Power System, a grid that connects 25 countries. According to the ENTSOE, a dispute between Serbia and Kosovo has resulted in 113 Gigawatt-hours disappearing from the grid since January, making the frequency drop and causing the clocks to slow. The long-standing feud between the two countries involves a war during the '90s that ultimately resulted in Kosovo declaring its independence from Serbia in 2008. Four cities in Kosovo still remain loyal to Serbia, however, and refuse to pay the Kosovo government for their energy. According to Swissgrid, which operates Switzerland’s energy grid, the current frequency of the Continental European grid is 49.99 Hz, compared to its normal 50Hz. The ENTSOE says consumers will have to manually reset their clocks until the energy feud is over.

Dateline: Missouri

A workshop held in Branson last week, entitled “Hispanics 101,” taught local white business owners ways to lure employees from Puerto Rico. The Washington Post reports that many business owners in the resort town of Branson, Mo., are suffering from a lack of qualified workers. Branson reportedly faced a labor crisis last year when the Trump administration curbed the number of aproved H-2B visas, which allow some employers to bring foreign nationals to the US to temporarily fill nonagricultural positions. A Branson spokesperson told reporters that 70 of the visas were issued, while 475 had been requested by local businesses. In response, the town is now attempting to attract 1,000 American workers to live there permanently. To this end, city officials have visited Puerto Rico—a US territory whose unemployment rate is currently over 10 percent—multiple times in the last year to recruit workers. They have also started to implement community outreach programs, like the “Hispanics 101” workshop, to teach Branson business owners and residents to be more hospitable to Puerto Rican workers as they enter the reportedly 92.4 percent white population. The $50 workshop, led by diversity coach Miguel Joey Aviles, advised employers to check in often with their Hispanic employees, ask about their mothers and request that grocery stores in the area sell foods that are popular in Puerto Rico—like plantains and Goya coconut water. Branson logged a record 9 million tourist visits in 2017 and city officials say they expect more this year.

Dateline: Australia

A woman enjoying a walk on the beach stumbled upon a rare discovery—the world's oldest message in a bottle. Western Australian Tonya Illman reportedly found a 132-year-old gin bottle buried in the sand near Wedge Island in January. She says she wanted to take the bottle home because she thought it would look nice on her bookshelf. According to Illman, after freeing the bottle, her son's girlfriend went to drain out the sand inside and found a rolled up piece of paper. The paper was printed in German and dated to 12 June 1886, which was reportedly authenticated by the Western Australian Museum. It was a form detailing the ship it had been thrown from—the Paula—and asking the finder to record the date and location where the bottle was found and return the form to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg or to the nearest German consulate. After performing some research, Illman's husband Kym found that the note was part of a scientific program created to better understand the ocean's currents. Thousands of forms were thrown into the world’s oceans over the program's 69-year lifespan, but only 662 had been recovered so far. Until now, the last bottle was found in Denmark on January 7, 1934, only a few months after the project’s official end. The Illmans have loaned the bottle and the note to the Western Australian Museum.

Dateline: Connecticut

A man charged with car theft allegedly stole another car to drive to court. According to the Hartford Courant, Jonathan Rivera was reportedly facing charges of first-degree larceny and tampering with a motor vehicle last week at Superior Court in Hartford, Conn. The charges stemmed from a car theft that occurred in February. According to law enforcement authorities, while Rivera was in the courthouse waiting for his case to be heard, Hartford Parking Authority agents were performing a routine parking violation scan of cars in the area when they discovered a white 2014 Subaru Legacy that had been reported stolen and was outfitted with stolen license plates. Officers reportedly waited near the car until Rivera returned and arrested him as he attempted to enter the stolen vehicle. He has been charged with second-degree larceny.

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