After another week of disturbing news — the fiscal cliff, a school shooting and drug-tainted horsemeat — it’s time for what newsrooms call “soft features.” This is our weekly Mishmash, a collection of humorous, profane and unnoticed stories from around the globe. Hopefully this will give you something to talk about with your Uncle Lenny during the holidays.
Two things you should never do with a stranded whale
This week in the Netherlands, a beleaguered humpback whale met a sad, untimely end.
To the disgust of many, Dutch authorities bumbled through a rescue operation for the stranded whale, according to reports from Dutch News.
When the whale originally beached on a sand bank, local authorities made two attempts to drag it to deeper water. Both attempts failed. They then gave the whale a lethal dose of medication to euthanize it.
That failed too.
The drugged animal passed away a few days later, just before authorities were planning another attempt to euthanize it.
Marine biologists had argued the whale had almost no chance of survival, but that is not quelling the outrage of Lenie ’t Hart of the local seal sanctuary, who says her organization should have been involved with the rescue.
“I do not understand why the vet would not give the animal a last chance,” ’t Hart says. “This is not taking proper care of a protected species.”
Speaking of “not taking proper care” of a whale, I can’t resist adding the following. In 1970, a whale washed ashore near Florence, Oregon. The stench overwhelmed locals, and the highway patrol quickly went to work dispatching the carcass. The preferred method of disposal? A half-ton of dynamite. Check out the stunning, disturbing, hilarious video below to see what happens when you try to blow up a whale carcass.
Watch out for flying fish
Since we’re on the aquatic theme, let’s head over to to the Dongfang shopping mall in Shanghai, China, where shoppers have grown accustomed to watching a SCUBA diver feed lemon sharks by hand in a massive aquarium. Shoppers were horrified, however, and some seriously injured, when the 10-inch thick glass shattered, flooding the mall with salt water and dying fish.
The Daily Mail quotes one mall worker: “There was no warning. Just a loud crack and it went. I’ve never been so scared.”
Huge chunks of thick glass flew threw the air, flooding and damaging the mall entrance, injuring 15 people and dispersing the crowds into a brief, chaotic scramble. The injured were taken to a local hospital, says a police spokesman, some with deep lacerations.
“We are investigating what caused this,” said the police spokesman.
Meanwhile, the critters were not so lucky. Among the deceased: three lemon sharks, dozens of small fish and a turtle.
Branding drunk drivers
Authorities in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island are considering stealing a trick from an American playbook: drunk drivers on the island may be shamed into sobriety. P.E.I. officials want offenders to sport a “drunk driving license plate.”
Two American states require drunk drivers to slap an unmistakable license plate on their cars. Ohio’s plate is a bright yellow and red, while Minnesota’s is a bit more modest, signaled by a “W” as the first digit.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation spoke with Jean Ryan, the “impaired driving program coordinator” in Minnesota.
“I think when you’re driving around with a special series license plate on the car, it’s a constant reminder that you did make a poor decision, and that you really don’t want to make that decision again,” said Ryan.
P.E.I.’s drunk driving rate is higher than any neighboring providence, which is providing the impetus for the province’s transportation minister to crack down. One supporter of the idea: Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“If any place it might work,” says MADD CEO Andrew Murie, “it might be Prince Edward Island because it’s a smaller type of community, more isolated, and neighbours know neighbours.”
Too bad they’re not going to have the program up and running before the holidays, when people are way more likely to drive drunk.