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The Weird Week in Review

Chuck Norris May Connect Austria and Slovakia

It looks like people wanting to pass between Slovakia and Austria in the future may have to cross Chuck Norris to do it. A new bike and pedestrian bridge spanning the Morava river international border will be named by an internet poll, and so far, American TV and movie star Chuck Norris has 74% of the vote. Trailing far behind are Maria Theresa Bridge (after a former empress) and Devinska cycling bridge (after a nearby town). The regional governing assembly said they will abide by the results of the poll, which is open until April.

Have You Ever Seen a Purple Cow?

A cow in a small village in Serbia has given birth to a purple calf. The calf is actually lavender-gray and white, and is said to resemble the purple cow used in advertisements for Milka brand chocolate. Veterinarians say the calf is healthy and shows no other unusual features. Local children have been swarming the farm to see the purple calf. Video of the calf can be seen with the news story.

Police Look Up Woman's License 425 Times

Anne Marie Rasmusson is preparing to file a federal lawsuit against Minnesota police officers who harassed her. An audit found that they were looking her up in the law enforcement driver's license database -a lot.

The numbers were astounding: One hundred and four officers in 18 different agencies from around the state had accessed her driver's license record 425 times in what could be one of the largest private data breaches by law enforcement in history.

The Department of Public Safety sent letters to all 18 agencies demanding an Internal Affairs investigation of the 104 officers. If the cops are found to be in violation of federal privacy law, they could be fired.

The case raises questions about police powers and privacy issues. Evidence suggests that officers have used the license database for years "like a Facebook for cops."

"Voice of God" Roof Alarms

The Church of England has seen a dramatic increase in thefts as scrap metal prices have risen. Churches at high risk will be fitted with alarms paid for with a donation from an insurance company, and other churches are urged to raise funds for their own alarms. The alarms are to be installed on church roofs and spires. They are outfitted with motion detectors that trigger a booming voice warning trespassers that they have been detected, and that security guards are coming. Mounted atop a church, that may be a warning a thief would heed.

Hope's Midnight Shopping Trip

Three-year-old Hope Trott of Baileyville, Maine woke up in the middle of the night Wednesday morning thinking her mother had gone to the store. The toddler put on shoes and a jacket and walked out the front door and down the street in the snow, to the store about a mile away. The grocer arrived about 4 AM and was surprised to find the little girl crying because she couldn't find her mother. He summoned police, who traced Hope's footprints in the snow back to her home. Her parents and siblings were still asleep. Hope was checked out at the hospital, but was found to be fine despite the 29-degree temperature that night.

The Getaway Vehicle Got Stuck

John Christopher Champion pulled out a pocket knife and threatened a clerk at a convenience store in Chiefland, Florida. The clerk fought back, and in the struggle stabbed Champion in the leg three times with his own knife. Champion overpowered the clerk and fled with some beer and a roll of electrical tape. He might have gotten away, if his motorized wheelchair hadn't mired up in the sand outside the store. Champion was drinking beer when the police found him. He was under the impression that they would not arrest a handicapped person. That notion was wrong, as he was taken to jail after his stab wounds were treated.

Swedish Man Stranded in Snowbound Car for Two Months

Sometime before Christmas, 44-year-old Peter Skyllberg's car became stuck in deep snow near Umea, Sweden, just south of the Arctic Circle. A passer-by found him last Friday -meaning he spent about two months in his car! While temperatures plunged to as low as -22F (-30C) outside, Skyllberg stayed in the car, where he had a sleeping bag and the protection of both the car and a layer of snow over it. The man was taken to Norrland's University Hospital to recover. Dr. Ulf Segerberg spoke about Skyllberg's survival.

"Starvation for one month, anyone can tolerate that if they have water to drink," said Dr Segerberg. "If you have body fat, you will survive even longer, although you end up looking like someone coming from a concentration camp."

He estimated that Mr Skyllberg could have lost more than three stone of his body weight over the period. Earlier police reports suggested Mr Skyllberg was in "really bad shape" when he was found.

He conceded that it was incredibly rare for someone to survive for so long outside in the cold Swedish winter.

Skyllberg is expected to recover, and may be released in a few days.

Man Arrested For Making Own Cheeseburger At Denny's

James Summers of Madison, Wisconsin was arrested at a Denny's after he led the restaurant staff to believe he was a corporate bigwig sent to check on them. He was wearing a coat and tie and carrying a briefcase. While the restaurant manager was on the phone trying to check the situation with her superiors, Summers made himself a hamburger and fries in the restaurant's kitchen. Someone called police, who arrived and found an unregistered stun gun and some crack pipes in Summers' possession. He was arrested for a weapons charge, fraud, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His motive for the escapade was apparently to get the free food.

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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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