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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

News Quirks

Roland Sweet
Published Thursday June 11, 05:24 pm
The UAE’s strays might get a luminescent safety upgrade

Photo Credit: Illustration by Myron Campbell

Hoping to reduce road accidents involving animals, police in the United Arab Emirates unveiled a plan to fit stray animals with glow-in-the-dark vests. The initiative, launched by Umm al-Quwain Municipality with the slogan “Protecting road users from stray animals” (not “protecting stray animals from road users”), will rely on Animal Welfare to figure out which animals will wear the fluorescent vests and how to get the vests on them. (UAE’s The National)


It’s Always A Party In Iran

Iran’s religious authorities banned spiky hairstyles, declaring that they encourage homosexuality and Satanism. “Any shop that cuts hair in the devil-worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their licence revoked,” said Mostafa Govahi, the head of Iran’s barbers’ union. “Tattoos, solarium treatments and plucking eyebrows are also forbidden.” (The Local)


Only Subversives Look Out Windows To See If It’s Raining

China has banned unofficial weather forecasts by individuals and organizations. State media said the measure is necessary to prevent public panic in advance of major weather events. Amateur meteorologists risk fines up to $8,000 or imprisonment. Critics said the ban is part of a government clampdown on independent sources of information that challenge official versions of events, such as last year’s ban of phone apps that provided pollution readings from the U.S. embassy in Beijing. (BBC)


Sons Of Beaches

The world is running low on sand, a finite resource that’s the material basis of glass and concrete. Both are vital to construction, the prime user of sand. Sand is also used in detergents, cosmetics, toothpaste, solar panels and silicon chips. Demand is causing riverbeds and beaches worldwide to be stripped bare to provide the more than 40 billion tons of sand that people consume every year. That figure is increasing due to the worldwide construction boom, particularly in the Arab world, whose abundant desert sand is unsuitable for concrete. As a result, criminal gangs in some 70 countries are dredging up tons of sand to sell on the black market. In India, for example, “sand mafias” have killed hundreds of people, including police officers and government officials, to capitalize on demand for sand. “The fundamental problem is the massive use of cement-based construction,” said Ritwick Dutta, an Indian environmental lawyer. “That’s why the sand mafia has become so huge.” (WIRED)


Where Is My Mind

Fred Habermel, 72, filed a lawsuit against Norton Healthcare for losing part of his brain. The complainant said doctors at Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, extracted a piece of brain tissue to use to develop a vaccine to inject into Habermel’s head, in an experimental procedure to fight a brain tumour that had resisted previous treatment. “I can see losing a blood sample, but how do you lose brain tissue?” his attorney, Gary Weiss asked. “I can’t imagine worse negligence.” Weiss said Habermel doesn’t have enough of the affected tissue left in his brain to undergo the procedure again. Despite his client’s poor prognosis, Weiss noted one silver lining: The hospital told them they wouldn't have to pay for the surgery. (The Courier-Journal)


Drone Call

Army officials blamed a data link for causing controllers to lose track of a drone being used “in support of increased force-protection measures” at Colorado’s Fort Carson. The 4-pound drone crashed in a civilian’s yard 12 miles from the military base. “I couldn’t figure out who owned it, so I wrote my telephone number on a piece of paper … and held it in front of the camera, thinking someone would call me if they wanted it back,” Colorado Springs resident Ronald Fisk said. No one responded, so Fisk called police. (The Colorado Springs Gazette)


Drones And Diversity

New U.S. Justice Department guidelines for government-operated drones ban flying them “to engage in discrimination” against targets on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, sexual orientation and “gender identity.” Unmanned aerial surveillance also cannot legally be used to monitor activities protected by the First Amendment. (The Washington Times)


Drone Deed

Police in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, reported that Nolan Pollard threw a T-shirt at a low-flying drone, causing it to fall to the ground and break. Pollard explained that he reacted because he was scared when he saw the drone flying toward his face. Police cited him for criminal damage. (Lake Havasu City News-Herald)


Keep Up The Pace

Walking faster could save 5,592 lives if a major tsunami hit the Pacific Northwest, according to geographers reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They estimated that 21,562 residents of coastal communities in Oregon, Washington and northern California would not make it to safety walking at 2.5 mph. But walking at 3.5 mph would drop the death toll to 15,970. The report noted that people in vulnerable coastal areas who feel the quake have about 15 minutes to reach higher ground before a wall of water 30 to 40 feet high washes ashore. (Associated Press)



After Christopher Panayiotou, a suspect in the murder of his wife, delivered the eulogy at her funeral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, local media reported that he plagiarized her eulogy by cutting and pasting from a 2010 online tribute by another man to his wife. (Associated Press)


Accidents Are For People

Google Inc. disclosed that 11 of its driverless vehicles have been involved in minor accidents on California roads since testing began six years ago. The incidents involved “light damage, no injuries,” Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project, explained. “Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.” (Associated Press)

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet

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