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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Oddities News Archive - February 27, 2009

A police raid in the British town of Huddersfield uncovered a wood-burning stove rather than a suspected marijuana-growing operation, the site's owner says. Colin Rowe, whose Huddersfield workshop was the target of a police search, said he was disturbed to find police targeted the site based on heat patterns picked up by a helicopter equipped with infra-red equipment, The Daily Telegraph said Friday. Rowe, 41, said police broke his workshop door in order to conduct their search for a suspected marijuana growing operation and then simply left the search warrant in his mailbox. I find it quite disturbing that Wild West Yorkshire Police can do what they want.

A Pomfret, Conn., homeowner was so busy listening to music on his iPod that he didn't noticed a fire spreading in his exercise room, a fire official says. Pomfret Assistant Fire Chief Edward Bates said Andrew Riley didn't know about the fire in his home this week until the homeowner received an emergency call from his alarm company about his activated smoke alarm, the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin said Friday. Bates said once he learned of the second-floor fire from the company, Riley was able to close the exercise room door and contain Thursday's fire. Responding firefighters soon contained the blaze using a foam and water solution, Bates added. Fire Marshal Adam Scheuritzel told the Bulletin the fire caused heavy damage to Riley's exercise room.

Police in Japan said a man has been arrested on suspicion of defrauding an alleged fraudster for more than $1 million. Investigators said Yasuhiko Nakata, 73, was arrested on suspicion of fraud, forgery and use of a personal document after he allegedly scammed Kazuhiro Miyauchi, 37, out of $1 million

A Chinese woman said she has allowed Internet users to take over her life and decide what she will do each day -- for a small fee. Chen Xiao said she has been allowing Internet users to pick her daily activities since December after 2008 saw such misery-inducing events as the bankruptcy of her clothing shop and the earthquake that hit China, CNN reported Friday. Every time I had a plan for what I wanted my life to be like, nothing would come of it.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly admits spending $13,700 on 220 Bibles, Torahs and Korans for legislators to use while they take their oath of office. The state Senate also bought holy books for 24 of the 25 members sworn in this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Consumer groups have criticized Irish budget airline Ryanair after the chief executive said the carrier is considering a $1.50 charge to use airplane toilets. Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary said the airline has been looking into installing coin slots on the doors of the airplane lavatories to allow planes to charge for toilet use, The Times of London reported Friday. One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future, O'Leary said.

Police said a man was arrested in Miami after he allegedly posed as an air marshal to get on a plane after the gate had closed. Miami-Dade police said Mark Rimkufski, 49, used a toy Fisher Island Chief of Police badge to convince airline employees that he was a federal air marshal, but the ruse was uncovered once he boarded the plane and was confronted by real air marshals, The Miami Herald reported Friday. Rimkufski was scheduled to appear in Miami-Dade court Thursday on charges of falsely impersonating a law enforcement officer, but he was absent from court due to hospitalization for an unspecified ailment. Authorities said Rimkufski also faces a federal charge of impersonating an air marshal.

The owners of a German Shepherd named Astro that disappeared in Florida nine years ago say they were shocked to hear the dog turned up in Tennessee. Linda Geary, who now lives with her family in Louisville, Ky., said an animal control officer in Tennessee contacted them nearly three weeks ago to say Astro had been found, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Friday. It's still a real shock that he is actually here, Geary said.

Swiss researchers said their study indicates that voters may be heavily biased by the physical appearances of political candidates. University of Lausanne economists John Antonakis and Olaf Dalgas said adult participants in the study were shown pictures of two unfamiliar political candidates and chose the correct winner as their preferred candidate based on appearances alone more than 70 percent of the time, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday. The researchers said a repeat of the experiment using children under the age of 13 reached nearly the same results. Antonakis said the findings suggest that people making voting decisions based on appearance rather than issues from an early age. People are lousy at really paying attention to facts and evidence and are totally biased by what I call the unthinking mind, he said. Antonakis said a side experiment he ran last summer involved children viewing photographs of then-U.S.

A 90-year-old man who was rescued after driving his 8 mph mobility scooter onto a 70 mph English road said he took a wrong turn on his way to buy a newspaper. Stanley Murphy, 90, said he was on his way to purchase a newspaper when he took a wrong turn and ended up in the slow lane of the A27 road in Shoreham, England, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday. I went out to get a paper and took a wrong turning, Murphy said.