CLOSE
Original image
iStock

A Man Named 'Santa Claus' Was Elected to City Council in North Pole, Alaska

Original image
iStock

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus—and he’s a 68-year-old city councilman who lives in North Pole, Alaska.

The tiny town, population 2200, is a real place, located 14 miles away from Fairbanks. The residents recently elected the whimsically-named local to a three-year term. Claus was one of two write-in candidates for two vacant seats, Reuters reports, and he’ll take office on October 26—giving him plenty of time to take care of official bureaucratic business before Christmas arrives.

According to the Alaska Daily News, the rosy-cheeked, white-bearded resident was once named Thomas Patrick O'Connor. And like the original Santa, he also has a curious and colorful origin story. Born in Washington, D.C., Claus is a former Anglican monk who lived all over the country before settling in North Pole two years ago. Recently, he resided in Nevada, where he worked as an advocate for children’s protective services. Claus has served as a New York police official, and he’s run for president twice as a write-in candidate. Before joining North Pole’s city council, he was also president of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

About 10 years ago, the former Mr. O’Connor legally changed his name to “Santa Claus.” He says that the holiday persona he’s adopted helps him garner attention from legislators and the media, allowing him to campaign for legislation that will help protect children’s health and safety. Eventually, he decided to complete his transformation from Tom O’Connor to Santa Claus by moving to North Pole in 2013. And yes, Claus did campaign for the election by wearing a red velvet suit while holding a campaign sign that read: "Where the spirit of Christmas lives year round." 

[h/t Reuters]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
Plagued with Rodents, Members of the UK Parliament Demand a Cat
Original image
iStock

Members of the United Kingdom’s Parliament want a cat, but not just for office cuddles: As The Telegraph reports, the Palace of Westminster—the meeting place of Parliament’s two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords—is overrun with vermin, and officials have had enough. They think an in-house feline would keep the rodents at bay and defray skyrocketing pest control costs.

Taxpayers in the UK recently had to bear the brunt of a $167,000 pest control bill after palace maintenance projects and office renovations disturbed mice and moths from their slumber. The bill—which was nearly one-third higher than the previous year’s—covered the cost of a full-time pest control technician and 1700 bait stations. That said, some Members of Parliament (MPs) think their problem could be solved the old-fashioned way: by deploying a talented mouser.

MP Penny Mordaunt tried taking matters into her own hands by bringing four cats—including her own pet kitty, Titania—to work. (“A great believer in credible deterrence, I’m applying the principle to the lower ministerial corridor mouse problem,” she tweeted.) This solution didn’t last long, however, as health and safety officials banned the cats from Parliament.

While cats aren’t allowed in Parliament, other government offices reportedly have in-house felines. And now, MPs—who are sick of mice getting into their food, running across desks, and scurrying around in the tearoom—are petitioning for the same luxury.

"This is so UNFAIR,” MP Stella Creasy said recently, according to The Telegraph. “When does Parliament get its own cats? We’ve got loads of mice (and some rats!) after all!" Plus, Creasy points out, a cat in Parliament is “YouTube gold in waiting!"

Animal charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home wants to help, and says it’s been trying to convince Parliament to adopt a cat since 2014. "Battersea has over 130 years [experience] in re-homing rescue cats, and was the first choice for Downing Street, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Cabinet Office when they sought our mousers to help with their own rogue rodents,” charity head Lindsey Quinlan said in a statement quoted by The Telegraph. “We'd be more than happy to help the Houses of Parliament recruit their own chief mousers to eliminate their pest problem and restore order in the historic corridors of power."

As of now, only assistance and security dogs are allowed on palace premises—but considering that MPs spotted 217 mice alone in the first six months of 2017, top brass may have to reconsider their rules and give elected officials purr-mission to get their own feline office companions.

[h/t The Telegraph]

Original image
Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds, U.S. Air Force, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
arrow
Weird
How the U-2 Aircraft Made Area 51 Synonymous With UFOs
Original image
Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds, U.S. Air Force, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Area 51 may be the world’s most famous secret military base. Established on an abandoned airfield in the Nevada desert, the facility has fueled the imaginations of conspiracy theorists scanning the skies for UFOs for decades. But the truth about Area 51’s origins, while secretive, isn’t as thrilling as alien autopsies and flying saucers.

According to Business Insider, the U.S. government intended to build a base where they could test a top-secret military aircraft without drawing attention from civilians or spies. That aircraft, the U-2 plane, needed to fly higher than any other manmade object in the skies. That way it could perform recon missions over the USSR without getting shot down.

Even over the desert, the U-2 didn’t go completely undetected during test flights. Pilots who noticed the craft high above them reported it as an “unidentified flying object.” Not wanting to reveal the true nature of the project, Air Force officials gave flimsy explanations for the sightings pointing to either natural phenomena or weather research. UFO believers were right to think the government was covering something up, they were just wrong about the alien part.

You can get the full story in the video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios