Odds and Ends – Friday October 5, 2018 – October 11, 2018

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$18M worth of cocaine found
in bananas given to Texas prison

Houston (AP) – Authorities say bananas donated to a Texas prison turned out to have nearly $18 million worth of cocaine hidden inside the boxes. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a Facebook post that the drugs were found in two pallets of bananas that were donated because they were already ripe. The donation arrived Friday.

The department says sergeants who picked up the boxes found a bundle of a white powdery substance under the bananas. U.S. customs officials were called to the scene, and authorities say 540 packages of cocaine were found in 45 boxes of bananas. The department says federal officials and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating.

Dense swarm of bats causes
flap at Vienna airport

Berlin (AP) – Birds are a well-known hazard for airport operators, but Vienna airport officials have had to deal with different winged intruders: a swarm of bats. Airport spokesman Peter Kleemann told the Austria Press Agency on Monday that the dense swarm of bats descended on one runway for about 45 minutes Wednesday evening. As a safety precaution, another runway was used for takeoffs and landings, affecting four flights and causing a few slight delays. Airport firefighters saw off the mammals by spraying a fine mist of water over the runway. Kleemann said Vienna airport hasn’t previously experienced a similar incident, and officials are looking into causes. He said that there was no risk to passengers. He was confirming a report in the Heute newspaper on the incident.

Walk into my parlor: Greek spiders spin giant web over shore

Athens, Greece (AP) – It’s not quite the World Wide Web – but the spiders of Aitoliko in Greece have made a good start. Spurred into overdrive by an explosion in the populations of insects they eat, thousands of little spiders in the western Greek town have shrouded coastal trees, bushes and low vegetation in thick webs. The sticky white lines extend for a few hundred meters along the shoreline of Aitoliko, built on an artificial island in a salt lagoon near Missolonghi, 250 kilometers west of Athens. Experts told local media that the numbers of lake flies, a non-biting midge, have rocketed amid humid late summer conditions. Spiders, which fancy the flies, reproduced fast to take full advantage of the feast. Residents say the extensive spider webs have another benefit: keeping down mosquitoes.

(Giannis Giannakopoulos via AP)
(Giannis Giannakopoulos via AP)

Flyers introduce odd-looking mascot,
soak in the comments

Philadelphia (AP) – The Philadelphia Flyers have introduced an odd-looking new team mascot – a 7-foot fuzzy creature named Gritty with a wild, orange beard. The character’s debut triggered an outpouring of comments online, including “Good luck sleeping tonight, Flyers fans” and comparisons to ZZ Top and the Muppets. Twitter users created memes with Gritty taking the place of horror-movie villains and splicing his head onto other disturbing images. The cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins tweeted, “lol ok” – to which Gritty responded, “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.” The reaction seemed to be exactly what the Flyers were going for. Gritty’s final tweet of the day included the message, “Goodnight, internet,” and a photo of the crazed-looking mascot squeezing what looked to be Champagne out of a squirt bottle.

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)