The week in odd news: ‘Obsceni mankinis;’ Dancing suspect and a traffic cone makeover

OBSCENI MANKINIS:’ CZECH TOURISTS SPORTING LIME GREEN BORAT ‘MANKINIS’ FINED

PRAGUE (AP) — Six Czech tourists who dressed up in skimpy swimsuits made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” have reportedly been detained by authorities in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

Sporting lime green “mankinis” and black wigs, the men had hoped to take a picture in front of the “I Love Astana” sign.

But local police took action, detaining them on Friday and fining them 22,500 tenge ($68) each for committing minor hooliganism, according to the Kazakh news website informburo.kz.

The swimsuit became popular after Baron Cohen, playing the fictional Kazakh television presenter Borat, sported it in the 2006 movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

That film offended many Kazakhs by portraying the country as backward and degenerate.

‘CONE WEED’ GETS CHRISTMAS MAKEOVER IN NORTH CAROLINA TOWN 

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — At first, it was an orange traffic cone with a weed growing out of it. Now, the roadside attraction dubbed “Cone Weed” is something of a Christmas miracle to locals.

WBTV reports someone decorated the “Cone Weed” with tinsel and ornaments last week. The weed has been growing unencumbered across from the Huntersville Fire Station for a year and has amassed a cult following. The fire station tweeted pictures of Cone Weed decked in tinsel and ornaments last week.

Property owner Madeline Phillips said her son mowed around “Cone Weed” during the summer, and calls it “a beacon of hope.”

A graphic designer has created a line of Christmas clothes and has sold more than 200 shirts, with proceeds helping local families through HopeMatch.org. There’s also a Facebook fan page.

SUSPECT DANCES FOR TEXAS OFFICERS BEFORE POLICE DOG ENDS JIG – CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO

HOUSTON (AP) — A man who led police on a nearly 20-mile chase through Houston was taken into custody only after dancing for a time once he stepped out of his car.

The unidentified suspect came to a stop early Thursday before striking spike strips police had laid across Interstate 45.

He eventually complied with police orders to step out of his car but rather than lay on the ground, the man began a dance with arms above his head. The episode concluded when a police dog attacked him.

Police Lt. Larry Crowson says officers were concerned the man might try to flee into traffic, so they unleashed the dog.

Crowson says investigators will determine whether the man was under the influence.

The suspect has been charged with evading arrest.

SELF SERVE? WOMAN ACCUSED OF SQUEEZING THROUGH MCDONALD’S DRIVE-THRU-WINDOW

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — A McDonald’s drive-thru window became a squeeze-thru window for a woman who apparently needed a fast food fix.

A surveillance video shows her worming her way inside, helping herself to a soft drink and making off with a box of items.

The video , posted on the Twitter feed of Howard County Police in Columbia, Maryland, shows the break-in early on Nov. 5, when the restaurant was closed. The woman reaches through the window for a soda cup and tries unsuccessfully to fill it from the dispenser.

She then manages to squeeze herself into the restaurant through the small window and gets a soft drink. The camera zooms in on her uncovered face.

The woman puts a box of unidentified items through the window and leaves.

She remains at large.

ANOTHER NORTH CAROLINA WOMAN HITS LOTTERY JACKPOT TWICE

GRANITE FALLS, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman hit the jackpot with two scratch-off lottery tickets, marking the second such instance in three weeks.

The Charlotte Observer reports Michelle Shuffler, of Granite Falls, won $10,000 with one scratch-off ticket and $1 million with another on Sunday.

Shuffler said in a statement that she and her husband purchased the winning $10,000 ticket in Lenoir, and then, feeling lucky, decided to buy another one 22 miles away in Granite Falls.

She claimed both prizes Monday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh, selecting the option of 20 annual payments of $50,000 over the lump sum option. She plans to use the lottery winnings to save for retirement and her children’s college funds.

Kimberly Morris, of Wake Forest, also won the lottery twice at the end of October.

MAN GETS HIS DYING WISH: TO BE BURIED WITH 2 CHEESESTEAKS

PLAINS, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man who always joked that he wanted to take something to eat when he died has gotten his wish.

Richard Lussi’s family buried him with two cheesesteaks from Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia — topped with Cheez Whiz but no onions.

His grandson, Dominic, tells The Philadelphia Inquirer when the family asked what he wanted, his grandfather replied: “What do you think? Pat’s cheesesteak! Pat’s Whiz without, no onions because they’ll come back to haunt me.”

The Plains Township resident would often challenge family members to drive two and a half hours to Philadelphia and back to get the sandwiches.

The 76-year-old father of four died of heart complications on Oct. 10.

His son, grandson and two friends drove to Philadelphia the day before his funeral and picked up two cheesesteaks for the coffin.

MASSACHUSETTS POLICE STOP DRIVER FOR PIZZA BOX LICENSE PLATE

HOPKINTON, Mass. (AP) — Police officers in a Massachusetts town jokingly recommend drivers get a little more creative if they make their own illegal license plates.

The Hopkinton Police Department says in a Facebook post Sunday a driver was stopped with a license plate made from a pizza box.

The department discourages people from making their own plates. But if he or she does, the department says not to use a cardboard box and felt tip pens.

Hopkinton police say the driver is facing charges that include operating an uninsured and unregistered vehicle and attaching “fake homemade” plates.

SYDNEY FERRY NAMED FERRY MCFERRYFACE AFTER ‘BOATY’ OVERRULED

SYDNEY (AP) — A new Sydney Harbor ferry will be christened Ferry McFerryface — Sydney’s second favorite choice after the now famous jokey Mc-moniker, Boaty McBoatface.

New South Wales state government officials overruled the most popular name for the ferry after the trendsetter was first snubbed last year as a name for a British polar survey vessel. That ship was christened Sir David Attenborough in honor of the naturalist and broadcaster and Boaty McBoatface became the name of one of its remotely operated submarines.

“Given ‘Boaty’ was already taken by another vessel, we’ve gone with the next most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders,” New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said in a statement Tuesday.

“Ferry McFerryface will be the harbor’s newest icon and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike,” he added.

Ferry McFerryface joins the ranks of Trainy McTrainface, a Swedish express train, and Horsey McHorseface, a Sydney racehorse, after a trend started by a suggestion from a former BBC radio host.

Sydney residents have been encouraged for the past year to name six boats in a new Sydney Harbor fleet through the Name Your Ferry website and more than 15,000 responded.

The other new ferries were named after prominent Sydney Aborigines Bungaree and Pemulwuy and Australian medical doctors Victor Chan, Catherine Hamlin and Fred Hollows.

IOWA COURTHOUSE SEARCHES FOR SOURCE OF SEWER-LIKE SMELL

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Workers at the Des Moines County Courthouse are sniffing around the 77-year-old building and using blueprints to find the source of a mystery smell.

The Hawk Eye reports the sewer-like stench has been wafting around the basement and parts of the third floor, including the jury deliberation room. The unpleasant smell has been noticeable over the past few weeks, though workers say it happens every fall.

Courthouse employees tracked past odors to suspect pipes and busted holes in the building’s walls to seal cracks.

Maintenance workers suspect that a pipe in the jury room might be creating the smell. They plan to open the wall after jury trials end this week.

County maintenance supervisor Rodney Bliesener says he’s confident workers will identify the source.

SCHOOL WORKSHEET QUIZZED STUDENTS ON ‘BOY TOY,’ AFFAIRS

HOPEWELL, Va. (AP) — Middle school students in a Virginia home economics class were mistakenly given a worksheet that quizzed them on what an extramarital affair is as well as “boy toy” and “trophy wife.”

WTVR reported Monday that the teacher at the school outside Richmond, Virginia, had downloaded the worksheet from the internet. The superintendent for Hopewell schools said it was never part of the curriculum.

Parents at Carter G. Woodson Middle School were angry. The “Family Quiz” worksheet was assigned Friday in a Family & Consumer Sciences class.

It began with questions such as “What do you call the father of your father?”

But questions also asked: “What do you call it when a married person has a relationship with someone else?” and “What do you call the much younger boyfriend of an older woman?”

CONMAN SENTENCED TO ‘SUPERMAX’ — AT HIS OWN REQUEST

MIAMI (AP) — A notorious Florida conman will serve his 20-year sentence in solitary at the infamous federal Supermax prison — at his request.

A federal judge granted Jimmy Sabatino’s request during a Monday hearing in Miami. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Sabatino told federal Judge Joan Lenard the only way to stop him from committing cons is to keep him from contacting the outside world.

Sabatino pleaded guilty to running a $10 million fraud from his cell at Miami’s federal jail where he was being held for an earlier fraud. In his latest con, the 41-year-old Gambino crime family associate used smuggled cellphones to dupe luxury retailers to send jewelry, watches and other items to his outside co-conspirators.

The Supermax penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, holds some of the nation’s worst criminals.

MAN DETAINED AFTER DANISH POLICE CRACK PUBLIC BENCH THEFTS

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police in Denmark says a man is suspected of stealing 12 of Copenhagen’s green public benches that Danes instantly associate with the capital city.

Investigator Jesper Cederholm says the unidentified Dane, who was briefly detained Aug. 29, had confessed to stealing 12 benches out of a total of 65 benches that have gone missing and selling them online.

The benches had been reported stolen since mid-2016.

Copenhagen is home to about 3,000 of the green benches, which feature a dark grey painted iron frame with wrought swirls and weigh approximately 35 kilograms (77 pounds). They cost about 8,000 kroner ($1,250) each and were first introduced in the 1880s.

Cederholm said Thursday the case would now be brought to court after a three-month investigation.

ROSY HEAVENS? INTERSTELLAR VISITOR SHAPED LIKE GIANT FIRE EXTINGUISHER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A newly discovered object from another star system that’s passing through ours is shaped like a giant pink fire extinguisher.

That’s the word this week from astronomers who have been observing this first-ever confirmed interstellar visitor.

“I’m surprised by the elongated shape — nobody expected that,” said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the observation team that reported on the characteristics.

Scientists are certain this asteroid or comet originated outside our solar system. First spotted last month by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, it will stick around for another few years before departing our sun’s neighborhood.

Jewitt and his international team observed the object for five nights in late October using the Nordic Optical Telescope in the Canary Islands and the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.

At approximately 100 feet by 100 feet by 600 feet (30 meters by 30 meters by 180 meters), the object has proportions roughly similar to a fire extinguisher — though not nearly as red, Jewitt said Thursday. The slightly red hue — specifically pale pink — and varying brightness are remarkably similar to asteroids in our own solar system, he noted.

Astronomer Jayadev Rajagopal said in an email that it was exciting to point the Arizona telescope at such a tiny object “which, for all we know, has been traveling through the vast emptiness of space for millions of years.”

“And then by luck passes close enough for me to be able to see it that night!”

The object is so faint and so fast — it’s zooming through the solar system at 40,000 mph (64,000 kph) — it’s unlikely amateur astronomers will see it.

In a paper to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists report that our solar system could be packed with 10,000 such interstellar travelers at any given time. It takes 10 years to cross our solar system, providing plenty of future viewing opportunities, the scientists said.

Trillions of objects from other star systems could have passed our way over the eons, according to Jewitt.

It suggests our solar system ejected its own share of asteroids and comets as the large outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune — formed.

Why did it take so long to nail the first interstellar wanderer?

“Space is big and our eyes are weak,” Jewitt explained via email.

Anticipating more such discoveries, the International Astronomical Union already has approved a new designation for cosmic interlopers. They get an “I″ for interstellar in their string of letters and numbers. The group also has approved a name for this object: Oumuamua (OH’-moo-ah-moo-ah) which in Hawaiian means a messenger from afar arriving first.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED MALAYAN TIGER TWINS BORN IN PRAGUE ZOO

PRAGUE (AP) — A keeper says twin Malayan tigers born in Prague Zoo have a good chance of survival, a rare success for any zoo on the European continent.

The cubs, a male and a female, were born on Oct 3. So far, only two European zoos have managed to breed this subspecies of tiger, most recently a zoo in Halle, Germany, in 2013.

There are only a few hundred Malayan tigers surviving in the wild in Asia and they are classified as critically endangered.

A key obstacle for breeding is that the males are too often aggressive toward their female partners. Other problems include the inability of the mother to take care of the cubs, and diseases.

Keeper Pavel Brandl says the 11-year-old mother, Banya, has been doing well and the two are fine.

They will get names in December.