The Canadian government recently released details about its struggles to keep Pokemon Go! players from trespassing on military bases. According to CBC News, the augmented reality game was released in Canada in 2016. Pokemon Go! encouraged payers to travel to specific geographic locations in the real world that were designated as “PokeGyms” to collect virtual creatures. In a recently released 471-page document, communications between military personnel at the time revealed that game designers had mistakenly placed PokeGyms at security-sensitive military bases. Users reportedly wandered onto installations, prompting Canadian Armed Forces to release a public warning to stay off military property while playing the game. Emails released by the Canadian Department of National Defense expressed confusion. “Plse advise the Commissionaires that apparently Fort Frontenac is both a PokeGym and a PokeStop. I will be completely honest in that I have not idea what that is,” wrote Maj. Jeff Monaghan at Canadian Forces Base Kingston. “The game's premise seems to be going to the 'PokeStops/Gyms' to collect 'Pokemon's' (we should almost hire a 12-year-old to help us out with this) of which we were able to find 5 of these things on the range road itself,” wrote security expert David Levenick at CFB Borden, Ont. In the weeks following the game’s release, security officials reported a spike in suspicious activity on military installations. In July 2016, the Canadian Military Police sent a Criminal Intelligence Advisory to all MP officers warning of the issue, stating: “It has been discovered that several locations within DND/CAF establishments are host to game landmarks (PokeStops and Gyms) and its mythical digital creatures (Pokemon).” While most military officials wanted the bases removed from the list of PokeGyms, those at less secure locations—like the Garrison Museum at CFB Petawawa—seemed pleased by the increased attention. However, on July 21, 2016, officials at CFB North Bay filed a complaint with Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go. It is unclear how the company responded.
Some Washington motorists spent New Year trapped under a 30-foot tumbleweed pileup. The Seattle Times reports that 30 to 50 mph winds blew so many tumbleweeds onto Highway 240 in Benton County, Wash., that five cars and one 18-wheel semi truck were trapped under the pile. The mound was reportedly the size of three football fields and reached up to 30 feet in height in some spots. The highway was shut down for over 10 hours on New Year's Eve as a result. The trapped vehicles reportedly slowed when the tumbleweeds began to blow onto the highway and were quickly covered by the spiny plants. The news story caused a small stir on social media. But Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson said the vehicles' occupants “were not as amused as the rest of the people watching. Some of them had to ring in their New Year fully encased in tumbleweeds.” Two snowplows were sent by the Washington Department of Transportation to clear the mess and free the trapped drivers. The road re-opened at 4:30am New Year morning.
High winter temperatures have driven Russian officials to send trucks of fake snow to Moscow. According to The Guardian, Russia's capital region is experiencing one of its warmest winters in recorded history. The temperature in Moscow rose to 41 degrees F on Dec. 18, breaking the previous record set in 1886. Climate change has been causing concern across the country, as permafrost in its northern reaches have begun to melt, and polar bears have been driven into urban areas in search of food. In Moscow, the most notable change this year has been a lack of snow. The unforeseen weather change would have ruined a New Year snowboarding demonstration, but city officials trucked in artificial snow to build a hill in the city center. The snow was made by cutting ice at a local skating rink. The extra snow is usually discarded and melted down. Images of the snow pile went viral last week on social media, where Russian citizens made jokes about the irony of trucking snow into a city that traditionally spends millions on its removal.
A pair of morticians in Ohio offer a service that removes and preserves the tattoos of dead loved ones. Newsweek reports that Michael Sherwood and his son Kyle started Save My Ink Forever in 2016. The idea for their strange business came to them when a friend told them he wished to have one of his tattoos preserved after he passed. “With the art in tattoos and how much they mean to people, why not keep them after they die?” Kyle told reporters. “People put ashes in urns on mantles and visit stones with their loved one's names on them.” The pair researched how to go about removing and preserving human skin—a process that can take up to four months—and developed their own method, which remains a trade secret. The treated skin is said to have the consistency of parchment paper. For the service to be successful, funeral homes are required to contact the Sherwoods within 48 to 72 hours of the client's death. The tattooed skin is framed before being delivered to the family of the deceased. The average cost for the service is around $1,000. The Sherwoods say they only deliver the skins flat for framing and do not take requests to create book covers, lampshades or other objects.