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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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The 14th Factory
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Art
Woman Attempts to Take a Selfie, Damages $200,000 Worth of Art Instead
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The 14th Factory

From the woman who fell off a bridge while posing to the photos on a stolen iPad that led to the thief’s arrest, we’ve all heard stories of selfies gone horribly wrong. Rarely, though, do these failed photo ops result in $200,000 worth of damaged property, and a cringe-worthy viral video to boot.

The clip below—shared by Select All—captures the exact moment a woman knocked over an entire row of sculptures two weeks ago while attempting a selfie at artist Simon Birch’s 14th Factory pop-up exhibition space in Los Angeles.

Called "Hypercaine," the installation is a collaborative effort between Birch and contemporaries including Gabriel Chan, Jacob Blitzer, and Gloria Yu. It features rows of crown-like sculptures perched on pedestals—but as the woman in question crouched down low to fit both her face and the artworks into the camera's frame, she leaned back too far and knocked down the pillar behind her. This set off a domino-like effect—and lo and behold, the entire row of pricey works of art toppled over.

"Three sculptures were permanently damaged and others to varying degrees," Yu told Hyperallergic. "The approximate cost of damage is $200,000."

Over-the-top art installations seem to be tailor-made for Instagram portraits—but seeing as how another selfie-seeker recently fell and broke a glass pumpkin sculpture at Yayoi Kusama’s traveling Infinity Mirrors exhibit, consider leaving your phone in your pocket the next time you check out an exhibition. (But if the temptation is too great, perhaps ask a fellow art-admirer to snap the shot for you.)

[h/t Select All]

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Inside England's Annual Toe Wrestling Championship

Baseball may be America's favorite summer pastime, but across the pond, a unique, no-hands sport reigns supreme—and we're not talking about soccer.

Toe wrestling—yes, toe wrestling—is such a popular pastime in Northern England that there's an entire championship centered on this sport every summer. Since its inception in 1976, the Toe Wrestling Championship has taken the Derbyshire community near Manchester by storm.

The sport got its start when a group of friends at the Ye Olde Royal Oak Inn lamented England's lack of dominance in athletics—they wanted a sport where Brits could reign supreme, and somehow, toe wrestling became the chosen activity. (Ripley’s, however, notes that a Canadian visitor won the third annual championship, putting an early damper on the British preeminence of the sport.)

After 40 years and many toe tangos, the sport of toe wrestling continues to gain traction, even if the International Olympic Committee has refused to accept it as an official Olympic sport. Though it might not be a competition on the global stage, toe wrestling definitely attracts interest from around the world. Wendy Livingstone, general manager and events coordinator for Toe Wrestling Championship venue Bentley Brook Inn, notes she gets interest from various international media. In fact, one U.S. film company is shooting a mockup of the competition this summer with long-time champion Alan "Nasty" Nash.

Nash, known for his intimidating "strong man" physique and even more intimidating big toes, has made quite a name for himself in the toe wrestling space. According to ESPN—which profiled him in 2011—Nash won the title on his first try in 1994. Since then, he's won a dozen titles, including perhaps his most triumphant event in 1997 when he broke four toes in the semifinals, then popped them back in and took home the gold. The toe wrestling titles also led Nash to a stint on this year's Britain’s Got Talent show for his attempt to regain the title of "Most eggs crushed with the toes in one minute." (Spoiler: He succeeded.)

HOW TO TOE WRESTLE

Toe wrestling is a competition between two participants. With their bare feet in a square ring, opponents sit on the floor, lock their big toes, and then battle in an arm-wrestle style to wrangle the other’s foot to the sideboard of the designated wrestling area. The art of toe wrestling is more skill than strength; opponents are required to keep non-competing feet in the air with hands flat on the ground.

It’s a best-of-three competition that typically lasts one hour, and fear not: Toe hygiene is a priority. Nurses inspect all toes for fungus and hidden weapons prior to competition. Livingstone says they see about 10 to 30 participants annually. Winners move on through the bracket until the leaders go toe-to-toe in the final tournament.

TOE WRESTLING STRATEGY

To win at toe wrestling, Livingstone recommends developing those toe muscles however you can.

"The champion, Nasty Nash, invented his own 'toe exerciser' to make his toes the strongest!" she tells Mental Floss. (His exerciser essentially looks like a mini resistance band that he uses across his flexed big toes.)

But even Nash knows strength can only get him so far. He pairs strong toes with extreme intimidation to take home the victory.

"My technique ... is to hurt the first person that comes into the ring with me; hurt them bad and terrify everyone else," Nash told Reuters.

Speaking of injuries, the Toe Wrestling Championship is not for the frail. Livingstone notes in the past, toes have been broken (Nash broke nine as of 2012) and she’s seen a few strained ankles. It also takes a toll on the back, so she advises those with back or spine issues to stay in the crowd.

TEST YOUR TOE WRESTLING TALENTS

Chomping at the bit to lock toes with a stranger? You're in luck. Participants can enter up until the day of for the August 19 Toe Wrestling Championship. There are two divisions: male and female. For those seeking pre-tournament prep, the Royal Oak Inn (the birthplace of toe wrestling) in Ashbourne, England, has a Toe Wrestling Charity Fundraising Event on July 15. Nash will be in attendance, and kids are also invited to put a toe in the ring with the 2017 Kids Championship.

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