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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

News Quirks

Roland Sweet
Published Thursday September 4, 04:28 pm
Who will stand up for Japan’s many pointless mascots?

Photo Credit: Illustration by Myron Campbell

Hundreds of costumed mascots risk losing their jobs after Japan’s finance ministry ordered local authorities to cut back on their use. The ministry said its investigation into the life-size “yuru-kyara” (“laidback characters”) found that 105 tax-funded organizations had created their own mascots but that “most of them had no clear purpose.” Many “were created for vague ‘public relations purposes,’ and some of them were created just because others have introduced mascots.” The ministry’s investigation followed a decision by officials in Osaka Prefecture to reduce its 45 state-funded yuru-kyara after learning that the public has no clue who or what many of them are. (Agence France-Presse)


Keep Your Deer Heads Holstered

State police charged Stacy Varner, 47, and Glenda Snyder, 64, with attacking each other with a stuffed deer head during an argument in Cromwell Township, Pennsylvania. Troopers said Snyder was injured during the fight when she was hit with an antler. (Harrisburg’s The Patriot-News)


Gutter Balls

British engineers investigating flooding in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, determined that hundreds of tennis balls had been flushed into the sewer drains, causing rainwater to back up into the streets. “We expect sewers to get blocked with fats or baby wipes, but not tennis balls,” sewage network manager Scott Burgin said. “How on earth people have managed to flush quite so many, I don’t know.” Workers cleared the blockage by climbing into the sewer and using their hands and shovels. (BBC News)


Utah: Not So Bright

A blogger for a Utah English-language learning centre was fired after he posted an explanation of homophones — words that sound the same but have different meanings. “Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Tim Torkildson said his boss, Clarke Woodger, told him. Noting that most students at Provo’s Nomen Global Language Center are foreigners with only a basic understanding of English, Woodger explained that they “may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex.” (The Salt Lake Tribune)


Schetty Lectures

Francesco Schettino gave a two-hour lecture on best emergency practices to a criminology seminar at Rome’s La Sapienza university. Schettino was vilified as “Captain Coward” in the 2012 sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia after he reportedly abandoned ship before his passengers were safe. “I was called to speak because I am an expert. I had to talk about panic management,” Schettino told La Nazione newspaper, explaining that he used a 3-D model of the doomed vessel to demonstrate how emergency evacuations are conducted. (Australia’s


Sometimes You Just Can’t Win

When a hailstorm rolled through Woods Canyon Lake, Arizona, a man authorities described as in his 30s lifted a metal chair over his head to shield himself from the hail. A lightning bolt struck the chair, sending the man to the hospital with an entry wound on his shoulder and exit wounds on both feet. (Phoenix’s KTVK-TV)


Ensurance Policy

Since March 2013, U.S. taxpayers have paid roughly $300,000 for 161,352 cans of liquid nutritional supplements, including $142,345 worth of vanilla Ensure, for hunger-striking terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. The government purchases were made while military officials denied claims by the detainees’ attorneys that a mass hunger strike was underway. (Vice News)


When Rocks Won’t Do

Babanto Chauke, 38, died during an argument with two men, according to police in South Africa’s Limpopo province, after he was “hit very badly by oranges,” police Lt. Col. Moatshe Ngoepe said. “They started pelting the deceased with all those loose oranges, killing him on the spot.” (Associated Press)


Slow Learners

Travellers continue showing up at American airport security checkpoints with guns. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the number of passengers trying to bring guns onto planes in their carry-on bags rose from 976 in 2009 to 1,813 last year. Eighty-four per cent of the guns were loaded. TSA agents caught the most gun-toting travellers, 111, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “More than a dozen years after 9/11, you’d think people’s awareness would be raised,” TSA official Lisa Farbstein said. “But they continue to bring firearms and weapons to checkpoints every day. The numbers just keep going up.” (The Boston Globe)


Armed And, Um, Dead

A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man died after an automobile hit his motorcycle in Black Hawk, Colorado. Police said the collision caused a handgun the motorcyclist was carrying to fire, shooting him in the chest. (Denver’s KMGH-TV)



After Willie Hubbard witnessed a woman getting thrown to the ground by a man who then drove off in her car in DeKalb County, Georgia, he called 911 to report a carjacking. When the operator asked Hubbard to describe the incident, she informed him it wasn’t a carjacking but a theft. The two then debated whether the crime was a carjacking or a theft, delaying police response for more than 30 minutes, according to interim Police Chief James Conroy. (Atlanta’s WAGA-TV)


Misogynists Hate Rabbits

After James W. Wertz, 28, argued with his girlfriend over women’s rights, police in Boynton Beach, Florida, said he violently attacked her pet rabbit by squeezing and punching it. He was arrested on battery and animal cruelty charges. (West Palm Beach’s WPEC-TV)


Air Force, Obviously

William Earl Cunningham, 63, slashed another man’s throat, according to police in Billings, Montana, who charged him with homicide after he told them he and the victim had been arguing whether the Army or Marines is the best branch of the military. (Billings Gazette)


Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet

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