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Weird National Briefs (05/11/2022)

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Better sorry than safe

BERLIN (AP) — Firefighters in the western German town of Bocholt received an unusual distress call Friday from a local high school after teachers were unable to open a safe containing the questions for a final-year exam that students were due to take.

Firefighters raced to the scene to find that the lock had jammed and set about sawing open the safe, the Bocholt fire department said.

“That way the students were able to sit their exam with about an hour’s delay,” it said.

While teachers cheered the firefighters for saving the day, the reaction from students was mixed.

“Some of them would probably have enjoyed a sunny day off instead,” said fire department spokesman Matthias Hanne.

TME – And that’s how you create petty arsonists.

Bust a move

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A marble bust that a Texas woman bought for about $35 from a Goodwill store is temporarily on display at a San Antonio museum after experts determined it was a centuries-old sculpture missing from Germany since World War II.

The bust, which art collector Laura Young found at Goodwill in 2018, once belonged in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, according to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is temporarily displaying the piece until it is returned to Germany next year.

The ancient Roman bust dates to the first century B.C. or first century A.D. and historians believe it may depict a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in civil war by Julius Caesar, the museum said. The sculpture was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and experts believe a soldier took the sculpture and brought it to the United States, the museum said.

A Sotheby’s consultant identified the work and it was further authenticated, the museum said.

“We are very pleased that a piece of Bavarian history that we thought was lost has reappeared and will soon be able to return to its rightful location,” said Bernd Schreiber, president of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes.

TME – Always nice when art heads home.

Morning pick-me-up

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss police say an investigation is underway after workers at a Nespresso warehouse in western Switzerland found 500 kilograms (over 1,100 pounds) of cocaine, with a street value of $50 million, as they unloaded coffee beans that had arrived by train.

Regional police in Fribourg said late Thursday they were alerted Monday by the company to the discovery at the facility in the town of Romont and immediately set up a “broad security perimeter” around it with a large deployment of officers. Customs and border control agents were called in.

Early indications were that the shipment turned up in five containers that had arrived by sea from Brazil before being transferred onto a train, authorities said.

“The cocaine seized has an 80% degree of purity and its market value is estimated at more than 50 million francs,” the police said, adding that the stash appeared “destined for the European market.”

On Friday, the European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that cocaine availability in Europe “is probably at an all-time high.”

Switzerland is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen zone that allows for visa-free travel among many European countries.

The monitoring center said it estimates the EU cocaine retail market was worth at least 10.5 billion euros ($11.1 billion) in 2020, while cautioning that the figure was likely to underestimate the true size of the market.

It said the largest quantities of cocaine are seized in Belgian, Dutch and Spanish ports, but increasing amounts are turning up at ports elsewhere “suggesting that trafficking groups are extending their activities to ports where cocaine interdiction measures may be perceived as less intensive.”

Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle, which owns Nespresso, sought to reassure customers that “all our products are safe to consume.”

“We have strict quality controls in place for green coffee arriving at our warehouses right up to the finished product,” the Vevey, Switzerland-based company said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “The substance in question did not come into contact with any of our products or production equipment used to make our products.”

Nestle said it could not provide more details because of the ongoing police investigation.

TME – Nothing like an eight-ball of French roast.

Car chase, with dog

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — A 20-year-old man drove a stolen Mercedes SUV as fast as 178 mph (286 kph) during a chase Monday night through six counties along Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 95, authorities said.

Deputies deployed stop sticks to flatten the vehicle’s tires and a K-9 named Zorro then helped secure the fleeing suspect, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. The chase began near Orlando and ended some 150 miles (241 kilometers) later near Hobe Sound.

“The danger to innocent lives related to this crime cannot be overstated,” the release said.

Deputies in Martin County, which is north of West Palm Beach, were alerted to the chase through an alert from the Florida Highway Patrol. Video footage from a sheriff’s office aircraft showed the car speeding along without headlights after deputies attempted to stop it.

The sheriff’s office said the ground pursuit was terminated because of the dangerous speeds, but the aircraft continued to track the stolen SUV. Deputies were able to deploy the stop sticks to deflate the vehicle’s tires.

The driver ran from the vehicle and into a wooded area.

“Multiple deputies followed along with K-9 Zorro,” the release said. After he ignored multiple commands to surrender, deputies unleashed the dog “into the woods ending this dangerous criminal joyride.”

The South Florida suspect faces multiple charges including grand theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing with a disregard for safety, and obstruction. His 28-year-old passenger was also arrested.

The sheriff’s office commended “every agency and every person on-shift” for ending the pursuit with no injuries or loss of life.”

TME – No one has seen his face, but everyone knows this bark.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 07:00

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