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Farm families in Botswana living beside the Chobe River have long battled herds of elephants passing through their fields at night, trampling crops as they move toward the river. Barking dogs and fences have failed to stop the elephants, the BBC reported on July 7, but farmers are having remarkable success with a new weapon: disco lights. Scientists from Elephants Without Borders placed solar-powered strobe lights that flash color patterns along the sides of fields elephants are known to walk through, frightening the elephants away. One farmer reported that before he had lights, “I had more elephants raid ... but in these two seasons with lights I have harvested successfully.”

Two criminal worlds collide

A man attempting to elude police in a stolen Toyota Land Cruiser on July 5 in Newberg, Ore., crashed into a woman driving a Buick Regal that had been reported stolen three weeks before, giving police a twofer. Newberg-Dundee police said they arrested the driver of the Toyota, Randy Lee Cooper, 27, and then found the driver of the Buick, Kristin Nicole Begue, 25, to be under the influence of intoxicants and arrested her, too, KOIN reported. Neither driver was injured.

Least competent criminal

Wendy Wein, 51, of South Rockwood, Mich., was arrested July 17 after offering an undercover state trooper $5,000 to kill her ex-husband and giving him money for travel expenses, WXYZ reported. Wein met the trooper after allegedly visiting the fake website rentahitman.com, where she completed a form requesting a consultation and named her ex-husband as the target. The owner of the website contacted Michigan State Police, who sent the undercover officer. “I’m very surprised that someone thought this website was a true website,” said state police spokesman Lt. Brian Oleksyk. The website owner said over the past 15 years he’s been contacted a number of times, and he turns all of those requests over to law enforcement.

A step too far

Robert Berger, 25, of Huntington, N.Y., was scheduled to be sentenced last October after pleading guilty to possession of a stolen Lexus and attempting to steal a truck, but in an effort to avoid jail, he tried faking his own death, prosecutors charged on July 21. The scheme, they said, unraveled when authorities discovered a spelling error and inconsistencies in the font styles and sizes on the fake death certificate submitted by his lawyer. Further, the Associated Press reports, while Berger was “dead,” he was arrested in Philadelphia for providing a false identity to police and stealing from a Catholic college. “It’s never a good idea to submit phony documents to the district attorney,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

The heavy side of tourism

Andrea Balbi, president of the Gondola Association in Venice, Italy, announced on July 22 that the organization is reducing the maximum capacity on the iconic boats from six persons to five, CNN reported. The change isn’t because of social distancing, but because “over the last 10 years or so, tourists weigh more,” Balbi said. He noted that heavier loads often mean the boats take on water, which makes it harder for the gondoliers to navigate in heavy traffic.

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