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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Tim Flach/Getty)

Not-so-long winter’s nap

Zookeepers at a Ukrainian zoo took to Facebook in December to complain about their grumpy bears. Blaming temperatures several degrees above average, zoo officials said 29 of the 32 bears housed at Synevyr National Nature Park had yet to fall into hibernation, leaving them in a state of insomnia. The typical average December temperature at Synevyr is about 28 degrees. But this December, the average temperature was 39 degrees. Zoo officials said the unseasonably warm December temperatures felt more like April—the month when the zoo’s bears typically wake up—than winter.


 

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Handout

Diet denial

Federal judges have ordered up a denial for a Santa Rosa, Calif., woman who blamed Dr Pepper for not making her skinny. In a federal lawsuit, Shana Becerra claimed her 13 years of drinking Diet Dr Pepper made no difference to her waistline and claimed the soda company engaged in deceptive advertising because she “did not receive what she paid for.” A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and unanimously dismissed her suit on Dec. 30. “No reasonable consumer would assume that Diet Dr Pepper’s use of the term ‘diet’ promises weight loss or management,” Judge Jay Bybee wrote in the decision. Earlier in December, the 9th Circuit dismissed a similar case Becerra launched against Coca-Cola. 


 

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Handout

Dutch name game

According to some, it’s the Netherlands. Others call it Holland. As of Jan. 1, though, the Netherlands has dropped its official nickname. In an effort to more accurately market its international image, the Netherlands Board of Tourism dropped the name “Holland” from all marketing. Officially, Holland will only refer to a region encompassing two of the nation’s 12 provinces. A Dutch official, speaking anonymously to news agency EFE, said, “It is a little strange to promote only a small part of the Netherlands abroad, that is, only Holland.”

 


 

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Tumbleweed traffic jam

Tumbling tumbleweeds closed a road in an arid part of Benton County, Wash., on Dec. 31. Washington Department of Transportation officials blamed heavy winds for piling up tumbleweeds on State Road 240 running alongside Hanford Reach National Monument. State troopers closed 12 miles of roadway after several motorists became stuck in the mass. After 10 hours of clearing debris, troopers were able to reopen the road and allow motorists to continue down the desolate highway.

 


 

Photo illustration by MLC

Photo illustration by MLC

Y2K plus 20

Twenty years after Y2K glitches failed to materialize, New Year’s Day finally brought some software glitches. On Jan. 1, parking meters around New York City began rejecting payments from credit cards, frustrating and confusing New York motorists. Within 48 hours, the New York City Department of Transportation discovered the parking meters’ software was programmed with an “established end date” of Jan. 1, 2020, and had never been updated by the city’s software vendor. The city announced the meters were fixed on Jan. 7.

 


 

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Trashy typo

The new garbage cans issued to residents of Prichard, Ala., proudly declare the town to be the “Crossroads of Mobile Country.” One small problem: The city’s nickname is actually “Crossroads of Mobile County.” The city distributed 10,000 of the new trash cans, and each one contains the typo. Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner blamed the Public Works Department for not proofreading the logo. “Things like that do happen in the proofing,” he told news station WPMI. “We just have to look at and hope that in the process of proofing that those kinds of errors don’t take place.” Officials with the mayor’s office said the city has no plans to replace the trash cans. 


 

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After 23 years on the road ...

The Hershey Kissmobiles are headed for a museum. Citing safety concerns, candy giant Hershey announced it would park its small fleet of Kissmobiles at the beginning of 2020. For decades, the 12-foot-tall Hershey Kisses, built on 26-foot-long custom-built chassis, traveled over 30,000 miles promoting the chocolate company’s brand. Now the cruisers will be on display at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pa. 

 


 

Getty

Getty

Hold your horses—and buggies

Sheriff’s deputies in Gladwin County, Mich., took four young men into custody for drinking and driving—a horse and buggy. Deputies received multiple calls about the young men after dark on Dec. 29. Police arrived to find two 20-year-olds and two 19-year-olds drunkenly tossing beer cans out of their horse-drawn carriage in rural Beaverton Township. They booked the four on charges of disorderly conduct, underage possession of alcohol, and obstruction of justice.