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Weird News

    A man seen on video charging protesters in New York while wearing a glove with four long, serrated-edged blades surrendered to authorities, the Queens district attorney said Thursday night. People were peacefully gathering on the overpass above the Cross Island Parkway when Frank Cavalluzzi, 54, jumped out of a vehicle Tuesday afternoon, shouting “I will kill you,” and chasing protesters while wearing the knife-claw glove, a press release from the office of District Attorney Melinda Katz said. He then got back into his vehicle and drove on a sidewalk, nearly running over the demonstrators, the release said. Demonstrators protesting over the death of George Floyd had been in the area hanging up Black Lives Matter signs and rallying after someone earlier this week was caught on camera ripping one down at the location, the New York Post reported. Floyd, a black man, died on Memorial Day after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee onto the back of Floyd's neck. Cavalluzzi turned himself in Thursday morning and was arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted murder, multiple degrees of attempted assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses. The judge set bail at $100,000. Cavalluzzi faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, the release said. It was unclear Thursday night whether Cavalluzzi had retained an attorney. “In a burst of anger and rage, this defendant allegedly sought to kill protesters who were peacefully assembled and exercising their right to free speech,” Katz said, adding that it was “amazing” no one was injured.
  • A West Virginia woman and her husband faked her disappearance by pretending she plummeted from an overlook as part of a scheme to keep her out of having to go to prison, authorities said. Julie Wheeler and Rodney Wheeler were arrested Tuesday on multiple charges including conspiracy and giving false information to West Virginia State Police. State police said Julie Wheeler was reported missing Sunday by her husband and 17-year-old son. The family claimed Julie Wheeler had fallen from the main overlook at the New River Gorge National River, National Park Service Ranger Leah Perkowski-Sisk said. Authorities searched for Julie Wheeler for days but found her Tuesday “alive and well” hiding in a closet in her home. A criminal complaint said Rodney Wheeler and his son planted items at the Grandview Overlook to fake Julie Wheeler's disappearance. It's unclear whether the son will face criminal charges. Julie Wheeler pleaded guilty to federal health care fraud in February after an investigation into “pill mill” clinic operations. She'll be sentenced for that charge on June 17. It's unclear whether the couple have an attorney who could comment on their behalf.
  • Master builders of the sea construct the equivalent of a complex five-story house that protects them from predators and funnels and filters food for them — all from snot coming out of their heads. And when these delicate mucus homes get clogged, the tadpole-looking critters — called giant larvaceans — build a new one. Usually every day or so. These so-called “snot palaces” could possibly help human construction if scientists manage to crack the mucus architectural code, said Kakani Katija, a bioengineer at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Her team took a step toward solving the mystery of the snot houses and maybe someday even replicating them, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature. The creatures inside these houses may be small — the biggest are around 4 inches (10 centimeters) — but they are smart and crucial to Earth’s environment. Found globally, they are the closest relatives to humans without a backbone, Katija and other scientists said. Together with their houses “they are like an alien life form, made almost entirely out of water, yet crafted with complexity and purpose,” said Dalhousie University marine biologist Boris Worm, who wasn’t part of the study. “They remind me of a cross between a living veil and a high tech filter pump.” Also, when they abandon their clogged homes about every day, the creatures collectively drop millions of tons of carbon to the seafloor, where it stays, preventing further global warming, Worm said. They also take microplastics out of the water column and dump it on the sea floor. And if that’s not enough, the other waste in their abandoned houses is eaten by the ocean’s bottom dwellers. But it’s what they build that fascinates and mystifies scientists. Because the snot houses are so delicate, researchers haven’t often been able to take them to the lab to study them. So Katija and team used a remote submarine, cameras and lasers to watch these creatures in water about 650 to 1300 feet (200 to 400 meters) deep off Monterey Bay in Northern California. These mucus structures aren’t simple. They include two heart-like chambers that act as a maze for the food that drifts in, except there’s only one way for it to go: into the larvacean’s mouth. The snot houses often are nearly transparent and flow all around the critter that looks like a tadpole, but isn’t. “It could be the most kind of complex structure that an animal makes,” Katija said. “It’s pretty astonishing that a single animal is able to do it.” And the houses are comparatively big — about 10 times bigger than the critters themselves — reaching more than three feet wide (one meter). It would be the equivalent of a person making a five-story house, Katija said. “They create these small versions of houses by secreting mucus from cells on their heads and then expand those much like a balloon into the structures that we see,” Katija said. All in about an hour. Water can flow through the structure so that when it moves through the water it doesn’t give much of a motion detectable by predatory fish. That, Katija said, essentially masks the house from whatever wants to eat the larvaceans. NASA engineers looking to build structures on the moon would probably like to learn from the larvaceans, she said. None of this could be done in the lab. Katija's team used 3D laser scan technology to virtually fly through the inner chambers of the snot palaces, then recreated them with software to model the inner-workings of the structure. But she said the scientists are still far from understanding everything going on there. Providence College biologist Jack Costello, who wasn’t part of the study, said Katija’s team did “really cool work ... to detail the complex houses. It’s not easy to do in the best circumstances and they’ve done it deep in the oceans.” “We have a lot to learn,” Costello said. “I’m in awe of these animals.” ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • A woman in route to get her morning coffee was jolted awake with pounding on her front door she later discovered to be two alligators fighting in front of her home in Florida. The video of the surprising encounter in Fort Myers was posted on Facebook last week by Susan Geshel. When she first saw the reptiles before 7 a.m., Geshel told The Fort Myers News-Press that one of the alligators had his snout pinned on her door while the other was stationed at a distance with its snout wide open. The video then shows Geshel calling her husband in surprise as one of the alligators clamped its jaws on the other’s body and pushed it to the wall as it moved away from the house. “They made a mess on the front door,” Geshel, who has never seen alligators on her property in Fort Myers, said. After about 20 minutes by her house, one of the alligators walked across the street to a neighbor’s home while the other disappeared from the area and could have gone to a nearby pond, she added. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Spokeswoman Melody Kilborn said the fighting alligators were reacting to being in a confined space. The reptiles, who Kilborn said are most visible when the weather is warm, also tend to mate during May and June, according to the wildlife agency.
  • The U.S. Border Patrol says two men who escaped from a Colorado prison said they were Mexican immigrants who wished to be deported when agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border found them. After some more questioning, agents discovered the men were 35-year-old Jose Rodriguez and 42-year-old Raul Guzman, who had escaped a minimum-security facility in Florence, Colorado, this week. Prison staff noticed they were missing during a Wednesday inmate count. The Border Patrol says it arrested a 30-year-old woman who was driving the men, but later said that the aiding and abetting charge she faced was dropped because of coronavirus-related restrictions. It says the men claimed to be immigrants here illegally and wished to be immediately returned to Mexico. At some point, the agents figured out that was not the case. Rodriguez and Guzman were each serving drug sentences. They have been turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service.
  • A woman managed to go into labor and give birth alone in a Texas jail cell without any corrections officers noticing until after she had delivered the child, a sheriff's official said Thursday. The woman had the baby in a Fort Worth jail cell on May 17, according to Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Gabbert. The woman “did not immediately disclose the birth, but the baby was soon discovered by a corrections officer” and both were taken to a hospital, Gabbert said. She could not immediately provide information about the health of the mother and child. Jail staff knew the woman was pregnant and had been checking on her regularly, Gabbert said, without specifying the frequency of those checks or whether they knew her due date. She declined to identify the mother and would not answer several questions about the birth including how the woman could have gone into labor and delivered a child without it coming to the guards' attention. Jail staff don't know how long the labor lasted “due to the mother not notifying corrections staff of the impending birth,” Gabbert said. The sheriff's internal affairs department is investigating the birth but there is no indication of wrongdoing by jail staff, Gabbert said. The mother has been held in jail without bond since January on charges of assaulting a family member and injuring a child, elderly or disabled person, Gabbert said. The delivery was first reported by the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. The jail has been fighting an outbreak of the new coronavirus among inmates and staff. Fort Worth police have erred against arresting those accused of some minor crimes to avoid spreading the virus to new inmates. The child was born a few days before state inspectors informed Tarrant County Jail staff that they were not meeting minimum standards for checking on some inmates, according to Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The jail was sent a notice of non-compliance on May 21 after inspectors found staff were late to check on a inmate who died by suicide, Gabbert said. “We take this very seriously and the internal investigation is ongoing,” she said. The jail submitted a plan to correct the issue and was re-certified six days later.
  • German police say the grisly find of an ape’s hand and foot in a forest west of Munich appears to be less nefarious than previously thought, and certainly not as outlandish than wildly speculative tips they’ve received. The cleanly severed hand and foot, complete with skin, hair and nails, were discovered about a week ago near the Bavarian town of Grafrath by a forester’s dog. Tips came in, including one suggesting the find was evidence the government was carrying out coronavirus experiments on monkeys, police told the dpa news agency Thursday. But after examination of the foot and hand, which appear to come from a chimpanzee, experts concluded they had been preserved with formaldehyde or another chemical used to keep scientific specimens. “This makes it possible that the parts are significantly older than initially thought,” Michael Fischer, a police spokesman in nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck, told dpa. “The good news is that nobody has to worry that an ape was slaughtered in Fuerstenfeldbruck last week.” Police are still trying to figure out how a chimpanzee’s parts ended up in a German forest, but say it now seems likely it is at most an administrative offense rather than a crime. “And it could already be past the statute of limitations,” Fischer said.
  • Glazed or jelly? A black bear roaming around a Florida city proved no match for the doughnuts that lured the animal into a humane trap. The Fort Myers News-Press reports that the juvenile 250-pound (113- kilogram) bear spent a good chunk of Tuesday morning meandering around the Gulf coast city. Wildlife officials say bears tend to move more in the spring in search of mates and, as always, food. In such a congested area, tranquilizing the bear wasn’t an option, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Adam Brown. He said the drugs don’t always work immediately on large animals such as bears. “When we use a tranquilizer the bear sometimes will run away, and we didn’t want to take any chance of it running into traffic or the residential area,” he said. So instead, officers turned to doughnuts from Krispy Kreme and some blueberry pie-scented spray in a trap. That did the trick. Brown said the bear was relocated to a state-managed wildlife area. Authorities estimate there are about 4,000 black bears in Florida. Wildlife officials say people should be sure to secure their garbage cans and should not put them out the night before pickup because it gives bears more opportunity to get into them.
  • Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, but he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday. “I like Alaska a lot,” Waerner said. “It’s kind of my dream place. But I have a family.” Waerner has five children and 35 other sled dogs in Torpa, Norway. He missed the 10th birthday of one of his children and misses morning coffee with his wife, Guro, who left Alaska in March shortly before health restrictions stopped travel. The 47-year-old plans to fly home in early June on a DC-6 aircraft bound for the Air History Museum in Sola, Norway. Everts Air Cargo of Fairbanks is selling the historic plane, and Waerner said the museum is expected to finalize the deal this week. “We are hitchhiking,” Waerner said. “The plane is going to Norway, and we are going with them. We are so lucky.” Prior to the trip Waerner is expected to undergo a COVID-19 test and collect his dogs from a kennel in Salcha owned by fellow musher Arleigh Reynolds. Waerner said he has friends in the Alaska towns of Ester and Salcha and often spends a few days around Fairbanks after the Iditarod. This year, a few days turned into more than a few weeks and Waerner is ready to resume his normal life. “My wife has been taking care of 35 dogs, the kids, and working as a veterinarian,” he said. Once he returns home, “ ‘yes, dear,’ will be the answer for everything,” he said. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.
  • An alligator that many people believe once belonged to Adolf Hitler has died in the Moscow Zoo. The zoo said the alligator, named Saturn, was about 84 years old when he died on Friday. According to the zoo, Saturn was born in the United States and later sent to the Berlin Zoo, from which he escaped when the zoo was bombed in 1943. His whereabouts were unknown until 1946, when British soldiers found him and gave him to the Soviet Union, the zoo said. “Almost immediately, the myth was born that he was allegedly in the collection of Hitler and not in the Berlin Zoo,” the zoo said in a statement. But, it noted, “animals are not involved in war and politics and it is absurd to blame them for human sins.”