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The Weird Week in Review

Church Brawl

A Sunday evening brawl at the New Welcome Church in St. Elmo, Alabama, involved at least a dozen people and left one woman with a stab wound. The fight began when the pastor fired the music minister, Simone De Moore. An argument followed over the amount of Moore's final paycheck. Moore then allegedly used a taser on minister Daryl Riley. In the ensuing melee, deacon Harvey Hunt stabbed Moore's mother, Agolia Moore in the arm with a pocket knife. Agolia Moore underwent surgery and 19 stitches to repair the wound. Simone Moore turned himself in to police for the tasering. Hunt is still at large.

Black Widow Hitchhikers Invade UK

Four black widow spiders, which are native to North and Central America, were found in a shipment of jet engines sent from the U.S. to a company in Lincolnshire, England. Employees at TC Power in Barton-upon-Humber were startled when the spiders dropped out of a container. The workers stopped everything and put the deadly spiders in a glass container. TC Power engineers are feeding the black widows and plan to give them to a zoo, where they will stay under glass.

Woman Assaulted With Bratwurst

An argument between two women in Des Moines, Iowa, involved an assault with a bratwurst. The police report says 63-year-old Connie Jones got into an altercation with 31-year-old Tajuana Banks at Jones' home over the childcare of Jones' grandchildren. Apparently, Banks tried to incite a fight by yelling at Jones, and ultimately hit her with the sausage. Police noted the grease stains on Jones’ clothing as evidence. Banks was arrested on a simple assault charge.

Unidentified Flying Creature Diverts Plane

Passengers on a Delta flight from Madison, Wisconsin to Atlanta, Georgia reported a flying creature in the passenger section. One passenger recorded the event on video, while the other passengers waved and chased the animal, believed to be a bat, into the lavatory. The flight was diverted back to Madison, where the passengers were rebooked. A Delta spokesman said the plane was searched, but they never found the bat. The plane then was returned to service.

'Mystery Tree' Survives Wildfire -Again

A 20-foot juniper tree near Sunset Point, Arizona survived a wildfire last week that consumed everything around it. It’s not the first time, either. In fact, the tree is a famous survivor. It's known as the "Mystery Tree" because someone decorates the tree for Christmas and for the 4th of July every year. It also has its own watering system with water drums and pipes -but no one knows who is responsible. The other mystery is that this particular tree has survived several wildfires.

“It’s survived wildfire after wildfire” says ADOT engineer Greg Gentsch. “We’re just happy it’s still here.”

Man Caught Sneaking Into Prison

Officials at Folsom Prison in California say 48-year-old Marvin Lane Ussery was caught trying to scale a fence at the prison. But he's not an inmate; he's on parole. Ussery was trying to enter the prison grounds. He had served time and was paroled in 2009. Officers found no smuggled contraband on Ussery, so his motive for trying to get in is uncertain. He is being held at the Sacramento County Jail.

Movie Script is Assumed Bomb

An unnamed writer in Los Angeles had submitted scripts to a talent agency ad had been rejected or ignored. So he left a script at the unnamed agency's office. The script was on a computer inside a briefcase. When agency employees spotted the unaccompanied briefcase, they called police. The bomb squad responded and detonated the entire briefcase. The screenwriter then made himself known, and is distraught over the loss of his script, which apparently only existed in the hard drive in the destroyed computer. It is assumed that the writer would have preferred to bomb at the box office instead of the talent agency.

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Food
Thanks to a Wet Winter, New Zealand Faces a Potential Potato Chip Shortage
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New Zealand has plenty of unique and tasty snacks, but kiwis also love potato chips. The universal comfort food is in danger Down Under, however, as an unusually wet winter has devastated the island country’s tuber crops, according to BBC News.

Twenty percent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop was wiped out from a series of major storms and floods that ravaged the nation’s North and South Islands, The Guardian reports. In some regions, up to 30 percent of potato crops were affected, with the varieties used to make chips bearing the brunt of the damage.

Potato prices spiked as farmers struggled, but the crisis—now dubbed “chipocalypse” by media outlets—didn't really make the mainstream news until supermarket chain Pak’nSave posted announcements in potato chip aisles that warned customers of a salty snack shortage until the New Year.

Pak’nSave has since rescinded this explanation, claiming instead that they made an ordering error. However, other supermarket chains say they’re working directly with potato chip suppliers to avoid any potential shortfalls, and are aware that supplies might be limited for the foreseeable future.

New Zealand’s potato farming crisis extends far beyond the snack bars at rugby matches and vending machines. Last year’s potato crops either rotted or remained un-harvested, and the ground is still too wet to plant new ones. This hurts New Zealand’s economy: The nation is the world’s ninth-largest exporter of potatoes.

Plus, potatoes “are a food staple, and this is becoming a food security issue as the effects of climate change take their toll on our potato crop,” says Chris Claridge, the chief executive of industry group Potatoes New Zealand, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, New Zealanders are preparing to hunker down for a few long months of potential potato peril—and according to some social media users, kale chips are not a suitable alternative. “Chipocalypse” indeed.

[h/t BBC News]

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Supermarket Employees to Compete in National Bagging Competition
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In today’s busy world, efficiency is king—especially at grocery stores, where long checkout lines can turn even the most patient shopper into a petulant purchaser. It only makes sense, then, that a nationwide competition exists among supermarket employees to determine the country’s best bagger.

As the Associated Press reports, Alysha Orrok, a teacher from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently won her state’s Best Bagger competition. She’s now headed to the U.S. finals, which will take place in Las Vegas in February 2018 and is sponsored by the National Grocers Association (NGA).

In Las Vegas, finalists from more than a dozen states—ranging from Washington to Florida—will duke it out onstage to see who’s truly king or queen of the checkout line. Competitors will be judged on weight distribution, appearance, speed, and technique (no smushed bread or bruised fruits allowed).

Orrok, who works evenings and weekends at a local grocery store, says she was initially clumsy on the job. “My first day as a bagger I dropped a soda and it exploded everywhere,” she told NBC Boston.

Over time, though, Orrok got so good at her side gig that she decided to compete in the New Hampshire state bagging competition earlier this month. At the tournament, "I was like 10 seconds faster than the next person," Orrok said. "I feel like I get in the zone and I just fly."

Competitors heading to 2018’s Best Bagger competition will face off to see who can achieve the best customer service in the shortest time span. The grand prize is $10,000, which will be awarded to a deserving grocery store employee “with infectious company pride and an enthusiastic commitment to customer service,” according to the NGA.

[h/t NBC Boston]

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