Tina Ballard, 56, of Okeechobee County, Fla., was arrested in North Carolina by Linville Land Harbor police after fleeing there to hide her pet monkey so that state officials couldn’t take it from her. Ballard’s troubles began in May, when the spider monkey, Spanky, jumped out of a shopping cart in an Okeechobee Home Depot and grabbed a cashier’s shirt, leaving red marks on the cashier’s shoulder and back. In June, another Home Depot employee spotted Spanky in the parking lot, having escaped from Ballard’s truck. Spanky was spooked by the store’s sliding doors and bit an employee on the arm, grabbed her hair and ran away. The employee gave chase and eventually caught Spanky, but not before suffering more bites and scratches. Spanky was in the car when Ballard was arrested and extradited; the monkey will be placed in a primate sanctuary.
In the vegetable garden behind their home in southern Brazil, retirees Marli and Paulo Ciquinel of Meleiro discovered a 17 1/2-pound potato that had grown into the shape of a huge human foot with six toes. The “toes” descend in size, much as human toes do. The “foot” portion of the tuber reaches up almost to knee-height. Marli told the Mirror, “We have never seen anything like it.” Paulo said he was “a little bit scared when we harvested that potato.” The couple don’t plan to eat it.
Never Stop Gaming
Chen San-yuan, 69, of New Taipei City, Taiwan, has taken his gaming obsession to another level. Uncle Pokemon, as the Feng Shui master is known around town, has mounted 11 smartphones on the handlebars of his bicycle so that he can better play Pokemon Go. United Press International reported that Chen sometimes stays out until 4 am playing the virtual game. His habit costs him $1,300 per month, but he’s not daunted: He hopes to expand his phone lineup to 15.
Stalked By Squirrel
German police took a baby squirrel into custody after it chased a grown man down the street. The Guardian reported that an unnamed man summoned Karlsruhe police when he could not shake the tiny squirrel. But when officers arrived, the squirrel suddenly lay down and went to sleep. Officers felt sorry for the exhausted little rodent, who apparently had been separated from its mom and was looking for a replacement in the terrified man. Police named their new mascot Karl-Friedrich, then took him to an animal rescue center, where he was doing very well. Workers at the rescue center later determined the squirrel was a girl and renamed her Pippilotta. They expect to return her to the wild in September.
Not Walking The Walk
Tania Singer, 48, a renowned neuroscientist who is one of the world’s top researchers on human empathy, has been accused by co-workers of being … a bully. “Whenever anyone had a meeting with her, there was at least an even chance they would come out in tears,” one colleague told Science magazine. Others said the daily working environment included threats and emotional abuse. For her part, Singer denied the most serious charges and said, “The workload and pressure increasing led to stress and strain that in turn sometimes caused inadequate communication with my staff in problem situations.” The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, where Singer has her lab, granted Singer a sabbatical in 2017 and said in a statement that when she returns, “it is envisioned that Prof. Singer will head, at her own request, a considerably smaller working group for social neuroscience.”
Horrible Robbery Choices
Mason Tackett of Floyd County, Ken., told WYMT that neighbors called him on Aug. 26 to say his cousin, Phillip Hagans, was carrying items out of Tackett’s house. When Tackett went home, he said, “it looked like he was packing up for a yard sale when he come out.” Hagans was “lying, throwing his hands, saying stuff like, ‘I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it.’ … He did pull a gun on me,” Tackett said. But what he really couldn’t understand was Hagans’ choice of items to steal: a cheese grater, an empty Lysol bottle and soap. “Who steals a cheese grater?” Tackett asked. “He stole my soap. Who steals soap? … Must have been a bad batch (of methamphetamine) around here ‘cause Floyd County has gone crazy in the last four days.” Hagans was charged with receiving stolen property and being a convicted felon with a firearm.
Forget The Cat Lady
Agents of the Columbus, Ohio, Humane Society executed a warrant in response to complaints about birds inhabiting a home. Columbus Humane CEO Rachel Finney told The Columbus Dispatch that concerns about the birds’ well-being were warranted: Officials found more than 600 birds inside, including macaws, African gray parrots, Amazon parrots and other species. “It’s pretty overwhelming to step into the house,” Finney said. Removal took all day, and Columbus Humane was undertaking the task of examining each bird from beak to tail. Finney said the agency would decide which birds might be adoptable after assessments are complete. As for the owner, she said, “We’re confident we’ll have charges; it’s just a matter of which charges and how many.”
For Those Who Know What A Bird Scooter Is
The Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 10 that angry residents are throwing Bird scooters off balconies, heaving them into the ocean, stuffing them in trashcans and setting them afire. Robert Johnson Bey, a Venice Beach maintenance worker, said: “Sunday, I was finding kickstands everywhere. Looked like they were snapped off.” What’s worse, the perpetrators are documenting their destruction on social media; Instagram has a Bird Graveyard account devoted to chronicles of scooter desecration. Culver City resident Hassan Galedary, 32, has a visceral reaction to the scooters: “I hate Birds more than anyone,” he said. “They suck. People who ride them suck.” However, he has stopped defacing them: “I can’t put bad energy into the world. I don’t even kick them over anymore.”
Talks With Aliens; Isn’t Crazy
On Aug. 20, the Miami Herald endorsed Republican Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, who was running to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to represent a district that includes parts of Miami and Miami Beach. She lost her primary bid on Aug. 28. Aguilera has been a city official and a business executive, the Herald noted; but the paper conceded, “Aguilera is an unusual candidate.” Before she ran for office, Aguilera appeared on Spanish-language television programs to talk about her experience of being abducted by aliens when she was 7. Three beings — two women and a man who reminded her of Jesus Christ — spoke to her “telepathically” and took her aboard their spaceship. Inside, she saw “round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship.” She said she has communicated with the aliens several times since then. Editorial page editor Nancy Ancrum didn’t think Aguilera’s beliefs or past experiences compromised her as an effective public servant. “Here’s why we chose her: She’s not crazy. I don’t think we went off the rails here.”
Next Time Pass On The Car
A man named Tang from Sichuan Province, China, promised his girlfriend, Yang, that he would buy an expensive luxury car for her. The only problem was that he didn’t have the money. So he cooked up a scheme, inviting Yang and her brothers to the Chengdu car dealership, where he had allegedly put down a 10,000 yuan payment. Tang asked the group to wait there while he went to get the cash. Instead, he went to a supermarket and bought a fruit knife. Outside, he found a secluded spot and cut up his own arms, then called Yang and said he had been robbed at knifepoint of the 750,000 yuan he had supposedly withdrawn for the car. While her brothers took Tang to the hospital, Yang waited for police, who eventually excised the story from Tang. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a 500 yuan fine.
Disposing Of The Weapon
On Jan. 25, 71-year-old Alan J. Abrahamson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., went for his regular pre-dawn walk to Starbucks. What happened on the way stumped police investigators until March. Images from a surveillance camera show Abrahamson walking out of his community at 5:35 am. A half-hour later, the sound of a gunshot is heard. Just before 7 am, a dog found Abrahamson’s body lying near a walking path. Police found no weapon, no signs of a struggle; he still had his wallet and phone. Investigators initially worked the case as a homicide. But as they dug deeper into the man’s computer searches and purchases over the past nine years, a theory developed. Abrahamson had tied a gun to a weather balloon filled with helium and shot himself; then the gun drifted away to parts unknown. A thin line of blood on Abrahamson’s sweatshirt indicated to police that “something with the approximate width of a string passed through the blood on the outside of the shirt,” the final report says. As for the balloon, investigators said it would likely have ascended to 100,000 feet and exploded somewhere north of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean.