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A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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Surprise!
Olympic equestrians competing in the jumping qualifier on Aug. 3 had to overcome a particularly spooky obstacle, the Associated Press reported. The jumps and barriers are decorated in Japanese themes, and next to No. 10 is a lifesize, crouching sumo wrestler that horses and riders approach from behind. "As you come around, you see a big guy's (butt)," explained British rider Harry Charles. Several of the horses in the competition pulled up before the jump, including Vancouver de Lanlore, ridden by Penelope Leprevost of France. Balking at an obstacle earns penalty points, affecting a team's entry into the finals. "You know, horses don't want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he's ready to fight you," said Teddy Vlock of Israel. But Scott Brash of Britain was nonchalant: "To be honest, you expect (flashy course designs) in the Olympic Games. If it was just plain old jumps, it'd be just like any other week." UPDATE: On Aug. 6, the AP reported that the sumo wrestler was removed from the obstacle course, along with a nearby patch of cherry trees that riders thought might be spooking the horses.

Fixer-Upper
Sara Weaver and her husband found their dream farmhouse in Skippack, Pennsylvania, and bought it in December in a bit of a rush. They decided to forgo an inspection, but they did note that the seller's disclosure mentioned "bees in wall." It wasn't until the weather warmed, however, that the Weavers became aware of the extent of the bees. When Allan Lattanzi, a beekeeper in the area, came to remove them in late July, he eventually ended up with 450,000 bees, comprising three colonies. CNN reported that the Weavers paid $12,000 for the removal, which involved taking slate tiles off the outside wall one by one. Lattanzi estimates the bees had been there for 35 years; he had been called to the residence once before but the owner at that time didn't want to pay for the removal. When the Weavers took ownership, the house "was so dirty," Weaver said, "and now that I'm thinking about it, I originally thought it was dirt on the windows that I cleaned but it was probably honey because there were drip marks."

Latest Religious Message
WXIX-TV reported that Charles Mullins, 65, was arrested on Aug. 3 and charged with arson after a fire at his home in Boone County, Kentucky. According to police, firefighters were called to Mullins' home around 3:15 that morning. Mullins admitted that he started the fire by turning on the gas stove, pouring gasoline around the house and then lighting a piece of paper. Mullins said God had told him to start the fire and leave Kentucky, which he probably won't be doing for some time now. He was held on $25,000 bond.

Bad Behavior
• Frontier Airlines flight attendants and passengers had to resort to duct tape on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, ABC6-TV reported. Maxwell Berry, 22, of Norwalk, Ohio, initially brushed his hand against a female flight attendant's backside, then spilled a drink on his shirt. He went to the restroom and emerged without his shirt, the police report said, and an attendant helped him get another shirt from his carry-on bag. Berry then walked around for about 15 minutes before groping the chests of female flight attendants. As a male flight attendant watched over him, Berry punched him in the face, at which point other passengers took matters into their own hands and restrained him in his seat with duct tape. He was taken into custody when the flight landed and charged with three counts of battery.

• James Lenn Williams, 45, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, faces multiple battery charges after an incident on Aug. 5 at a hotel in Key West, Fox News reported. Williams and three friends were on vacation when things turned ugly, Monroe County sheriff's officers said. One of the women in the party passed out, and Williams was transporting her back to the hotel room in a wheelbarrow, pouring beer on her and berating her on the way. The other man in the group became angry and a fight ensued, during which "Williams ... pushed the male victim to the ground and began choking him. The male victim stated that Williams bit part of his ear off while the others were trying to separate them," the report stated.

Seems Obvious
Milford, Maine, has been fighting a problem with rats for the past several weeks, but the possible solution only came to light during a select board meeting on Aug. 3, the Bangor Daily News reported. According to fire chief Josh Mailman, the town health officer and assistant fire chief Chris Liepold discovered that one resident had been providing a veritable feast for wildlife in her backyard -- a pile of corn and sunflower seeds 20 feet wide and about a foot deep. A neighbor installed a game camera near the pile and found that along with deer, coyotes and bears, "a lot of rats" were visiting the spread. Griffin Dill, an integrated pest management professional at the University of Maine, explained: "If there's one person who's not keeping up their end of the bargain (in fighting rats community-wide), the problem is going to be an immense challenge." The generous feeder may be asked to pay for the removal of the pile, but their actions don't appear to break any laws.

Extreme Measures
In London, Ontario, a persnickety homeowner took matters into his own hands on July 30 when he ran his car into a neighbor who had been urinating on his lawn, BlogTO reported. The 38-year-old driver struck the victim, throwing him several meters and causing a gash on the back of his head. The driver was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm, which could get him 10 years in prison.

Sign of the Times
Jesse Jones of Raleigh, North Carolina, has adapted some of his infamous Halloween decorations for a different purpose: He has erected a 13-foot skeleton in his front yard with a sign attached that reads, "Not Vaccinated See You Soon Idiots!" WRAL-TV reported that Jones also set up some tombstones with messages directed at vaccine deniers. He lost his mother-in-law to COVID-19 and hopes his display will get people to focus on the recommendations coming from the CDC.

Bright Idea
• Vahan Mikaelyan, a Russian mechanic and hot-rod enthusiast, has converted a VAZ-2106 Zhiguli car (also known as a Lada 1600) into what he calls the "Dragon" -- a vehicle that shoots flames out its headlights, KOMO-TV News reported on Aug. 5. The shooting fire reaches about 20 feet. Mikaelyan said he will use the car in an upcoming race to set another car on fire. "Friends, you have seen the powerful fire my Dragon spits. Therefore, on 15th August, we will burn the losing car with the Dragon. Make your cars better! There is going to be a hot car battle," Mikaelyan said.

• Toyota Motor Corp. publicly scolded the mayor of Nagoya, Japan, for "biting" an Olympic gold medal at an event celebrating medal-winner Miu Goto, a softball pitcher. On Aug. 4, Mayor Takashi Kawamura pulled down his mask and pretended to chomp on Goto's medal for photos, Reuters reported, but social media objected: Some suggested Goto get a replacement medal because of the germs transferred. Toyota was sterner: "It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete. And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention," a statement read. A chastened Kawamura made a televised apology, saying he would "reflect on" his actions.

Send your weird news items to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.

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