NEWS THAT SOUNDS LIKE A JOKE
In Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, drivers of black cars are facing high costs to repaint their cars white or silver after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov banned black vehicles because he thinks the color white brings good luck. Police began seizing dark-colored vehicles in late December, and owners have to apply for permission to repaint and re-register them. The average wage in Ashgabat is about $300 a month (or 1,200 manats); one Turkman told Radio Free Europe that he was quoted 7,000 manats for a paint job, but was told that the price would rise within a week to 11,000 manats. “Even if I don’t spend any money anywhere, I will be forced to hand over pretty much my entire annual salary just to repaint,” the unnamed man said, adding that his black car had already been impounded.
Noting that “nobody else has done it,” on Jan. 4 Nebraska state Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus proposed a novel constitutional amendment with the goal of stimulating growth in western Nebraska: Delegate complete or partial sovereignty over a designated, limited and sparsely populated area. “If I were a major business, I would not want Omaha or Lincoln… telling me what to do,” Schumacher said. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that the senator believes his concept would attract businesses looking for no state or local taxes and no state or local regulations. It presents the opportunity to “have your own state,” he explained. The Nebraska legislature must approve the resolution before citizens get a chance to vote.
Tennessee’s legislature has a newly renovated home in the Cordell Hull building in Nashville, so Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell have been busy outlining some new rules. “Hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” will be strictly prohibited because they pose a “serious safety hazard.” Animals, too, will be turned away at the door, reported The Tennessean on Dec. 21. But in a dizzying twist of irony, McNally and Harwell will continue a policy they enacted last year, which allows holders of valid gun permits to bring their weapons into the building.
MY KINGDOM FOR A BURRITO
Tampa, Florida, resident Douglas Jon Francisco, 28, was arrested for DUI after he mistook a Spring Hill bank drive-thru lane for a Taco Bell. On Jan. 17, around 5 p.m., the bank branch manager noticed a driver passed out in a blue Hyundai sedan in the drive-thru lane. When the manager went out to the car and banged on the window, Francisco woke up and tried to order a burrito, according to the Tampa Bay Times. After being set straight about the bank not serving Mexican fast food, Francisco drove around to the front of the building and parked, where deputies found him and administered a field sobriety test, which he failed. “He made several statements that were differing from reality,” a Hernando County Sheriff’s deputy reported.
FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMALS
Richard the 15-year-old pony of Bridgton, Maine has had a rough winter. He was suffering from cancer of his penis and infection when temperatures plummeted to negative 25 degrees, which caused frostbite. As a result, part of the animal’s flesh broke off while he was being examined, the Associated Press reported. The Animal Rescue Unit in Bridgton has taken responsibility for the pony and has raised more than $4,000 for his care, including reconstructive surgery. Brogan Horton of Animal Rescue Unit said the goal is for Richard to live out his life pain-free.
CLICHE COME TO LIFE
Outdoorsman Sergey Terekhov, 64, had just let his dogs out to run before a January hunting outing in Russia’s remote Saratov region when one of the dogs bounded back to him and clawed the trigger of Terekhov’s double-barreled shotgun, shooting the man in the abdomen. The Telegraph reported that his brother rushed Terekhov to the hospital, but he died less than an hour after the shooting.
Distracted driving caused long backups and at least one minor traffic accident on Jan. 20 as a man wandered along I-95 in Philadelphia–in the buff. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the stripped-down man walked along the shoulder and in and out of the right lane around noon, throwing items at cars before being taken into custody by police. His name was not released.
Bradley Hardison, 27, of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, achieved minor celebrity status in 2014 when he won a doughnut-eating contest sponsored by the Elizabeth City Police Department. (He ate eight glazed doughnuts in two minutes.) At the time, police had been looking for Hardison as a suspect in break-ins going back to 2013, so they arrested him, and he received a suspended sentence that ended in October 2017. But a doughnut habit is hard to break: The Virginian-Pilot reported that Hardison was charged on Jan. 18 with robbing a Dunkin’ Donuts store on Nov. 21.