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The Weird Week in Review

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Surprise Parking Violation

Hila Ben-Baruch parked her car on the street outside her home in Tel Aviv, Israel. Later the same day, she was shocked to find that her car had been towed away, and the parking spot was now designated as a handicapped parking space! Apparently, the lines had been painted while her car was still parked in the spot. When she called the municipal call center about it, they accused her of lying and said she would have to pay 350 shekels ($95) to get her car back, plus the fine for parking in a handicap space.

Ben-Baruch's Facebook post about the incident went viral. Refusing to give up, Ben-Baruch went to an office building overlooking the parking spot and obtained security camera footage.

In the footage, a pair of Tel Aviv municipal workers are seen painting the spot with Ben-Baruch's car still there. Shortly thereafter, a tow truck comes to take Ben-Baruch's car away.

Confronted with the evidence, city officials rescinded the fine and towing fee, and apologized.

Mistrial Declared When Victim's Eyeball Falls Out

A punch during a bar brawl in 2011 caused John Huttick to lose his left eye. Huttick sued Matthew Brunelli in Philadelphia over the incident. Huttick was on the witness stand Wednesday telling his side of the story when he lost his eye again -the glass prosthetic popped out in the courtroom. At least two jurors gasped and acted as if they wanted to leave. The judge immediately declared a mistrial due to the incident. The judge said it was an "unfortunate, unforeseen incident," and set a new trial date for March 4th.

Shoplifting 24 Quarts of Oil

Jorge Sanchez was spotted leaving a Costco store in Burbank, California, without paying for 24 quarts of motor oil. He had broken open cases of oil and stuffed the bottles into his clothing and strapped some to his body with bungee cords. Employees chased Sanchez for eight blocks, while quarts of oil fell along the way. Witnesses report that Sanchez was "running funny," which is no surprise. Sanchez finally stopped and complained that he couldn't breathe. When police searched Sanchez's car, they found an additional 50 quarts of oil, and are investigating where they may have originated.

Thieves Left with Right Shoes …But Not Left

A shoe shop in Exeter, England had a rack of lady's shoes and children's snow boots displayed on the sidewalk outside the store. Some time Monday night or Tuesday morning, someone stole the entire rack! They won't be able to use or sell the shoes, however, because only one shoe -the right one- of each pair was on the rack. Since the shoes will be useless to the thieves, police have appealed to the perpetrators to return the goods. Anyone with information is asked to contact the local Crimestoppers unit.

The Funniest Traffic Jam Outside of Hollywood

The car was small, but the road was tiny. A motorist in Naples, Italy, tried to turn around and avoid parked cars on both sides, but became stuck sideways in the street. Cars wanted to pass both ways. Then a motorcycle gang showed up. Then a church procession. Then the police. Then everyone in the neighborhood, all laughing and loudly offering their opinions. A good time was had by all -except for the driver stuck sideways.

Super Bowl Trip Winner Denied U.S. Entry

Myles Wilkinson of Victoria, British Columbia, entered a fantasy football league contest and won an all-expense-paid trip to the Super Bowl! The excited football fan flew to Toronto Thursday, but when he changed planes to enter the US, he was denied entry -because of his criminal record. He was convicted of marijuana possession in 1981.  

"I had two grams of cannabis. I paid a $50 fine," Wilkinson told CBC news.

Wilkinson said he was 19 when he was busted.

"I can't believe that this is happening, for something that happened 32 years ago."

Wilkinson returned to British Columbia, where he ended up watching the Super Bowl on TV, albeit in style -at the Super Bowl party at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom, courtesy of Bud Light Canada.

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To Curb Exploding Kangaroo Populations, Ecologists Urge Australians to Eat Kangaroo Meat
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Australians eat everything from Vegemite, a spread made from leftover brewer's yeast extract, to a snack called fairy bread, otherwise known as white bread smothered in butter and rainbow sprinkles. Now, they may need to add another unique national food to their diets. BBC News reports that ecologists and landholders Down Under are encouraging people to embrace kangaroo meat to curb the nation’s surging marsupial numbers.

In 2010, Australia was home to just 27 million kangaroos. But by 2016, this figure had skyrocketed to nearly 45 million—nearly double the nation’s human population— thanks to rainy weather conditions that supplied the grazing animals with an abundance of vegetation. That's not necessarily a good thing for the species in the long run. If a drought occurs, there’s a good chance that millions of kangaroos could starve to death.

Some experts in Australia think that hunting kangaroos would be the most humane and efficient way to keep their numbers in check. But it’s not so easy to convince people to eat them.

Kangaroo meat is lean and sustainable, with a taste that’s been likened to sweet filet mignon. It can be transformed into steaks, roasts, meatballs, sausages, and kebabs. Even so, many Australians tend to dismiss the meat's culinary potential, since kangaroos are the country’s national animal. The stigma against eating them means that when hunters do nab kangaroos, the meat often goes to waste.

Plus, kangaroo meat currently fetches such a low price that hunters have little incentive to pursue the animals for commercial reasons. That means they’re not obtaining the special licenses required to hunt the nationally protected species.

Professor David Paton of the University of Adelaide supports the notion that Australia should cull the nation’s kangaroo population with humane hunting methods, he told Australian news outlets. "It's not the kangaroos' fault they're overabundant," he said. "It's probably we've just been too reluctant to take a stick to them, remove them out of the system sooner, to actually prevent the damage being caused [by the animals]," Paton said. That damage includes losses to biodiversity as the marsupials overgraze vegetation and outcompete other animals [PDF].

But no matter where Australians stand on the controversial killing and eating of kangaroos, some admit that their overpopulation leads to broken fences, trampled crops, damaged local ecosystems, and plenty of car accidents. Animal lovers are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place—and unlike kangaroos, they can’t simply leap out of the crevice.

"Two or three weeks ago we had thousands [of kangaroos] on here, just moving through,” a farmer named Garry Hannigan, who lives in New South Wales, recently told the ABC. "They were here in droves, and the amount that are being hit by cars is amazing. They're just devouring anything we've got grass-wise, they're starting to cause erosion along fences. Any of the grass country is just being pulled up by the roots." In turn, we may have to devour them.

[h/t BBC News]

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Big Questions
Why Are Cats Afraid of Cucumbers?
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Thanks to the internet, felines around the globe seem to have found a new—and unlikely—foe: the seemingly harmless garden cucumber. You’ve likely seen viral video compilations of pet owners surprising their cats with the fruit (yes, a cucumber is technically a fruit), which include footage of frightened kitties jumping, running, or clawing at the mysterious green objects before them.

Are cats and cucumbers really mortal enemies? Did an early feline ancestor eat a bad salad, or find that cucumbers made terrible scratching posts? “No, I don’t think that cats are inherently afraid of cucumbers,” Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss.

Cats are creatures of habit, and Delgado thinks the cats in those videos—who were often ambushed from behind while bent forward eating—were simply caught off-guard while engaging in a familiar activity.

“Their eyes face forward, much like ours do,” Delgado explains. “That’s a very common structure for a face in a predator—you’re looking forward, and you’re not as worried about seeing behind you. Personally, I think that a lot of people were inadvertently startling their cats when they were already distracted. They were putting a strange object behind the cat while it was eating, the cat can’t see the object, they’re focused [on their food], and then they turn around” and see a cucumber.

The cats’ fright could be likened to how we sometimes jump or scream after we turn around and see someone standing behind us. But even though we typically laugh these moments off once the adrenaline dies down, it’s not cool to subject your cat to the same unsettling experience—especially when it’s eating.

“You want cats to feel safe when they eat,” Delgado says. “If cats don’t eat, they can become sick quite fast, and develop what’s called fatty liver disease.”

Plus, “stress can have really serious health effects on cats,” Delgado adds. “There’s been research showing that something as trivial as changing their routine can cause cats to exhibit what we call sickness behaviors: vomiting, not using their litter box, diarrhea, changes in appetite. Cats are sensitive.”

This doesn’t mean that you can’t introduce new items (say, a couch in the spot where your cat typically likes to sleep) to your household. But when you do, let Fluffy check out these unfamiliar objects on his or her own terms.

“A lot of the time people try to show a cat that something they’re afraid of isn’t scary,” Delgado says. “They’re going to inadvertently make the cat more afraid, because they’re forcing it to interact with something they’re fearful of.”

As time passes, the object will start smelling familiar, and your favorite feline will gradually relax. In the meantime, though, save the cucumbers for your salad, and keep them far away from your kitty’s food dish.

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