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Weird National Briefs (01/20/2021)

January 19, 2021
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Political animals

FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (AP) — A goat and a dog who were each elected mayor have helped raise money to renovate a Vermont community playground.

The oddball idea of pet mayor elections to raise money to rehabilitate the playground and to help get local kids civically involved came from a local town manager.

In 2018, Fair Haven residents elected Lincoln the goat as its honorary mayor. Lincoln helped raise about $10,000 while the current mayor, Murfee, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, has raised $20,000, Town Manager Joe Gunter told the Rutland Herald. The town chipped in another $20,000.

Murfee’s owner, Linda Barker, said that when she was talked into having Murfee get involved in politics, she thought it would be easy to raise money through T-shirts. Then the pandemic struck.

So she shifted to masks. She’s made nearly 1,000 of them, and will be making another round of them for Valentine’s Day. She raised more than $5,000 from the masks and a similar amount from basket raffles.

The town was also recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, she said.

Ironically, the honorary mayor is not welcome on the playground. Barker said there’s a “no dogs allowed” sign.

“Murfee is going to take that up with the town,” Barker said Sunday with a chuckle. “He’s going to contest that.”

TME – All they need is a donkey and a rooster and they’re off to Bremen Town.

The devil made them do it

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) — Members of the Church of Satan are grieving the destruction of a historic “Halloween House” north of New York City that authorities say was set ablaze this week by an unidentified arsonist.

The historic home, built in 1900, served as an Addams Family-style hub for local adherents of the religion, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports. One member of the church likened the arson to a terrorist attack.

“Everybody’s in shock and everyone in the neighborhood is worried,” the member, who goes by the name Isis Vermouth, told the newspaper. “Whoever did this is going to be hexed by all of us.”

“Now there’s going to be hell to pay,” Vermouth added.

Surveillance footage shows a man walking up to the house after 5 a.m. Thursday with two gas cans, splashing liquid on the front porch and igniting it, people said. Two people escaped the house unharmed, authorities said.

The home on South Clinton Street was decorated with devil sculptures. A hearse long sat in its driveway, and a sign over the garage read “Devil’s Garage.”

The exotic house served as a gathering place to celebrate Halloween and showcased the beliefs of its longtime former owner, Joe “Netherworld” Mendillo, a Church of Satan member who died last year.

“It was extraordinarily different,” City Councilman Chris Petsas said. “It wasn’t your normal home.”

It’s unlikely the home will be restored because of the extensive fire damage, said Peter H. Gilmore, high priest of the Church of Satan, who lives down the block in what members refer to as Poughkeepsie’s “Witchcraft District.”

The religion is based not on devil worship, but on atheist philosophies of individualism, liberty and self-fulfillment, Gilmore said.

TME – That’s one hell of a story.

Fowl play

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk has received a reprieve after a U.S. bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake.

The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) away, two months earlier.

On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it.

But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake.

The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States which is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said.

“The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “They do not need to kill him.”

Australia’s Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, agreed that the pigeon dubbed Joe, after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, was wearing a “fraudulent copy” leg band.

“Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” it said in a statement.

The department said it will take no further action.

Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack had earlier said there would be no mercy if the pigeon was from the United States.

“If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack said.

TME – The Australian government has really gone to the birds.

Space wine!

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The International Space Station bid adieu Tuesday to 12 bottles of French Bordeaux wine and hundreds of snippets of grapevines that spent a year orbiting the world in the name of science.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule undocked with the wine and vines — and thousands of pounds of other gear and research, including mice — and aimed for a splashdown Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa. The Atlantic had been targeted, but poor weather shifted the arrival to Florida’s other side. SpaceX’s supply ships previously parachuted into the Pacific.

The carefully packed wine — each bottle nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage — remained corked aboard the orbiting lab. Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup behind the experiments, wanted the wine to age for an entire year up there.

None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February. That’s when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world wine tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s top connoisseurs and experts. Months of chemical testing will follow. Researchers are eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles.

Agricultural science is the primary objective, stresses Nicolas Gaume, the company’s CEO and co-founder, although he admits it will be fun to sample the wine. He’ll be among the lucky few taking a sip.

“Our goal is to tackle the solution of how we’re going to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and able to feed humanity, and we think space has the key,” Gaume said from Bordeaux.

TME – Pretty sure this is how we get superpowers.

Last modified on Tuesday, 19 January 2021 11:02

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