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The Weird Week in Review

The Story of the Three Bears

A woman in Snowmass Village, Colorado, spotted three bear cubs in her car last Saturday. There was also a mother bear, but she fled quickly. Police were called to clear the younger bears from the vehicle. A local wildlife department spokesman says the mother bear is a repeat offender, and is suspected of breaking into 14 cars over the past week. Most were unlocked, and the bear just opened the door to enter after smelling food inside. Two cars have sustained damage. Residents were warned to remove all traces of food from their cars, and to lock them when not in use.

Sonic Booms Shatter Supreme Court Windows

The Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Plaza) in Brasilia, Brazil, is the nation's governmental seat, and the home of the world's largest continuously-flown national flag. The flag is replaced every month with ceremony. Last Sunday, that ceremony included a flyover by two Mirage 2000 fighter jets. Rarely do supersonic planes fly low enough to be seen in such a way. What could possibly go wrong?

Although nobody was injured the fighter flew so low and fast that the shock wave they generated broke almost all the windows of Supreme Court glass facade.

In a statement, Brig Ar Kanitz Marcelo Damasceno, chief of the Center for Social Communication of the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB), said that the Brazilian Air Force Command has initiated the investigation of the incident and will compensate the damage caused.

See a video of the flyover at The Aviationist.

30 Squirrels Escape from Zoo, 38 Recaptured

A typhoon wrecked the squirrel enclosure of the Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo last week, resulting in the escape of 30 squirrels. Attempts to recover the animals have been quite successful; at one count, 38 squirrels have been "recaptured." Zoo officials have offered three different explanations for the discrepancy: 1. they miscounted how many squirrels had escaped, 2. the squirrels reproduced while on the loose, and 3. some wild squirrels may have been picked up by mistake. The zoo implants microchips in their animals, so all recovered squirrels will eventually be scanned.

University Sues Overachieving Student for Lost Income

Marcel Pohl was a student at the School of Economics and Management in Essen, Germany. But not for long -he passed 60 examinations and graduated in three semesters, when the normal course is 11 semesters. You'd think the school would be proud, but they are suing Pohl for €3,000, which is the tuition payments he would have made if he stayed as long as other students! The school says they are entitled to the full payment, which is for the degree, not the time spent achieving it.

Taco Bell to the Rescue

Bethel, Alaska, is a town of 6,200 people 400 miles from Anchorage, with no fast food outlets. Last month, notices appeared around town announcing that Taco Bell would open in Bethel. After much excitement, the news turned out to be a juvenile prank. But Taco Bell heard about it, and launched “Operation Alaska.” The company airlifted enough supplies to make 10,000 Doritos Locos tacos for the townspeople on Sunday. They actually flew in a Taco Bell truck with a mobile kitchen by helicopter. The event was a public relations success for Taco Bell, and a welcome change of menu for Bethel.

Cat Death Ruled Insurance Fraud

Yevgeniy Samsonov of Tacoma. Washington, received an insurance settlement for injuries sustained in a 2009 traffic accident. Then in 2011, he claimed his cat had been killed in the accident and filed a $20,000 insurance claim.

Samsonov submitted photos of a cat, but an insurance representative found that the pictures had come from the Internet. On Thursday, The Associated Press found that one of the photos was the top image on Google for the search "white cat" and that the image is featured on the Wikipedia page dedicated to cats.

"We've handled some pretty unusual fraud cases, but this is one of the stranger ones," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

The insurance company, which had already issued a $50 check for the cat, canceled the check and reported Samsonov to investigators.

Follow the Trail of Chips

Police responded to a report of a break-in at a Subway sandwich shop in Washington, Pennsylvania. The glass door was broken, and there was evidence that a thief tried to open the cash register but was unsuccessful. However, quite a few bags of chips had been taken. Police could see that the thief did not wait to start eating them. There was a trail of broken chips and discarded bags, which led police to 21-year-old Benjamin Sickles. Sickles, who was found with a bloody hand and foot, was arrested and lodged in the Washington County Prison.

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Animals
Bizarre New Species of Crabs and a Giant Sea Cockroach Discovered in Waters Off Indonesia
One known species of isopod, or "giant sea cockroach"
One known species of isopod, or "giant sea cockroach"
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A crab with green googly eyes, another with "ears" resembling peanuts, and a species of giant sea cockroach are among the dozen new kinds of crustaceans discovered by scientists in the waters off Indonesia, Channel News Asia reports.

These finds are the result of a two-week expedition by Indonesian and Singaporean scientists with the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition (SJADES 2018), which involved exploring deep waters in the Sunda Strait (the waterway separating the islands of Sumatra and Java in Southeast Asia) and the Indian Ocean. Using trawls, dredges, and other tools, researchers brought a huge variety of deep-sea life to the surface—some species for the very first time.

"The world down there is an alien world," Peter Ng, chief scientist of the expedition, told Channel News Asia. "You have waters that go down more than 2000 to 3000 meters [9800 feet], and we do not know … the animal life that's at the bottom."

The giant sea cockroach—technically a giant isopod, also nicknamed a Darth Vader isopod—is a new species in the genus Bathynomus, measuring almost a foot long and found more than 4000 feet deep. The isopods are occasionally seen on the ocean floor, where they scuttle around scavenging for dead fish and other animals. This marked the first time the genus has ever been recorded in Indonesia.

Another find is a spider crab nicknamed Big Ears, though it doesn't actually have ears—its peanut-shaped plates are used to protect the crab's eyes.

More than 800 species were collected during the expedition, accounting for 12,000 individual animals. Researchers say it will take up to two years to study all of them. In addition to the 12 species that are completely new to science, 40 were seen for the first time in Indonesia. Creatures that the scientists dubbed a chain-saw lobster, an ice cream cone worm, and a cock-eyed squid were among some of the rarer finds.

A "Chain-Saw Lobster"
Nicknamed the "Chain-Saw Lobster," this creature is a rare blind lobster, found only in the deep seas.

Researchers took to the giant sea cockroach quickly, with some of the crew members reportedly calling it “cute” and cradling it like a baby. Check out Channel News Asia Insider's video below for more insight into their creepy finds.

[h/t Channel News Asia]

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Weird
The Mysterious Case of the Severed Feet in British Columbia
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While walking on the beach, many people look out for a number of things: Shells, buried treasure, crabs, and dolphins among them. But if you’re on a beach in British Columbia, you might want to keep an eye out for something a little more sinister—about 15 severed feet have washed up on the shores there in the past few years. The latest was found on May 6, wedged in a mass of logs on Gabriola Island, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The feet have been surprising unlucky British Columbians for over a decade. The first appeared back in 2007 on Jedediah Island; it was eventually matched to a deceased man whose family declined to provide additional information. Bizarre, but not particularly alarming—until another one showed up on Gabriola Island less than a month later. More feet followed, and though some were matched to missing persons, most remained anonymous (feet, unfortunately, don’t contain much identifying information). Instead, police focused on the fact that each foot was encased in a running shoe—though sizes, genders, and brands differed.

This seems like a real-life episode of The X-Files, but it turns out there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the severed feet: They’re not really “severed,” which would indicate cutting or slicing, at all. According to scientists who tested the theory, the feet likely belong to suicide, drowning, or plane crash victims. It’s common for decomposing bodies to come apart at the joint, making it natural for the foot to come apart from the leg. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t hands be similarly susceptible to washing up on beaches? Nope, that’s where the shoes come in.

While the rest of the body naturally decomposes in water, feet are surprisingly well protected inside the rubber and fabric of a shoe. The soles can be pretty buoyant, and sometimes air pockets get trapped inside the shoe, making it float to the surface. Most of the “severed” feet have been clad in jogging shoes such as Nikes and Pumas, but at least one case involves a hiking boot. In that instance, the boot (and foot) was matched to a man who went missing while fishing more than 25 years ago. The most recent case also involves a hiking boot.

That leaves the question: Why British Columbia? According to Richard Thompson, an oceanographer with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences, it’s connected to ocean current. “There’s a lot of recirculation in the region; we’re working here with a semi-enclosed basin. Fraser River, False Creek, Burrard Inlet—all those regions around there are somewhat semi-enclosed. The tidal currents and the winds can keep things that are floating recirculating in the system." Several feet have also been found further south, in Washington state, which shares a network of coastal waterways with British Columbia.

Others aren’t so quick to accept this scientific analysis, however. Criminal lawyer and crime author Michael Slade still wonders if a serial killer is afoot. "We also have to consider that this could be a serial killer," he said. "Somebody who right now is underneath the radar. That has to be on the table."

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