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The Weird Week in Review

Facebook Photo Leads to Arrest

Michael Baker of Jenkins, Kentucky, siphoned gas from a police cruiser. The evidence was a picture of Baker doing the deed, while giving a one-finger salute. The 20-year-old posted the photo on his Facebook page and word spread locally until the Jenkins Police Department saw the picture. Baker was arrested and charged with unlawful taking. The police now plan to install locking gas caps.

Naked at the Airport

John Brennan decided to save TSA workers at Portland International Airport some time by taking all his clothing off. The 50-year-old businessman was told that he tested positive for explosives after going through a metal detector and a pat down. He felt humiliated, and said he stripped down as a protest. Brennan had previously taken part in Portland's nude bike ride, and so was no stranger to exposure. Two screening lanes were shut down during the incident. TSA officers called police, who took Brennan to jail. The linked story contains a censored video.

Lottery Winner Charged with Welfare Fraud

Amanda Clayton of Lincoln Park, Michigan, won a million-dollar lottery last year and collected a $735,000 lump sum. However, the 25-year-old mother continued to draw food stamps and public medical benefits for eight months, until a Detroit TV station investigated. On camera, Clayton said she was entitled to the benefits because she didn't have a job. However, recipients of public aid are supposed to inform the state of any change in income. Clayton was arrested on fraud charges Monday, and pleaded not guilty. Last week, Michigan enacted a new law requiring the lottery to inform the Human Services Department when anyone wins more than a thousand dollars, as this is the second time a winner has continued to collect benefits in the state. That they know of.

Wanted Man Turns Himself In for Reward

Taliban commander Mohammad Ashan saw his face on a wanted poster and noted the reward was $100. So he grabbed one and went to a police checkpoint in the district of Sar Howza, Afghanistan, where he demanded the reward. Afghan officials arrested him instead. He was wanted for plotting attacks on Afghan security forces.

When U.S. troops went to confirm that Ashan had in fact come forward to claim the finder’s fee, they were initially incredulous.

“We asked him, ‘Is this you?’ Mohammad Ashan answered with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, ‘Yes, yes, that’s me! Can I get my award now?’” recalled SPC Matthew Baker.

A biometric scan confirmed that the man in Afghan custody was the insurgent they had been looking for.

“This guy is the Taliban equivalent of the ‘Home Alone” burglars,” one U.S. official said.

$10,000 Lemonade Stand

When life hands you lemons, you're supposed to make lemonade. Six-year-old Drew Cox did just that. Drew's father, Randy Cox of Gladewater, Texas, underwent chemotherapy to treat cancer. Drew wanted to help with the thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses, so he set up a lemonade stand in front of his home last Saturday. He charged 25 cents a cup, but then word spread about Drew's project. People started coming in from all over, paying more than the asking price. One person paid with a $5,000 check! By the end of the day, Drew's lemonade had brought in over $10,000.

Tomato on Hamburger Leads to Knuckle Sandwich

Michael Ogborn ordered a hamburger without tomato at a Sonic outlet in Vero Beach, Florida. When his burger arrived with a tomato slice on it, he complained to the manager, who refunded his money. But then Ogborn punched the manager in the face. When police arrived, Ogborn said the manager had spit on his shoes before the punch. Nevertheless, the tomato-hater was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery.

Man Holds Up Store with Hot Dog Tongs

Police in Fort Smith, Arkansas, were called to a convenience store when a man started threatening employees and customers with a pair of hot dog tongs. Renee Jackson was reportedly intoxicated when he grabbed the tongs from a food counter and demanded money. No one took the threat seriously, though, and Jackson got nothing. After police arrived, Jackson said he wanted to be jailed to see how his family did without him. He said they don't appreciate him. Jackson had been fighting with his wife before the incident. He now faces two counts of attempted robbery.

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London's Sewer-Blocking 'Fatbergs' Are Going to Be Turned Into Biodiesel
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UK officials can't exactly transform the Whitechapel fatberg—a 143-ton trash mass lurking in London's sewer system—into treasure, but they can turn it into fuel. As The Guardian reports, Scottish biodiesel producer Argent Energy plans to convert parts of the noxious blockage into an environmentally friendly energy source.

For the uninitiated, fatbergs (which get their names from a portmanteau of "fat" and "icebergs") are giant, solid blobs of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, and sanitary products. They form in sewers when people dump cooking byproducts down drains, or in oceans when ships release waste products like palm oil. These sticky substances combine with floating litter to form what could be described as garbage heaps on steroids.

Fatbergs wash up on beaches, muck up city infrastructures, and are sometimes even removed with cranes from sewer pipes as a last resort. Few—if any—fatbergs, however, appear to be as potentially lethal as the one workers recently discovered under London's Whitechapel neighborhood. In a news release, private utility company Thames Water described the toxic mass as "one of the largest ever found, with the extreme rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighing the same as 11 double-decker buses."

Ick factor aside, the Whitechapel fatberg currently blocks a stretch of Victorian sewer more than twice the length of two fields from London's Wembley Stadium. Engineers with jet hoses are working seven days a week to break up the fatberg before sucking it out with tankers. But even with high-pressure streams, the job is still akin to "trying to break up concrete," says Matt Rimmer, Thames Water's head of waste networks.

The project is slated to end in October. But instead of simply disposing of the Whitechapel fatberg, officials want to make use of it. Argent Energy—which has in the past relied on sources like rancid mayonnaise and old soup stock—plans to process fatberg sludge into more than 2600 gallons of biodiesel, creating "enough environmentally friendly energy to power 350 double-decker Routemaster buses for a day," according to Thames Water.

"Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone," said company official Alex Saunders.

In addition to powering buses, the Whitechapel fatberg may also become an unlikely cultural touchstone: The Museum of London is working with Thames Water to acquire a chunk of the fatberg, according to BBC News. The waste exhibit will represent just one of the many challenges facing cities, and remind visitors that they are ultimately responsible for the fatberg phenomenon.

"When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play," Rimmer says. "Yes, a lot of the fat comes from food outlets, but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish."

[h/t The Guardian]

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Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

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