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The Weird Week in Review

Farmer on Tractor Crushes Seven Police Vehicles

Vermont farmer Roger Pion was apparently angry at the local police for his recent arrest on marijuana possession and resisting arrest. So angry that he drove his tractor to the Orleans County sheriff's offices and right over seven of the department's vehicles! Five marked cruisers, one unmarked car, and a transport van were all crushed under the tractor's weight. Deputies could not chase Pion down, as they had no vehicles left to pursue him with. Newport city police found Pion soon after. He is being held on several felonies for the incident. No one was injured.

Fisherman Saves Bear Cub from Whirlpool

Mike Polocz, of Soldotna, Alaska, looked for a little fishing solitude on the Kenai River last weekend. He spotted a family of bears watching a cub that was caught in a whirlpool! The cub was shrieking in terror. Polocz's son Dustin steered the boat near, and the fisherman tried prodding the panicked cub with a fishing net frame, hoping to nudge him out of the eddy. After 10 to 15 minutes of poking, he finally moved the cub out of the whirlpool and into slower-moving water. The cub ran to shore, where his huge mother met him. Polocz's friend Charles Mettile captured part of the rescue on video.

Man Shoplifts Book on Ethics

Terry J. Davis was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, Wednesday on a charge of theft by unlawful taking. In most instances, that means shoplifting. University of Louisville police report he is accused of stealing a textbook called Resolving Ethical Issues from the UofL’s Health Sciences Center and trying to sell it at a bookstore. Apparently, he didn't take time to read the book.

Chihuahua Finds Lost Girls

Carlie and Lacey Page, ages 5 and 8, became lost while walking a forest trail near their home in Newnan, Georgia on Monday. Police and firefighters began a search for the girls. Neighbor Carvin Young joined in as well, with his 3-year-old chihuahua named Bell. Bell found the girls about two hours after they went missing, as he recognized their smell. The girls were scared but unhurt, and Bell is now considered a hero.

Police Officer Couldn't Find Himself for Eviction Notice

Lithonia Police Chief Washington Varnum, Jr. is fighting to keep his job, although the city of Lithonia, Georgia found out his police credentials had been revoked in 2010 for an incident in his past position in the DeKalb County Sheriff's department. Apparently, he was accidentally given the task to serve an eviction notice on himself.

"He basically provided a sworn statement to the courts that he himself could not be found," said Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) spokesman Ryan Powell.

Varnum was living at the Les Jardins apartment complex and working as a DeKalb County Deputy Marshal when, he said, a co-worker asked him to serve a stack of eviction notices at the complex.

Varnum told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer that he noticed his name was at the top of one of the notices, but he did not serve any of them. He instead checked the box which read, “Defendant not found in the jurisdiction of this court,” and hand-wrote underneath, “All breezeways must be properly marked with the unit numbers for service.”

The option chosen is a technicality used when officers cannot find a certain address, but the marshal's office has a policy that deputies cannot be an interested party in papers they're serving.

Varnum's defense is that he showed no partiality and treated his own eviction notice the same way he treated all the others in the stack. By ignoring them. Varnum resigned from his job while under investigation in 2010, and was hired by the city of Lithonia -and promoted to police chief- since the incident.

London Mayor Left Hanging From Zipline

London mayor Boris Johnson is enjoying his time in the spotlight and the opportunity to promote his city. However, there’s always the risk of something going wrong. One of those promotional opportunities was at Victoria Park, where Johnson took a ride on the zipline while carrying two British flags. But the wire sagged about 65 feet from the end of the line, and the mayor was left dangling in the wind. It was only a few minutes before help arrived, but the press was there to record the event. Johnson used the time to wave the flags and cheer on the British Olympic team.

Rare Brazilian Amphibian Resembles Something Else

When engineers drained a hydroelectric dam basin on the Madeira river in Brazil, they discovered a strange creature described as a "blind snake." That was last November, but scientists have just announced they have identified the "snakes" as Atretochoana eiselti, which are not snakes at all, but amphibians. However, the creatures look like eyeless snakes, or, actually, they resemble a penis. You can see pictures that are technically safe for work, but you may have to offer an explanation if someone sees them on your computer screen.

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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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