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The Weird Week in Review

Fat Cat Gets Stuck Under Bomb-detecting Machine

A security checkpoint at the Newark Airport had to be shut down temporarily Tuesday when a large cat ran underneath a bomb-detecting machine. The 25-pound cat travels in a carrier, but was removed so the carrier could be checked through security. The frightened feline squeezed into a four-inch space under the machine and could not be dislodged. Passengers in line were sent to another security line for 20 minutes, until a hydraulic lift was brought in to pick up the machine so the cat could be retrieved. The cat's owner and her daughter missed their flight, but were relieved that the cat was alright.

Pole Dancing as an Olympic Event?

Ania Przeplasko of the International Pole Dancing Fitness Association believes that pole dancing will one day be recognized as a legitimate sport. She hopes it will eventually be a part of the Olympics. British pole dancer K.T. Coates is pushing to make pole dancing a "test event" at the 2012 Olympics in London and possibly a regular event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Coats has a petition with 4,000 signatures so far. The campaign to put pole dancing on the Olympic schedule has some opponents within the pole fitness community, such as those who believe gymnasts will crowd out dancers, and those who feel Olympic status will destroy the sport's allure.

Inmate Left in Courthouse as it Closes for Holiday Weekend

57-year-old Calvin Jones of Vallejo, California was in court for a probation violation two weeks ago. A bailiff took Jones to a secured room used for client-attorney meetings on Thursday morning, and then forgot him. That evening, the courthouse shut down operations for a four-day Presidents Day weekend!

Jones was left in the room, without food, water or access to restroom facilities for more than 10 hours, until a janitor at the Tuolumne Street courthouse discovered his plight about 7:25 p.m. and notified the Sheriff's Office.

"Deputies responded within 30 minutes and got him out of there," Faulkner told The Reporter, admitting that the situation "could have been very bad" had Jones been left uncared for in the courthouse over the long weekend.

The incident is under investigation.

Convict Digs Out of Prison With a Spoon

An unnamed 35-year-old female inmate broke out of a prison in Breda, the Netherlands. She had been housed on prison grounds in a special building for inmates preparing for release. She had dug a tunnel with a spoon! The tunnel went from the kitchen of the house to a sidewalk outside. Police think she had an accomplice who loosened the sidewalk paving stones outside. The woman had only 22 months left on her murder sentence. She is still at large.

Man Bulldozes House Before Foreclosure

Terry Hoskins of Moscow, Ohio took drastic steps to prevent the bank from foreclosing on his home. He owes $160,000 on his $350,000 home. Hoskins has struggled with RiverHills Bank over his home mortgage for almost ten years. Hoskins said he had an offer of $170,000 for the home, but the bank turned it down. Rather than see his home repossessed, Hoskins used a bulldozer and smashed the house to the ground. The building that houses his carpet business is under an IRS lien, and is set to go on the auction block on March second. Hoskins says he might bulldoze that property as well.

Drug User Reports Bad Hash to Police

A man in Eslöv, Sweden went to the local police station to complain about the hashish he had been sold. The unnamed man believed it had been laced with LSD.

The 26-year-old cannabis connoisseur declared to surprised police officers in the provincial Skåne town of Eslöv that he was not satisfied with the quality of his stash and would like to lodge a complaint, local newspaper Skånskan reports.

The man told officers that his ganja had not delivered the desired effect, leaving him feeling decidedly ill-at-ease and in the midst of a nightmare scenario where his girlfriend resembled a dolphin.

The man said in ten years of hash use, he's never had such a reaction. However, he was reluctant to identify the dealer who provided the drug, so it is unlikely police can do anything about his complaint.

Hero Dog Protects Lost Girl

Three-year-old Victoria Bensch wandered away from her home in Cordes Lakes, Arizona last Thursday. She was missing in the nearby mountains overnight while the temperature dipped down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Fifteen hours later, she was spotted in a dry creek bad by a helicopter pilot. Victoria was accompanied by her dog, Blue. Rescuers believe Blue kept the child warm and safe from predators overnight. When they approached the girl, the dog was on alert until Victoria smiled, then he relaxed and let rescuers approach. Blue had no trouble boarding the helicopter with Victoria. The girl was taken to a hospital for frostbite treatment and was found to be healthy.

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Billions of Cockroaches Are Bred in China to Create a ‘Healing Potion’
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Insectophobes would probably agree that any place that breeds billions of cockroaches a year is akin to hell on Earth.

That place actually exists—in the Sichuan Province city of Xichang—but China's government says it's all for a good cause. The indoor farm is tasked with breeding 6 billion creepy-crawlies a year to meet the country's demand for a special "healing potion" whose main ingredient is ground-up roaches.

While there are other cockroach breeding facilities in China that serve the same purpose, the one in Xichang is the world's largest, with a building "the size of two sports fields," according to the South China Morning Post.

The facility is reportedly dark, humid, and fully sealed, with cockroaches given the freedom to roam and reproduce as they please. If, for any odd reason, someone should want to visit the facility, they'd have to swap out their day clothes for a sanitized suit to avoid bringing pollutants or pathogens into the environment, according to Guangming Daily,a government newspaper.

The newspaper article contains a strangely poetic description of the cockroach farm:

"There were very few human beings in the facility. Hold your breath and (you) only hear a rustling sound. Whenever flashlights swept, the cockroaches fled. Wherever the beam landed, there was a sound like wind blowing through leaves. It was just like standing in the depths of a bamboo forest in late autumn."

Less poetic, though, is the description of how the "miracle" potion is made. Once the bugs reach maturity, they are fed into machines and ground up into a cockroach paste. The potion claims to work wonders for stomach pain and gastric ailments, and according to its packaging, it has a "slightly sweet" taste and a "slightly fishy smell."

The provincial government claims that the potion has healed more than 40 million patients, and that the Xichang farm is selling its product to more than 4000 hospitals throughout China. While this may seem slightly off-putting, cockroaches have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Some studies seem to support the potential nutritional benefit of cockroaches. The BBC reported on the discovery that cockroaches produce their own antibiotics, prompting scientists to question whether they could be used in drugs to help eliminate bacterial infections such as E. coli and MRSA.

In 2016, scientists in Bangalore, India, discovered that the guts of one particular species of cockroach contain milk protein crystals that appear to be nutritious, TIME reports. They said the milk crystal could potentially be used as a protein supplement for human consumption, as it packs more than three times the energy of dairy milk.

"I could see them in protein drinks," Subramanian Ramaswamy, a biochemist who led the study, told The Washington Post.

However, as research has been limited, it's unlikely that Americans will start to see cockroach smoothies at their local juice bar anytime soon.

[h/t South China Morning Post]

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Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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