WTF Fun Fact 12959 – Detroit Undercover Cops Arrest Each Other

In 2017, a meme started going around claiming that a group of undercover cops in Detroit posing as drug dealers ended up trying to arrest another group of undercover cops. Of course, Snopes took on the task of finding out if it was true, and it turns out it is. Detroit cops did try to arrest each other.

Detroit undercover cops arrest each other

In November of 2017, Snopes (cited below) reports that “Special-operations officers from Detroit’s 11th Precinct were preparing to execute a search warrant on a suspected drug house, but unbeknownst to them, cops from the department’s 12th Precinct were operating within the 11th Precinct’s territory. This intersection of two different groups of police who had not coordinated with or made their presence known to each other set the stage for chaos.”

This is why communication is important!

When two 11th Precinct met the supposed drug dealers, they tried to detain them while their colleagues executed a search warrant on the drug house. However, cops from the 12th Precinct burst in before it could be secured. This triggered a brawl between undercover agents. Obviously, the officers didn’t know one another.

“More officers from the 11th district arrived to serve a search warrant and that’s ‘when it started to go terribly wrong,’” Snopes reports Detroit Police Chief James Craig saying. Camera footage show officers punching and shoving one another.

The embarrassing aftermath

Reports say over two dozen total officers were involved, some in full tactical gear, and one needed to be hospitalized after the fracas.

“This is probably one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in this department since I’ve been appointed police chief,” James Craig told reporters. “In fact, I’d have to tell you it is probably one of the most disappointing things I’ve experienced in my entire 40-year career.”

During the botched operation, 12th precinct officers, who were posing as drug dealers, were held at gunpoint by police from the 11th precinct. “I am thankful that no one was more seriously injured,” Craig said.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Did One Group of Undercover Cops Try to Arrest Other Undercover Cops?” — Snopes

WTF Fun Fact 12900 – Goldfish Bowls Are Banned in Rome

If you want to keep a goldfish in a simple round, glass bowl, don’t move to Rome. While many people believe the myth that goldfish have no memories, that’s simply not true. Research has shown that they do, in fact, remember things. And that’s part of the reason goldfish bowls are banned in Rome.

What’s wrong with goldfish bowls?

The bowls in which many people house their goldfish are quite small compared to the distance the fish like to swim when free. That makes many people believe that it’s cruel to keep them in such a small space with so little stimulation.

According to CBC News, “Rome’s daily newspaper Il Messaggero reported that round bowls cause fish to go blind. Animal activists call the bowls cruel, while fish experts say the bowls don’t provide enough oxygen.”

In 2005, Rome’s city councilors decided that it would ban spherical goldfish bowls for the health of the fish. It also banned giving away goldfish and other animals as prizes.

“The Roman bylaw also prevents animal owners from clipping dogs’ tails or trimming cats’ claws for visual appeal or leaving animals in hot vehicles or store windows. It also offers legal protection to people who feed colonies of cats.”

The fight for (all) animal rights

Rome also made it a law that all owners need to exercise their dogs daily, and that failure to walk your dog could mean a fine of $700.

It’s all part of a trend across the world to secure the well-being of pets, remind people of their responsibilities when they adopt an animal, and try to prevent pet owners from treating animals as simply property instead of living beings entitled to a certain quality of life.

While it’s unclear exactly what effect the law has had, it’s likely made some people second guess their behavior towards animals.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Rome bans ‘cruel’ goldfish bowls” — CBC News

WTF Fun Fact 12899 – China Bans Reincarnation

According to the Chinese government, any Tibetan monk needs government permission to reincarnate. The goal of this law, according to foreign policy and religious experts alike is to ensure that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, reincarnates inside of China’s borders so they can control his actions.

How did China ban reincarnation?

The current Dalai Lama is considered a threat to the Chinese government and its claim to Tibet. Despite the fact that the Chinese government is atheist by nature and its officials are not allowed to practice religion, they still want to regulate what they consider to be Tibetan “separatists” in the form of Buddhist monks. So they rubber-stamped legislation that tries to interfere with the spiritual leadership of the region.

In 2007, the legislation insisted that monks must have “recognition from the religious world and the temple” to reincarnate. “The selection of reincarnates must preserve national unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups, and the selection process cannot be influenced by any group or individual from outside the country,” it says.

That might sound non-controversial at first glance, but the Chinese government has published an official registry of “licensed Buddhas” (monks who have achieved the highest place in the Buddhist religion) along with their recognized temple and an ID card number. The goal is to use the database to recognize only certain monks who tow the party line. The Chinese government says that “fake living Buddhas” are the reason behind the action.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and other Tibetan Buddhist monks pose a threat to the government with their desire for an autonomous Tibet, so they are not on the list.

In other words, if the Dalai Lama wants to reincarnate, he’ll have to do it within Chinese borders and be on the list in order to be recognized as the new, reigning Dalai Lama. Of course, the current Dalai Lama has refused to be reincarnated within Chinese borders, so we’ll likely see two Dalai Lamas when Tenzin Gyatso passes away – one recognized by China and one recognized by most of the rest of the world.

The reaction to the reincarnation law

In 2011, the Dalai Lama called the country’s reincarnation laws “outrageous” and “disgraceful,” saying “The enforcement of various inappropriate methods for recognizing reincarnations to eradicate our unique Tibetan cultural traditions is doing damage that will be difficult to repair.”

The Dalai Lama currently can’t return to Tibet or China and monks have protested this for decades. According to the LA Times (cited below): “More than 140 people in Tibet and neighboring provinces have burned themselves to death since 2009 as a grim protest against Chinese rule; many have called for the Dalai Lama’s return as they went up in flames.”

The newspaper also noted that, in 2016, “Baima Chilin, deputy Communist Party chief of the region, said that the Dalai Lama was ‘no longer a religious leader’ after he left Tibet in 1959. ‘If the Dalai Lama wants to return to China, he must give up ‘Tibet independence,’ and must publicly acknowledge Tibet and Taiwan are inseparable parts of China and that the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government.'”

There’s no chance of that happening.  WTF fun facts

Source: “In China, the state decides who can come back from the dead” — LA Times

WTF Fun Fact 12895 – The Mumbai Thief Punished With Bananas

Bananas are very nutritious, and they can often help with constipation. But we’ve never seen them employed as a laxative punishment.

It all happened in Mumbai, India back in 2016…

The thief and the bananas

Indian police caught a thief who had allegedly stolen a gold chain from a woman on the street in Mumbai. In order to conceal any crime, the thief decided to swallow the gold chain.

Of course, we now have ways of checking to see if there’s a gold chain in someone’s stomach, so police had his stomach X-rayed at the hospital to reveal that the gold chain was indeed inside him. An enema was administered but yielded no results.

And THEN came the uncomfortable part.

Rather than let nature take its course, the police wanted to retrieve the chain more quickly. So they force-fed the man over 40 bananas.

Bananas are one of the best foods to help with digestion since the carbohydrates they contain are easily broken down by the body. And if someone’s not feeling well (say, after swallowing a necklace), bananas are a gentle way of easing stomach pain. Of course, the point here was to use them as a laxative.

The banana aftermath

According to The Guardian (cited below), “Doctors suggested performing an operation, but police officers decided it would be too expensive and opted instead for the bananas.”

Mandatory surgery seems pretty darn drastic! So in this case the bananas were the less extreme option.

It’s unclear if the police used a technique other than simply mandating the man eat the bananas behind bars. A senior inspector with Mumbai police named Shankar Dhanavade said “He was fed more than 40 bananas throughout the day,” so that’s all we know.

The 25-year-old man eventually passed the chain – and we’re happy not to have the gruesome details of that part. What we do know is that the police made the man wash and disinfect the chain before handing it over.

A not-so-rare approach

Apparently, banana-feeding is not a rare occurrence in Mumbai (perhaps because swallowing allegedly stolen jewelry happened more often than you’d think).

The Guardian noted that “According to reports, it was not the first time Mumbai police had used this technique in order to recover a stolen item. In July last year, a chain was retrieved after a thief was made to eat two-dozen bananas and drink several litres of milk laced with laxatives, the Hindustan Times reported. In April, a thief was fed five-dozen bananas after swallowing a gold chain with a large pendant. The thief successfully excreted the loot, but the disgusted victim refused to touch it and instead took it to a jeweller in a plastic bag, the newspaper said.”

In case you skimmed that, it said 5 DOZEN bananas and a LARGE pendant. We’re pretty sure that thief never wanted to swallow anything again after that traumatic episode! And while we can’t be sure, we also imagine he never wanted to eat another banana again after that.

While we don’t advocate swallowing jewelry, we are now considering adding more bananas to our diet – in moderation, of course.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Indian police force feed 40 bananas to thief who swallowed gold chain” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 12778 – Krokettenmotie

The Krokettenmotie is an obscure motion passed by a council in northern Holland, the Netherlands that entitles council members to a bit of a snack if their meetings run late.

Frankly, it sounds pretty civilized.

How did the Krokettenmotie come to be?

When the future Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende, served on the municipal council of Amstelveen in 1993, he proposed the motion. And he fully admits to having had a juvenile sense of humor back in his younger days.

While the “croquettes motion” was meant as a joke, the other council members apparently agreed that any meeting that ran past 11 pm made them deserving of a little snack. The motion passed. Even better, it’s still in force (because why repeal a law that says you get a free deep-fried snack?!).

Updates to the Krokettenmotie

While it has never been repealed, the Krokettenmotie has been modified over the years, specifically to accommodate vegans and vegetarians.

In 2019, a vegetarian option was added. But that was likely a page taken out of a copycat motion passed in 2002 in Zwolle, which set the time limit to 10 pm and mentioned the option of a vegetarian snack as well.

Croquette controversy

As the Netherlands has focused more on healthy lifestyles and eating, all of the Krokettenmoties have come into question. After all, it’s not exactly the healthiest snack option. So many municipalities that have debated the croquette controversy have had members demands snacks such as fruit, nuts, and even hummus wraps as alternatives.

It may all sound ridiculous, but the justification behind the genuine debates is that the council is bound to do better work in the late evenings if they’re not hungry. Council members have pointed out that a bit of a nosh will help them make better decisions with clear minds.

Frankly, we’re just glad someone takes their snacks as seriously as we do.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Krokettenmotie” — Wikipedia

WTF Fun Fact 12727 – Steven Jay Russell Escaped Prison Multiple Times

Steven Jay Russell has had 14 aliases, but the conman will always be remembered by his real name because, despite all his cons, he has always been caught. Oh, and they made a movie about him!

Russell also has some nicknames, such as “King Con” or perhaps the more apt “Houdini,” since he seems to slip out of jail quite often. Four times to be exact (although, to be fair, once it was from a hospital while he was in police custody).

He’s currently serving his 144-year jail sentence for a litany of non-violent charges, including felony escape and embezzlement.

His life of crime began in 1992 when he was being held at Harris County Jail in Houston for making a false insurance claim that said he injured his back. Disguising himself as a repairman, he got access to a walkie-talkie, which he used to simply waltz right out the front door, despite it being guarded.

When he was caught, he was sent to a Texas prison where he met his long-time love, Phillip Morris. When the pair was released (Russell was released on parole), Russell wanted to give his partner a lavish lifestyle. That’s when he managed to get himself a job as the chief financial officer at a medical insurance company.

Over the next five months, he managed to embezzle them out of $800,000, which he spent on cars, Rolexes, and even some cosmetic surgery. Then he was caught.

This time, Russell escaped from police custody instead of jail (so, technically, he has 5 escapes under his belt). He impersonated a judge over the phone, asking that his bail be reduced from $900k to just $45k. It worked – and Russell paid the less bail with a check. Of course, the check bounced. He was caught when trying to get back in touch with Morris.

The Guardian explained his third escape after interviewing him:

“Three years later, he stockpiled green felt-tip pens from prison art classes, squeezing the ink from the cartridges into a sink of water and dying his overalls the colour of surgical gowns. ‘You have to be very careful because if you wring them out, you get streaks in the material,’ he says matter-of-factly. Underneath the makeshift medical clothes, Russell taped several plastic bags tightly to his body so that police dogs would not be able to follow his scent once he was on the run. He picked a moment when the woman manning the front desk was on the telephone and then, unquestioned by prison staff, simply walked out ‘dressed like Dr Kildare.'”

The fourth escape occurred on March 20, 1998 (a Friday the 13th – in fact, all of Russell’s escapes took place on Friday the 13th!). Russell posed as a millionaire from Virginia to get a $75,000 loan from Dallas’ NationsBank. But bank officials were on to him and alerted the police.

When the police apprehended him, Russell faked a heart attack. In the hospital, he managed to impersonate an FBI agent on the phone to tell the hospital to release him.

Each time, he and Morris were tracked down. Ninety-nine years of his 144-year sentence is for the escapes.

Today, Steven Jay Russell is currently serving his sentence in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day (to give you some perspective on that, the United Nations has deemed it torture to hold people in solitary for more than 15 days without meaningful human contact).

With a release date of 2140, many people have called his sentence excessive and have asked Texas to release him (he became eligible for parole in 2020, but that doesn’t mean you automatically get granted a hearing). People who support his release (or a shorter sentence or release from solitary point out that there are cold-blooded murderers who received much shorter sentences. None of Russell’s crimes or escapes involved the use of violence or force of any kind.

There’s a 2009 film about his life called I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey as Steven Jay Russell. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “I love you Phillip Morris: a conman’s story” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 12720 – Let Them Eat Cake

We’ll spare you some of the legal jargon, but we did actually read the 51-page judgment of an Irish court declaring that the bread used by restaurant chain Subway is now basically considered a confectionary in Ireland.

It wasn’t exactly riveting, but it was enlightening. And to summarize – it all had to do with paying taxes. Otherwise, we doubt Ireland would have bothered to consider it any more closely. And no one is saying you can’t call it bread – the judgment is only referring to how the bread is categorized for tax purposes.

This started when an Irish Subway franchisee, Bookfinders Ltd. filed a suit claiming that they were due a refund for value-added tax (VAT) payments between January 2004 and December 2005.

Their argument hinged on 2 paragraphs of the Value Added Tax Act of 1972, which described which goods and services should have VAT added to them. Bookfinders claimed that the majority of their goods fell into the category requiring a 0% rate (rather than the 13.5% they had paid).

That category includes: “chocolates, sweets and similar confectionary (including glacé or
crystallised fruits), biscuits, crackers and wafers of all kinds, and all other confectionary and bakery products whether cooked or uncooked, excluding bread…”

And “bread” is specifically defined as “food for human consumption manufactured by baking dough composed exclusively of a mixture of cereal flour and any one or more of the ingredients mentioned in the following subclauses in quantities not exceeding the limitation, if any, specified for each ingredient…”

To spare you more jargon, we’ll just say that the subclause in question is the one that says that in order to be considered bread, the weight of any fat, sugar, or “bread improver” cannot exceed 2% of the weight of the flour included in the dough.

It actually gets pretty complicated since there are different tax rates for different items and part of the argument is about averaging out tax rates, how tax rates might differ for businesses offering primarily take-out goods, and whether the temperature of the food makes a difference when it comes to taxing it.

This might be the very best (and by best we mean absurd) sentence: “They [Bookfinders] also submitted that the 1972 Act breached the principle of legal certainty by making the difference between ambient air temperature and the temperature of the food central to their VAT classification.”

Anyway, in the end, the fact that Subway’s bread had too much sugar in it (5 times as much as allowed by the tax code), means it is not considered bread for tax purposes.

Subway was pretty miffed at the implication that their bread was not bread, saying:

“Subway’s bread is, of course, bread. We have been baking fresh bread in our restaurants for more than three decades and our guests return each day for sandwiches made on bread that smells as good as it tastes.”

Our favorite commentary on the matter is this Tweet:

If anything, people got a warning that their sandwich bread had a lot of sugar in it, but there doesn’t seem to be much proof that anyone cared.  WTF fun facts

Source: “For Subway, A Ruling Not So Sweet. Irish Court Says Its Bread Isn’t Bread” — NPR

WTF Fun Fact 12716 – Insurance Pays For Man’s Dishonesty

We’re not even sure where to begin here. But one thing is for sure – if you know you have a sexually transmitted infection, that’s something you tell your partner.

Of course, we’re not sure a Missouri man has learned his lesson after failing to tell his girlfriend he had human papillomavirus (HPV), an STD that can cause cervical and other types of cancers. That’s because it’s his car insurance company, GEICO, who will be paying the $5.2 million in damages for his transgression.

We’ll let Yahoo News explain:

“According to court papers, the woman, identified in court records only as M.O., notified GEICO in February 2021 of her intention to seek monetary damages, alleging she contracted HPV, the human papillomavirus, from an insured member in his automobile. She contended the man caused her to be infected with the STD despite being aware of his condition and the risks of unprotected sex. The insurance company declined the settlement, sending the case to arbitration.”

Of course, GEICO appealed the verdict, but the Missouri Court of Appeals just upheld the settlement and their liability.

“In an opinion issued Tuesday, a three-judge panel found that the judgment entered against GEICO General Insurance Company through earlier arbitration proceedings was valid. The insurance companies sought to undo the action, claiming errors were made in Jackson County Circuit Court and the settlement agreement was not done in line with Missouri law,” writes Yahoo News.

The verdict was first handed down in May 2021, when an arbitrator found that “the man and woman had sex inside his vehicle that ‘directly caused, or directly contributed to cause’ the HPV infection. The man was found liable for not disclosing his infection status and the woman was awarded $5.2 million for damages and injuries to be paid by GEICO.”

The appeals court simply found that GEICO had no legal standing to try to relitigate the case. — WTF fun facts

Source: “Jackson County woman says she caught STD in car. Auto insurance to pay out $5.2 million” — Yahoo News

WTF Fun Fact 12710 – Elvis Is Leaving Vegas

Chapels can no longer use Elvis’s image and likeness for Las Vegas weddings, according to cease-and-desist letters obtained by CNN.

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) asked Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings to stop conducting The King-themed weddings because they are infringing on intellectual property rights owned by Elvis’s estate and creating “the false impression that Elvis Presley Enterprises has approved, endorsed, or sponsored the Infringing Chapel. The Infringing Chapel is clearly trading off the Elvis Presley intellectual property rights, image, name, and likeness without the consent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.”

Authentic Brands Group purchased the intellectual property associated with Elvis in 2013. 

They released a statement saying:

“As the guardians of the Elvis Presley estate, it is our responsibility to safeguard his legacy. This includes ensuring that all products, services, and advertisements utilizing Elvis’ name, image, or likeness are officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises. The estate has strong relationships with official Elvis tribute artists, fan clubs, and festivals, as well as a robust global network of licensed merchandise partners. There is no intention to shut down chapels that offer Elvis packages in Las Vegas. We are seeking to partner with each of these small businesses to ensure that their use of Elvis’ name, image, and likeness are officially licensed and authorized by the estate, so they can continue their operations.”

In case you need the tl;dr version, it’s not so much that Elvis is leaving Vegas but that the owners of his name, image, and likeness would like a cut of the profits from Elvis-themed weddings.

The wedding industry in Las Vegas has argued that they help keep The King’s legacy alive. ABG has backtracked a bit on their initial statement:

“We are working with the chapels to ensure that the usage of Elvis’ name, image, and likeness are in keeping with his legacy. Elvis is embedded into the fabric of Las Vegas, and we embrace and celebrate Elvis fandom. From tribute artists and impersonators to chapels and fan clubs, each and every one of these groups help to keep Elvis relevant for new generations of fans.”

It remains to be seen how it’ll all work out, but if you had an Elvis-themed wedding planned in Vegas, you’ll want to double-check your plans! – WTF fun facts

Source: “Las Vegas wedding chapels receive Elvis cease-and-desist letters” — CNN