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2 weeks of odd news: ‘Dead’ men; brides and Fiona’s flame

Here are a few weird news stories you might have missed in the past two weeks. 

Here are a few weird news stories you might have missed in the past two weeks.

MOCHA MASTER: SKOREA BARISTA ADORNS COFFEE WITH WORKS OF ART

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Would you like cream, sugar and art with that?

A South Korean barista is charming customers at his coffee shop by drawing intricate artwork on the foamy cream topping their drinks.

Lee Kang Bin uses food coloring and small brushes, spoons and tools that look like mini ice picks to draw people, animals, Disney characters and landscapes on coffee.

Lee has recreated famous paintings such as the 1893 Edvard Munch masterpiece “The Scream.” This month the mocha master reproduced a couple’s Niagara Falls vacation photo atop a cup of cold java.

Lee creates the designs at the C. Through coffee shop in Seoul and calls them Creamart. He said the delicate process takes him about an hour per cup and customers have to order in advance.

BLIMP TOWS WATER SKIER ACROSS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAKE

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (AP) — Yes, that was a blimp towing a water skier across the surface of a Southern California lake.

The Press-Enterprise reports the blimp towed skier Kari McCollum for 6.9 miles (11.1 kilometers) at Lake Elsinore on Tuesday.

The newspaper says that’s a new record, according to Philip Robertson, an adjudicator with Guinness World Records.

The old mark for a water skier being towed by a blimp or airship was nearly 5 miles.

The companies sponsoring the event included T-Mobile and AirSign, an aerial advertising company.

POLICE SAY INDIANA MAN TOOK TAXI TO AND FROM BANK ROBBERY

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Police say a 19-year-old Indiana man took a cab to and from a bank robbery and that he paid the driver with some of his stolen cash.

Derrick Faria was arrested less than an hour after Thursday’s robbery of a Fifth Third Bank branch in Evansville. The Evansville Courier & Press reports that Faria reportedly passed a teller a note demanding money, but that he didn’t show a weapon.

Faria is being held at the Vanderburgh County Jail on preliminary charges of robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Court records show that Faria hadn’t been formally charged as of Friday morning. They didn’t list an attorney for him.

MAINE RESIDENT JESUS CHRIST SENDS LETTER TO OPRAH WINFREY

WATERBORO, Maine (AP) — Jesus Christ, who lives in Maine, says she didn’t know Oprah Winfrey was asking for a sign from God about running for president when she sent a letter to the television magnate.

WGME-TV reports 83-year-old Jesus Christ in northern Waterboro says she began a letter writing campaign 50 years ago to spread a message of faith and peace after legally changing her name. Christ says she sent the letter to Oprah because she likes her but had no idea it would get so much attention.

Television anchor Gayle King posted about the letter to Oprah on her Instagram on Wednesday, asking if it was the sign her best friend was looking for.

Christ says if Oprah runs for president, she’ll vote for her.

GOLD SPILLS ON RUSSIAN RUNWAY AFTER PLANE DOOR GLITCH

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian news reports say the hatch of a cargo plane carrying precious metals accidentally flew open upon takeoff — scattering at least 3 tons of gold on the runway.

An investigation is underway after the incident at the airport in the far east city of Yakutsk, according to the Tass news agency.

An An-12 plane operated by the airline Nimbus took off for Krasnoyarsk carrying 9.3 tons of gold and other precious metals, according to a statement from the state Investigative Committee quoted by Tass. Damage to a door handle caused it to fly open and spill some of the metal.

Authorities recovered 172 gold bars weighing 3.4 tons, Tass quoted Interior Ministry officials as saying.

No one was hurt in the incident. Images circulating on social media showed gold bars scattered across a runway.

COUPLE MARRY IN JERSEY HIGH SCHOOL HALL WHERE THEY MET

CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) — Two high school sweethearts in New Jersey returned to the high school hallway where they first met nearly three decades ago for their wedding over the weekend.

Chris Gash and Jenn Sudol, who first met when they were freshmen at Clifton High School in 1989, were married Saturday at their old high school. The ceremony was small with just family members, and officiated by Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi — who says he came out of retirement for this ceremony after retiring from wedding officiating a few years ago.

The couple says they dated briefly in high school, but went their separate ways before dating again in 2016.

Gash’s daughter, Lucy, says the wedding reminded her of romantic comedy movies she loves to watch.

ARIZONA WOMAN DISPUTES HER ARREST WAS MADE ON WEDDING DAY

PHOENIX (AP) — A woman photographed by police wearing what appeared to be a wedding dress during her arrest on a charge of impaired driving in southern Arizona is disputing police claims that she was taken into custody as she was headed to her wedding.

The image of Amber Young being put into a police cruiser late Monday morning while in handcuffs and wearing a white open-back full-length dress made its rounds on social media. The 32-year-old Young was arrested in Marana, 30 miles north of Tucson, after she became involved in a three-vehicle crash in which one person suffered minor injuries.

Attorney Michelle Behan said her client was arrested on her way to meet a friend for lunch, not to a wedding. She said Young isn’t engaged and insisted she was wearing a sun dress, not a wedding gown.

Sgt. Chriswell Scott, a spokesman for Marana police, said body-camera video from the arrest shows Young telling officers that she was on her way to get married and confirming that she was wearing a wedding dress. Scott said Young even gave the time and location of the ceremony.

Scott declined to release the video, explaining the case was ongoing.

Behan said she believed Marana police posted the photo for laughs. “It was not to warn others about impaired driving but rather, I believe, to ridicule and mock Ms. Young,” Behan said, adding that her client now has been given the unfortunate moniker of “DUI Bride.”

When tweeting the photo, Scott wrote, “Don’t drive impaired, till death do we part doesn’t need any help.”

He said his aim was to warn people about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving.

Scott said he took down the photo after people started to criticize Young on social media. “It was just to save her from further embarrassment after we saw this thing had gone viral,” Scott said.

Behan declined to say whether her client was impaired at the time of her arrest.

SNOW JOKE: WEATHERMAN NAMED METEOROLOGIST RUNS FOR OFFICE

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — A former TV weatherman who legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson says there’s a 100 percent chance he’ll run for Congress in Pennsylvania under the new moniker.

LNP reports Anderson is collecting signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot for a run against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker. Anderson says he’s looking for a climate change in Washington.

LNP says Anderson lives in West Chester but may move to Lancaster if he wins.

It says the weatherman changed his name from Drew Anderson last year and left his job at WPMT-TV Fox 43 in York two weeks ago. Anderson also has worked for NBC affiliate WGAL-TV in Lancaster and as a science teacher.

LNP says locksmith Bill Neff also is seeking to run against Smucker in the primary.

SNO-CAT RESEMBLING ‘DUKES OF HAZZARD’ CAR STOLEN IN COLORADO

MINTURN, Colo. (AP) — “Yeee Haaa!”

Authorities in Colorado are looking for a man suspected of stealing a Sno-Cat fitted out to look like the “General Lee,” the famous car featured in the classic television series “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Co-owner John Brandenburg says the large, treaded snow vehicle was on a trailer outside a Minturn restaurant when someone hitched it up and drove away sometime Sunday.

He immediately took to social media and received several responses from people who said they saw a pickup hauling it west on Interstate 70.

Brandenburg says the thief covered the Sno-Cat in tarps, but the decal on the side door was still visible.

KCNC-TV in Denver reports the Sno-Cat was tracked to a garage in the Grand Junction area. A SWAT team was deployed, but the suspect managed to get away.

FORGET THE WORM: MEXICO SEIZES MESCAL BOTTLES WITH SNAKES AND REPTILES INSIDE

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Forget the worm at the bottom of your bottle of mescal. Mexican environmental inspectors have found whole boas and iguanas stuffed into bottles of mezcal at a market in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The wide-mouth bottles were filled with “artisanal, wild agave” mezcal that was apparently meant to be drunk, albeit probably on a bet.

The federal office for environmental protection said Tuesday it seized 15 bottles with species including a blood snake, ridge head snake, yellowbelly snake and a whip snake.

For decades, college students have been downing the maguey worm found at the bottom of some bottles of mescal. The worms were originally added either for taste or to prove the drink’s authenticity.

The sale of wildlife — even pickled — is strictly regulated in Mexico.

ALABAMA COMMUNITIES RAISING A STINK OVER SEWAGE TRAIN

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A train transporting sewage from New York and New Jersey has prompted complaints of a rotten stench and fly infestations in Alabama with Birmingham city officials saying they’re working with authorities to clear the air.

The stench is nearly unbearable, Birmingham City Councilman John Hilliard said this week at a city council meeting.

Numerous train cars transporting sewage sludge have been rolling across the South to an Alabama landfill since early 2017, sparking widespread complaints, Al.com reported.

The sewage sludge is being transported from New York and New Jersey, lawyers for the Alabama town of West Jefferson said in a January lawsuit. It smells like “dead, rotting animals” and human waste, and has caused fly infestations in the community, the attorneys wrote.

The sewage material has also sloshed out of trucks and spilled onto roads, where it sometimes sticks to vehicle tires, West Jefferson Mayor Charles Nix has said.

“When it’s hot, if people go out to their mailbox and one of these trucks rolls by, they have to go in and shower. It’s that bad. The odor is just horrific.”

The stink has also been an issue in Parrish, where the town council held a special meeting recently regarding complaints about smelly train cars being stored at a rail yard there.

“The smell really started getting bad here,” Parrish Mayor Heather Hall told Al.com. “I mean, it was terrible.”

“It greatly reduces the quality of life of anybody that this is around,” she added. “You cannot go outside, you can’t sit on your porch, and this stuff, it’s here in our town, it’s not like it’s an industrial area.”

MAN WHO COMPLAINED OF STENCH SUES TOWN HE SAYS THREATENS HIM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A man who wrote that his Iowa hometown smelled of “rancid dog food” after an animal food processing plant moved in has sued the city, saying officials are trying to silence him.

Josh Harms with help of the American Civil Liberties Union seeks in federal court to block Sibley city officials from making legal threats or taking action to quiet him.

Harms says the city violated his constitutional free speech rights by telling him he must take down his website.

He says city officials aren’t doing enough to reduce the odor from the Iowa Drying and Processing plant, which makes animal feed supplements from pig blood.

An attorney for the city declined to comment.

Sibley is a town of 2,600 people about 238 miles northwest of Des Moines.

NORTH CAROLINA VETERAN MISTAKENLY DECLARED DEAD

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Federal officials have discovered a North Carolina veteran isn’t dead yet.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that 81-year-old Charles Covell of Fayetteville was surprised to learn that he had been declared dead by the Veterans Affairs Department last month.

Covell’s wife realized something was wrong when a monthly disabilities payment was not deposited in their account. They learned a death certificate for a Charles Covell was filed in January.

Covell spent 12 years in the Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.

A spokeswoman from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s office said Tuesday the VA has said the mistake had been corrected.

A VA spokesman said the department has an accuracy rate of 99.8 percent in halting payments to those who die.

DEAD MAN WALKING: COURT REJECTS ROMANIAN’S CLAIM HE’S ALIVE

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court has rejected a man’s claim that he’s alive, after he was officially registered as deceased.

A court spokeswoman said Friday that 63-year-old Constantin Reliu lost his case in the northeast city of Vasului because he appealed too late. The ruling is final.

Media reported Reliu went to Turkey in 1992 for work and lost contact with his Romanian family. Hearing no news from her husband, his wife managed to get a death certificate for him in 2016.

Turkish authorities located Reliu this year with expired papers and deported him. When he arrived in Romania, he discovered he had been declared dead.

He was quoted as saying: “I am officially dead, although I’m alive, I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”

RHODE ISLAND LAWMAKER WITHDRAWS PROPOSED OUTHOUSE BAN BILL

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island lawmaker who introduced a bill that would ban outhouses in the state says he is withdrawing the legislation.

Republican Rep. Justin Price said Wednesday he is pulling the measure ahead of a scheduled state house hearing. Price says the issue should be addressed by local municipalities, not the state.

The bill would have required any outhouse existing as of Jan. 1, 2019, to be “abandoned, filled up and destroyed” within one year.

Price previously said the bill was inspired by a dispute between Warwick residents and their former neighbor who lived within sniffing distance of the family’s outhouse. Those who refused to comply could have faced up to a $1,000 fine.

FAMILY THAT FOUND 7 TY COBB CARDS WORTH MILLIONS FINDS 8TH

LOS ANGELES (AP) — What could be better than becoming a millionaire after finding seven vintage baseball cards while cleaning out your late great-grandfather’s house?

How about finding an eighth?

The family that two years ago made one of the greatest finds in sports collectibles history when they found seven Ty Cobb baseball cards printed between 1909 and 1911 have now found one more in the matching set.

“It falls under the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up,'” said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach, California. The company verified the new card and valued it at $250,000.

The first seven cards were in a rumpled paper bag that may well have ended up in the trash if someone didn’t peek inside.

“The initial discovery, it was a real shock to them,” Orlando said. “They put the cleaning on hold for a while … later they knew what they were looking for, and in a dusty box between two books, there was another one.”

The great-grandfather himself apparently had no idea that he was leaving a fortune to his descendants.

“He wasn’t even a collector,” Orlando said. “He just held on to these cards that were most likely given to him after buying a particular tobacco product.” (Baseball cards were associated with tobacco, not bubble gum, in their earliest days.)

The family, which is from the rural South and wants to remain anonymous, intends to keep this one as a memento.

There are now 24 known copies of the card featuring the famed Detroit Tigers slugger that on the back reads, “Ty Cobb — King of the Smoking Tobacco World.”

That’s less than half the known remaining number of Honus Wagner cards from the same time that have long been considered the holy grail of collecting.

And while the surge in numbers for the Cobb cards may have diminished the value somewhat by making them less rare, Orlando said the excitement surrounding them, and the possibility that more could exist, have made up the difference.

“Sometimes a card can be so rare that no one bothers to talk about it,” Orlando said. “This raised the importance of the Ty Cobb card.”

MICHIGAN POLICE DEPARTMENT TO GET CAT AFTER TWITTER CAMPAIGN

TROY, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit police department will get a police cat following a successful social media campaign.

The Troy Police Department launched an initiative on March 6 to reach 10,000 Twitter followers by April, with the incentive of adding a furry feline to their team. The department had just over 4,000 followers when the campaign began.

The #WeWantAPoliceCat movement took only eight days to reach the goal.

The department’s Twitter account drew followers through a slew of humorous tweets, beginning with a photo of a cat wearing sunglasses and a sheriff’s hat. The department announced it had reached the milestone Wednesday with a post featuring an image of dancing cats.

“We are very excited about a police cat coming to Troy PD,” Sgt. Meghan Lehman said. “The Twitter campaign has shown us that there is immense support for cats in law enforcement. Seriously, we think this will continue to help us connect with the public and also help promote the adoption of shelter pets.”

The department will work with the Humane Society to bring in a cat, she said. The department is now looking for a cat that would be a good fit and deciding on a handler. The animal will be used for therapeutic purposes and will make public appearances.

“The plans are in the works. We want to make sure we do this right,” Lehman said.

The department is continuing to use its social media account to get public input on the feline addition, with a recent post asking for suggestions on what to name a police cat unit. Twitter users have suggested names such as “Claw and Order,” ”The Purr Patrol” and “Pawlice.”

GORILLA AT PHILADELPHIA ZOO TAKES STAND AGAINST DIRTY HANDS

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A male gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo is taking a stand against dirty hands by opting to walk on two legs.

Apparently, 18-year-old Louis is a clean freak.

When Louis has his hands full of tomatoes or other snacks, he walks upright like a human to keep food and hands clean, rather than the typical gorilla stance of leaning forward on his knuckles.

Michael Stern, curator of primates and small mammals, says workers had to install a fire hose over a mud puddle in the yard. The nearly 500-pound, 6-foot-tall primate crosses it like a tight rope to avoid getting dirty.

Stern says it’s “pretty unusual” for gorillas to walk around upright. In the wild, Western lowland gorillas like Louis might do it for a few seconds to reach food or wade into swamps.

LOS ANGELES ZOO PUTS NEW ‘MOB’ OF MEERKATS ON EXHIBIT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Zoo’s new breeding group of meerkats is now on exhibit.

The “mob” of meerkats includes four males that arrived from the Zoo de Granby in Quebec last September and three females that came from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, in January.

The Los Angeles Zoo said this week that the two groups of meerkats were slowly introduced to each other at a quarantine facility before entering their outdoor habitat together in late February.

Meerkats, which constantly tunnel and dig holes, are tiny members of the mongoose family and are native to deserts and grasslands on the southern tip of Africa.

The Los Angeles Zoo is rebuilding its meerkat collection with a genetically valuable group after its elderly meerkats passed away.

FIONA’S FLAME: TEXAS-BASED HIPPO EYES CINCINNATI’S FAMED FIONA

CINCINNATI (AP) — It might only be puppy love, but Cincinnati’s famed hippo Fiona has her first public suitor.

A 2-year-old hippopotamus named Timothy at the zoo in San Antonio has launched his courtship via social media. Posts declared her the “most beautiful hippo” he’s ever seen and wonder if they can be “boyfriend and girlfriend” someday.

Fiona’s only a year old, and her Cincinnati Zoo handlers have a lot of questions before she’ll date (breeding age is 5.)

One is about genetic compatibility. And could Timothy get used to all the attention surrounding the hippo that became an internet sensation through zoo-posted updates of her progress from her premature birth?

Also, is he willing to move to Ohio?

But they’re telling him there’s a chance: “Fiona thinks you’re cute, too.”

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