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Weird World News: Cashing in on big money, or not

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: This week’s Weird World News Roundup runs the gambit from a US$1 bank robbery, to a space diamond bigger than Earth, with a half-billion US dollars in between.

One dollar, enough for Federal Prison?
A “polite” US man was arrested after robbing his local bank for US$1 [30 baht] in an apparent attempt to be charged with a federal crime and placed in a federal prison, reported The Tribune-Democrat.

The man, Jeffery McMullen, 50, was forced to speak to three different employees in his attempted robbery before someone took him seriously and gave him a dollar before calling the police.

Mr McMullen entered the bank, went to a teller, took out paper and a pen and wrote a note demanding a single US dollar, police officer Sgt Isaac Hassen alleged in a sworn affidavit.

The note read: “Federal bank robbery. Please hand over $1.00.”

“He told her he would wait until police arrived,” Sgt Hassen said.

Because the teller knew Mr McMullen as regular customer, she didn’t understand the magnitude of the bank robbery and thought he was joking. When he explained that it was a robbery, she allegedly told him to use the next window.

The suspect then walked to the next window, where he got angry and demanded money. The second teller also thought it was a joke, the police said.

Finally, Mr McMullen spoke with a new employee in accounting. He explained to her that he was robbing the bank for a dollar.

The accountant told police that she took a dollar from her purse and give it to him before the police were called.

Mr McMullen was taken into custody at the bank without incident.

In another note, Mr McMullen allegedly wrote, “FBI custody. Preferably [sic] Loretto Pa. No press. Seal all files.”

McMullen has no criminal record in Cambria County, according to online records. He has never been incarcerated at the county prison previously, reported The Tribune-Democrat.

College student returns half a billion US dollars
A young American college student hit pay-day this month when he received a cheque from the US Treasury Department for over half a billion dollars, but he decided not to cash in on the opportunity.

The Veterans Administration (VA) dependency cheque that 22-year-old Allen Smith gets to help with college expenses each month usually comes in at US$650 – this time, however, it was for far more than usual: US$690 million.

“He immediately, immediately went to the VA officer at Fort Benning… turned in the cheque,” the boy’s mother Patricia Smith told WTVM.

Mrs Smith explained that Allen received the cheques every month because of his father, who was a veteran of the US Air Force.

“I’m proud of him for what he did because if it were me and I was in his shoes I probably would have done the same thing,” she said.

Allen, however, has currently declined to speak to the press.

“He’s very humble, and very shy and he really doesn’t want to be teased a lot about this,” Mrs Smith said.

Mrs Smith explained that inspectors were unsure of how the astronomical error occurred, though they admitted that it could have been a misprint or they could have been hacked.

Single ladies: diamond bigger than earth, put a ring on it
Diamnds are a girl’s best friend, which probably means the ladies should hop on a rocket to the “diamond planet” known as “55 Cancri e”.

This “diamond-rich super-Earth” orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and although it is only twice the size of the Earth, the heavenly body has eight times more mass than the Earth, according to the US-Franco research team that discovered it, reported Reuters.

“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite,” said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The study – with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulouse, France – estimates that at least a third of the planet’s mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

Diamond planets have been spotted before, but this is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail, reported Reuters.

“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be presumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to Earth.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Pakistan goes dark after electrical fault causes nationwide blackout

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Pakistan is slowly recovering after the entire country experienced an electrical blackout today. Power minister Omar Ayub Khan tweeted that this latest blackout was caused by a fault in southern Pakistan at 11:41pm local time yesterday, which was at 3:41am today here in Thailand.

“The fault tripped the transmission system of the country… leading to the shutdown of power plants.”

The blackout darkened all of Pakistan’s cities, including the capital Islamabad, its economic hub of Karachi and the 2nd largest city of Lahore.

“The breakdown took place when frequency tripped from 50 to 0 in the electricity distribution system. However, electricity is gradually being restored across the country.”

There were no immediate answers as to whether hotels experienced a disruption as they often rely on back-up generators. Power has been restored to some parts of the country but many areas in Lahore and Karachi were still waiting according to a water and power ministry spokesman.

The same spokesman says an investigation is underway to find out the cause of the blackout, which also saw the internet connectivity nationwide to collapse. Netblocks, which monitors internet outages said on Twitter that the blackout caused a dip in levels.

Connectivity was at “62% of ordinary levels.”

Pakistan’s electricity distribution system is a “complex and delicate” web, and a problem in 1 section of the grid can lead to a domino effect in breakdowns nationwide.

In 2015 a rebel attack on a key power line sent about 80% of Pakistan into darkness. That blackout, which was one of the worst in Pakistan’s history, caused major cities, including Islamabad, to go dark, even affecting one of the country’s international airports.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Songkhla

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Nude Panda? Rude Panda? Or NoodPanda? A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike while naked. 24 year old Botsin Dueanchamroon later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”. The nature of the problem is not known, and police let Botsin go with a 500 baht fine.

The incident came to light after a video was posted on social media, showing a naked Botsin hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a 66 year old motorbike taxi driver, Bai Aumaoom, Botsin parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

He later returned and strolled around before putting his clothes back on. One woman who witnessed the spectacle says she was “sickened by the sight” and would not want to eat any food delivered by the man.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little (actually no) protection.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket

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Divers in the Strait of Malacca have reportedly found what they believe to be a 77 year old US Navy wrecked submarine in what is seemingly the concluding piece in a tale from World War II. The divers are currently awaiting confirmation of the finding from the United States Naval History and Heritage Command for verification after sending photos and other evidence to be reviewed. Over a five month time period, the divers gathered evidence over six separate dives to substantiate their claims that the shipwrecked submarine is that of the USS Grenadier, one of the 52 American submarines lost during the conflict.

The Grenadier, weighing 1,475 tonnes and measuring 307 feet long, was found about 150 km south of Phuket, Thailand in the Strait of Malacca. Singapore-based Jean Luc Rivoire, Frenchman Benoit Laborie, Australian Lance Horowitz, and Belgian Ben Reymenants-all who live in Phuket made the discovery. Reymenants was also one of the divers who helped in the dangerous rescue mission of the 12 Thai young football players who became trapped in a cave with their coach 2 years ago.

The Belgian has made a habit out of searching for sunken vessels over the years and would enlist Rivoire’s help in underwater searches as he had a suitable boat.

History of the submarine’s sinking details the story of the boat’s crew abandoning ship after Japanese bombs nearly killed them undersea. However, the sailors were lucky as all 76 of its personnel reportedly survived the bombing and subsequent sinking, but their luck soon took a dark turn. After Japan took the crew as prisoners, they were allegedly tortured, beaten and nearly starved for more than 2 years with 4 reportedly succumbing to the ordeal.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by Thaiger

In this image taken from video, the top hatch of a conning tower can be seen from a submarine wreck somewhere in the Strait of Malacca on March 4, 2020. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. (Jean Luc Rivoire via AP)

The Belgian says he has been researching possible locations of shipwrecks for many years. When they dived to look at one captivating object, they found it was much larger than they had originally expected. Horowitz says once confirming the object’s size, they searched archives to find out which vessel it could be.

“And in the end, we took very precise measurements of the submarine and compared those with the naval records. And they’re exactly, as per the drawings, the exact same size. So we’re pretty confident that it is the USS Grenadier.”

However, the confirmation could take anywhere from 2 months to up to 1 year to complete. But its 77 year old history may make it well worth the wait.

The Grenadier set sail from Pearl Harbor on Feb 4, 1942 embarking on multiple missions while sinking 6 ships and damaging 2. Then, it took to the waters again on March 20, 1943 from Australia, on its 6th patrole to the Malacca Straight and Andaman Sea. One month later, a plane was sighted causing the ship to be ordered to crash dive. But it was too late. Blasts from 2 bombs attacked the sub, leaving important parts of the ship damaged.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by Thaiger

This Dec. 27, 1941, photo released by U.S. Navy shows USS Grenadier (SS-210) off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of the U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. Photo: United States Navy via AP

The next morning, the crew made plans to scuttle the submarine but was captured by an armed merchant ship and hauled off to Penang, a major port town in Malaysia. Fitzgerald says the crew landed in a Catholic school turned Japanese prison where they then began to become the recipients of alleged abuse.

“The rough treatment started the first afternoon, particularly with the (enlisted) men. They were forced to sit or stand in silence in an attention attitude. Any divergence resulted in a gun butt, kick, slug in the face or a bayonet prick. In the questioning room, persuasive measures, such as clubs, about the size of indoor ball bats, pencils between the fingers and pushing of the blade of a pen knife under the finger nails, trying to get us to talk about our submarine and the location of other submarines.”

He says after a few months, the sailors were transferred to camps in Japan where they saw 4 of their compatriots die from a lack of medical attention. Such a tale that has spurned from the Grenadier has Horowitz enthralled in its history and significance.

“This was an important ship during the war and it was very important to all the crew that served on her. When you read the book of the survivors, that was, you know, quite an ordeal they went through and to know where she finally lies and rests, I’m sure it’s very satisfying for them and their families to be able to have some closure.”

 

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