Odds & Ends

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Dateline: Russia—A family in frozen southern Siberia has been forced to seek help after giving shelter to a stranded baby flamingo, the ITAR-TASS news agency has reported. Exhausted by its journey, the rare bird had taken shelter in the Muravyov family's home in the village of Verkhny Markovo near Irkutsk. The young flamingo was living out the winter in the family's old wooden house warmed by the heat of a single wood stove. Recently, however, temperatures in Siberia plummeted to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Muravyovs felt that their houseguest might be in danger of freezing to death and appealed for help. Local zoos weren't sure what to do with the tropical bird. Assistance eventually came from the cultural center of the regional railway workers' association at Severobaikalsk, on the shores of Lake Baikal several hundred miles away. Personnel at the center invited the flamingo to take up residence in their winter garden, where it now enjoys nearly 1,000 square feet of floor space that includes a wide variety of tropical plants and a small fountain.

Dateline: Russia—Feel like an icy cold brew? Try Siberia. The Russian Army has been called in to help rescue 10 tons of beer trapped under the Siberian ice. The ITAR-TASS news agency reported last week that a truck carrying the beer sank while trying to cross the frozen Irtysh river near the city of Omsk. A rescue team of six divers, 10 workers and a modified T-72 tank struggled for nearly a week to salvage the precious suds. “The situation hasn't developed according to our ideal scenario,” the deputy head of the Cherlaksy region told the agency. A recent cold snap has kept temperatures well below freezing in the region. A week-long effort to cut a 100-yard corridor to the river bank to pull the truck to dry land failed when the vehicle was swept away from the rescue team. The soldiers, however, were confident it would take them just a day to retrieve the beer.

Dateline: Finland—The only sure things in life are death and taxes, and a 60-year-old tax auditor in Helsinki proved it by performing both in one day. The Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reported that the unnamed Finnish taxman passed away at his desk last Tuesday, but it took until Thursday before his colleagues noticed that he wasn't just staring intently at tax forms. “The reason for this was caused by many coincidences,” Anita Wickerstroem, director of the Helsinki tax office, told the AFP news agency. “He was very much working alone and often visiting companies, while his friends and colleagues who used to have lunch or coffee with him were busy in meetings or outside the office at the time.” There were some 30 workers in the auditing department where he worked and a total of 100 on the same floor.

Dateline: England—Peter O'Flynn of Cheshire told British newspaper The Sun that he was stunned recently to receive a fixed penalty ticket for allegedly driving 346 mph over the speed limit. The ticket, which was mailed to O'Flynn, was issued by a Runcorn roadside camera that clocked him driving at 406 mph. “I rarely speed and it's safe to say I'll contest this,” said O'Flynn, who was driving a Peugot 406 courtesy car at the time while his own was being repaired. The Peugot has a top speed of 129 mph. The Cheshire Safety Camera Partnership, which issued the speeding ticket, admits that the notice is probably a clerical error, but said they would still take action despite the blunder.

Dateline: Pennsylvania—A Bethlehem Township man has pleaded guilty to retail theft for allegedly stuffing $73 worth of shrimp down his pants at a grocery store and then fleeing the premises. Johnny Rodriguez, 48, pleaded guilty last Thursday before Northampton County Judge F.P. Kimberly. According to court records, Rodriguez was in the Heights Market on Oct. 12 when a worker noticed he had his pants undone and was “sticking items down his pants.” The worker approached Rodriguez, who began removing bags of shrimp form his pants. When ordered to stay where he was until police arrived, Rodriguez fled with four bags of shrimp still in his pants. Police said Rodriguez had been convicted of retail theft three times before.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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