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Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Chacarion Avant, 19, tried to enter a bakery in Groveland, Florida, through the ceiling, but his plan was thwarted when he fell through the ceiling tiles and landed on top of a rack of potato chips. Police said Avant was badly hurt, and they took him to the hospital before charging him with armed burglary. (Orlando's WKMG-TV)

Holiday follies

Arkansas lawmakers rejected a proposal to remove Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Arkansas is one of three states that jointly celebrate the two men on the third Monday in January. The proposal designated Nov. 30 as a state memorial day honoring Lee and Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne and would have repealed June 3 as a state memorial day honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis. (Associated Press)

Smart phones, dumb guy

Hong Kong authorities caught a man trying to smuggle 94 iPhones, worth more than $48,000 on the black market, into mainland China by strapping the devices to his body. The man's luggage contained no contraband, but customs officials noticed him walking with a "stiff posture." When he set off a metal detector, they searched him and found phones taped to his chest, abdomen, thighs, calves and groin. (International Business Times)

Instant indulgence

The brewer of Bud Light introduced an e-commerce app that lets drinkers in Washington, D.C., order 12-packs or 24-packs for delivery within an hour. The move by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA follows that by MillerCoors to provide free delivery of Miller Lite in Boston, New York, Seattle and Washington. The companies view e-commerce as a way to market their products to young consumers who have become accustomed to clicking an app to have food and other products delivered. (The Wall Street Journal)

Pizza Hut and Domino's are developing ways to order pizza faster. Claiming to have "the world's first subsconscious menu," Pizza Hut incorporated retina-scanning technology and "psychological research" to create a special eye-tracking tablet at its 300 locations across the U.K. The digital menu shows 20 toppings and computes orders based on which ones the customer looks at the longest. "Finally, the indecisive orderer and the prolonged menu peruser can cut time and always get it right, so that the focus of dining can be the most important part: the enjoyment of eating," a Pizza Hut official said, noting that the menus feature a "restart" button to ensure accuracy.

U.K. customers can also order directly from Domino's by using the voice-ordering function of its mobile app. Xbox One gamers can order by announcing "Domino's, feed me," to the voice-activated console, which then places the order. (The Washington Post)

Woe is we

Vines are proliferating, thanks to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that allow them to hog more light and water than the trees they twine around, according to Australian biologist William Laurance. Noting that up to half of all plant species in a typical rainforest are vines, he warned that vines are advancing not only in rainforests fragmented by agriculture and logging, but even in undisturbed forests. (Sierra)

Poor visibility

Authorities said Marcos Ortega, 33, struck a 66-year-old pedestrian in Ocean County, New Jersey, and then drove about a mile with the victim stuck in his windshield until an officer pulled him over. (Philadelphia's WPVI-TV)

Justice just isn't

After a British coroner ruled that Dr. Daniel Ubani unlawfully killed David Gray by giving him an overdose of diamorphine, the victim's sons, Rory and Stuart Gray, confronted Ubani at a medical conference in Germany. They called him a "charlatan," a "killer" and "an animal." He sued the sons, who were told by a German court that they could describe him as a charlatan and a killer, but not an animal. Ubani subsequently sued Rory Gray for calling him "an animal." This time, the Amtsgericht civil court in Lindau ordered Gray to pay 75 percent of the case's legal costs ("in the thousands" of euros, Gray estimated) and asked him to write to the doctor. Gray called the ruling "utterly grotesque." (BBC News)

Fruits of their labors

Oklahoma lawmakers are at odds over the state's produce. Sen. Nathan Dahm introduced a measure to repeal watermelon's title as Oklahoma's official vegetable, an honor lawmakers bestowed in 2007. Dahm pointed out watermelon is a fruit, not a vegetable, but the state fruit title isn't available because it was awarded to the strawberry. Dahm said watermelon could be named the state's seasonal fruit or the state's melon, but Rep. Scooter Park denounced such a move, declaring, "We will defend, support and make sure it is upheld as the state vegetable for Oklahoma." (Tulsa World)

Slippery slopes

China earmarked nearly $90 million to divert water to make snow in Chongli, a provincial town in an arid region on the edge of the Gobi Desert, in an effort to win its bid for the 2022 winter Olympics. As a result of the government's recent emphasis on winter sports, the number of skiers in China has risen from 10,000 in 1996 to 20 million, according to the Chinese Ski Association. High water demand for snow-making by existing ski facilities around Beijing has led to a government crackdown on new golf courses. (The Economist)

  • All the weird news that's fit to print.

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