The Weird Week ending January 18th

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Children Given Mercury as Toy; Hazmat Crew Responds

The Salinas, California hazardous materials response team was called in after a doctor had found the children in the home had high mercury levels. The health department red-tagged the home and relocated the family until the home can be professionally decontaminated. The source of the mercury? Their mother's boyfriend had given the children a jar of mercury as a gift about a month ago.

A Protest with Balls: Half a Million of Them125_balls.jpg

The famed Piazza de Spagna in Rome resembled a children's playground as a half-million brightly colored balls bounced down the steps and into the street on Wednesday. The display was a protest engineered by Graziano Cecchini, who last year had staged a protest by pouring red dye into the Trevi Fountain.

When Mr Cecchini finally appeared, walking down the steps with balls bouncing around him, he said he had done it to raise the profile of Burma and the Karen people.

The Karen are a minority who have fought for an independent state since 1949, and accuse the military junta of ethnic cleansing.

A city official said the stunt was "quite unacceptable."

The Blackest Black Yet

On Tuesday, a US research announced the production of the darkest material on Earth. The material is made from carbon nanotubes standing on end, so black it absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light. It is three times darker than the previous darkest material. The researchers are looking into seeking a Guiness World Record designation.

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Newsflash: Children Don't Like Clowns

A poll taken by the University of Sheffield confirms what many of us already knew: children don't like clowns. 250 hospital patients between the ages of 4 and 16 all expressed their dislike for clowns.

"As adults we make assumptions about what works for children," said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.

"We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."

Man Shows Up at His Own Funeral

24-year-old Oum Souv of Cambodia was thought to be dead after he was missing for two days -especially after an unclaimed decomposing body turned up in a nearby jungle. But Souv walked in during his own funeral service, just as the distraight family began to cremate the body! He had been drugged, beaten, and left for dead in a neighboring village.

140wineprices.jpgHigher Wine Prices Boost Drinking Pleasure

People enjoy expensive wine more than cheap wine, regardless of the actual quality. Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology gave the same wine samples labeled with different prices to 20 different people, while monitoring their brains. The subjects reported greater pleasure when told the wine was expensive, and their brains showed more activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, known as the brain's pleasure center. The part of the brain that registers taste was not effected.

Family Continues Road Trip After Grandma Dies

In a story reminiscent of the movie National Lampoon's Vacation, a family on a cross-country trip continued to their destination after their 79-year-old matriarch died of renal failure. The family was traveling from Oregon to Arkansas, and was in Wyoming when the death occurred on Friday or Saturday. Hillsboro (Oregon) Police Department Lt. Mike Rouches said, "They haven't broken any laws, as far as me or anybody else has been able to find."

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January 18, 2008 - 2:34am
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