Enric Girona recently donated his prototype pet commode to the town of El Vendrell, Spain, hoping to spark worldwide interest. Conscientious owners would train their dogs on the station — a hole in the ground with a flush handle — which is connected to the sewer system, as is the drain grid next to it (for tinkling). The platform, which appears to occupy about 20 square feet of surface, is self- cleaning (although not too clean, said Girona, because dogs are more easily lured with a lingering scent). Spain is already one of the world's toughest on lazy owners who fail to scoop up after their pets, with fines in El Vendrell as high as the equivalent of $1,000, and in Madrid and Barcelona, $2,000.
Took it too far
The New York customer service company United Health Programs of America provoked a federal lawsuit in June by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over its employee esprit-de-corps policy of requiring workers to pray to God on the job and to say "I love you" to their managers. According to the EEOC, the feel-good, work-harder campaign was suggested by an aunt of United's owner and named for an obscure "truth and compassion" movement called "Onionhead."
The Japanese snack company Calbee recently staged a promotion around popular singer Nana Mizuki, giving away 10 backstage passes to her Aug. 3 concert in Yokohama to the purchasers of 10 lucky bags of secretly marked potato chips. Her perhaps-hugest fan, Kazuki Fukumoto, 25, was so determined to win one that by the time he was arrested for littering in May, he had bought and dumped 89 cartons of potato chip packages, weighing over 400 pounds, that were found at six locations around the cities of Kobe and Akashi. Police estimate he had spent the equivalent of about $3,000.
Can't possibly be true
Until the New York governor and Legislature addressed the problem recently, it was legal in the state for narcissistic animal owners to force their dogs and cats to endure permanent, decorative tattoos and piercings. At press time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was poised to sign legislation abolishing the tattooing.
Municipal engineers in the town of Melton Mowbray, England, were called out in June to fix a lingering sewer overrun caused by, they discovered, "hundreds" of tennis balls that had apparently each been flushed down toilets. Said the project manager, "We expect [blockages from] fats and baby wipes, but. … "
Unclear on the concept
A 60-year-old man with a blood clot has recovered, but no thanks to the driver for the South Western Ambulance Service who was ferrying him on a long trip to the emergency room of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, England, on April 6. The patient's family later reported that the driver had stopped en route to pick up two hitchhikers — one a young woman in a "skimpy skirt" — and take them to an on-the-way town. The patient, in pain with his toes starting to blacken, eventually had his blood flow restored and did not lose the leg. He reported that the two riders were friendly and wanted to chat about his condition (though he was in no mood).
The American Red Cross boasts of being "transparent and accountable" for the way it spends donations from compassionate people moved to help those in need. However, when the public policy watchdog ProPublica asked for some details on how the Red Cross used funds donated for 2012 Hurricane Sandy victims in New York, the organization begged off, claiming that details beyond broad generalities were "trade secrets" that it was entitled to protect, lest its "competitors" copy or exploit the techniques it uses to help people. (The Red Cross did release more detailed accounts to the attorney general of New York, but under an agreement of confidentiality.)
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