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Not-so-happy hour

QUICK TAKES | North Dakota officials crack down after a woman visits a bar with her pet raccoon


Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Not-so-happy hour
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A North Dakota woman has found herself in a legal bind after law enforcement looked dimly upon her choice of a drinking buddy. Benson County Sheriff’s Office officials allege Erin Christensen took a wild raccoon into a bar in Maddock, N.D., on Sept. 6. The 38-year-old woman said she only wanted to show her friend the critter, which she rescued three months prior and named Rocky. But possessing a raccoon—a vector for the rabies virus—is illegal in North Dakota. After confis­cating the animal, authorities euthanized it and charged Christensen with wildlife violations. In response, Christensen’s family launched an online fundraising drive to raise money for legal fees, racking up thousands of dollars in ­donations in just a few days.


Geography 101

Professional football fans in the nation’s capital can be excused for forgetting the local team’s name—but the location? In 2020, the NFL team dropped its longtime Redskins name in favor of a temporary moniker, the Washington Football Team. This year, the club transitioned to its new permanent name, the Washington Commanders. But the rebranding hasn’t been smooth. According to CBS, at least one of the team’s shops was selling team mugs during the Sept. 11 home opener with the Commanders’ logo sprawled across a silhouette of Washington state, not the nation’s federal district.


Follow the slime

Customs officials in Germany needed only to follow the trail of slime to uncover an attempted smuggling at Dusseldorf Airport. Officials at the airport said Sept. 16 that a customs official became suspicious after spotting an 8-inch snail on a baggage truck. Guided by the snail’s own goo, the official was able to trace the slime trail back to six bags containing 93 giant snails. An investigation revealed the snails were part of a cache brought from Nigeria, along with other fish and meat, to be sold in a local African goods store.


Prime real estate

In some places in the United States, $90,000 can still buy you a home. In San Francisco, it might buy you a place to put your car. That’s the asking price for a single parking spot located at a condominium complex in the city’s South Beach neighborhood near Oracle Park. Local real estate agent Kelli Johnson told NBC Bay Area that prices for parking spots in the area have leveled off or even come down since the COVID-19 pandemic began, noting a similar parking spot sold for the same price a few years ago.


Recipe for trouble

The United States Food and Drug Administration is warning Americans to not braise chicken in a stock composed of over-the-counter NyQuil medicine. The health agency published the warning Sept. 15 as part of a broader warning against some popular social media challenges. A challenge to cook chicken in cold medicine specifically caught regulators’ attention. “The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing—and it is,” the FDA said in a statement. “But it could also be very unsafe.” The warning alleges that people attempting to cook poultry in NyQuil could get sick just from inhaling the vapors of the boiling cold medicine.


Up, up, and away

A Chinese man is back on terra firma after spending two days in September floating toward Russia in a hydrogen balloon. State television CCTV reported the man, identified only as Hu, was out harvesting pine nuts with a partner when the hydrogen balloon they were in broke free from its ground tether. The man’s partner jumped out of the balloon at the first sign of trouble, before the craft began rapidly gaining altitude. After a day floating over China’s Fangzheng region near the border with Russia, Hu was reportedly able to use his cell phone to connect with experts who instructed him to slowly deflate the balloon to make a descent. Hu finally ­managed to touch down 200 miles from where he began.


Social media marauders

Australian farmers are on high alert for a new ransacking pest that’s threatening their crops: people hunting for the perfect Instagram photo. Jeff Russell, an official in Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, warned farmers in Western Australia where canola fields are about to erupt in beautiful yellow blooms. “It’s very yellow, very picturesque,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ­making the fields a magnet for social media users. Besides the prospect of tourists damaging fields with cars, Russell cautioned, people plodding through multiple fields in one day could easily spread diseases.

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