Odd Files

Witness Protection

Even dangerous felons sometimes serve short sentences, but Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, 58 — guilty of nothing — has been locked up for nearly 900 days (as of early March) as a “material witness” in a Washington County, Ore., murder case. The prosecutor is convinced that Vasquez-Hernandez saw his own son, Eloy, murder a woman in 2012, and the case is on hold until the victim’s body is found. The judge has given Vasquez-Hernandez two opportunities to leave, both impractical (pay a $500,000 bond or give a video deposition, but he speaks no English, is illiterate in Spanish and, said his lawyer, might be mentally incompetent). (Consolation: Material witnesses in Oregon earn $7.50 a day.)

 

The Continuing Crisis

The trendy St. Pauli neighborhood in historic Hamburg, Germany, suffers its share of uncouth revelers who wander out from nightclubs seeking restroom facilities but too often choose walls of storefronts and private homes, reported London’s The Guardian in a March dispatch. The solution, according to the civic group IG St. Pauli: paint jobs with an “intensely hydrophobic” product known as Ultra-Ever Dry,” which somewhat propels liquid aimed at it right back toward the source by creating an air barrier on the surface. In other words, said an IG St. Pauli official, it’s “pee back” time, and shoes and trouser legs should expect splashes.

We have “139 frogs, toads, lizards, turtles,” Ms. Thayer Cuter told Seattle’s MyNorthwest.com in March, touting her Edmonds, Wash., amphibian rescue shop, especially the heroic job done recently on Rocky, the Texas toad who came with stones in his tummy. “He had to have a lot of enemas (but) Rocky is rock-free now” and, after passing all the pebbles, is finally able to eat. Added Cuter, turtles are underrated pets, “very social” and love massages and “cuddl(ing).”

The Job of the Researcher: Cockroaches can be bold explorers or shy and withdrawn, according to recent work by researchers at Belgium’s Universite Libre de Bruxelles, who caught a bunch of them, affixed radio tags and studied their movements. “Explorers” are necessary for locating food sources, although, obviously, they are also most likely to find Roach Motels; “shy, cautious” roaches are necessary for survival and group stability, and a mixture of the types ensures cockroaches’ legendary survivability. A Mother Nature News commentator wrote, hopefully, that understanding roaches’ personalities might make us “less quick” to “grab a shoe.”

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