The week in odd news: 'Obsceni mankinis;' Dual lotto win
RICHARD A. SOMMA
Nov. 17, 2017
PRAGUE (AP) — Six Czech tourists who dressed up in skimpy swimsuits made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" have reportedly been detained by authorities in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.
Sporting lime green "mankinis" and black wigs, the men had hoped to take a picture in front of the "I Love Astana" sign.
But local police took action, detaining them on Friday and fining them 22,500 tenge ($68) each for committing minor hooliganism, according to the Kazakh news website informburo.kz.
The swimsuit became popular after Baron Cohen, playing the fictional Kazakh television presenter Borat, sported it in the 2006 movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
That film offended many Kazakhs by portraying the country as backward and degenerate.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — At first, it was an orange traffic cone with a weed growing out of it. Now, the roadside attraction dubbed "Cone Weed" is something of a Christmas miracle to locals.
WBTV reports someone decorated the "Cone Weed" with tinsel and ornaments last week. The weed has been growing unencumbered across from the Huntersville Fire Station for a year and has amassed a cult following. The fire station tweeted pictures of Cone Weed decked in tinsel and ornaments last week.
Property owner Madeline Phillips said her son mowed around "Cone Weed" during the summer, and calls it "a beacon of hope."
A graphic designer has created a line of Christmas clothes and has sold more than 200 shirts, with proceeds helping local families through HopeMatch.org. There's also a Facebook fan page.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Residents of the town of Okanogan, Washington, got quite an air show courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
Officials for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island say one of their planes created sky writings in the shape of male genitals in the skies over the rural community on Thursday.
Many residents spotted the contrails in the clear blue skies above the central Washington town.
KREM-TV of Spokane, Washington, says officials for Whidbey Island issued a statement saying: "The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable."
The Federal Aviation Administration says it doesn't plan to take any action because the act did not pose a safety risk and the agency cannot police morality.
HOUSTON (AP) — A man who led police on a nearly 20-mile chase through Houston was taken into custody only after dancing for a time once he stepped out of his car.
The unidentified suspect came to a stop early Thursday before striking spike strips police had laid across Interstate 45.
He eventually complied with police orders to step out of his car but rather than lay on the ground, the man began a dance with arms above his head. The episode concluded when a police dog attacked him.
Police Lt. Larry Crowson says officers were concerned the man might try to flee into traffic, so they unleashed the dog.
Crowson says investigators will determine whether the man was under the influence.
The suspect has been charged with evading arrest.
COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — A McDonald's drive-thru window became a squeeze-thru window for a woman who apparently needed a fast food fix.
A surveillance video shows her worming her way inside, helping herself to a soft drink and making off with a box of items.
The video , posted on the Twitter feed of Howard County Police in Columbia, Maryland, shows the break-in early on Nov. 5, when the restaurant was closed. The woman reaches through the window for a soda cup and tries unsuccessfully to fill it from the dispenser.
She then manages to squeeze herself into the restaurant through the small window and gets a soft drink. The camera zooms in on her uncovered face.
The woman puts a box of unidentified items through the window and leaves.
She remains at large.
GRANITE FALLS, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman hit the jackpot with two scratch-off lottery tickets, marking the second such instance in three weeks.
The Charlotte Observer reports Michelle Shuffler, of Granite Falls, won $10,000 with one scratch-off ticket and $1 million with another on Sunday.
Shuffler said in a statement that she and her husband purchased the winning $10,000 ticket in Lenoir, and then, feeling lucky, decided to buy another one 22 miles away in Granite Falls.
She claimed both prizes Monday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh, selecting the option of 20 annual payments of $50,000 over the lump sum option. She plans to use the lottery winnings to save for retirement and her children's college funds.
Kimberly Morris, of Wake Forest, also won the lottery twice at the end of October.
CUSTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 62-year-old man has been arrested after police received a report of someone smeared in blood outside a western Michigan gas station.
Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole says Wednesday that deputies were questioning the man Monday afternoon after seeing blood on an adjacent trailer home in Custer Township.
Cole says Roy Purple "bum-rushed" and fell on one of the deputies. Deputies later learned the blood was from a dead deer.
Coles says three other men in the trailer appeared intoxicated, told deputies they were cooking food and walked them to a ditch "where the dead deer was with chunks of meat cut out of it."
Purple was charged with resisting police. His preliminary examination is Dec. 6. The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment from his lawyer.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Sioux Falls woman is facing an aggravated assault charge after police say she hit a man in the head with a frying pan.
Police say the 49-year-old woman apparently didn't like the man's singing and struck him at her home Saturday afternoon.
The victim and a friend left and called police. KSFY-TV says his injuries weren't serious.
Authorities say drugs or alcohol were not involved.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say the same woman led officers on vehicle chases through Southern California on back-to-back days.
The Orange County Register reports a day after leading officers from Orange County into the Los Feliz area, a woman Wednesday morning led officers on a second chase from the Pacoima area to Valencia where she became stuck in traffic and was pulled from the car.
The Los Angeles Police Department says officers tried to pull over the driver Wednesday for possibly being under the influence.
Authorities say they also chased the same woman Tuesday for allegedly violating a restraining order, but called off the pursuit for safety reasons.
Jail records say the woman was booked at the sheriff's Santa Clarita Valley Station on suspicion of evading arrest and was released after posting bail.
PLAINS, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man who always joked that he wanted to take something to eat when he died has gotten his wish.
Richard Lussi's family buried him with two cheesesteaks from Pat's King of Steaks in Philadelphia — topped with Cheez Whiz but no onions.
His grandson, Dominic, tells The Philadelphia Inquirer when the family asked what he wanted, his grandfather replied: "What do you think? Pat's cheesesteak! Pat's Whiz without, no onions because they'll come back to haunt me."
The Plains Township resident would often challenge family members to drive two and a half hours to Philadelphia and back to get the sandwiches.
The 76-year-old father of four died of heart complications on Oct. 10.
His son, grandson and two friends drove to Philadelphia the day before his funeral and picked up two cheesesteaks for the coffin.
HOPKINTON, Mass. (AP) — Police officers in a Massachusetts town jokingly recommend drivers get a little more creative if they make their own illegal license plates.
The Hopkinton Police Department says in a Facebook post Sunday a driver was stopped with a license plate made from a pizza box.
The department discourages people from making their own plates. But if he or she does, the department says not to use a cardboard box and felt tip pens.
Hopkinton police say the driver is facing charges that include operating an uninsured and unregistered vehicle and attaching "fake homemade" plates.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A novice surfer mastered a pro's move on the first try: He punched a shark on the nose to escape its jaws.
The attack Monday afternoon off the Australian coast left Charlie Fry with superficial puncture wounds on his right shoulder and upper arm.
A British doctor who arrived in Australia two months ago to work, Fry said Tuesday he had recently watched a YouTube video in which Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning described his famous escape from a great white shark during a surfing competition in 2015.
"So when it happened, I was like: 'Just do what Mick did. Just punch it in the nose,'" Fry told Nine Network television. "So Mick, if you're watching or listening, I owe you a beer. Thank you very much."
Fry, 25 and a surfing beginner, was in the water with three doctor friends when he was attacked off Avoca Beach, 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sydney
"I was out surfing and I got this massive thud on my right-hand side; it completely blindsided me," Fry said.
"I thought it was a friend goofing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the water and breach its head," he said.
"So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then managed to scramble back on my board, shout at me friends and luckily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in," he added.
Fry said he wasn't conscious of his injured and bleeding arm until he reached the shore.
"I didn't really notice it at the time because when you're surfing, all I'm thinking was: 'I'm about to die. I'm literally about to die,'" Fry said.
"So I thought ... 'get in as fast as possible, ride the wave for as long as you can and then just start paddling for your life,'" he added.
Fry's friends drove him to Gosford Hospital, where they all worked, to be treated. The beach was closed for 24 hours.
Lifeguards spotted the 3-meter (10-foot) shark that attacked Fry close to shore and would use drones on Tuesday to check that it had left the area, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Fry said he could not return to the ocean for a week due to his injuries, but "after then, I'll be racing to get back in."
Fanning was competing at the J-Bay Open in South Africa two years ago when he was knocked off his board by a shark yet escaped unscathed. The video of the attack and Fanning speaking about it has been viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube.
SYDNEY (AP) — A new Sydney Harbor ferry will be christened Ferry McFerryface — Sydney's second favorite choice after the now famous jokey Mc-moniker, Boaty McBoatface.
New South Wales state government officials overruled the most popular name for the ferry after the trendsetter was first snubbed last year as a name for a British polar survey vessel. That ship was christened Sir David Attenborough in honor of the naturalist and broadcaster and Boaty McBoatface became the name of one of its remotely operated submarines.
"Given 'Boaty' was already taken by another vessel, we've gone with the next most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders," New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said in a statement Tuesday.
"Ferry McFerryface will be the harbor's newest icon and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike," he added.
Ferry McFerryface joins the ranks of Trainy McTrainface, a Swedish express train, and Horsey McHorseface, a Sydney racehorse, after a trend started by a suggestion from a former BBC radio host.
Sydney residents have been encouraged for the past year to name six boats in a new Sydney Harbor fleet through the Name Your Ferry website and more than 15,000 responded.
The other new ferries were named after prominent Sydney Aborigines Bungaree and Pemulwuy and Australian medical doctors Victor Chan, Catherine Hamlin and Fred Hollows.
BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Workers at the Des Moines County Courthouse are sniffing around the 77-year-old building and using blueprints to find the source of a mystery smell.
The Hawk Eye reports the sewer-like stench has been wafting around the basement and parts of the third floor, including the jury deliberation room. The unpleasant smell has been noticeable over the past few weeks, though workers say it happens every fall.
Courthouse employees tracked past odors to suspect pipes and busted holes in the building's walls to seal cracks.
Maintenance workers suspect that a pipe in the jury room might be creating the smell. They plan to open the wall after jury trials end this week.
County maintenance supervisor Rodney Bliesener says he's confident workers will identify the source.
BORDENTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man is looking for the woman who busted a move while he danced in a supermarket parking lot.
Nineteen-year-old Melvin Brown, of Bordentown, was captured on video by his sisters dancing to the song "Valid like Salad," a Joo & DJ C-HIM hip-hop song.
NJ.com reports he was joined unexpectedly by a passerby getting into her nearby car.
Brown says he figured the video would "blow up" once he posted it on social media, but didn't expect it to reach thousands as it already has.
Brown says he's hoping to find the mystery woman, saying he regrets not talking to her and hopes he can see her again.
HOPEWELL, Va. (AP) — Middle school students in a Virginia home economics class were mistakenly given a worksheet that quizzed them on what an extramarital affair is as well as "boy toy" and "trophy wife."
WTVR reported Monday that the teacher at the school outside Richmond, Virginia, had downloaded the worksheet from the internet. The superintendent for Hopewell schools said it was never part of the curriculum.
Parents at Carter G. Woodson Middle School were angry. The "Family Quiz" worksheet was assigned Friday in a Family & Consumer Sciences class.
It began with questions such as "What do you call the father of your father?"
But questions also asked: "What do you call it when a married person has a relationship with someone else?" and "What do you call the much younger boyfriend of an older woman?"
LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — Amazon is sorting through 238 proposals to house the company's second headquarters, and a Las Vegas man is trying to woo the online giant with a song. A man from Las Vegas, New Mexico, that is.
KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico reports Las Vegas resident Jim Terr pen a tune to attract Amazon to the small northern New Mexico city.
The song highlights the food, natural beauty, architecture and pop culture in Las Vegas.
But the city of Las Vegas didn't submit a bid to Amazon.
The online had retailer kicked off its hunt for a second home base in September, promising 50,000 new jobs and construction spending of more than $5 billion.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was born in Albuquerque.
MIAMI (AP) — A notorious Florida conman will serve his 20-year sentence in solitary at the infamous federal Supermax prison -- at his request.
A federal judge granted Jimmy Sabatino's request during a Monday hearing in Miami. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Sabatino told federal Judge Joan Lenard the only way to stop him from committing cons is to keep him from contacting the outside world.
Sabatino pleaded guilty to running a $10 million fraud from his cell at Miami's federal jail where he was being held for an earlier fraud. In his latest con, the 41-year-old Gambino crime family associate used smuggled cellphones to dupe luxury retailers to send jewelry, watches and other items to his outside co-conspirators.
The Supermax penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, holds some of the nation's worst criminals.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police in Denmark says a man is suspected of stealing 12 of Copenhagen's green public benches that Danes instantly associate with the capital city.
Investigator Jesper Cederholm says the unidentified Dane, who was briefly detained Aug. 29, had confessed to stealing 12 benches out of a total of 65 benches that have gone missing and selling them online.
The benches had been reported stolen since mid-2016.
Copenhagen is home to about 3,000 of the green benches, which feature a dark grey painted iron frame with wrought swirls and weigh approximately 35 kilograms (77 pounds). They cost about 8,000 kroner ($1,250) each and were first introduced in the 1880s.
Cederholm said Thursday the case would now be brought to court after a three-month investigation.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A newly discovered object from another star system that's passing through ours is shaped like a giant pink fire extinguisher.
That's the word this week from astronomers who have been observing this first-ever confirmed interstellar visitor.
"I'm surprised by the elongated shape — nobody expected that," said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the observation team that reported on the characteristics.
Scientists are certain this asteroid or comet originated outside our solar system. First spotted last month by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, it will stick around for another few years before departing our sun's neighborhood.
Jewitt and his international team observed the object for five nights in late October using the Nordic Optical Telescope in the Canary Islands and the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.
At approximately 100 feet by 100 feet by 600 feet (30 meters by 30 meters by 180 meters), the object has proportions roughly similar to a fire extinguisher — though not nearly as red, Jewitt said Thursday. The slightly red hue — specifically pale pink — and varying brightness are remarkably similar to asteroids in our own solar system, he noted.
Astronomer Jayadev Rajagopal said in an email that it was exciting to point the Arizona telescope at such a tiny object "which, for all we know, has been traveling through the vast emptiness of space for millions of years."
"And then by luck passes close enough for me to be able to see it that night!"
The object is so faint and so fast — it's zooming through the solar system at 40,000 mph (64,000 kph) — it's unlikely amateur astronomers will see it.
In a paper to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists report that our solar system could be packed with 10,000 such interstellar travelers at any given time. It takes 10 years to cross our solar system, providing plenty of future viewing opportunities, the scientists said.
Trillions of objects from other star systems could have passed our way over the eons, according to Jewitt.
It suggests our solar system ejected its own share of asteroids and comets as the large outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune — formed.
Why did it take so long to nail the first interstellar wanderer?
"Space is big and our eyes are weak," Jewitt explained via email.
Anticipating more such discoveries, the International Astronomical Union already has approved a new designation for cosmic interlopers. They get an "I'' for interstellar in their string of letters and numbers. The group also has approved a name for this object: Oumuamua (OH'-moo-ah-moo-ah) which in Hawaiian means a messenger from afar arriving first.
PRAGUE (AP) — A keeper says twin Malayan tigers born in Prague Zoo have a good chance of survival, a rare success for any zoo on the European continent.
The cubs, a male and a female, were born on Oct 3. So far, only two European zoos have managed to breed this subspecies of tiger, most recently a zoo in Halle, Germany, in 2013.
There are only a few hundred Malayan tigers surviving in the wild in Asia and they are classified as critically endangered.
A key obstacle for breeding is that the males are too often aggressive toward their female partners. Other problems include the inability of the mother to take care of the cubs, and diseases.
Keeper Pavel Brandl says the 11-year-old mother, Banya, has been doing well and the two are fine.
They will get names in December.