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Weird National Briefs (08/04/2021)

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Chair and tear

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A giant ladderback chair that stands 19 feet (5.8 meters) tall may be big but it wasn’t tough enough for some vandals.

Damage to the massive “Big Chair” made from 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of cedar and white pine was captured early Thursday by surveillance video outside a credit union where the chair sits. The video shows two males and two females climbing and jumping on the chair.

The original chair was built in the late 1940s and became a popular roadside attraction. Over the decades it has been rebuilt several times.

The security video captured the moment the joints gave way, apparently injuring one of the vandals who was seen being helped away.

The Bennington Banner reports the weight of the people who climbed on the chair caused the sockets that held the cross pieces to split wide open. Now the chair’s wooden joints are in splinters and the rope seat is no longer in place.

“We have people on a daily basis come and take pictures with the chair. They drive here specifically to see it,” said Linda M. Bow, the chief business officer for the Tri State Area Federal Credit Union’s Bennington branch. Bow said. “It’s going to be hard to replace. It wasn’t meant for climbing.”

TME – *Insert Edith Ann joke that no one under 40 will get*

Go Jags!

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man was injured by a jaguar at a Florida zoo after climbing over a barrier and moving too close to the animal’s enclosure, officials said.

The attack occurred Wednesday at the Range of the Jaguar display at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the Florida Times-Union reported. The man was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, zoo officials said.

The man climbed over a waist-high safety barrier that puts about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of empty space between visitors and the jaguar exhibit’s fence, zoo spokeswoman Kelly Rouillard said. The man began taunting the jaguar and reached his hand through the fence, she said.

A 12-year-old big cat named Harry swiped at the man and injured him. Rouillard said the feline was acting as part of his normal behavior for a wild animal and didn’t expect anything to happen to him. Officials confirmed that Harry was involved in a fight that left another jaguar dead earlier this year.

Zoo officials said they don’t plan to pursue criminal charges against the injured man, whose name wasn’t released.

TME – “What’s it gonna do, maul me?” – Man who was mauled.

Head for the hills

LONDON (AP) — London’s latest tourist attraction aimed for the heights. It has fallen a bit flat.

The Marble Arch Mound, an artificial hill beside one of the city’s busiest intersections, opened this week — and is already offering refunds to disappointed visitors and admitting “teething problems.”

Designed by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, the mound is a 25-meter (80-foot) hill made from turf-covered scaffolding that claims to offer panoramic views of Hyde Park, Oxford Street and the surrounding area.

The hill’s website describes it as “a new and meaningful experience that captures the imagination of residents, businesses and visitors,” and local officials hope it will help draw people back to the commercial heart of London after more than a year of pandemic-related restrictions.

Visitors this week likened it to a construction site or a slag heap that bears little resemblance to the lush images on the website. A promised shop, cafe and exhibition space are unfinished.

Westminster Council, which is in charge of the mound, acknowledged that elements of it “are not yet ready for visitors.” The temporary attraction is due to remain until January. It said anyone who has booked to visit this week would be offered a refund and a free ticket for another visit “once it has had time to bed in and grow.”

“The mound is a living building by design,” the council said in a statement. “We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s newest outdoor attraction and resolve any teething problems as they emerge.”

TME – That’s one hill of a situation.

On the rocks

LONDON (AP) — A woman who secretly swapped seven pebbles for 4.2 million pounds ($5.7 million) worth of diamonds has been sent to prison for her role in the audacious heist at a luxury jewelry store in London’s tony Mayfair district.

Lulu Lakatos, 60, was sentenced Wednesday to 5 1/2 years in prison after a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London found her guilty of conspiracy to steal.

Lakatos was part of an international gang that fled to France after stealing the diamonds from Boodles on New Bond Street on March 10, 2016. The gems haven’t been recovered.

“This was an audacious theft, carried out in plain view of experienced and professional staff at a renowned jewelers,” Detective Sgt. William Man of London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. “The meticulous planning and execution of this theft reveals to me that those involved were highly skilled criminals.”

In the days leading up to the heist, the criminals held a series of meetings with Boodles staff on the pretense that they represented a wealthy Russian investor who was looking to purchase gems, police said.

Lakatos, who was born in Romania and lived in France, posed as a gem expert named “Anna” who then went to Boodles to value seven diamonds for the buyer.

After she inspected the gems, which included a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond valued at more than 2.2 million pounds, they were individually wrapped and placed in a locked bag that was supposed to be held in the jeweler’s vault until payment was received. But when Boodles’ own expert became suspicious the next day, the bag was X-rayed and the store discovered nothing but seven ordinary pebbles.

Lakatos had used a distraction to swap the bag containing the diamonds for an identical one containing the pebbles before it was locked in the vault, according to security camera video released by police.

After leaving the store, Lakatos handed the bag containing the diamonds to one of her female accomplices, before ditching the long coat, hat and scarf she wore as a disguise and boarding a high-speed Eurostar train to France.

TME – I want this movie yesterday.

Jetpack to where you once belonged

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI is investigating what one commercial airline pilot said might have been an airborne person with a jetpack, high in the busy skies near Los Angeles International Airport.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Boeing 747 pilot radioed to report “a possible jetpack man in sight” at around 6:12 p.m. Wednesday, according to a recording from the website LiveATC.

The pilot spotted an object that might have resembled a jetpack 15 miles east of LAX at 5,000 feet altitude, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson told the newspaper. “Out of an abundance of caution, air traffic controllers alerted other pilots in the vicinity.”

“Use caution, the jetpack guy is back,” said one air traffic alert.

“Did you see a UFO?” one air traffic controller asked a pilot.

“We were looking but we did not see Iron Man,” the pilot responded.

The FBI is working with the FAA to investigate the report, FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller told the Times in an email. The agency has already looked into three other possible jetpack in the skies above Los Angeles, and has “not been able to validate any of the reports,” she said.

TME – Finally, that reboot of “The Rocketeer” that we’ve all been waiting for.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 August 2021 07:42

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