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The Weird Week in Review

Woman in Speeding Car Fakes Labor Pains

Police in New Zealand were chasing a car speeding at over 90 miles per hour, and were about to lay spikes in the road to stop it, when the driver stopped near the town of Tauranga. He told officers that he was rushing his passenger, who appeared to be in labor, to the hospital to give birth. An ambulance was summoned to rush the pregnant woman to the emergency room. Later, officers called the hospital and discovered the patient had signed herself out shortly after arriving. The cops, angry at the waste of resources, later found and arrested the 23-year-old driver.

Horse Rescued from Basement

A family in Elbert County, Colorado awoke to find their horse Summer trapped in the home's basement. The horse had fallen into the cellar through a window well.

“We thought of bringing her up the basement stairs,” Heap said. “But the stairs didn’t look safe enough to support her weight.”

A veterinarian sedated Summer, who sustained minor cuts and injuries in the fall, and a coring company was contacted to cut into the foundation of the home. The initial plan was to expose an area around a second window well, remove a portion of the foundation and create enough space to bring the horse out of the basement, Heap said.

When the crew had removed enough material around the window, Summer walked out on her own.

Man Defends Business with Tractor

In Alta, Norway, 66-year-old Harald Mikkelsen stopped a thief who was trying to leave his store. Mikkelsen thwarted a getaway by lifting the perpetrator's car with his tractor! Mikkelson only lowered the car when police arrived, 45 minutes later. The incident was captured on video by tourists, and Mikkelsen has become a national celebrity for his actions last Friday.

21 Tons of Mustard and Ketchup

Thieves in Vienna, Austria made off with 21 tons of mustard and ketchup. A truck driver went to work Monday to find the trailer, which was loaded with the condiments, had been stolen from his truck. Authorities are on the lookout for the missing mustard as well as the $22,000 trailer, which is believed to have been the actual target of the theft.

Boise Hires Weed Eaters

The city of Boise, Idaho is trying a new method for controlling the invasive rush skeletonweed. A herd of 600 goats has been brought in by a company named We Rent Goats to eat the weeds off the 680-acre Polecat Gulch Reserve. City officials say the cost of the goats is comparable to spraying chemicals, but better for the environment. Using goats is also safer as they can reach places in the rocky hills that would be hazardous for humans to roam. The goats are expected to work for about a week, or until the weeds are deemed under control.

"Dumb and Dumber"

Ryan Letchford and Jeffrey Olsen, both of Marlton, New Jersey, thought it would be funny to photograph themselves appearing to get arrested in Radnor, Pennsylvania. They got into a police van belonging to constable Mike Connor and shut the door -and found themselves locked in. A friend tried to free them, but couldn't, and called 911. Responders woke Constable Connor, who unlocked the van.

"I came down and unlocked the doors, and 'Dumb and Dumber' pranced out of the van," Connor said. "They looked a little embarrassed."

Inside the van, officers found cigarette butts and "a large amount of saliva," police said. It's unclear why the men apparently were spitting in the van.

Letchford and Olsen were arrested for real on charges of attempted car theft, criminal mischief, and public drunkenness.

Dachshund Saves Owner and Inspires Recovery

Tom McKinney of Yuba City, California fell off a ladder and couldn't move. His neck was broken. His 10-year-old dachshund Chelse was the one who found him. No one else was around, so McKinney told Chelse to get help -and she did, by waking McKinney's sleeping wife and alerting her to the emergency. Now, Chelse is inspiring McKinney to walk again. After all, the little dachshund learned to walk again after she'd broken her back seven years ago. McKinney said if she could do it, he could, too. Two months after the accident, he is getting around with a walker, and has set his sights on walking without support.

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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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