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The Weird Week in Review

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Space Station Toilet Out of Order

There is only one toilet aboard the International Space Station, and it's not working. The one toilet for the three-person crew is on the Russian-built Zvezda module. They have been using the toilet aboard the docked Soyuz space capsule. NASA flew a new pump from Russia to Florida, and will send it via the space shuttle Discovery when it launches on Saturday.

Girl Swallows Magnetic Toy Pieces

The parents of eight-year-old Haley Lents couldn't figure out what was causing the girl so much pain -until they saw the x-ray. She had been swallowing pieces of her favorite Magnetix toys. The tiny magnets are attracted to each other, and when ingested, can rip through intestines. Haley had eight tears in her intestines.
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"She's only been in America three years, and while she was in Russia, which is where she is from, in the orphanage ... they told us she ate everything she could get her hands on," Jason Lents said.

Tobacco Store Dilemma

Old Morris Tobacconists is a heritage building in Victoria, British Columbia that has been open since 1892. As such, it cannot be altered or shop owner Rick Arora will be fined by the city. However, the Vancouver Island Health Authority says he must cover the signs to comply with a law that states tobacco advertising cannot be seen by minors.

"Absolutely ridiculous," is how Arora describes the impasse, and he's right. Two arms of government are ready to strangle a business owner caught between their conflicting agendas.

Shark Attack in Bedroom

150sharkattack.jpg14-year-old Sam Hawthorne was bitten by a shark in his bedroom, hundreds of miles from the ocean! He was sleepwalking one night and walked right into a trophy shark's head that was hanging on his bedroom wall. His mother found him bleeding from a wound on the cheek, and the shark still imbedded in his face.

How Not to Cook Sausages

Two men cooking sausages on a balcony in Germany were unhappy with the performance of the lighter fluid, so they dumped a glass of gasoline on the barbecue. The resulting flame caused the man to drop the glass, which also ignited. Then the other man dropped the gas container, which spilled onto three cars below them and ignited as well.

"The fire was put out by the fire brigade. The total damage amounted to around €30,000 ($46,000). Whether the people involved will ever barbecue again in their lives is unclear," police said in the statement.

Man Backs Over Squad Car After Ticketing

150_squadcar.jpg70-year-old Henry Raskin was pulled over and given a ticket for speeding in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. When the incident was over, Raskin backed his car up over the police vehicle! It is thought that he intended to leave in a hurry, but didn't realize the car was still in reverse gear. Raskin was not injured, but was taken to a hospital afterward as a precaution. Police are investigating to see if he can be charged with another offense.

Childhood Toy is Ancient Gold Relic

John Webber's grandfather, a scrap dealer in London, gave him a cup to play with back in 1945. He always assumed it was brass or bronze. Last year, he decided to have it appraised. The cup turns out to be made of solid gold! It was also identified as a Persian relic from the third or fourth century BC. It goes to auction on June 5th, with an estimated price of 500,000 pounds, or almost a million US dollars.

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This Just In
Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
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Lafontaine Inc.

Quebec City is famous today for its old-world European charm, but a construction crew recently discovered a living relic of the city’s military past: a potentially explosive cannonball, dating all the way back to the French and Indian War.

As Smithsonian reports, workers conducting a building excavation in Old Quebec—the city’s historic center—last week unearthed the 200-pound metal ball at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets. They posed for pictures before contacting municipal authorities, and archaeologist Serge Rouleau was sent in to collect the goods.

Initially, nobody—including Rouleau—knew that the rusty military artifact still posed a threat to city residents. But after the archaeologist toted the cannonball home in a trailer, he noticed a rusty hole through the center of the shell. This made him fear that the projectile was still loaded with gunpowder.

Rouleau contacted the Canadian military, which deployed bomb disposal specialists to collect the cannonball. They moved it to a secure location, where it will reportedly be either neutralized or destroyed. If the cannonball itself can be saved as a historic relic, it might be displayed in a museum.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” munitions technician Sylvain Trudel told the CBC. “Old munitions like this are hard to predict … You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

Experts believe that the cannonball was fired at Quebec City from Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River, during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle occurred on September 13, 1759, during the French and Indian War, when invading British troops defeated French forces in a key battle just outside Quebec City. Ultimately, the clash helped lead to Quebec’s surrender.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Weird
Sponge-Like Debris Is Washing Up on France’s Beaches, and No One Knows What It Is
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The shores of northern France are normally a picturesque spot for a barefoot stroll. That was until mid-July of this year, when walking down the beach without stepping on a spongy, yellow blob became impossible. As Gizmodo reports, foam-like objects washed up by the tide have covered close to 20 miles of French coastline over the course of a few days.

Unlike the boulder-sized "fatbergs" sometimes found on the beaches of Britain or the snowballs that crowded Siberian beaches last November, the spongy invasion has no known source. Experts have ruled out both organic sponges found in the ocean and polyurethane foam made by people. Jonathan Hénicart, president of Sea-Mer, a French nonprofit that fights beach pollution, told La Voix du Nord, "When you touch it, it's a bit greasy. It's brittle but not easily crumbled. It has no specific odor […] We do not know if it's toxic [so] it should not be touched."

The northern coast of France borders the English Channel, a waterway that welcomes hundreds of commercial ships every day. Strange cargo is constantly falling overboard and washing up on shore. Since the sponges resemble nothing found in nature or an artificial material that's commonly known, it's possible they're a combination of both. They could be a type of foam, for instance, made out of seawater and air bound together with a substance like soap or fertilizer.

Experts won't be able to verify what the mess is made of until the Cedre Association, an organization that studies hydrocarbon pollution, analyzes samples collected from the beach. That process should take about a week. In the meantime, French officials are working to clear the coastline while assuring the public the phenomenon doesn't pose a threat to their health. Nonetheless, beachgoers in northern France should think twice before kicking off their flip-flops.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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