One-fifth of Russian women would marry Putin

Three bizarre stories from the global press

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

We don’t shy away from hard-hitting headlines at Latitude News — that is, of course, with the exception of our weekly Mishmash, a roundup of the three oddest stories from the global press. As always, send us a link if you see something fun for next week’s Mishmash.

Too sexy for my shirt

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin fishes topless in the Yenisei River in Siberia as he makes a tour together with Prince Albert II of Monaco, August 13, 2007. (Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

That headline might seem a bit over the top, but, apparently, not for 20 percent of Russian women. One-fifth of Russia’s fairer sex would marry Putin, if given the chance, reports Ria Novosti, a state-run news agency.

The organization that conducted the study, however, is not run by the government. Levada Analytical Center is a “Russian non-governmental research organization,” according to its website.

President Putin is notorious for staging “unscripted” publicity stunts of all kinds. The macho president has made a name as one of the nakedest world leaders, as it’s not too hard to find topless photos of him fishing, horseback riding and doing the butterfly stroke

Not all Russian women are turned on by the president antics: 66 percent would not marry him if he asked, while about 14 percent needed more time “to think over the hypothetical proposal.”

“Hot” syrup found in New Brunswick

In August, about 720,000 gallons of maple syrup went missing in Quebec, Canada. Thieves siphoned the syrup from 16,000 45-gallon barrels in a distribution center, and then disappeared into the night.

Now, as the Montreal Gazette reports, the sticky mystery may be solved: in the neighboring province of New Brunswick, a police sergeant says “an ‘important’ amount of product was found in a maple syrup processing and exporting facility.”

While no arrests had been made, “a large quantity of syrup was shipped back to a storage facility in Quebec” and will be “monitored by surveillance cameras.”

The stolen syrup had been insured, but that’s no excuse for the loss. If you’ve ever bought maple syrup at the grocery store — the real stuff, not Aunt Jemima — you know it’s pricey stuff. The value of 720,000 gallons of the sweet stuff? More than $20 million dollars.

“Mutton Mafia” strikes again

“We are very worried. You don’t want to know what it feels like to arrive at your fields and all your sheep have gone missing.”

So says Nico Verduin of the Dutch national agricultural organization. Someone has been stealing a lot sheep in the Netherlands. About 500 animals have gone missing since the spring.

The thefts coincide with a spike in mutton and lamb prices, making sheep more valuable as Australia and New Zealand, traditional sheep exporters, produce less sheep meat.

But Dutch police suspect the crimes are being committed not by a few desperate farmers, but an organized crime ring that this report from AFP calls a “mutton Mafia.”

“We have had the theft of sheep before, but never in these numbers,” Verduin says. “It’s not easy to steal hundreds of sheep at a time — you have to know what you are doing to herd these animals into a truck to take them away….That’s why we think that organised crime is behind this.”

While 309 missing sheep were found in September in barns and fields, no arrests have been made so far. Authorities fear many of the animals have been exported or slaughtered and sold locally.

We wonder if there’s been surplus of syrup in the Dutch countryside?