The Continuing Crisis | News of the Weird | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Continuing Crisis 

A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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The Continuing Crisis
The Cheyenne (Nebraska) County Commissioners vented their frustration on July 6 over an alarming threat posed by a native species in the state's panhandle. The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported that commissioner Philip Sanders told the gathering that prairie dogs had caused almost $3 million in damage to 2,600 acres in the county and pleaded with representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture: "We have a group here from Lodgepole. Their whole town is being surrounded by prairie dogs, and we need your help." The county has contracted with the USDA to handle its animal control problems, but Sanders said the lone wildlife specialist charged with the task has been overwhelmed. "I feel like we've let Lodgepole down," Sanders said. "I don't want to eradicate (prairie dogs). ... I get it, but they're out of control."

Sign of the Times
A statue of Christopher Columbus stands in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood, but if signers of a petition get their way, it will soon be replaced by a statue of Chef Boyardee. The petition, signed by hundreds, suggests Ettore (Hector) Boiardi, known for his "food and iconic mustache," would be a much better recipient of Cleveland's love, Cleveland.com reported. "Boiardi and his brothers built a canned food empire from the ground up," the petition argues, and "during World War II, this company produced canned food for American soldiers 24/7," earning Chef Boyardee a Gold Star in 1946.

Surprise!
Wynn Hall of Exeter, Nebraska, might have expected to find a few beer cans or old tires at the bottom of his farm pond when he drained it for maintenance on July 3, but he discovered something entirely different: an empty, broken ATM. "I thought, who would throw a refrigerator or a stove and put it in the pond?" Hall told KOLN. "I took a picture and zoomed in on it and thought, that looks like an ATM." When authorities arrived, they had a good idea of the source of the machine, since one had been stolen recently, but the numbers didn't match up. Hall said he didn't drain the pond last year, but didn't think the ATM had been there too long. "This is by far the strangest, and I was really shocked to see it," Hall said.

Awesome!
• Paragliding instructor Hasan Kaval, 29, in Izmir, Turkey, took couch-surfing to a whole new level when he rigged a red leather couch, lamp and TV to a parachute harness and launched himself from a cliff at Babadag Air Sports and Recreation Center. United Press International reported Kaval videoed himself July 2 as he sailed over Oludeniz Beach on the couch, pulling out snacks and drinks, and kicking off his shoes to put on slippers as he settled in to watch cartoons. Kaval's rig landed safely, and he didn't miss any of his shows.

• While Americans celebrated the Fourth of July by blowing stuff up, people in Seoul, South Korea, were surprised by an unannounced high-tech aerial display of encouragement and gratitude for medical personnel treating victims of COVID-19. AFP reported that 300 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, lit up the sky for 10 minutes over the Han River on July 4 with messages about wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing, then shifted focus to thank frontline health care workers. It ended with a silhouette of the Korean peninsula and the message, "Cheer up, Republic of Korea." The event was not advertised in advance in accordance with social distancing rules.

Do It Yourself
Don Peters, 44, was arrested without incident on July 4, according to Akron, Ohio, police, after forcing his way around the counter at a Subway sandwich shop and making his own sandwich. According to police, Peters was intoxicated when he entered the store demanding a meal and became belligerent, damaging some plexiglass before charging behind the counter. Cleveland.com reported officers said they found a bottle of vodka and a block of Subway cheese in Peters' pockets; he was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal damaging and open container.

Lucky
Nathalia Bruno, 24, of Newark, New Jersey, survived a harrowing mile-long ride through the storm sewer system under Passaic on July 6 after she drove into high water during a flash flood, NorthJersey.com reported. Bruno, a driver for DoorDash, escaped her car as it filled with water, but the current pulled both her and her car into the waterway that runs under the city, Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said. Bruno rode the wave until it reached its outlet above the Passaic River, where she was "shot out" and swam to a backyard on the other side. A homeowner called 911, and Bruno was taken to a hospital where she appeared not to be seriously injured. Her Toyota Prius was later found under a street the next day.

Need for Speed
Kevin Nicks, 55, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England, was up to the challenge when he was invited to a racing event for unconventional vehicles at Elvington Airfield in North Yorks on July 4. Using parts lying around his house, Nicks mounted a Honda moped engine to the back of a wheelbarrow that recorded top speeds of 36 mph. "No wheelbarrow has flown down at the speeds I was going," Nicks boasted to the Daily Star. "It's thrilling and absolutely bonkers to drive it." This isn't the first time Nicks has motorized gardening equipment. He's also the owner of the world's fastest shed, which can reach speeds of 100 mph. "I like being creative and thinking out of the box," he said.

The Passing Parade
Pennsylvania State Police received multiple calls on June 21 about a Mercedes-Benz driving in reverse on the Pennsylvania Turnpike during rush hour. Troopers arriving on the scene said they found Symara Cole, 27, of Silver Spring, Maryland, passed out in the car with all the doors locked, WTAJ reported. A semi driver had stopped his rig behind her to prevent others from being harmed. First responders found that Cole was under the influence of drugs; pending charges include DUI and drug possession.

Bright Ideas
• Chen Haigang, 50, of China's Shanxi province, credits his good health and well-being to a fitness regimen he created and has been following for about 30 years. Instead of doing tai chi or heading to the gym, Oddity Central reported on July 9, Chen acts like a monkey, walking on all fours and dangling his arms, even climbing trees and swinging from branch to branch. "I often watched the monkeys at the zoo. I thought it looked so fun and I started imitating," Chen said. "Since I moved to the city for work, I've spent my free time doing the (monkey) walking exercise. ... I never need to see a doctor." Recently, Chen has added other animals' movements to his routine, such as crawling like a crocodile. He said many people have asked him about his routine but are too embarrassed to do it in public.

• Yoshito Harada, 32, readily admitted to police in Higashiura, Japan, that he slashes women's car tires so he can then step up to "help" them fix their flats. On June 11, Oddity Central reported, a 43-year-old unnamed woman leaving a grocery store noticed that her tire was flat. As she pulled over, a man stopped his car and offered to help, but the woman had had a similar experience a year before and recognized the good Samaritan, so she contacted police. Officers viewed surveillance video from the market and saw Harada slashing the woman's tire just before she emerged from the store. Further investigation revealed Harada has a history of approaching women this way going back to 2013, and authorities believe he has pulled the stunt more than 1,000 times.

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

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