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Who Knew? 

A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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Who Knew?
When David Saunders, 98, died of COVID-19 in late August, his family donated his body to Med Ed Labs for medical and science research. But KING-TV in Portland, Oregon, reports that Med Ed sold the cadaver to Jeremy Ciliberto, the organizer of the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which travels around the country and charges spectators $500 to observe in person the autopsy and dissection of a human body. When investigators alerted Mike Clark, the funeral director in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who had prepared Saunders' body for donation, he was mortified: "I was totally horrified ... he and his family thought that his body was going for the advancement of medical students." Instead, it went to a Marriott ballroom, where participants were invited to examine and touch the body—which might still have been infectious. Ciliberto says he can "guarantee" that the departed and his family knew what his body would be used for, but a Med Ed spokesman says the event organizer was "beyond dishonest."

Least Competent Criminals
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, a heist went wrong on Oct. 31 when thieves broke into a vacant house to steal a furnace. The Winnipeg Police Service told the CBC that neighbors reported smelling natural gas, and when officers responded, they saw two unconscious people inside the home. The thieves, who had been "overcome by the noxious gas fumes" after the gas line became dislodged, regained consciousness outside and were questioned, but, because this is Canada, were later released without charges.

Bright Idea
Islamic police in Karo, Nigeria, arrested 26-year-old Aliyu Na Idris on Oct. 26 because he was trying to sell himself for 20 million nara, or about $49,000, Oddity Central reported. He works as a tailor, but said, "The decision to sell myself was due to poverty. I plan to give my parents 10 million nara when I eventually get a buyer." Police said what he did was "forbidden in Islam," but he was released the day after his arrest and said the police only gave him advice.

Great Art
The New York Earth Room was created in 1977 by artist Walter De Maria and consists of a second-floor apartment at 141 Wooster Street that is filled with ... dirt. The room's caretaker, Bill Dilworth, waters and rakes the dirt regularly, Oddity Central reported, and welcomes up to 100 visitors a day. "The artist never attached any meaning to it," Dilworth said. Admission is free to view the 250 cubic yards of soil, but people are not allowed to take photographs or touch the dirt.

Local News
In International Falls, Minnesota, the city council voted in late October to stop dressing up the 26-foot-tall statue of Smokey Bear that stands in the center of (where else?) Smokey Bear Park, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The residents of the city have adorned Smokey for decades with seasonal attire, such as fishing gear during the summer or earmuffs, mittens and a 25-foot-long scarf during winter months. But when Mayor Harley Droba talked with other Minnesota towns with giant statues (Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth), he learned that they "thought it was kind of crazy" that Smokey was getting dressed up. Council member Mike Holden said he would miss decorating Smokey, but "they don't want the importance of Smokey the Bear to be degraded."

Weapons of Choice
Tahonee Fickes, 20, chose the closest weapon at hand to assault Kimberly Pittman, 52, inside a Walmart in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 7. A criminal complaint filed on Oct. 27 charges that Fickes "threw a cold chicken" at Pittman, striking her on the back of the head, according to The Smoking Gun. Fickes and Pittman are not related, and police have not determined a motive for the chicken hit. Fickes is facing an unrelated child endangerment charge as well.

As Braiden Lankford, 20, and her mother, 50, argued about the "cleanliness of the house" on Oct. 23 in their home near Tampa Bay, Lankford struck her mother in the head with two tacos, The Smoking Gun reported. When police arrived, "the victim had food debris all around her on the couch and on the back of her shirt," police reported. The mother was not injured, but Lankford was charged with domestic battery.

Did Not See That Coming
The U.S. Navy revealed that its $3 billion nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Connecticut managed to run into an undersea mountain on Oct. 2 in the South China Sea, CNN reported. The Connecticut was able to make it to Guam under its own power, and the Navy said its nuclear reactor was unharmed, but 11 seamen suffered minor injuries. In response to the incident, Vice Adm. Karl Thomas determined that through "sound judgment, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the accident," and released the sub's top officers from their posts. But David Sandwell, a professor of geophysics, said less than half the sea floor is mapped in that area. "It's not surprising that you could run into something."

But Why?
Around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, surveillance cameras at the WJHG-TV property in Panama City Beach, Florida, captured a man cutting and removing cables attached to satellite dishes, taking the company's eight stations off the air. An employee saw that the feeds were interrupted and went outside to check, where the man said he was with Tyndall Air Force Base and was told to cut the wires because of a power issue, WJHG reported. Then he ran away. "This is not just a random act of vandalism," said general manager Ulysses Carlini. "This person knew what he was doing." The stations were back on air by Nov. 2, but police are still looking for the culprit.

Man's Best Friend
One out of six dogs suffers from overt separation anxiety, scientists say. But pups in the United Kingdom are in for some psychological relief, with their own television station launching Nov. 8, Sky News reported. After three years of research, DogTV will air shows to help canines "feel relaxed and comforted until their owners return home," said professor Nicholas Dodman, the chief scientist for DogTV. Colors, audio frequencies and camera alignment have all been adjusted to appeal to furry friends across the pond. Woof!

Awesome!
A Southwest Airlines ramp agent named Valerie has been working for the company since 2011 in Phoenix, People reported, and along the way has amassed an unusual collection: zipper pulls. Valerie was picking up several each day and decided to do something with them, so she chose a sturdy dress from a thrift store and began sewing the pulls on in an interesting pattern. "The challenge was sewing them on in a straight, even line, since fabric moves and stretches," she said. She even grouped the brand names (Samsonite, Dockers, etc.) together. After a decade and more than 800 zipper pulls, Valerie finished her dress and donated it to the Southwest Airlines, which will display it at company headquarters.

Send weird news items to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.

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