The Trentonian's Strange But True Page

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Huffing, puffing, crash your house down

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man said Thursday he feared he may have built his own tomb after a vehicle ploughed into his house for the 10th time.

"If we stay, someone's eventually going to kill us. We're living in a time bomb," Manfred Sedlazek, 59, told Reuters.

Sedlazek is reluctant to leave the house he built himself, which is on a bend of a busy road, but said it may be his only chance of survival.

Earlier this week, a 40-tonne truck blasted through the side of the red-brick house in the village of Karlshoefen, in northern Germany. Sedlazek returned home from shopping to find the shattered vehicle sticking out of his living room.

Police estimated the damage at more than 100,000 euros ($136,100).

At least she didn't claim the dingo ate it

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese woman who stole a baby in a desperate attempt to convince her boyfriend that she had borne a child has been jailed for 18 months, Xinhua news agency said Thursday.

The 36-year old woman, surnamed Liu, pretended to be pregnant after her prospective in-laws vetoed her marriage because a tumor in her womb had made her infertile.

Two days after entering the hospital in east China's Zhejiang province on her "due date," she stole a baby boy from the maternity ward while the mother was napping. She then called her boyfriend and asked him to take her home.

Liu turned herself into police two days later and the child was returned to his family. Her voluntary surrender ensured her a light sentence, Xinhua said.

YouTube nabs speeding teen

LONDON (Reuters) - A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of having posted a video of himself on YouTube driving at speeds of more than 140 mph, police said Thursday.

The car, a Ford Escort, was filmed on the A76 single-carriageway road in southwest Scotland.

The detained 19-year-old has not been named.

Sergeant Scott McLachlan, from the Roads Policing Unit at Dumfries and Galloway police, described it as "completely foolish behavior."

"Not only did he endanger his own life, but that of other road-users. It is unacceptable, and to post a recording of such driving on the Internet is entirely stupid."

One-in-three fatal accidents involve drivers under the age of 25, he added.

"Young men in particular seem to think they are invincible behind the wheel -- but the facts tell a different story."

Always open the case

BERLIN (Reuters) - A thief stole a briefcase and threw it away without noticing it contained 10,000 euros ($13,660) in cash, German authorities said Thursday.

"I think they'll be annoyed when they find out," said a spokesman for police in the western city of Duesseldorf.

The case's owner, a 57-year-old Iranian businessman, had reported it missing as he prepared to board a flight in Duesseldorf airport. A policewoman later found it -- ransacked, but still containing the two cash-filled envelopes.

New meaning to the phrase "don't lose your head"

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court has awarded 3,000 euros ($4,100) in damages to a man who had to have the top of his skull replaced with plastic because of a faulty hospital fridge.

Doctors removed the top of the man's head and put it in cold storage while they operated on his brain, the court in the western city of Koblenz said Tuesday.

Because the refrigerator was defective, the section of skull was not kept cool enough and could not be reattached. Doctors replaced the bone with a plastic prosthesis.

The man sought compensation of at least 20,000 euros on the grounds that the prosthesis caused him headaches, affected his balance and made him unduly sensitivity to the weather.

Following consultations with experts, the court found that the operation had caused the man's discomfort, not the loss of the top of his skull.

Compensation of 3,000 euros was "appropriate and sufficient," it said.

"The experts consulted by the court concluded the new skull roof was better than the original," a court spokesman said.

Baby born on shrimp boat

FREEPORT, Texas - When the cook on his shrimp boat went into labor 30 miles offshore, captain Ed Keisel grabbed a new roll of paper towels and a first aid handbook and did the best he could.

He successfully delivered Cindy Preisel's baby boy, even though the baby's feet emerged first.

"I'm no doctor, but even I knew that's not supposed to happen," Keisel said.

"I reached with my fingers... as gently as I could and popped out his left shoulder and then his right," he said. "But then the little guy was stuck by his head, being strangled. So I did the only thing I could — I waited for a contraction and then slid my fingers in around the top of his head and scooped him out."

But the newborn wasn't breathing, so Keisel gently administered CPR.

"I started giving mouth-to-mouth, three short puffs, and then thumping and rubbing its back," he said.

The baby began to take short breaths, and after 20 to 25 minutes of CPR, gulped in air. His lips turned rosy and he started crying.

"I was so happy and relieved," Cindy Preisel said. "It's hard to put into words."

Keisel used net twine, sterilized in boiling water, to tie off the umbilical cord and cut the newborn free from his mother.

But their style points were off the charts

DE SOTO, Mo. - The naked truth: Three eastern Missouri men were willing to go to extreme lengths to get some beer.

That's the accusation after an incident in the early hours of August 18th at Fish's Quick Stop in De Soto. Store clerk Vicky Gaines says a masked man walked in and began doing the hula dance.

Police say the plan was for the naked dancer to create a distraction while another man took a case of beer from the store. It didn't work.

Gaines called police. As the naked man and his accomplice joined a third man in a car, a customer got their license plate number. All three were caught a few days later.

The men, ages 19 to 23, face charges of shoplifting and indecent exposure.

Sounds like a case for this guy

WILLS POINT, Texas - Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park

Officials at Lake Tawakoni State Park say the massive mosquito trap is a big attraction for some visitors, while others won't go anywhere near it.

"At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland," said Donna Garde, superintendent of the park about 45 miles east of Dallas. "Now it's filled with so many mosquitoes that it's turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs."

Spider experts say the web may have been constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together, or could be the result of a mass dispersal in which the arachnids spin webs to spread out from one another.

Baby born with 12 fingers, 12 toes

NEW YORK - Jeshuah Fuller's parents expected him to be born with extra fingers. The extra toes, though, were a surprise.

Jeshuah, healthy and weighing 7 pounds, was born in Brooklyn on Tuesday with 12 fingers and 12 toes. His rare condition, called polydactylism, is usually genetic.

His dad was born with an extra finger on his left hand. His mom, Quana Morris, said she'd had an ultrasound image taken during her pregnancy and knew the baby would have extra fingers.

"We were counting them on the sonogram," she told the Daily News.

She didn't know he would have 12 toes, she said. He'll have all the extra digits surgically removed in a couple of weeks, his mom said.

Red Rover is next on the hit list

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

"It causes a lot of conflict on the playground," said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus school.

Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

Fesgen said two parents complained to her about the ban but most parents and children didn't object.

In 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pranksters wrap Karl Rove's car in plastic

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, your car is ready.
White House pranksters wrapped Rove's Jaguar in plastic wrap on the private driveway next to the West Wing. Rove's car is easily recognizable because of its "I love Barack Obama" bumper sticker and the twin stuffed-animal eagles on the trunk. Oh, and there's a stuffed-animal elephant on the hood.
Rove, the top White House political strategist who recently announced his resignation, left his car on the driveway while visiting Texas and traveling with President Bush. He was due back in Washington Wednesday evening.

And this is why tuxedos need deeper pockets

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. - Anthony and Jennifer Smith left for their Florida honeymoon earlier this month thinking they'd have plenty of cash gifts to tally up after their trip.

But when the newlyweds returned, some bad news was waiting: Most of their wedding money was stolen by an envelope-snatching thief who crashed their reception without anybody noticing.

"You never think it's going to happen, you know, to you," Anthony Smith said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "You're celebrating, having a good time, and then you go on your honeymoon and you find out some guy just decides he needs to take everything."

The well-dressed man is believed to have made off with as much as $1,500 in cash gifts, police said.

He was recorded on a surveillance tape approaching a box containing gift envelopes at the Smiths' Aug. 17 wedding reception. He first approached the box with an envelope of his own, but rather than put it in, he walked away. Then he returned and grabbed the box's envelopes.

"He just went straight for the money," Jennifer Smith said.

Robber steals $4, leaves the rest

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - A knife-wielding robber needed only $4, so he refused to take a $10 bill from his victim and waited while the man made change at a pizza parlor, police said Tuesday.

He then took the $4 and ran off, only to be captured a few blocks away, police said.

The suspect, James Mitchell, 48, was arraigned Tuesday on robbery and weapon charges. His lawyer, Arlene Popkin, refused to comment.

Police Capt. Joseph DeCarlo said it "really is an odd case, but it is a robbery."

The confrontation began over an artificial rose that the 18-year-old victim had just bought, police said.

"He came out of the store and was approached by the suspect, who said, 'Give me the rose,'" DeCarlo said. "The kid told him, 'Go in there and get one.' But the suspect says, 'I want that one, and your money, too,' and pulls out a knife.

When the teen said all he had was $10, the suspect said he wanted only $4, DeCarlo said.

"He tells the kid to go into the pizza parlor and get change," DeCarlo said. "Then the kid comes out, he takes his $4 and he leaves."

Missing: One hand

LONDON - Teenager Jack Baker had only planned to visit his girlfriend for 10 minutes. So he parked his motorcycle outside her home and left his prosthetic hand gripped to its handlebar.

When he came back outside two hours later, the hand was gone, apparently taken by a thief or a prankster who found it more interesting to make off with than the bike.

"I came out and found the hand was gone. I thought it was my girlfriend's parents messing about, but they said it wasn't them," said Baker, 19.

"I went for a look around, but I couldn't see my hand anywhere. There were no kids about and no one to ask if they had seen it. I ended up jumping on my bike and going home."

At least the inmates are a touch calmer

TOKYO - A Japanese prison is scrambling to eradicate marijuana plants that keep sprouting up on its exercise ground, officials said Tuesday.

The marijuana plants started sprouting at Abashiri Prison on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido about a year ago, said prison official Takeshi Okamura. He said officials plucked out as many as 300 marijuana plants and treated the ground last year, but several more sprouted again this year.

Prisoners reported them to the guards.

Officials believe the plants are wild.

"Apparently, somebody knew how to tell marijuana from other plants," Okamura said.

Local botanical experts concluded the marijuana seeds were inadvertently brought in with the soil used for the exercise ground, Okamura said.

Do not try this at home

NEW DELHI - The Indian businessman spent years evading authorities around the world, fleeing accusations that he'd run elaborate bank scams, investigators allege. When he lost an appeal in Germany against extradition to India, he came up with a novel scheme: He swallowed a knife.

For four years, Amarendra Nath Ghosh refused surgery to remove the knife, hampering India's attempts to bring him back to stand trial because medics said flying with the 4-inch metal object lodged in his stomach might prove fatal.

Finally, though, authorities appeared to get the upper hand, bringing him back on a private plane staffed with doctors on Monday, said G. Mohanty, spokesman for India's Central Bureau of Investigation.

Ghosh appeared in a Calcutta court Tuesday to face a host of criminal conspiracy charges — with the knife apparently still lodged in his stomach. The Calcutta judge scheduled another hearing on Sept. 11, according to CBI lawyer T. P. Sinha.

Ghosh, 45, is accused of cheating five Calcutta banks of $6.75 million in 1994 and 1995. He is believed to have worked with local bank employees in his plots, which included forged checks, nonexistent accounts, and falsified loans, according to the CBI.

He is also accused of defrauding banks in Dubai, where Indian officials said he is wanted in several cases.

It was in Germany, however, that Indian authorities caught up with Ghosh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hedgehogs mistake cleaning brush for mother

From the UK Daily Mail:
Four tiny orphaned hedgehogs are snuggling up to the bristles of a cleaning brush - because they think it's their mother. The four inch long creatures are being hand-reared by staff at the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park in Ashurst, Hants.
Workers say Mary, Mungo, Midge and Slappy get comfort from playing with the center's cleaning brush and enjoy rubbing against it. The smells on the brush, which is used to sweep a yard, remind the hedgehogs of their natural habitat while the texture reminds them of their mother.
Manager John Crooks, 41, said: "They are a bit like human babies - they need activities to keep them busy.
"Because they have very poor eyesight you have to appeal to their sense of smell and touch by giving them different scents and textures.
"They like natural scents and have enjoyed playing with our cleaning brushes, soil, leaves, flower pots and the like.
"They particularly seem to enjoy rubbing against the brush. It may sound odd but I imagine the bristles feel a bit like their mum."

He was probably "teaching" economics

PARIS (Reuters) - A French tax official cheated the government out of 600,000 euros ($820,000) by creating a phantom identity as a university professor and claiming a salary for some 15 years, the government said Monday.

Education Ministry officials uncovered the scam in June and began legal and disciplinary action immediately, Budget Minister Eric Woerth said in a statement.

He said he "desired action to be undertaken urgently to prevent a recurrence of an abuse of this kind."

Not a bad deal

SAN FRANCISCO - The teenage hacker who managed to unlock the iPhone so that it can be used with cellular networks other than AT&T will be trading his reworked gadget for a new car.

George Hotz, of Glen Rock, N.J., said he had reached the deal with CertiCell, a Louisville, Ky.-based mobile phone repair company.

Hotz posted on his blog that he traded his modified iPhone for "a sweet Nissan 350Z and 3 8GB iPhones."

"This has been a great end to a great summer," Hotz wrote.

The 17-year-old Hotz said he will be sending the three new iPhones to the three online collaborators who helped him divorce Apple Inc's popular product from AT&T's network. The job took 500 hours, or about 8 hours a day since the iPhone's June 29 launch.

Hotz made the deal with Terry Daidone, co-founder of CertiCell, who also promised the teen a paid consulting job.

"We do not have any plans on the table right now to commercialize Mr. Hotz' discovery," Daidone said in a statement.

Anyone lose an emu?

WEST BEND, Wis. - Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers: The emu in the parking lot is not for sale.

Employees of a Wal-Mart Supercenter used shopping carts to corral a wayward emu outside the store Monday about 6 a.m., West Bend police said.

A manager fed the emu grapes and apples in an attempt to calm the bird inside the makeshift enclosure.

Richard Takacs, the owner of 3-year-old Myron, speculated the bird had been chased from his nearby farm by a coyote.

Emus can't fly, but Takacs said he wasn't surprised when police contacted him from the store, about two miles north of his Meadowbrook Market and Pumpkin Farm.

"They can run 40 miles an hour, so that was just a quick sprint for Myron," Takacs said.

Two other emus from the farm also bolted from their pen but were found unharmed in a nearby pumpkin field.

Takacs retrieved the apparently frightened Myron from the 24-hour Wal-Mart and placed the bird by itself in a pasture so it could feel safe and relax.

Emus can grow up to six feet tall and weigh as much as 100 pounds.

Woof, woof, woof, pool

RAMAPO, N.Y. - Every dog has its day, and for those in this suburban town it's Sept. 9: That's when the pooches will have a pool party.

For the fourth year, Ramapo will mark the end of the dog days of summer with a canine swim at the town pools at the Spook Rock Park.

The event raises money for animal care, educates people about dogs, and gives the dogs a chance to have some doggone fun, organizers said Monday.

More than 250 dogs took a dip at last year's event, called the Dog Days of Summer K-9 Pool Party. Smaller dogs used the kiddie pool, while larger dogs used the main pool.

The town stopped the pools' chlorine treatment before the event because it couldn't figure out a way to keep the dogs from drinking the water. Humans weren't allowed in while the dogs were swimming.

Monday, August 27, 2007

They knew it was the wrong dog when he refused to roll over

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A top police sniffer dog working for an elite Mexican drug squad was stolen during an airport transfer by thieves who left a mixed-breed puppy in its place, the attorney general's office said.

Rex IV, a highly trained Belgian Malinois sheepdog with a string of drug hauls behind him, was checked on to a flight from Mexico City this week with seven other police dogs bound for an operation in the northern state of Sinaloa.

But when the dogs arrived at Mazatlan airport, Sinaloa, their police handlers discovered a small black mongrel puppy inside Rex IV's cage, with the sniffer dog nowhere to be seen.

"In 17 years I've never seen anything like this. It's rather delicate," a Public Security Ministry spokesman told Reuters on Sunday, adding that the worry was the dog could help smugglers find new ways to conceal drugs.

"It's like kidnapping an intelligence agent," he said.

And give me back the spare change

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 54-year-old woman in Germany shocked a would-be thief into submission when she ran screaming and trapped the man in her car after seeing him rummaging around in search of plunder, police said Sunday.

The woman had just unloaded a refrigerator from her car when she saw a man had opened the door and was kneeling on the back seat, a spokeswoman for police in the western city of Bonn said.

"It's not like she was some kind of Arnold Schwarzenegger," the spokeswoman said. "She ran up screaming, pushed the man in and held him there. He was so impressed he didn't even try to escape. He just swapped her back seat for one of ours."

Generally speaking, our policy dictates we steer clear of German kangaroos

BERLIN - Skippi, a wily kangaroo on the run since early August was returned to his home at a petting zoo Monday in southern Germany, but not after a chase through the German Alps that left the animal with a strained leg.

The injured marsupial was captured in a cornfield near Leutkirch im Allgaeu, almost 10 miles from where his journey began, police in the nearby town of Ravensburg said.

Though residents in the area had reported multiple sightings of the kangaroo over the past few weeks, Skippi managed to elude authorities every time.

But earlier Monday, police received a call from someone claiming to have seen the animal in a cornfield not far from the last place he was spotted following a run-in with a car Friday.

Authorities captured the kangaroo and brought him to a veterinarian, who determined he had strained ligaments in one of his legs. He was then returned to his home at the petting zoo in Bad Wurzach.

Paging Homer Simpson...

DALLAS - The entries in this year's Big Tex Choice Awards could entice State Fair visitors back to the deep fryer for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There are Deep Fried Lattes for a morning jump-start, plus fried chili pie, fried guacamole, and a range of crispy desserts including Fried Cookie Dough.

The third annual Big Tex Choice Awards contest on Labor Day tests the fair grub ingenuity of State Fair of Texas concessionaires. Past Big Tex awards have offered nonfried options, but none of this year's seven entries escaped the fryer.

"I think they're good products," said Ron Black, the fair's senior vice president of food service and novelties. "We've got experienced concessionaires, and their products all taste really good."

Michael Levy will debut his family's new Deep Fried Latte, which is a fried pastry topped with cappuccino ice cream, caramel sauce, whipped cream and instant coffee powder.

"We have gained about 10 pounds trying this. I'm not kidding," Levy said. "I've probably eaten 300 of these trying to get it right."

This will probably eat into Dr. Rey's business

BEIJING (Reuters) - Not content with banning "vulgar" reality TV shows, China's culture guardians have added transsexuals and plastic surgery patients to the burgeoning hit-list of proscribed content on the country's airways.

China's broadcasting watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), has outlawed shows featuring "public participation" in sex-change operations and plastic surgery.

"All levels of television broadcasters must not plan or produce sex change or plastic surgery programs involving public participation (including news, specials or interviews), effective immediately," SARFT said in a notice posted on its Web site Friday.

"(Such programs) currently being screened or in production must stop at once," it added.

The order follows the axing of controversial "Beautiful Makeover," a reality show produced by a TV station in China's southern province of Guangdong, showing scenes of plastic surgery operations.

Sounds like a job for Anthony Perkins or something

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German left his dead mother seated in her favorite armchair at their shared home for two years because he could not face organizing a funeral, police in the southern town of Fuerstenfeldbruck said Friday.

The woman died of natural causes in the chair in July 2005 at the age of 92, a police spokesman said. A doctor called to the scene at the time gave the son a death certificate but he did not register the death.

Neighbors recently alerted police about the corpse. The man told police he could not bear to move his mother and said he never again entered the room where she was seated. Police have started an investigation for violating German burial law.

Does anybody really know what time is?

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has changed his country's name, redesigned its flag and rejigged its coat of arms in his drive for a socialist state.

Now the leftist reformer, highly popular for redistributing oil income, is seeking to move the country's time zone to offer a more equitable distribution of sunlight.

Venezuela in September will turn clocks back by 30 minutes as it switches time zones to boost the amount of natural light to residents, a government official said on Thursday.

Next month Venezuelan clocks will be set at Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) minus 4-1/2 hours, compared to the previous GMT minus four hours, Science and Technology Minister Hector Navarro told reporters at a news conference.

He said the measure sought "a more fair distribution of the sunrise," which would particularly help poor children who wake up before dawn to go to school.

"Very rigorous scientific studies have determined that ... the metabolic activity of living beings is synchronized with the sun's light," he said.

Navarro said the government is planning to announce additional measures to "make more effective use of time."

Venezuela, which under Chavez was officially changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, adopted its current time zone in the 1960s.

And throw in one of those nuke subs, will ya?

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A wealthy Russian tried to buy a U.S. B-52 bomber from a group of shocked American pilots at an airshow near Moscow, a Russian newspaper reported Friday.

The unidentified Russian, wearing sunglasses and surrounded by bodyguards, approached the U.S. delegation and asked to buy the bomber, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper said.

An astounded member of the U.S. delegation said the bomber was not for sale but that it would cost at least $500 million if it were to be sold on the spot.

"That is no problem. It is such a cool machine," the Russian was quoted as saying by the newspaper, which said its reporter overheard the conversation. The bomber was not sold.

Naked dude busted

DALLAS - A man stripped naked inside a Dallas County courthouse and tried to grab a weapon from an officer who attempted to subdue him, officials said.

A receptionist saw the 33-year-old man taking off his clothes on the 11th floor of the court building near the district attorney's office on Thursday, authorities reported. She called for help, and a prosecutor chased the man into a stairwell.

An officer was trying to help the prosecutor when the man placed his hand on the officer's weapon, officials said.

And don't even think about leaving a trail of powdered donuts

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge.

The sprinkled powder forced hundreds to evacuate an IKEA furniture store Thursday.

New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who is visiting from Hamburg, Germany, were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.

The siblings set off the scare while organizing a run for a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, a worldwide group that bills itself as a "drinking club with a running problem."

"Hares" are given the task of marking a trail to direct runners, throwing in some dead ends and forks as challenges. On Thursday, the Salchows decided to route runners through the massive IKEA parking lot.

Police fielded a call just before 5 p.m. that someone was sprinkling powder on the ground. The store was evacuated and remained closed the rest of the night. The incident prompted a massive response from police in New Haven and surrounding towns.

Daniel Salchow biked back to IKEA when he heard there was a problem and told officers the powder was just harmless flour, which he said he and his sister have sprinkled everywhere from New York to California without incident.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I ever anticipate anything like that," he said.

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the city plans to seek restitution from the Salchows, who are due in court Sept. 14.

"You see powder connected by arrows and chalk, you never know," she said. "It could be a terrorist, it could be something more serious. We're thankful it wasn't, but there were a lot of resources that went into figuring that out."

New meaning to the word 'driver'

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. - A Long Island woman is boycotting her favorite course. A man in Florida has published a book and filed lawsuits to defend his rights. A former golf executive thinks the game, under these circumstances, shouldn't even be called golf.

"It ought to be called 'cart ball.' It isn't golf," said Sandy Tatum, a bona fide golf purist who once served as president of the U.S. Golf Association and won an NCAA golf championship at Stanford.

A growing number of cities and counties are mandating the use of electric or gas-powered carts, believing they are needed to speed play and therefore allow more golfers on the course.

The money wasn't the only thing that was fake

SMYRNA, Tenn. - A man who authorities say used his computer to make fake $100 bills to buy lap dances at a strip club has pleaded guilty to counterfeiting charges, federal prosecutors said.

Strippers at Deja Vu in Nashville were suspicious of the bills and called police after Damon Armagost spent $600 of the fake money April 16, authorities said.

When officers arrived, Armagost first told them he got the money when he sold gold coins for $1,400 to an unidentified person.

U.S. Secret Service agents later determined that counterfeit bills with the same serial number had been passed in other parts of the country. When they went to Armagost's Smyrna home, about 20 miles southeast of Nashville, a family member told agents that an image of a $100 bill had been on a computer there.

Armagost then acknowledged that he had downloaded the image from the Internet and printed 14 of the bills, prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty Friday to manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency and has a sentencing date of Nov. 5.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

He was probably into it

PORTLAND, Oregon - A group of campers tied a peeping Tom suspect to a tree, keeping him bound until police arrived.

Richard H. Berkey, 63, was charged with private indecency, a misdemeanor, by sheriff's deputies who were called to the Big Fan Campground near Bagby Hot Springs last weekend, according to Clackamas County Detective Jim Strovink.

Campers told deputies they recognized Berkey from a similar incident at the campground last year and wanted to make sure he did not get away.

Social Security payments just weren't cutting it

DURHAM, N.C. - A 93-year-old man was charged with cocaine-trafficking Thursday, the same day police netted three other people on charges of possessing heroin, opium and a slew of prescription drugs, police said Friday.

William C. Tinnen, also charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, was jailed before being released Friday on $200,000 bond, said Kammie Michael, spokeswoman for the Durham Police Department.

Tinnen also was sentenced for cocaine possession in 2001, and given a suspended sentence, Michael said.

Three others were arrested in the two raids as a part of an undercover operation, police said.

Breaker 1-9, here kitty kitty

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Annie the cat loves to roam, but she got a bit more traveling experience than she bargained for last month. She sneaked into the back of a truck — bound for Virginia.

After traveling 1,000 miles, the 10-year-old calico roamed in the woods in Roanoke, Va., for 18 days before being caught.

"She's definitely a pretty darn independent cat," owner Ann Roskam said. "She likes to be outdoors all the time, but she comes home every morning. When she didn't come home, we thought we'd lost her."

Annie had hopped into the truck that Roskam's neighbors Michael and Christina Blackley were using late last month to move from New Franken, near Green Bay, to Roanoke.

It took them three days to get there, and temperatures in the truck were sweltering. Michael Blackley's father, Chip Grubb, helped unload it.

"We're carrying boxes and suddenly we see something jump from one box to another," Grubb said. "All things considered, she looked pretty good. But she had been in there for three days without food or water."

Annie wore an identification tag, but a deer spooked her and she ran off. Grubb said he "felt awful" and put up posters and drove around searching for her. Annie finally showed up at a neighbor's house, and arrangements were made for a flight home. She arrived Friday.

Get this blankety-blank snake of this blankety-blank plane!

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. - It was no movie moment when a physician, flying himself across Mississippi in a one-seat plane, discovered a stowaway — a gray rat snake.

Dr. Ed Carruth discovered the snake-on-a-plane when it began "licking" his arm Thursday, he told The Daily Leader of Brookhaven.

"I've been flying planes for 50 years and over 14,000 hours, and this is the most unusual in-flight emergency I've encountered," he said. "I guess it wasn't exactly an emergency, but I did almost hurt myself when I saw it."

Needing to fly the plane and lacking tools to get rid of the snake, "I did some aerobatics," Carruth said. "And once he got oriented, he went to the back of the plane."

When Carruth arrived at Brookhaven Municipal Airport after his flight from Meridian, officials called a snake expert to remove the reptile. It's not uncommon for snakes to live in airplane hangars, said Joey Pradillo, the expert.

"The snakes are in there after the mice. And the hangar is cool on the inside, and that's why he was in there in the first place," he said. Pradillo released the snake into the wild.

Keep your drawers closed, dummy

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Police sent to arrest a man at the request of his probation agent got the goods on him in a new drug case when they spotted a bag of marijuana in his dresser drawer, according to the criminal complaint against him.

The 27-year-old man was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia for a smoking device found in his bedroom, the complaint said.

Officers said the man greeted them at the door and asked if he could put on his pants before being taken away. The officers consented and followed him inside. They spotted the marijuana when he opened the drawer to get clothes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Singing teacher YouTubed

HELSINKI, Finland - A court on Friday fined a 15-year-old schoolboy for posting a video on YouTube of his teacher singing karaoke without her permission and claiming she was a lunatic.
In the first case of its kind in Finland, Nurmes District Court found Toni Vesikko guilty of intentional defamation and fined him $120. He also was ordered to pay $1,000 in damages for "causing harm and suffering," and $3,000 in court costs.
Vesikko, who took the video of his teacher singing karaoke at a school party on April 30, admitted posting the video on YouTube a day later. He said he did it as a prank and had not intended to insult the teacher.
But the court said Vesikko's actions "falsified facts" — about the institution and the teacher's mental state — and caused her to suffer anxiety, depression and insomnia. The video was watched more than 600 times before Vesikko took it off YouTube on May 7 on the orders of the principal of the school, near Lieksa, 330 miles northeast of the capital, Helsinki.
The video, which Vesikko called in English "Karaoke of the mental hospital," named the teacher and said she was "a lunatic singing at the karaoke of the mental hospital."

Man bites snake

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - A Northern Ireland man bit his girlfriend's pet snake in half during a fight and remarked that it "tasted lovely," lawyers testified Friday.
Shane Cooke, a 33-year-old bricklayer, was arraigned in Belfast High Court on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, Coleen McGleenon, and fatally torturing her royal python Aug. 4.
McGleenon's lawyers said he headbutted her twice and picked up her pet, put it in his mouth, and threw its severed head at her. "Your snake tasted lovely," he was quoted as saying.
Cooke's lawyer, Adrian Higgins, said his client admitted both offenses and had attacked the snake because he knew his girlfriend loved it. He said Cooke, from the border village of Keady, had been consuming alcoholic drinks for several hours before the attack.

Sounds like a punchline

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian refuse collectors rescued a Polish man from the jaws of a rubbish truck after hearing his cries for help, Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung reported Wednesday.

The homeless 50-year-old had spent the night in a rubbish container on a housing estate in the town of Arnoldstein in southern Austria.

In the morning, refuse collectors came along and emptied the bin into the back of their lorry, Kleine Zeitung said. One of the workers heard his cries and stopped the machine when the press in the back of the truck started squashing the rubbish.

The man was not hurt but taken to hospital for checks.

Hope they gave him a big tip

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Caracas family was forced to send a murdered son to the morgue in a taxi after waiting five hours for police who never arrived, Venezuelan media reported Wednesday.

Heavy rains threatened to wash away Kelvin Jose Pinango's body which was left near a creek in the poor 23 de Enero neighborhood after the 20-year-old was killed Monday in what appeared to be an attempt to steal his motorcycle, the newspaper El Universal reported.

"We dragged the body to the edge (of the creek) and after five hours we hired a taxi," one family member told the paper, asking not to be identified.

Now that's a spicy meatball

NEW YORK - So much for the meatball defense. A veteran counterterrorism detective's claims that he flunked a drug test because his wife served him marijuana-spiked meatballs "simply weren't credible," and he has been fired by the New York Police Department, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Thursday.

With the dismissal, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly rejected an earlier recommendation by an administrative judge that the detective, Anthony Chiofalo, be reinstated. Kelly has final say on firings.

An attorney for Chiofalo did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Chiofalo, a 22-year-veteran assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, was suspended without pay in 2005 after a random drug test found marijuana in his system. The officer denied ever using drugs and demanded a hearing.

During an investigation, his wife said she had secretly substituted marijuana for oregano in her meatball recipe in hopes of forcing him to leave police work

The kid just doesn't like snakes

CINCINNATI - A man who shows snakes and other reptiles at schools, festivals and libraries says a boy who told the man he hated snakes stomped and killed the man's 10-foot-long python. Scott Braunstein said he was showing Popcorn, a nonpoisonous albino Burmese python, Sunday at the St. Bernadette Festival near Cincinnati.

"The next thing I know ... the kid raises his leg and stomps down on the snake's head," Braunstein said. "The snake started convulsing."

Braunstein said he saw a man grab the child and say, "This is why I don't take you anywhere," before disappearing.

"I've never, never, had anything like that happen," said Braunstein, who operates House of Reptiles, based in Dry Ridge, Ky.

Now that's one hip grandma

GREENSBORO, N.C. - A 71-year-old woman was arrested on drug charges after a chest-high marijuana plant was found in her yard, a plant she said was meant to keep animals away from her garden.

A sheriff's deputy saw the plant as he drove past Betty Holt Walker's home earlier this month, according to Capt. Tony Caliendo of the Guilford County Sheriff's Department.

The deputy stopped to investigate and found five smaller plants behind a shed, as well as marijuana stems and seeds, and a water bong made from a soda bottle inside the house, Caliendo said.

Walker told the deputy she found the first plant — which had grown to more than 4 feet tall when he saw it — in her garden and repotted it. She said it was a special plant used to keep animals out of her front yard.

"This wasn't something that was meant to keep animals away," Caliendo said.

Pet an antelope, go to jail

GREELEY, Colo. - A friendly young antelope found cavorting with a dog along a walking path was probably picked up illegally in Wyoming and may be too tame to return to the wild, wildlife authorities say.
A family believed to have brought the animal to Colorado could face charges that carry fines and jail time, said Larry Rogstad, a district officer for the state Division of Wildlife.he 3-month-old, 15-pound buck was spotted Wednesday morning, running and playing with a neighborhood dog named Skeeter along on the Poudre River trail, a path that runs through Greeley and the nearby town of Windsor.

"It's just the craziest thing I've ever seen," said Ronda Underwood. "We were just riding along the trail and saw this antelope playing with a dog."

She said the antelope came up to her, nuzzled its head and neck along her leg and seemed almost to beg to be petted.

How do you take your lederhosen?

VIENNA, Austria - An Austrian designer is taking orders for personalized luxury lederhosen and recently sold a diamond-studded pair for $114,000.

Christian Wohlmuther, who owns a clothing business that sells traditional Austrian attire based in Bad Mitterndorf, Styria, said Friday the cost of his creations varies depending on the decoration.

Those interested can choose from an array of stones, including garnets, rubies, emeralds and diamonds, that are then mounted on buttons made either of sterling silver, gold or platinum.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Watch what you wear in Atlanta

ATLANTA - Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.
The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.
"Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the in thing," Martin said Wednesday. "I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future."
The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals

Barbie, Jenna... Jenna, Barbie

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mattel Inc. sued a small company on Tuesday for using the toymaker's famed "Barbie" trademark as part of the name for a pornographic Web site it owned.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, said the Web site had used the Barbie trademark to capture the positive image Mattel had created through its "Barbie" products.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, said the company, Global China Networks LLC, was based in Florida with a postal address in New York and had sold memberships to the site to customers around the world.

Wild Bill Hickock was unavailable for comment

GOLDEN, Colo. (Reuters) - In a crime that harkens back to Colorado's rowdy frontier past, two men have been accused of plotting to kill a man with rattlesnakes to recover a poker debt, authorities said on Tuesday.

"It's a story out of the Wild West -- there's poker, rattlesnakes and unsavory characters," said Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. "The only thing I haven't heard is someone calling another guy a varmint."

According to arrest affidavits, Herbert Paul Beck and Christopher Lee Steelman planned to kill Matthew Sowash, the owner of Amateur Poker Tour, after Beck failed to recover $60,000 that he invested in the company.

The pair allegedly hatched a plot to cobble a box filled with rattlesnakes and somehow get Sowash to step into the box with the venomous snakes.

Don't you just hate getting cursed?

CAIRO (Reuters) - A German has handed in a package containing part of a Pharaonic carving to Egypt's embassy in Berlin, with a note saying his stepfather had suffered a "curse of the Pharaohs" for stealing it, Egypt said Wednesday.

The note said the man felt obliged to return the carving to make amends for his late stepfather and enable his soul to rest in peace, Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities said.

The stepfather had stolen the piece while on a visit to Egypt in 2004 and on his return to Germany suffered paralysis, nausea, unexplained fevers and cancer before dying recently, the anonymous man said in the note.

The Egyptian embassy in Berlin had sent the fragment back to Egypt by diplomatic pouch and it had been handed over to the Supreme Council for Antiquities, where a committee of experts was trying to ascertain its authenticity, the statement said.

The belief in a curse that strikes down anyone who disturbs the tombs or mummies of ancient Egypt's Pharaohs has been around since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 and the subsequent death of the excavation's financier Lord Carnarvon.

What do expect for sausage tossing?

LONDON (Reuters) - A 12-year-old British boy appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault for throwing a sausage at a pensioner, police said.

The boy's mother described the decision to charge her son as "an absolute joke," although police said they had no choice.

The youth, who can't be named, was arrested after a 74-year-old man reported him to police for throwing a stone in Manchester, northern England.

The object turned out to be a cocktail sausage.

"Charging was the only option because the boy had previously been issued with three reprimands on separate occasions," a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.

The nose knows booze

LINCOLN, Neb. - A judge will have to decide again whether a police officer can smell alcohol on a man's breath from inside of a fast-food drive-through window. The prosecution believes Officer Kenneth Marrow can and did earlier this year.

The attorney for 24-year-old Cody Schaaf disagrees and says the officer had no reasonable cause to stop Schaaf on suspicion of drunken driving.

The stipulated trial Monday in Lancaster County Court centered on the arrest of Schaaf early in the morning of March 20.

Sometime before 3 a.m., Schaaf ordered four cheeseburgers at a McDonald's south of downtown Lincoln.

As Schaaf's car got to the pickup window, Schaaf was asked by a McDonald's worker to pull ahead a few feet and wait for his food.

The officer took the food to Schaaf's car and eventually arrested him. Schaaf's blood later tested out above the legal limit.

A police spokeswoman said Wednesday that the officer had stopped at the restaurant because its managers had been reporting problems with drunken customers.

Marrow testified during a hearing in July that Schaaf had bloodshot, watery eyes and that his speech was slurred. Marrow said he could smell alcohol coming from the car.

We're sure the fact it happened in West Virginia had nothing to do with it

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A mother and father are facing charges they encouraged their 13-year-old daughter to fight another girl. Debra Sue Grubb, 33, is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with misdemeanor battery after allegedly forcing her daughter Gabrielle to fight 14-year-old Megan Willis near the Grubbs' home on Aug. 15, Trooper J.M. Comer said Wednesday.

At one point, Grubb allegedly grabbed her daughter by the arm and used her daughter's body as a weapon to knock Megan to the ground.

Thomas Leon Grubb, 35, is charged with misdemeanor assault. Comer said Grubb is accused of threatening to harm two boys who were with Megan if they tried to break up the fight.

Cops searching for arms, legs

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Police are looking for a hand — well, actually an arm and a leg — in solving the theft of prosthetic limbs from a local business. The prosthetic arm and leg were taken about a month ago from Tom Leisure Prosthetics in Clear Lake, police said.

Leisure said the limbs, which belonged to different women, have a total value of nearly $30,000. But he said the cost goes well beyond the monetary value.

"You can't assign a price tag to being able to walk or to function," he said.

While the limbs haven't been found, the arm has been replaced. Dorothy Wolfe, of Emmetsburg, the customer who ordered the leg, is still waiting.

"Why would someone do this?" she asked. "I have no idea what's in their mind."

Nonetheless, Wolfe said she was able to see the humor in what police believe is a bad prank.

"I thought it was funny," she said. "It cost an arm and a leg."

Bad toilet

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An anonymous donor paid $790 and the Colorado Springs Utilities forgave the remainder of a nearly $1,200 water tab billed to a man whose toilet malfunctioned while he was away for two months.

Les Cole, 82, who lives on a government pension, learned his bill was more than eight times his normal water usage. The anonymous donor contacted The Gazette Monday, asked to see the water bill, then went down to the utilities office and paid it, leaving Cole with a $10 credit.

The man asked that he be identified only as "Joe."

The utility forgave $415 of the bill because if failed to follow its notification policies when usage skyrockets by not trying to contact Cole.

"I'm very grateful for `Joe' doing this," Cole said, "and I have sent him thank you notes twice."

No word on if he'll be dating a cheerleader

ALPINE, Texas - Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year. So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.

Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.

Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hunk a hunka burning toddler

A young Filipino Elvis Presley impersonator dances during a break at a contest in suburban Manila on Sunday Aug. 19, 2007. The event was held as a tribute to the 30th death anniversary of Elvis Presley. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Everybody get naked!

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. - Vermont's clothing-optional capital is stripping off its temporary ban on public nudity.
A month after passing the temporary ban, the Brattleboro Selectboard voted 3-2 on Tuesday to reject a proposed ordinance that would have made it permanent. When the emergency temporary ordinance expires next month, public nudity will no longer be illegal.
It's all about tolerance, one board member said.
"We in this country are going down a slippery slope these days," said Dora Bouboulis, noting a national newspaper recently published an article about the emergency ordinance under the headline "Tolerant town gets intolerant."
She said it wasn't up to the town to restrict anyone's right to dress or undress.
Before the vote, residents weighed in on both sides of the debate.
Michael Gauthier gave the Selectboard a petition with signatures of 967 people who support a nudity ban.
"What is the point, other than shock and awe, that the nudists are trying to make?" he asked.


CARMEL, N.Y. - Hoping to quell complaints about pastry paternalism, county officials have offered a limited comeback for donated doughnuts that were recently barred from senior citizens' centers because of health worries. But some seniors immediately soured on the plan. Putnam County officials have been taking heat for proposing to prohibit the free doughnuts from the county's five senior centers. The "day-old" sweets come from local shops.
Nutritionists have questioned whether the doughnuts are suitable snacks for the over-65 demographic, which is susceptible to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. But patrons have said they're mature enough to decide what to eat, and some 250 people have signed a petition blasting the proposed doughnut ban.
County officials on Tuesday proposed a compromise: Small amounts of doughnuts, cakes and other baked goods could be served, but not stored, at the centers.
Officials said the measure had to do with contamination, not calories.
"We were seeing huge amounts of days-old items coming in," said county Office for the Aging coordinator Doreen Crane. "Some of it was visibly moldy."
But the new plan didn't please several of the two dozen seniors at a county legislative committee meeting on the issue Tuesday.
"Ludicrous," said Joe Hajkowski, 75, who launched the petition drive. He said he eschewed the sweets himself, but "I don't like the way they are treating the seniors."

Good work if you can get it

BANGKOK (AFP) - Some 1,000 amorous Thais have applied for 500 positions to volunteer to test condoms for customer satisfaction, a firm said Wednesday, as part of a campaign promoting safe sex.

"We are surprised to see huge interest in our campaign with almost 1,000 applicants wanting to take part," said an official at a Thai marketing firm for condom-maker Durex.

The campaign was part of Durex's efforts to promote safe sex as well as giving Thais "an outstanding opportunity to enjoy their favorite pastime," Durex said in a statement.

Condom volunteers must be Thais aged over 20 years old, it said, adding that "no educational qualifications are necessary."

Would you wear this woman's pants?

RIGA (Reuters) - Latvia's former president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, is considering using eBay to auction off the wardrobe she wore in office in an attempt to recoup money she spent to look attractive and presidential.

Freiberga told Latvian public radio in an interview this week that most of her salary during her years in office went on garments fit for a president in all situations.

"I literally spent all my salary to take care of myself ... to be able at any time to stand next to the Japanese Emperor, the British Queen, (Holland's) Queen Beatrix, any other lady," she said.

"I considered it my duty, representing Latvia, to present myself in an attractive and correct way."

She said her wardrobe was now full of dresses she would not be able to wear. Freiberga, who was president from 1999 to this year, is now running a consulting firm in Riga.

"I might put them on eBay for auction to get the funds back," she said.

Dude, pink is not your color

LONDON (Reuters) - Boys like blue, girls like pink and there isn't much anybody can do about it, researchers said on Monday in one of the first studies to show scientifically that there are gender-based colour preferences.

Researchers said these differences may have a basis in evolution in which females developed a preference for reddish colours associated with riper fruit and healthier faces.

Recent studies have suggested there is a universal preference for "blue", and there has not been much previous evidence to support the idea of sex differences when picking colours, said Anya Hurlbert, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University who led the study.

"We speculate that this sex difference arose from sex-specific functional specialization in the evolutionary division of labour," she wrote in Current Biology. "There are biological reasons for liking reddish things."

Man's penis set on fire

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A woman set fire to her ex-husband's penis as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said on Wednesday.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was "difficult to predict".

The attack climaxed three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation. The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

"It was monstrously painful," the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper. "I was burning like a torch. I don't know what I did to deserve this."

Go ahead and dump her

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Despite the laments of pining pop stars and sad sack poets, U.S. researchers now think breaking up may not be so hard to do.

"We underestimate our ability to survive heartbreak," said Eli Finkel, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, whose study appears online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Finkel and colleague Paul Eastwick studied young lovers -- especially those who profess ardent affection -- to see if their predictions of devastation matched their actual angst when that love was lost.

"On average, people overestimate how distressed they will be following a breakup," Finkel said in a telephone interview.

In related news, the "The Rocky Horror Show" troupe cancelled their fall tour

BAUCHI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Eighteen Nigerian men accused of dressing up as women during a party at a hotel went on trial Tuesday before an Islamic sharia court in the northern state of Bauchi.

Dozens of residents shouted abuse and hurled stones at the men as they were escorted into an armored prison vehicle after the hearing, prompting police to fire tear-gas at the crowd.

The men, mostly in their 20s, were arrested in a Bauchi hotel on August 4. Police say they were dressed as women, which is illegal under the state's sharia penal code.

The offense is punishable by up to a year in prison and 20 lashes by cane.

The accused, who tried to hide their faces as they were jeered on their way in and out of court, deny the charge. One of them told Reuters they went to the hotel for a graduation party.

Muhammad Bununu of the Hisbah Commission, a body charged with enforcing sharia law in the state, told reporters the accused were "addressing each other as women and dressing themselves as women."

"They said they went to the hotel to witness a wedding between a male and a male," he said.

The police brought handbags and suitcases containing women's high-heel shoes and clothing to the court as evidence.

Meanwhile, in the bad to worse department...

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German woman on her way to pay respects to a dead relative plowed across the cemetery drunk in her car, smashing up headstones and tombs before she ground to a halt in someone's grave, police said Tuesday.

The woman drove into the graveyard in the southern town of Mitterteich on a track running through it but veered off as she struggled to control her vehicle, local police said.

"Eventually she ended up stuck in a grave and couldn't get out, so we had to pull her out," a police spokesman said. "She said she'd come to visit one of her relatives' graves."

Beats flying

BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A wild bird is little worse for wear after being hit by a car while crossing a road, then spending two days trapped behind the car's grille. Connie Ankli said she unknowingly drove around with the bird, believed to be a quail, inside her vehicle's front end. "Oh, I love grilled poultry. But I usually buy it at the store," she said.

The bird was recovering from its experience at the home of Frank Filmore, a technician at Kepner's Precision Auto Krafters in Berrien County's Benton Township, about 175 miles west of Detroit.

Ankli said she was taking her daughter to her piano lesson Aug. 13 when she saw an animal on a road in Royalton Township.

"I didn't want to hit it, so I straddled it," she told The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph. "When I was just about on top of it, it moved. I heard a thump, saw feathers out the back window, but no bird."

Two nights later, she said she noticed movement in the front of the vehicle.

"I bent down and looked," she said, and saw a bird "peering out from behind the grille."

Auto shop manager Tim Markham said the bird had broken through the honeycomb-style, plastic grille, which then bent back and trapped the bird.

Markham said the bird would be released or turned over to a nature center.

He was allowed to keep his cow

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian villager who took a second wife has been ordered by a court to compensate his first wife and their children with a buffalo and a pig, an official said Wednesday.

The Native Court in Penampang district on Borneo island annulled the man's 10-year marriage to his first wife and granted her custody of their three children Tuesday, said District Native Court Chief Innocent Makajil, who presided over the panel deciding the case.

"It is a symbolic punishment because he violated his people's customs by marrying more than once," Makajil said by telephone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - The snow-preserved body of an Indian soldier was given to his family Tuesday, nearly 40 years after he died in a plane crash in the Himalayas, an official said.

Soldiers discovered the frozen bodies of Mahendranath Phukan and two other victims half-buried in snow on a glacier at an altitude of 17,500 feet on a search earlier this month.

"The body is intact and not decomposed," said an army commander, who asked not to be named in keeping with army protocol.

The corpses were discovered close to where an army plane crashed in 1968 in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh state, but the army has not yet disclosed the identity of the other two victims.

Sounds like a job for us

PHOENIX - Worried that new pair of high-fashion jeans may just make your butt look fat? Now shoppers in one upscale Scottsdale store can check it out for themselves before someone else makes the observation — using the Butt Cam, a camera positioned just so that's connected to a video screen on a dressing room wall.

The cameras at Hub Clothing illustrate what many already know — the most important test of a great pair of jeans is how they look from behind.

Hub, which sells mens and womens jeans for between $135 and $900, rolled out the cameras this week, and already they've created a buzz.

"It gives you a perspective that you can't find any other way," said Kip Merritt, a 50-year-old interior designer who was checking himself out in front of the camera. "What other choices do you have? A three-way mirror?"

Let's just be glad she didn't get her hands on some pliers

DES MOINES, Iowa - A woman who police say assaulted people with a hammer while she was naked was arrested on a variety of charges, including assault and obstruction of emergency communications.

Satin Delfrano, 32, of Des Moines was arrested on Sunday after police were called to a complaint of a woman armed with a hammer assaulting three other women.

Officers went to an upstairs bedroom and found Delfrano.

They allowed her to get dressed and then handcuffed her and led her outside.

Delfrano tried to walk away on her knees and kicked an officer in the leg, injuring the officer, police said.

Delfrano also was charged with assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

And another thing - not enough turkey on the sandwiches

VERNON, Conn. - A man who apologized after robbing a Subway at gunpoint returned a week later for more money and again said he was sorry, police said.

During the first robbery, on Aug. 13, the robber apologized to the clerk, saying, "Sorry, I have to do this," and taking $600, police said.

A week later, he returned and ordered a clerk to empty the cash register. Then he thanked the clerk and again said he was sorry before fleeing.

Vernon police officers quickly spotted the getaway car and arrested Michael Monseglio, 28.

In his car they said they found cash taken from Subway, a tire iron, a mask and a blue sweat shirt. Police said they also found drug paraphernalia and heroin.

Beats getting a blender

WAKE FOREST, N.C. - The lottery ticket Hugo Esparragoza wrapped in a box and gave to his wife turned out to be worth $1 million, lottery officials said.

Esparragoza netted the prize from Saturday's Powerball drawing. He matched five of the numbers and opted to "powerball" his prize, which allowed him to win five times the usual amount of $200,000. Esparragoza let the computer at Todd's Cash & Carry in Wake Forest pick the numbers.

After he realized the ticket was a winner, Esparragoza surprised his wife with the wrapped box and said "happy birthday," lottery officials said in a written statement Monday. The couple plan to invest the money and possibly take a vacation.

The Powerball jackpot increased to $245 million for Wednesday's drawing. It's the highest since the state lottery started offering the game last year.

Not actual spoon

SODUS, N.Y. - Dropping something may have saved Joy Horton's life. The 73-year-old woman was preparing some food in her western New York home on Monday morning when she dropped a spoon on the floor of her kitchen. When she bent down, her house exploded.

The explosion leveled her home in the Wayne County town of Sodus, on Lake Ontario about 25 miles east of Rochester.

Horton wasn't seriously injured. She crawled out from underneath the rubble and walked to her daughter's home nearby to get help.

Fire officials said that because Horton was bending down when the explosion occurred, the kitchen sink and counter top helped keep debris from hitting her.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

For the grocery store that has everything

FAIRFIELD, Ohio (AP) - A suburban Cincinnati grocery store cleaned up Tuesday in an annual contest for America's tidiest toilets.

The restrooms at Jungle Jim's International Market appear to be portable toilets, but they actually lead to real jungle-themed restrooms with flowers, marble and tropical pictures. They were named the nation's finest in a nonscientific online poll sponsored by a bathroom supply company.

"I'm all about putting smiles on people's faces," said store owner Jim Bonaminio. "People are so tense these days. Those bathrooms just seem to make people laugh and that's what we're all about: laughing and having fun."

Cintas Corp., a uniform supplier and provider of bathroom products and services based in Cincinnati, said Tuesday that tens of thousands of online votes were cast in the sixth competition, choosing from finalists selected for hygiene, style and public access. Also-rans included a Las Vegas hotel lounge and an upscale restaurant in Flushing, Michigan.

Anyone could nominate a restroom online, and Cintas picks the final list of 15 nominees to put to the Internet-based vote.

Maserati? What Maserati?

LONDON (AP) - When authorities towed a $160,000, limited edition Maserati from the streets of London, they assumed the car's owner would show up to pay his many parking tickets and unpaid congestion charge fines.

But Bertrand Des Pallieres, a wealthy Parisian, didn't claim his Maserati Cambiocorsa for three months - and then only because the Evening Standard newspaper tracked him down and told him the car was about to be auctioned.

Des Pallieres, 39, was quoted by the paper on Tuesday as saying he quit Deutsche Bank with two colleagues in April to set up their own hedge fund, and was so busy traveling the world to raise money that he didn't have time to worry about the car when it was towed in May.

He said he also didn't have a secretary at the time to look after his life's "domestic things" - such as the approximately $10,000 he reportedly owes in unpaid parking tickets, congestion charges and a road tax,

Yeah, but can it beat Stallone in 'Over the Top?'

TOKYO - Lose a game of chess to a computer, and you could bruise your ego. Lose an arm-wrestling match to a Japanese arcade machine, and you could break your arm.

Distributor Atlus Co. said Tuesday it will remove all 150 "Arm Spirit" arm wrestling machines from Japanese arcades after three players broke their arms grappling with the machine's mechanized appendage.
"The machine isn't that strong, much less so than a muscular man. Even women should be able to beat it," said Atlus spokeswoman Ayano Sakiyama, calling the recall "a precaution."
"We think that maybe some players get overexcited and twist their arms in an unnatural way," she said. The company was investigating the incidents and checking the machines for any signs of malfunction.
Players of "Arm Spirit" advance through 10 levels, battling a French maid, drunken martial arts master and a Chihuahua before reaching the final showdown with a professional wrestler.

They blamed it on the chalupas

VAN BUREN, Ark. - Amorous behavior in a Taco Bell parking lot led to an arrest on Sunday night. Van Buren police received a number of calls about the activities of a couple inside a van in the restaurant's parking lot.

Police said officers found the couple "in a manner that was offensive to the public." Officers reported finding bags of marijuana in the van during a search.

James McCormick, 32, was cited for possession of marijuana.

You should see her hit a fastball

LEHIGHTON, Pa. - Sheila Drummond didn't need to see her hole-in-one. She heard it. Drummond, blinded by diabetes 26 years ago, experienced the highlight of her golfing career Sunday, recording an ace on the 144-yard, par-3 fourth hole at Mahoning Valley Country Club.

Playing with her husband and coach, Keith, and two friends in a steady rain, the 53-year-old Drummond hit a driver on the hole. The shot cleared a water hazard, flew between traps and landed on the green, where it hit the flagstick before dropping into the hole.

"They were saying, 'It's a great shot,' and then I heard it hit the pin," Drummond said.

He missed the train

GILLETTE, Wyo. - He rode his mule into town looking for work.

No, it wasn't the opening scene of a Western movie. It was what Rod Maday did last week, ending a six-week odyssey from his hometown of Boy River, Minn.

"I've done about 1,500 miles and I've got the saddle sores to prove it," he said.

Maday said he lost his driver's license 10 years ago after he was accused in a hit-and-run, and was having a hard time finding work in Minnesota. He heard that Wyoming had plenty of jobs that paid well.

He set out with two mules. About a month ago, both mules got loose and one was hit by a car. It had to be euthanized.

Maday arrived at the Department of Workforce Services office on Friday morning wearing a torn shirt, dusty blue jeans, spurs and a cowboy hat. Astride his brown and silver mule, Henry, he caused several double-takes.

He didn't stay long. He said some teenagers had yelled "uncalled for" things at him while he was riding into town the night before.

"Gillette's nothing like what I had thought," he said.

He left Saturday morning, riding west toward the Bighorn Mountains.

"I could probably get a job and stay here, but I'm not willing to part with my mule," Maday said. "He's my best friend and I'm not getting rid of him for nothing."

The excitement was just too much

ELIZABETH, Ind. - A Kentucky man who was playing slot machines at the Caesars Indiana casino claims he sat in a chair soaked with urine left by a gambler who had just exited the seat.

Floyd Kibiloski, 60, of Fern Creek, Ky., filed a complaint with the Indiana Gaming Commission, saying a woman who had been playing the slot machine moments earlier had urinated in the chair at the southern Indiana casino.

"My whole concern is that they fix this," he told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. "It's not apparent that they have anything in place to deal with this kind of situation."

Kibiloski said that after his pants got soaked by the chair July 21 he was given no help in finding a place to clean up and had to walk to his car to change into an old pair of sweat pants.

Gamblers who become addicted can enter a trancelike state where even basic hygiene habits are ignored, said Carol O'Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Good luck remembering their names

DUBAI (Reuters) - A one-legged Emirati father of 78 is lining up his next two wives in a bid to reach his target of 100 children by 2015, Emirates Today reported on Monday.
Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides although he has to divorce them as he goes along to remain within the legal limit of four wives at a time.
"In 2015 I will be 68 years old and will have 100 children," the local tabloid quoted Abdul Rahman as saying.
"After that I will stop marrying. I have to have at least three more marriages to hit the century."

Apparently, there is such a thing as too much Dolly

LONDON (AP) - A court barred a country music fan from indulging her tastes late at night Monday after neighbors complained about hearing a little too much Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.
Diane Duffin, 36, must now refrain from playing country classics such as Parton's "9 to 5" and Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Duffin's neighbors in the northern English city of Leeds complained to the city council after hearing the songs played over and over again. A neighbor who kept a diary of Duffin's musical habits said that on one day alone, "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" was played 20 times.
The ruling will be in place until October, when a court holds a review of the case.

And you're worried about your Honda

MOSCOW - Thanks to soaring demand for luxury cars in Russia, Bentleys are much more common on the streets of Moscow — and a tempting target for thieves.

At least seven of the luxury cars have been stolen in the Russian capital this year, including two in the past week. Only one is known to have been recovered.

City police said Sunday that the most recent theft was reported Friday by a woman in her mid-20s, who said her sky-blue Bentley Continental was taken overnight from a parking space near her apartment building in central Moscow. She valued the car at $340,000, police said.

Also in the past week, police said a Bentley Continental was stolen from Olympic gold medalist Vladimir Zhmudsky, who played on the winning water polo team at the 1972 Summer Games.

In 2003, Bentley opened its first showroom in Moscow and sold 40 cars that year. There are now more than 1,300 in the city, the traffic police said.

If it's on a stick, it has to be good

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Mix one egg with other ingredients of choice. Put results on a stick. That's about all the recipe requirements involved at the Illinois State Fair's newest culinary contest, the battle to make the best breakfast on a stick.

The state's agriculture department and the American Egg Board deemed two entries worthy of first place Saturday. Beverly Cutler's sensational sunrise dippers — sausage, egg and cheese wrapped in a biscuit with a side of gravy — shared the top prize with Anthony Karas' bacon-wrapped savory buttermilk crepes.

Rachael Eden won the junior division with slightly healthier fare featuring curry, bean sprouts and snow peas in a wonton wrapper. And eggs and a stick.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Amorous camel humps woman to death

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present after the animal apparently tried to have sex, police said Sunday. The woman, whose name was not released, was killed Saturday at her family's sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 350 miles west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said. The 10-month-old male camel — weighing about 330 pounds — knocked the woman to the ground, lay on top of her, then exhibited what police suspect was mating behavior, Gregory said.

420 pounds of human hair make up art installation

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) -- The massive banner in Dartmouth College's Baker-Berry Library runs the length of the vast foyer, bright green lettering stretching from end to end.
But the gut reactions that artist Wenda Gu's latest installation provokes aren't because of its size, but its contents: 420 pounds of human hair. A viewer's first impulses are to lean forward and scrutinize the swirling, flattened locks; stealthily sniff (it doesn't smell); and fight the urge to touch it - and perhaps quickly recoil. Viewer reactions fall into two camps: the freaked out and the fascinated.
Hair for the 80-foot-by-13-foot banner was collected over several months last year from 42,000 haircuts of Dartmouth students, faculty, staff and local residents in Hanover. It was shipped to China, where workers in Gu's Shanghai studio dyed and shaped the locks into paper-thin panels held together by a film of Elmer's glue and tied together with twine. It and a second work, "united nations: united colors," displayed in another part of the library are the latest installations in Gu's worldwide "united nations" project, begun in 1993 and all made from human hair.

Cardboard cop slowing down speeders

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) - Hoping to deter speeders, a Tennessee town uses a lifelike body double to remind drivers that the police are watching.
A full-size corrugated plastic cutout of a real Smyrna police officer is pretty convincing to most drivers when they catch a glimpse of him pointing his radar gun on the side of a busy street.
The speed limit on pedestrian-heavy Front Street is 15 mph, but some drivers speed between 25 and 60.
Sgt. Andy Miller sometimes even stands behind his plastic twin and catches speeding drivers who apparently aren't fooled by the cutout.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Teen fisherman hooks a scuba diver

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch scuba diver became the surprise catch of the day for a 13-year-old boy fishing in the Netherlands when his hook got caught in the man's lip.
"I heard a sound on my head and immediately I felt a jerk on my lip," Wim van Huffelen, who had been swimming in the North Sea, was quoted as saying by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The daily ran a picture of the diver with the hook embedded in his lower lip.
The diver had been swimming close to the shore near the southern Dutch town of Zierikzee. A doctor managed to free him from the hook.

Virginia tourism ad drops gang hand gesture

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) - Virginia's tourism agency will eliminate images of people making heart symbols with their hands in its upcoming advertising campaign because the gesture is also used by a violent street gang.
The state has long used "Virginia is for Lovers" as its tourism slogan. Its new "Live Passionately" ad campaign will remove images of models making the hand gesture, one of several signs associated with the Gangster Disciples, Virginia Tourism Corp. officials said Friday. The gesture shows thumbs and index fingers formed into a heart.

Man exchanges missile launcher for kids' sneakers

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Police were hoping for a good turnout at their "Kicks for Guns" sneaker exchange, but they weren't expecting a surface-to-air missile launcher.
An Ocoee man showed up and exchanged the 4-foot-long launcher for size-3 Reebok sneakers for his daughter.
Taking advantage of the exchange's no-questions-asked policy, the man was not identified. He said he found the weapon in a shed he tore down last week.
"I didn't know what to do with it, so I brought it here," he said. "I took it to three dumps to try to get rid of it and they told me to get lost."
Besides the missile launcher police collected more than 250 guns. They were all exchanged for sneakers or $50 gift certificates.

Woman locked inside bank branch

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) - A 73-year-old woman became trapped in a bank when employees accidentally locked her in the building while she was looking over the contents of a safe deposit box.
Marian Prescher, who has diabetes, apparently passed out during the ordeal because she had not taken her medication with her. A cleaning person discovered her six hours later.
Prescher visited the Bank of America branch Wednesday and was given use of a privacy room to examine her valuables. Employees left her in the room when they closed the bank at about 6 p.m.
"They forgot she was there," sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.
Shortly after midnight, deputies received a call from a cleaning person who discovered the woman. Prescher was unconscious and cold to the touch when authorities arrived.

What about shrinkage? Has anyone thought about that?

BETTMERALP, Switzerland - Hundreds of naked people formed a "living sculpture" on Switzerland's Aletsch glacier Saturday, hoping to raise awareness about climate change.

The photo shoot by Spencer Tunick, the New York artist famous for his pictures of nude gatherings in public settings worldwide, was designed to draw attention to the effects of global warming on Switzerland's shrinking glaciers.

"The melting of the glaciers is an indisputable sign of global climate change," said the environmental group Greenpeace, which co-organized the event.

It said most Swiss glaciers will disappear by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.

The event, which followed Tunick's previous shoots in London, Mexico City and Amsterdam, was designed to minimize any impact on the environment, Greenpeace said.

Temperatures during the shoot hovered around 50 degrees.

Butt cam aids with women's jeans shopping

PHOENIX (AP) - Worried that new pair of high-fashion jeans may just make your butt look fat?
Now shoppers in one upscale Scottsdale store can check it out for themselves before someone else makes the observation _ using the Butt Cam, a camera positioned just so that's connected to a video screen on a dressing room wall.
The cameras at Hub Clothing illustrate what many already know - the most important test of a great pair of jeans is how they look from behind.
Hub, which sells mens and womens jeans for between $135 and $900, rolled out the cameras this week, and already they've created a buzz.
"It gives you a perspective that you can't find any other way," said Kip Merritt, a 50-year-old interior designer who was checking himself out in front of the camera. "What other choices do you have? A three-way mirror?"

Friday, August 17, 2007

A regular Rowdy Roddy Piper

FARGO, N.D. - A woman has pleaded guilty to having sex in a public place, with a man who allegedly wore a kilt and exposed himself to passing vehicles.

Chandra Schaefer, 20, of Fargo, was accused of having sex with Nathan Blair, 24, of Moorhead, Minn., on a car and then near a pine tree in late July.

Blair has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and fornication.

Schaefer was given a year of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay $300 in fines and fees.

Hook, line, and teenager

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch scuba diver became the surprise catch of the day for a 13-year-old boy fishing in the Netherlands when his hook got caught in the man's lip.
"I heard a sound on my head and immediately I felt a jerk on my lip," Wim van Huffelen, who had been swimming in the North Sea, was quoted as saying by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The diver had been swimming close to the shore near the southern Dutch town of Zierikzee. A doctor managed to free him from the hook.

Don't be cruel to a tooth that's true

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - A dentist has purchased an unusual bit of Elvis memorabilia — a porcelain crown that covered a gap in the King's teeth and the plaster mold used to make it.

"He had nice teeth," said Dr. Jim McCarthy, 58. "From a dentist's point of view, I find it interesting."

McCarthy received the crown this week from the son of the dentist who made it. The crown came with affidavits from the dentist's family and a signed letter from Elvis' manager, Joe Esposito.

Lewis Weiss, 59, said Elvis Presley lived next door to his grandmother in Memphis, Tenn. His father, Henry Weiss was the Presley family dentist.

"My dad took care of Elvis and his family before he had a record out," Weiss said in a telephone interview. "We used to play in the yard with Elvis. He used to sing to us."

His father kept a mold and spare crown in case Elvis needed one in an emergency. That happened in February 1971, when Elvis cracked his crown on a microphone while performing in Las Vegas at the International Hotel, now the Hilton.

That was before overnight delivery, so Weiss, then 23, volunteered to fly to Las Vegas with the tooth. Elvis invited him to stay and gave him a front row seat to a concert.

"My elbow was on the stage," Weiss remembered. "That night we got to party in his room."

After Elvis took the spare crown, Weiss' father made another.

Elvis died 30 years ago Thursday at age 42. Dentist Henry Weiss died in 1990.

McCarthy, a colonel with the Wisconsin National Guard, cut a deal to buy the mold and crown from Lewis Weiss while serving his second tour in Iraq. His son Patrick is a big Elvis fan and will inherit them, he said.

McCarthy wouldn't say how much he paid for the artifacts.

A forensics dentist, he said it didn't take long to authenticate them.

"If you look at the pictures of Elvis, you can see those teeth line up," McCarthy said.

His examination revealed something else as well: "I tend to think maybe he did some grinding."

What would Walter Cronkite do?

TOKYO (Reuters) - An embarrassed Japanese government has cut the subsidy, but a Tokyo TV company said on Friday it would carry on making a striptease news show with sign language for hearing-impaired viewers.

The government made grants totalling 400,000 yen (1,800 pounds) to help cover production of the weekly five-minute programme on satellite TV, which features a newsreader who removes her clothes between news items that she delivers in sign language.

The funding dried up when the government, under fire for supporting "Naked Sign Language News", changed funding guidelines for programming aimed at the disabled to exclude pornography, local media reported.

"Of course we will continue making the programme," said Shinichiro Fukuyama, a spokesman for makers Paradise Television. "We weren't doing it for the subsidy, we just wanted to make something viewers would enjoy."

Most people who had contacted the station about the programme were supportive, saying deaf people had the right to enjoy the same programmes as other people, he added.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stephen King is a scary guy if you don't know he's Stephen King

SYDNEY (AFP) - Best-selling author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal as he horrified an Australian outback bookstore, local media reported Thursday.

A customer at the store in remote Alice Springs raised the alarm after noticing a man walk in off the street and begin writing in several books, manager Bev Ellis told national radio.

"As the owner of a bookshop, when you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey (touchy)," Ellis said.

"So we immediately ran to the books and lo-and-behold here was the signature in several books. We sort of spun around on our heels, (saying) 'where did he go, where did he go'?"

Ellis said she saw the horror writer standing in the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket across the road in the small desert town and went over to introduce herself.

"He was lovely, very nice, charming," she said. "He introduced me to his friends and we had a talk and then I said 'Well, I'll leave you to the tomatoes.'

"I don't think he wanted people to know he was here but I told him that if I knew he was coming I would have baked him a cake."

Of the six books that King signed, five would be given to community groups for fund-raising auctions, she said.

The sixth was bought by the customer who mistook King for a vandal.

And a-one, two, three, four

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A 35-year-old Canadian woman has given birth to rare identical quadruplets, officials at a Great Falls hospital said Thursday. Karen Jepp of Calgary, Alberta, delivered Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia by Caesarian section Sunday afternoon.

The four girls were breathing without ventilators and listed in good condition Thursday.

"These babies are doing grand," said Dr. Tom Key of Great Falls, the perinatologist who delivered the girls.

The babies were born about two months early and were conceived without fertility drugs, he said. They weighed between 2.6 pounds and 2.15 pounds.

Jepp and her husband, J.P., declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press.

"The parents have been a little bit shy about the press. ... We agreed to handle it in a way they were comfortable with," Astin said.

The chances of giving birth to identical quadruplets is about one in 13 million, Key said.

"This is a very big medical event," he said. "Identical quadruplets are extremely rare."

Medical literature indicates there are less than 50 sets of identical quadruplets, said Dr. Jamie Grifo, director of the NYU Fertility Center in New York.

The last reported set were born in April 2006 to a 26-year-old Indian woman.

"These quads are special," Astin said. "The fact that she carried them 31 weeks and three days is excellent."

And now, we presume, comes hara-kiri

PLOVER, Wis. - A couple were thwarted in their effort to leave this small central Wisconsin town when they were arrested for robbing a gas station with a samurai sword.

Renee Ferreri, 22, told police that she and Brian A. Schmid, 24, "were tired of their lives, and they just 'gave up,'" according to a criminal complaint.

The couple needed money to leave town, so they stole a 2000 Mercury Sable on Aug. 8 from the Jeepers Gin Mill and drove to their home to pick up the sword and two stocking caps, police said.

Then Ferreri drove Schmid to a gas station, where a clerk said he threatened her with a "Japanese-style sword" and forced her to give him several hundred dollars from the station's registers.

Police arrested the couple after a Plover officer remembered seeing several samurai swords in their apartment when he responded to a domestic disturbance call in May.

Another good reason to buckle up

EUGENE, Ore. - A seat belt saved a driver, police say, but not in the usual way. Steven Earp, 48, was eating a fast-food sandwich Wednesday morning, said police Sgt. Doug Mozan. Earp choked and blacked out. His 1997 Honda sedan hit a parked car.

After the wreck, Earp came to.

Mozan attributed his revival to a "seat-belt-induced Heimlich maneuver."

Witnesses told police Earp got out of his car, and they asked if he was OK.

"No, I'm not," he said, and collapsed again.

Paramedics revived him and took him to the hospital, where doctors determined he hadn't been injured.

"We urge people to take the extra time to pull over to the side of the road to enjoy your breakfast sandwiches," said Mozan. "The fact that it was a nonfatal accident was extremely lucky. He didn't choke to death or take anyone else with him."

Ancient cross found in the trash

VIENNA (Reuters) - An 800-year-old, gold-plated crucifix that went missing after being seized by the Nazis has been found in a rubbish skip in Austria, police said.

It was found in 2004 in the lakeside winter resort of Zell am See by a woman combing through a skip filled with the discarded possessions of a neighbour who had just died.
"The lady had a soft spot for old crockery and was rummaging for plates when she found the crucifix," said Holzberger. "She asked the deceased's family, and they said she could have it."
Last month the woman showed the crucifix to a friend who realized it might be something special and took it to a museum.
In the run-up to World War Two, the owners of the crucifix had hid it and other treasures by walling them inside the basement of a house in Warsaw.
They were discovered by the Nazis in 1941, brought to the Polish National Museum and later transferred to a castle in the Austrian village of Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse, near Zell am See, police said.
"We lost track of what happened then -- we don't know how the crucifix ended up in Zell am See," Holzberger said.
The crucifix might be worth up to $600,000 at auction. Poland's culture ministry has contacted the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe, which represents the heirs of former art collectors, Holzberger said.

And you should see how his enemies treat him

FORT GRATIOT TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) - A man visiting a convenience store in Michigan was struck in the head with a gun when he mistook a robber for a friend playing a practical joke, police said.
The masked man entered Sandler's Party Store about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, brandished a handgun and demanded money.
Police said Patrick O'Bryan, 21, walked up to the man, thinking he was a friend, and grabbed him in a playful way.
The gunman hit O'Bryan in the head with the gun, and the clerk opened two cash registers. The gunman took an undisclosed amount of cash and took off.
O'Bryan was not seriously injured and did not seek medical treatment, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported.
He was visiting a friend at the store in Fort Gratiot Township, 55 miles (89 kilometers) northeast of Detroit.

Their other kid is named %

BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese couple seeking a distinctive and modern name for their child chose the commonly used Internet symbol '@' or 'at,' much to the consternation of Chinese officials.
The unidentified couple and the attempted naming were cited Thursday by a Chinese government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language.
The father "said 'the whole world uses it to write e-mails and translated into Chinese it means 'love him,'"' Li Yuming, the vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.
The symbol '@' pronounced in English as 'at' sounds like the Chinese phrase "love him."
Written Chinese does not use an alphabet but is comprised of characters, sometimes making it difficult to develop new words for new or foreign things and ideas.
Li did not say whether police, who are the arbiters of names because they issue identity cards, rejected baby '@' and the others. But nationwide last year there were 60 million people's names that used "unfamiliar characters," Li said.

Specials include Schnauzer soup and Chihuahua chowder

NEW DELHI (AP) - New Delhi's stray dogs lead a difficult life. But if it was up to one city councilor, they would find themselves in more hot water - soup to be precise.

Shipping the thousands of strays to Korea, where dog meat is widely consumed in soup, was one of the more outlandish ideas proposed at a city council meeting to deal with the problem, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Thursday.

None of the ideas - from the aforementioned Korean plan to drugging the canines so they sleep through the day - are likely to be implemented anytime soon. Instead, the council chairman asked the presumably more responsible veterinary department to come up with a workable plan.

City councilor Mohan Prashad Bharadwaj said he had read that Koreans are fond of dog meat and "maybe we can send all the stray dogs of Delhi there," the paper quoted him as saying.

A soup with dog meat called boshintang is popular in Korea, especially on the three hot "dog days" of summer on the lunar calendar. The traditional belief is that dog meat helps boost stamina and virility, but activists regularly criticize the practice and call for bans on eating dog meat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tastes like chicken

BOSTON - A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to his role in a multistate scheme in which prosecutors say he and his wife intentionally ate glass at restaurants and collected more than $200,000 in compensation.

Ronald Evano, 49, pleaded guilty to 20 federal counts.

Prosecutors say Evano and his wife, Mary, filed fraudulent insurance claims worth more than $200,000, collected more than $200,000 and left a trail of unpaid medical bills totaling more than $100,000 in several states between 1997 and 2005.

Prosecutors said the two were treated at hospitals for glass ingestions at least a dozen times. They collected payments from insurance companies but never paid their hospital bills. In once instance, they took a $45,000 payment directly from a restaurant.

An arrest warrant was issued last year for Mary Evano on the same charges as her husband. She is still being sought.

Evano said in court that he and his wife ate the glass because they needed money.

Up jumped the devil

TYLER, Texas - Holy sinkhole! A minister says he prayed "Lord don't take me yet" when his car nosed into a sinkhole on Wednesday. The Reverend Ralph Massey, pulled into a parking lot to turn around when the ground gave way, with no warning.
The car came to rest with most of its front section in the hole, and the back end and both rear wheels elevated.
Massey, who wasn't injured, was able to scramble out of the hole, which ended up being about 12 feet wide and six feet deep.
Authorities are trying to determine what caused the sinkhole.

Mary-Kate makes out with Ghandi

NEW YORK (AP) - Brace yourself: In her upcoming movie, Mary-Kate Olsen locks lips with Ben Kingsley. Yes, the one-time adorable tyke turned teenage titan, and Ghandi. Not surprisingly, the film's a comedy. Olsen is now 21. Kingsley is 63. Their film, "The Wackness," is slated for release next year.
"There is a very passionate scene in the film, which we filmed last week," Kingsley, who won the best-actor Oscar for 1982's "Ghandi," tells the syndicated TV show "Access Hollywood" in an interview scheduled to air Wednesday.
"It went extremely well and she was very focused. She was very good, very professional. She was quite wonderful."
When asked if he thinks the scene will stir up controversy, Kingsley says: "I'm sure it will. (Her character) is this great free spirit, you know, she is equally seducing so it is a level playing field."

Sinking feeling

Rev. Ralph Massey, left, talks to Tyler police officers after his car fell into a sinkhole in a parking lot in Tyler, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Massey says he'd pulled into a parking lot--to turn around--when the ground gave way, with no warning. The car came to rest with most of its front section in the hole, and the back end and both rear wheels elevated. Massey was able to scramble out of the hole, which ended up being about 12 feet wide and six feet deep. (AP Photo/The Courier-Times Telegraph, Kenneth Dean)

Monkey see, monkey pick, monkey leave

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Oliver apparently has learned to pick locks, making his second breakout from behind bars in less than a month.

On Wednesday, however, the white-faced capuchin monkey was back at the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, and this time his cage has been secured with triple chains and locks.

"There's one on top, one on the bottom and one in the middle," park manager Kirk Nemecheck said. "If he gets out again, someone is letting him out."

Oliver's cage was standing open Monday morning and the lock was lying on the ground. Oliver and another capuchin named Baby were still in the area, and workers easily recaptured Baby, but Oliver took off, Nemecheck said.

The 9-year-old primate was found Tuesday in a yard about four miles from the park.

"The police showed up and helped us," Nemecheck said. "We surrounded him, a guy jumped on him and got his hand bit, but we got him."

The capuchin, a species of monkey native to South and Central America, also freed himself July 31 and wasn't apprehended until Aug. 6.

This is Oliver's third escape. His first was about six years ago.

Nemecheck is getting fed up.

"I'm getting titanium locks next time," he said. "I'm tired of chasing a monkey."

Exploding mower destroys home

JOHNS CREEK, Georgia (AP) - A man in the U.S. state of Georgia started more than just his lawn mower when he tugged at its pull cord - he started a fire that destroyed his home.
The mower exploded Tuesday in hot, parched conditions.
Danny Fendley was trying to start the mower in the garage of his two-story brick home in this Atlanta suburb when the machine burst into flames. Before he could extinguish the fire, it had spread through the garage.
Then his wife tried to toss a can of gasoline out a window as the blaze spread, but she missed, spreading the fuel "everywhere," Fendley said.
The flames engulfed the house in less than a minute. The couple escaped without serious injury.

Biker fails to notice his leg was severed

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese biker failed to notice his leg had been severed below the knee when he hit a safety barrier, and rode on for more than a mile, leaving a friend to pick up the missing limb.
The 54-year-old office worker was out on his motorcycle with a group of friends in the city of Hamamatsu, west of Tokyo, on Monday, when he was unable to negotiate a curve in the road and bumped into the central barrier, the Mainichi Shimbun said.
He felt excruciating pain, but did not notice that his right leg was missing until he stopped at the next junction, the paper quoted local police as saying.
The man and his leg were taken to a hospital, but the limb had been crushed in the collision, the paper said.

Judge appeals in $54 million suit over pair of pants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday asked an appeals court to hear his $54 million lawsuit against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule.
Judge Roy Pearson filed a notice of appeal with the District of Columbia Superior Court, indicating that he won't abandon the crusade that has turned him into a symbol of America's lawsuit-happy culture.
Pearson asked his neighborhood dry cleaners to pay him $1,150 when they misplaced a pair of trousers he brought in for a $10.50 alteration in May 2005. The owners of Custom Cleaners said they located the garment a few days later, but Pearson said the pair they offered him was not his.
Claiming that the shop's "satisfaction guaranteed" sign misled customers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience, Pearson sought $1,500 for every day that Custom Cleaners displayed the sign over a four-year period, multiplied by the three members of the Chung family, who owned the business.
He also sought $15,000 to rent a car to take his clothes to another cleaner for 10 years.
The judge hearing the case ruled in June that Pearson did not interpret the sign in a reasonable fashion.

The duct tape bandit gets walloped

This photo provided by the Ashland Police Dept. shows Kasey G. Kazee, 24, of Ashland, Ky.,who was charged with first-degree robbery, according to Ashland Police Sgt. Mark McDowell. Kazee had his head wrapped in duct tape to conceal his identity when he tried to rob Shamrock Liquors Friday, Aug. 10, 2007.

ASHLAND, Ky. - Laughter might be unexpected in a liquor store where a robbery just occurred. But that's how employees responded to the "Duct Tape Bandit" who hit Shamrock Liquors in Ashland and fled nearly empty handed.
A man who had his head wrapped in duct tape to conceal his identity walked into the store last Friday, police said.
Store manager Bill Steele had some duct tape of his own, but his was wrapped around a wooden club that sent the robber fleeing, according to a report by WSAZ-TV in Huntington, W.Va.
Store employee Craig Miller said he chased the man to the parking lot, tackled him and held him in a choke position until police arrived, the station reported. An unidentified customer also helped, police said.
Kasey G. Kazee, 24, was charged with first-degree robbery. Kazee, in an interview with the TV station, denied he was bandit who robbed the store of two rolls of change.

Man pays $12,000 tax bill in coins and $1 bills

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - A landlord said he wanted people to see the pain of his property tax bill when he hauled $12,656.07 in coins and $1 bills to the county treasurer's office.
Cary Malchow said the heavy load left him "out of breath" but it was worth watching three cashiers working overtime and guarded by sheriff's deputies on Monday to count every last cent of the semi-annual payment for his home, business and rental properties.
"I did it so people can physically see what $12,000 is," said Malchow, who has staged other recent protests to draw attention to Indiana's property tax increases.
It took 75 minutes to count out the cash, said Delaware County Treasurer Warren Beebe.
"They were fast, they were hustling. They're used to counting money, but of course that left other people standing in line. It was an awkward situation," Beebe said Tuesday.
Malchow's protest prevented the office from making its daily bank deposit, costing the county an estimated $1,135.90 in interest that would have otherwise accrued overnight, Beebe said.

45 parrots worth $58,000 stolen from pet shop

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (AP) - Polly want a rescue: Forty-five parrots worth more than $1,000 each were abducted from a pet store.
The thief broke a back window of the Parrots of the World shop between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesday, before the owner showed up, police said.
The 45 stolen parrots were worth about $58,000, said Nassau County police, who didn't know how the crook got away.
The store's owner, Marc Morrone, said whoever ripped him off knew where the surveillance cameras were, unhooked the cages and carried them out through a hole in the window. He said he didn't immediately notice that one of his favorite birds was among the missing.
"I was cutting up papayas for him, and I went to feed him," Morrone said, "and the cage was empty."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Teeny tiny

A female giant panda looks at her baby at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu of southwest China's Sichuan province, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Four pandas were born in captivity in China on the same day, a rare occurrence after 34 were born in all of last year, state media reported Tuesday. (AP Photo/Color China Photo)

Some want to ditch princess after she says she can talk to angels

OSLO, Norway (AP) - A leading Norwegian newspaper called on Princess Martha Louise to renounce her royal title Monday after she said she communicates with angels.
The 35-year-old princess, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, has come under intense media scrutiny for her involvement in an alternative school that aims to teach people how to get in touch with angels.
Some observers have questioned whether her work for the private institute, dubbed "the angel school" in Norwegian media, can be combined with her duties as a member of the royal family.
Martha Louise is the daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and the older sister of Crown Prince Haakon. She was married in 2002 to Ari Behn, a Norwegian writer.
Martha Louise wrote on the Web site of the Astarte Education School that she had learned how to communicate with horses and talk to angels. The institute offers courses it says can help people get in touch with "the angels and the divine Universe."
Many commentators said a member of the royal family should not be involved in spiritual healing, and some even questioned her mental health.

Man lies down on railroad tracks, loses legs

JOHNSON CITY (AP) - A 32-year-old man lost his legs after laying on railroad tracks, police said Monday.
Both of Kenneth Davidson's legs were severed above the knee when he was hit at 4:50 a.m. Sunday by a westbound train, Johnson City Police said.
It was unclear Monday what Davidson was doing on the tracks.
Davidson was found underneath a stopped train.
Davidson's amputated legs were found outside the tracks and quite a distance from his body, investigators said.

Government ad features exploding frogs

DETROIT (AP) - A new television ad from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration featuring frogs apparently exploding on a hot road is aimed at teaching motorists about tire safety.
The spot, released Monday by NHTSA, features parody of a nature TV show with a narrator describing the "perilous journey" that frogs face crossing the road - especially in the summer heat. The frogs then appear to explode.
Another narrator says that although frogs aren't really likely to explode in the heat, it's important for drivers to check their vehicle's tires.
No frogs were harmed during filming, and NHTSA said a Humane Society observer was present while the commercial was being made.

Sheriff's deputy charges own wife, also a deputy, with DUI

ELKO, Nevada (AP) - This might make for a tense time at home.
An off-duty sheriff's deputy was pulled over and charged with driving under the influence _ by her husband.
Charlotte Moore, 36, a jail deputy and 11-year veteran, was driving her 2004 Pontiac Grand Am when she was pulled over by her husband, Elko County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Moore, a police report said.
She allegedly left before being administered a portable breathalyzer test, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.
Mike Moore pulled her over again and called the Elko Police Department for backup. He left shortly after another officer arrived.
Charlotte Moore was released at 1:47 a.m. on Sunday and placed on paid administrative leave, Elko County Undersheriff Rocky Gonzalez said.

Swimmer rescued after three days at sea

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A man swept out to sea by strong currents last week while swimming at a beach was rescued alive in southern Greece after three days in the water, authorities said Tuesday.
The 43-year-old Greek man was found semiconscious in the sea late Monday by holiday-makers at a beach near Aigio, some 112 miles west of Athens, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.
His wife had declared the man missing on Aug. 10, after he failed to return from a swim at a beach some 15 mileseast of Aigio. Strong winds were blowing in the area at the time, and a sea and air search failed to locate him.
The man, who was not identified, was treated in hospital for hypothermia.

Alabama town may change mind, bring back Prohibition

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - Voters have a chance on Tuesday to return this northern Alabama city to the days of Prohibition.
A measure to end the sale of alcohol in Athens is up for a citywide vote, a rare instance where voters could overturn a previous vote to allow sales. Business interests are against repeal, but church leaders who helped organize the petition drive that got the measure on the ballot are asking members to pray and fast in support of a ban.
Christians who oppose drinking on moral grounds believe they have a chance to win, however small.
"If it can be voted out anywhere, it will be here because so many Christians are against it," said Teresa Thomas, who works in a Christian book store.
The United States went dry in 1920 after the 18th Amendment outlawed the production, transportation and sale of alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
Now, less than four years after they first voted to legalize alcohol sales, the nearly 22,000 residents of Athens will decide whether to prohibit alcohol sales within the city, located about 95 miles north of Birmingham. Possession and consumption would remain legal.

World's tallest lives in same house as world's oldest

The world's new oldest living person - Edna Parker of Shelbyville, Indiana - lives in the same nursing home as the world's tallest woman, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.
Parker, 114, took over the oldest title when Yone Minagawa, also 114, died on Monday.
She lives at Heritage House Convalescent Center with Sandy Allen.
Allen holds the world record for being the tallest woman in the world at 7 feet, 7 inches.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scarred for life

Ed Slivak portrays an Irish Leprechaun while holding Maxwell Modica during the annual Irish Festival at St. Patrick's Church in Norristown, Pa. (Journal Register News Service/Times Herald)

Joined at the hip

Conjoined twins, who are joined at the hip and under observation sleep at the civil Hospital in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007. The twins were born on Aug 8 in Bhimpura village of Vadodara district in the Indian state of Gujrat. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Stuck on you

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, conjoined twins wait for separation surgery at No. 1 Hospital Affiliated to Hebei Medical University in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province Monday, July 16, 2007. The twins born on March 15 with congenital heart disease are scheduled for separation surgery at the hospital. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Yang Shiyao)

Surgery to separate conjoined twins called off

CLEVELAND (AP) - Doctors who had hoped to separate twin 3-year-old girls joined at the head called off the long-planned surgery permanently, saying the risk to the children was too great, the hospital announced Monday.
The parents of Tatiana and Anastasia Dogaru had viewed separation surgery at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital as the girls' best hope, but the decision to cancel complied with their wish to avoid any procedure that could harm either girl.
The top of Tatiana's head is attached to the back of Anastasia's and they have never been able to look each other in the eye. Anastasia, the bigger twin, has no kidney function and relies on Tatiana's kidneys. Risks of the surgery include infection and heart failure.
The girls were born in Italy to Romanian parents. Alin Dogaru, a Byzantine Catholic priest, and his wife, Claudia, said in a videotaped statement played at hospital news conference Monday that they were thankful for the care the girls had received.
Twins born joined at the head - known as craniopagus twins - occur in about one in 2.5 million births.
The blonde girls have already beaten the odds by living this long. Most twins joined at the head die at birth and just 10 percent survive to age 10, according to the hospital.

Cat survives fire by hiding in couch

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey cat may have only eight lives left after it survived a house fire by hiding in the couch.
Firefighters initially thought the feline, who belonged to one of the tenants in the two-story house, had been killed by flames and smoke Saturday night. But after putting out the blaze and surveying the damage, they found the cat wedged into the couch.
"To our amazement, it had survived," Fire Chief Peter Smeraldo said. "They should change that cat's name to Lucky."
No one was injured, and the cat's owner, who was ecstatic to have the animal back, took the cat to stay at a relative's house.

Creepy 'Chessboard Killer' to go on trial in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A man accused of killing dozens of people in a Moscow park over several years and marking his slayings on a chessboard — with the goal of filling all 64 squares — will face a jury trial next month, a court ruled Monday.
After his arrest last year, Alexander Pichushkin, 33, claimed that he had killed more than 60 people, but prosecutors said they had only gathered evidence to charge him with 49 murders.
“For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you,” he said. “I felt like the father of all these people, since it was I who opened the door for them to another world.”

Saudi Arabia makes first music video

UBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The Arab world's hugely popular music video industry often features sexy performers in revealing clothes crooning about love.
But the first clip to be fully produced in Saudi Arabia has a message of a different kind: You can be cool and devout.
The video is unusual because it was made in a country where the religious establishment considers music un-Islamic and bans it in public places. And the main cast includes a Saudi woman, something rare in a work produced inside the kingdom.
But in a sign of Saudi impatience with the restrictions, "Malak Ghair Allah" or "You Only Have God to Count On" was a hit when it was launched at a popular mall in the western seaport of Jiddah last week. Hundreds of people showed up to watch it on a giant screen in the mall's main hall.
"People didn't stop clapping. Some had tears in their eyes," Kaswara al-Khatib, the video's director, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Varmint steals prize cowboy boots

SAINT JO, Texas (AP) - One of the most renowned boot makers in Texas said "a varmint," a "low-life scum" or "a filthy thief" is responsible for swiping a pair of award-winning cowboy boots worth $10,000.
Featuring scenes of busting broncos and a cattle drive, with green full-quill ostrich bottoms, the hand-tooled leather boots were most valuable pair in the store until someone walked away with them.
A man in his 20s came into Trail Town Custom Leather last week wearing a pair of tennis shoes but left in the valuable boots, said John Glaze, an apprentice to craftsman Carl Chappell, who made the boots.
Glaze said he answered some of the man's questions about having his boots repaired, but got distracted by a phone call. Then he noticed the man exiting the store, tennis shoes in hand and the custom-made boots on his feet.
"By the time I made it to the door, he was already going around the corner," Glaze said. "And by the time I got to the corner, he was in his white pickup driving away."
As boots go, the missing pair is well known. They won an award at the 2003 Boot and Saddle Makers Trade Show Roundup, appeared in boot books, magazines and on the cover of the specialty publication Shop Talk.

Naked swimmer sparks Coast Guard search

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (AP) - A naked man who went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean in the dark of night and didn't return was found unharmed Sunday morning after a U.S. Coast Guard search.
Neal Mello stripped off his clothes and went in the water around 9:20 p.m. Saturday, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Annie Berlin said. When he was still gone at 10 p.m., a friend or relative called for help.
Mello, 37, was found hiding under a pier not far from where he jumped in the water, Berlin said. It wasn't immediately clear why he hadn't gone back to shore.
His clothes, wallet and cell phone were found on the beach in Long Beach, a city that boasts an expanse of oceanfront within 30 miles of Manhattan.
The search for Mello, of Brooklyn, had extended about 5 miles offshore.
Regardless of water conditions, nighttime swimming is risky, Coast Guard duty watch officer Mark Averill warned.
"The darkness," Averill said, "can disorientate even the most practiced swimmers."

Sunday, August 12, 2007


(1) Shafique el-Fahkri, 19, had the leg of a chair jammed completely through his left eye socket during an attack in Melbourne, Australia, in January. Five surgeons, operating for three hours, saved his life, and three months later, he had regained 95 percent of his vision (and said, of the attacker, "I forgive him, totally").
(2) As the result of a January car crash in Nebraska, Shannon Malloy, 30, had her skull separate from her spine ("internal decapitation"), but she remained alive until doctors could stabilize her with screws into her neck, and her recovery is progressing at Denver Spine Center, according to a May KMGH-TV report.
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Least Competent Criminals

Crime Time in Wilmington, Del.:
(1) Jesse Dale, 42, was arrested and charged with cocaine possession in Wilmington in June during a routine traffic stop after he attempted to throw his stash out the passenger window as the officer approached. (However, the window was up, and the package bounced back into the seat in "plain sight" for the officer to base an arrest on.)
(2) Also in June, according to police, Branden Tingey, 28, was arrested after closing hours in the manager's office at Wilmington's Polidoro Italian Grill, trying to open the safe. It appeared that Tingey was using a computer displaying a Web page on safecracking.
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Undignified Deaths

(1) A 21-year-old man fell to his death in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in April when he leaned a little too far over on a hillside rock in order to write his girlfriend's name on an available space on the surface. (Her name is Kaylee and not, unfortunately, just Kay.)
(2) A 43-year-old man suffered a fatal heart attack in 2006 during sex with an exotic dancer in Pacifica, Calif., and homicide was ruled out because the death was captured on the video camera the man had set up to record their session. (On the other hand, the woman's drug use was also on the video, and she was sentenced in May 2007 to a year in jail.)
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Can't Possibly Be True

-- Sweden's English-language news outlet reported in June that the government's employment service had granted Roger Tullgren, 42, supplemental income benefits based on his illness of addiction to heavy-metal music. Tullgren (with long, black hair, tattoos and skull-and-crossbones jewelry and who said he attended nearly 300 concerts last year) said he had been addicted for 10 years but finally got three psychologists to sign off on calling his condition a disability. His employer now permits Tullgren to play his music at his dishwashing job.
-- Ohio inmate Keith Bowles may spend the rest of his life in prison just because a federal judge miscalculated Bowles' deadline for appealing his case. Bowles was convicted of murder in 1999, and his federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied in 2004. However, the federal judge wrote "Feb. 27" as the deadline for appealing (mistakenly, because federal rules gave Bowles only until Feb. 24). Bowles' Feb. 26 appeal was dismissed as too late by the U.S. Court of Appeals and, in June 2007, by the U.S. Supreme Court.
-- In June 1995, Gordon Wood, who would subsequently be charged with Caroline Byrne's murder in Sydney, Australia, arrived at the morgue shortly after her body did, identified himself as her boyfriend, asked to see the body, and also asked, according to the attendant, "Do you mind if I look at her tits?" (The attendant, according to a police report reviewed by a judge during a June 2007 court proceeding, refused, and Wood was charged shortly afterward with having thrown the woman off a cliff.)
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Inattentive Drivers

Trucker Merv Bontrager accidentally crashed his 18-wheeler in Minot, N.D., in April when he looked away briefly to check the floor for the doughnuts he had tossed aside for later eating.
And Kristopher Lind accidentally crashed his car in Vancouver, British Columbia, in March when he tried to open the tightly packaged sex toy he had bought earlier that day.
And Andrew Workman accidentally smashed his car into another in Shepley, England, after he lost control when a bee flew through the window and stung him in the crotch (according to the findings of an inquest in April).
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Man tries to bring ... snakes on a plane

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Security officers at Cairo airport were horrified when the search of a Saudi passenger's carry-on luggage revealed a mass of live snakes, baby crocodiles and chameleons, police said.
Police became suspicious of the 22-year-old man's pair of carry-on bags when the X-ray machine at the departure gate gave odd readings. They opened the bags and found a large number of reptiles, including at least one cobra, squirming to escape.
Because transporting live reptiles out of the country is illegal in Egypt, the animals were confiscated and turned over to the Cairo Zoo.
The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-bound passenger maintained he was unaware of the ban on transporting the creatures and said they were needed by a Saudi university for scientific experiments. He was allowed to board his flight home.
In May, another Saudi was caught carrying 700 live snakes in his carry-on luggage at the Cairo airport. At the time, the man told authorities that snakes were often kept in Saudi Arabia by storekeepers in glass jars or used as pets.

Dirty bird repeats the worst

ALBION, Ind. (AP) - People are being careful about their language around an 8-year-old named Peaches who has a habit of learning and repeating the worst she hears.
Peaches is a Moluccan cockatoo, and staffers at Black Pine Animal Park say she used to be a pet in a household where she picked up a vocabulary that can be as colorful as her feathers.
The bird didn't miss anything when a volunteer construction worker started cussing recently after a chimp threw feces at him, said Jessica Price, senior zookeeper at the sanctuary about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.
"She started laughing and carrying on," Price said.
Peaches then reverted to a few of her own favorites.
"Go away, shut up, shut your blankety-blank mouth," Price said. "She says a lot of very bad words."
It is difficult to get birds to stop using words they have learned, she said.
"We obviously don't repeat them," Price said. "We don't encourage it."

Miracle Grow condom gets a rise in company's stock

LONDON (Reuters) - British condom maker Futura Medical Plc said on Thursday that results of a study showed its new condom helped men have firmer and bigger erections, as well as a longer-lasting sexual experience.
Shares in the company, which specializes in sexual healthcare and pain relief, rose 14.5 percent to 59.25 pence on hopes the condom, which will be marketed by Durex condom-maker SSL International, could go on sale next year.
Futura said the study of 108 healthy couples showed its CSD500 condom helped men to get a firmer erection compared with a standard condom, increased penis size and made the sexual experience last longer, delivering statistically significant results.
The condom has a small amount of gel in its peak that dilates the arteries and increases blood flow to the penis.
Chief Executive James Barder said the study results underpinned hopes the contraceptive will start generating revenues in 2008.
Market research has shown so far that interest in the condom is enormous, Barder said.

Everything's cool at bar made out of ice

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Outside it was a sticky 111 degrees, but Ali Hamdan was shivering under two parkas as he sipped hot chocolate, surrounded by tables and chairs made of ice.
Chillout, its owners say, is the Middle East's first ice lounge — the latest venture in this desert Gulf emirate, which has been transformed by a mania for the biggest, first or most outlandish.
Gulf men in traditional white robes with wives covered in black cloaks, teenagers eager to experience their first cold blast and Westerners who miss the chill are flocking to the bar-restaurant to hang out in what amounts to a freezer.
Everything is made of ice: the walls, tables and chairs; cups, glasses and plates; the art on the wall, the sculptures depicting Dubai's skyline, the beaded curtains, the 7-foot-chandelier and the bar.
"It was the first time that I've been in such a cold place," said Fatima Ali, a 13-year-old Emirati, as she emerged from the restaurant, still breathless from the adventure. "It was fantastic. I took pictures to show my friends so they would come too."
Not everyone is so impressed. Some rush out after only a few minutes in the 21-degree temperature.
The $17 cover charge gets you one drink and the rental of a hooded parka, woolen gloves and insulated shoes. Customers don them outside, then spend a few minutes in the Buffer Zone, a room set at 41 degrees to adjust before entering the restaurant.
Sami al-Muhaideb, a 25-year-old Saudi travel agent, warned his friend Yousef Badr going in to expect a blast of cold air, like a freezer. Thirty minutes later, Badr emerged shivering, with a red nose.
Hamdan, 22, who works at Dubai customs, looked miserable as he sipped hot chocolate, an extra parka covering his legs. He hadn't quite dressed for the occasion, coming in a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts.
While the new, $3 million hangout, which opened in a Dubai mall in June, is expected to become a must-see tourist destination, it also is expected to raise questions about already high energy consumption in this desert land.
The average person in the Emirates puts more demand on the global ecosystem than any other in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

I was just 'milking' her, officer, honest

(AP) - A man accused of having sex with a goat is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday on a animal cruelty charge. Charging papers say a witness saw 63-year-old Arthur Lawton having sex with a goat May 8th in a barn at Eatonville, Wash.'s Pioneer Farm Museum where he worked.
Lawton said he was trying to milk the goat.
Lawton missed a scheduled arraignment on August 3rd but turned himself in last night to Pierce County sheriff's deputies.
He's the second person charged in the county since the Legislature made bestiality a crime in response to the fatal injury to a man having sex with a horse in Enumclaw.
A man accused of having sex with the family pit bull dog was acquitted in May.

Space hotel planned

BARCELONA (Reuters) - "Galactic Suite," the first hotel planned in space, expects to open for business in 2012 and would allow guests to travel around the world in 80 minutes.
Its Barcelona-based architects say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing $4 million for a three-day stay.
During that time guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman.
Company director Xavier Claramunt says the three-bedroom boutique hotel's joined up pod structure, which makes it look like a model of molecules, was dictated by the fact that each pod room had to fit inside a rocket to be taken into space.
"It's the bathrooms in zero gravity that are the biggest challenge," says Claramunt. "How to accommodate the more intimate activities of the guests is not easy."
Galactic Suite began as a hobby for former aerospace engineer Claramunt, until a space enthusiast decided to make the science fiction fantasy a reality by fronting most of the $3 billion needed to build the hotel.
An American company intent on colonizing Mars, which sees Galaxy Suite as a first step, has since come on board, and private investors from Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates are in talks.
"We have calculated that there are 40,000 people in the world who could afford to stay at the hotel. Whether they will want to spend money on going into space, we just don't know."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Women driven berserk by Cold Play song

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman attacked a karaoke singer belting out Coldplay on Thursday night, telling him he “sucked” before she pushed and punched him to get him to stop singing.

He was singing “Yellow.”“It took three or four of us to hold her down,” bartender Robert Willmette said.

The woman, 21, “went crazy,” throwing punches at him and others. Cops arrived and blocked off the street, which inflamed her rage even more. Before police could handcuff the woman, she headbutted an off-duty officer at least twice.

According to bartender notes, she had only a single shot of Jagermeister.

Art teacher resigns after date with porn star

MONESSEN, Pa. (AP) - A Monessen High School teacher resigned after winning a date with a porn star during a satellite radio contest.
The school board voted to accept Jaison Biagini's resignation on Tuesday.
While listening to the "Bubba the Love Sponge" radio show on Sirius satellite radio, Biagini won the trip last month to St. Petersburg, Fla., to meet with porn star Akira.
Biagini, who uses a wheelchair, was interviewed on the radio show after returning home, and told the Valley Independent in Monessen that he was ridiculed for his disability and offended by how he was portrayed on the show. He also expressed concerns about his teaching job.
Biagini contended the radio host chastised him, saying Biagini knew full well what the contest was about.
Biagini, who taught art for 14 years at the school, said he entered the contest because he wanted to win the free trip and visit the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg. He described the date as being "all fake and staged."

Time for a haircut

MANTECA, Calif. (AP) - Police arrested a 27-year-old woman who allegedly tied her son's hair to a stairway railing as punishment.
Balbir Kaur was arrested Tuesday night for cruelty to a child after police found her 10-year-old son tied to the railing. The boy had been screaming and could not come to the door when police arrived, Manteca police spokesman Rex Osborn said. Police had to cut the boy's 20-inch hair to release him from the railing.

Man lives in car in backyard for 7 years after fight with wife

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - Steve Graham might not be in the doghouse over a dispute with his wife, but as far as his neighbors are concerned, he's not far from it. For the past seven years, Graham, 55, has been living in his car parked in the backyard of a house he and his wife, La Donna Graham, own.
Graham said the two have "been having troubles" since 1999 and that he's been out of the house since about 2000. His wife still lives in the home.
"She's not going to support me not having a job and bumming around," Graham said. "I'm trying my best to get a job and get up out of this rut."
But his neighbors, who say Graham plays loud music, often spouts obsenity-laced tirades and uses his yard as a toilet, aren't amused. They have asked the city to prohibit such living arrangements.
"Every day he's out there. He never goes into the house," Kenny Waring said. "He sleeps out there, he eats out there, he watches TV, he plays guitar. ... Everything that you do in your house, he does out there."
Graham acknowledged that he watches TV, listens to music and sometimes sleeps in his blue, 1989 Buick Century. The car is parked on a concrete slab, mostly covered by a large, blue tarp that is secured with bricks and cinder blocks.
An extension cord from the house to the car provides power for a 13-inch TV, an oscillating fan and a radio.
"I get better reception there than I do in there," he said, pointing at the house. "I listen to Rush (Limbaugh) every day, just about."

Beheaded snake bites man

PROSSER, Wash. (AP) - Turns out, even beheaded rattlesnakes can be dangerous. That's what 53-year-old Danny Anderson learned as he was feeding his horses Monday night, when a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property, about 50 miles southeast of Yakima.
Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.
"When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger," Anderson said. "I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose."

AT&T apologizes for censoring Pearl Jam lyrics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Thursday a company it hired to handle the cybercast of a live concert by U.S. rock band Pearl Jam erroneously omitted lyrics criticizing U.S. President George Bush that were in a song performed by the band.
"Those lyrics in no way, shape or form, are something that should have been edited," AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said.
The censored lyrics, "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush, find yourself another home," were sung to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" into which Pearl Jam segued while performing "Daughter."

Toddler tramples on Buddhist monks' intricate sand art

A toddler broke from his mother’s supervision in May at the Rhime Buddhist Center in Kansas City, Mo., and accidentally trampled the meticulously created colored-sand picture that eight monks had to that point spent two days creating, but the monks impressively responded with patience. “No problem,” said one, from India’s Geshe Lobsang Sumdup monastery. “We have three days more (before the show closes). So we will have to work harder.”
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Green Bay hopes to crack case of the frequent flasher

Green Bay, Wisc., police are again looking for a naked man who has been running through yards wearing only a ski mask to cover his face. Police in the area have investigated about 60 similar reports over the past two years. They believe the same man is responsible. The man has been described as thin and white.
- AP

China goes nuts for the number 8

China’s capital reported a sevenfold increase in weddings Wednesday, as superstitious Chinese took advantage of what was considered an auspicious date. A spike in Caesarean births was also reported in some areas, the single biggest baby bump since the rush to be the first to give birth on Jan. 1, 2000. The number eight is considered lucky because it rhymes with the word for “prosper.” Wednesday’s rush could be but a trickle compared to that expected next year, when the date becomes even more auspicious — Aug. 8, 2008.
- AP

Burglar falls asleep on the job

The basic requirement of the stealthy night-time burglar is the ability to stay awake. A suspected Norwegian burglar failed the test and ended up in jail. The alleged burglar — unsurprisingly with a long list of criminal convictions — was discovered early yesterday at the wheel of someone else’s car following a hard night spent, according to police suspicions, robbing houses.
- AP

30 days for beheading bird

An Eagan, Minn., man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for tearing the head off his girlfriend’s pet parakeet. Nathan David Andersen, 25, attacked the bird and kicked over its cage in November in a jealous rage after suspecting his girlfriend of an affair, investigators said.

- AP

Jesus driveway smudge sold for $1,500

FOREST, Virginia (AP) - A smudge of driveway sealant resembling the face of Jesus Christ has fetched more than $1,500 in an online auction.
The family that found the image on its garage floor sold it for $1,525.69 on eBay Wednesday, more than a week after the slab of concrete was put on sale. The family has hired a contractor to remove the section of concrete.

Man wins Powerball for second time

CHESTER, S.C. (AP) - Francis Stephenson is a lucky man, almost incredibly lucky.
He has won $1.4 million with two winning Powerball lottery tickets. If he had just a little more luck - and got one more number right each time - he'd be more than $340 million richer.
Stephenson's latest big winner came Saturday when he matched the five white balls, but not the Powerball. He won $400,000, just missing the estimated $141 million jackpot.
The latest windfall came less than two years after Stephenson, 61, became the first person to win $1 million in South Carolina's lottery when he again picked all five white balls but missed the Powerball in an Oct. 8, 2005 drawing, which would have been worth more than $200 million to a single winner.
The odds of picking the five white balls but missing the Powerball in one drawing are more than 1 in 3.5 million, according to the game's Web site.

YouTube helps catch comical shoplifter

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Video site YouTube proved its worth as a law enforcement tool when a New Zealand thief was convicted of stealing after being caught on video posted on the Internet site, news reports said Friday.
The man was taped slowly circling a store, stealing a laptop computer and slipping it into his overcoat and stepping out of the store in the South Island town of Greymouth, local media said.
The whole performance was posted on YouTube set to "The Pink Panther" music track, and attracted 500,000 hits from round the globe.
The bad news for shoplifter Dawson Anthony Bliss, 50, was that one viewer recognized him and alerted police.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Paleontologist discovers dinosaur mass grave

ZURICH (Reuters) - An amateur paleontologist in Switzerland may have unearthed Europe's largest dinosaur mass grave after he dug up the remains of two Plateosaurus.
The dinosaurs' bones came to light during house-building in the village of Frick, near the German border.
"A hobby paleontologist looked at a construction site for a house and happened to discover the bones," said Monica Ruembeli from the Frick dinosaur museum.
The finds show that an area known for Plateosaurus finds for decades may be much larger than originally thought.
"It could be that the area extends for 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) and in that case, you could certainly say it's the biggest site in Europe," said Martin Sander, a dinosaur paleontologist at the university of Bonn in Germany.
The Frick area contained the bones of one animal per 100 square meters, Sander said, so the entire area might contain bones of 100 more Plateosaurus.
The peaceful herbivore -- measuring up to 10 meters from head to tail -- roamed river deltas in large herds some 210 million years ago, according to some scientists, when most of Switzerland was covered with desert and its landscape may have looked much like the estuary of the Nile now.

D'oh! Don't take away our free doughnuts

CARMEL, N.Y. (AP) - Putnam County wants to stop handing out free doughnuts at senior centers because of health worries, but patrons say they're old enough to decide what they eat.
The Office for the Aging has been getting free "day old" doughnuts from local doughnut shops, delis and stores, and then passing them out at the county's five centers.
But nutritionists have questioned if the doughnuts are good for the over 65 set, which is susceptible to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
The issue has been turned over to the Putnam County Legislature which will debate in the coming weeks if the free doughnuts should be given out.

63 kittens left on doorstep; may have been dog fight bait

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (AP) - Some 63 kittens, stuffed in three boxes and beset with fleas, were dropped on a suburban animal shelter's doorstep, officials said.
People training dogs to fight may have used the young cats for bait and then abandoned them out of nervousness about attention to a recent dog fighting case, Mount Vernon Animal Shelter manager Sean D'Aliose said. He said kittens are sometimes used to entice dogs to fight because the small cats are unlikely to hurt strike back and hurt the dogs.
The kittens, which range in age and breed, were found late Tuesday. Shelter Director Paula Young said some were already available for adoption, and the rest would be once they were medically ready, which could take up to a week.
Pet Adoption League of Westchester President Jeannie Johnson said she initially worried that it might be "almost impossible" to find homes for so many kittens. She and her family were keeping a few, and some others were at the shelter, but Young had most of them at her home.
The city is offering a $5,000 reward for information about dog fighting rings, after an abandoned, critically hurt pit bull was found last week. Authorities believe his injuries stemmed from dog fighting.

Grandmother attacked by beaver

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - A grandmother taking a leisurely swim in a Swedish river ended up in the hospital after a beaver attacked her with its tail, regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda reported Wednesday.
Police sources said it was the second time a beaver had attacked humans at the beach on the banks of the Bottenaa River, around 150 kilometres (93 miles) west of Stockholm, the newspaper reported.
"The beaver attacked the grandmother. She was seriously hit by the animal's tail and received a number of bites and scratches," an officer told the newspaper.
The authorities have decided to kill the dozen or so beavers living near the beach to eliminate any further risk to local bathers.

New tallest man named

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Ukrainian man is the tallest person in the world at 8 feet 5 inches, overshadowing a Chinese man who previously held the title, Guinness World Records said Wednesday.
Leonid Stadnik, a 37-year-old former veterinarian, is 8 inches taller than the former titleholder, China's Bao Xishun, who measured 7 feet 9 inches, Guinness World Records spokeswoman Amarilis Espinoza said in London.
Stadnik's growth spurt started at age 14 after a brain operation apparently stimulated his pituitary gland, which produces the human growth hormone.
He lives with his mother, Halyna, in northwestern Ukraine, taking care of the family's house and garden.
According to Guiness, the tallest man in medical history was Illinois native Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches and died in 1940 at the age of 22.

Trail of candy wrappers leads cops to burglars

PASADENA, Md. (AP) - Doctors often warn of the health risks of eating junk food, but it seems the treats can be a problem for burglars, too.
Four teenagers broke into a gas station early Wednesday and left a trail of candy bar wrappers along the road as they left, said Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department. A police dog located the teens a quarter-mile away.
"Never heard of a K-9 having that extra help in completing a track," Shawkey said.
Three boys and a girl, ages 15 and 16, were charged with burglary and theft. They were not named because of their ages.
Shawkey said the teens stole candy, chips and cigars from the BP station. Most of the junk food was found scattered around the road where they were apprehended.

Panda once thought to be male gives birth to twins

BEIJING (AP) - A panda once mistakenly thought to be male has given birth to twins, a news report said Thursday.
Jinzhu delivered twin female cubs Monday night at the Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant Pandas in southwestern China, the Xinhua News Agency said. It said the 11-year-old panda was in critical condition after hemorrhaging.
Jinzhu was mistakenly classified as a male at birth in 1996, according to Xinhua.
Scientists realized the mistake only after Jinzhu was sent to Japan in 2000 to mate with a female panda, the report said.
The animals "showed complete disinterest" in mating, "leading to the discovery that Jinzhu had no penis," Xinhua said.

Cops overwhelmed by response to Texas Redneck Games

DALLAS (AP) - There have been more than a few athletes accused of doping over the years - but the competitors at the "Texas Redneck Games" might just be dopes.
These competitive "rednecks" - slang for backwards, rural people - forgo the shotput for the "Mattress Chuck," for instance, in which two-man teams heave a mattress from the back of a pickup truck as far as they can.
By the time the latest event ended Sunday, more than 54 arrests and citations had been issued on charges ranging from public intoxication to speeding, according to the Henderson County Sheriff's Department. Officials are considering charges against the organizer and landowners where the event was held.
"I'm an old fuddy duddy and all that, but you got a vehicle, you got alcohol, and you got illegal dumping, and you're making a contest out of that?" said Lt. Pat McWilliams, public information officer for the sheriff's department. "We are very fortunate that we didn't have a fatality."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Not enjoying this

Oliver, a two-year-old Persian cat, gets her monthly shower at a pet groomers in Westmount, Quebec, Wednesday, Aug. 8. The pet industry is seeing an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship in North America, with over $50 billion dollars being spent yearly on everything from gourmet foods to high-tech cancer surgery. (AP Photos)

Police ban cowboy boots after cruiser crashes into store

TRENTON, Fla. (AP) - A police officer who crashed his car into a convenience store when his cowboy boot slipped off the brake said Wednesday he was embarrassed and not opposed to a new department ban on the smooth-soled footwear.
"They had leather soles and when I hit the brake, my foot slipped off and hit the accelerator. It was my fault," said Michael Herko, one of two full-time officers in this rural north Florida town.
Herko, 62, said he was pulling into the store when his squad car crashed Sunday night. The 40-year police veteran was wearing a type of cowboy boots called ropers.
Herko's patrol car crashed through the store's two glass doors.
As a result of the crash, police Chief Bill Smith banned cowboy boots for officers on duty.

Diaper-wearing monkey captured after chase

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Police spent hours looking for one of the most unusual suspects ever: a diaper-wearing monkey on the lam in downtown Madison after biting a woman.
By Wednesday afternoon, all the monkey business was over. The primate was captured and taken into custody.
The monkey mania started early Wednesday when a 20-year-old woman reported being bitten on the thumb as she tried to pet the animal.
The woman was walking by State Street Brats, a popular downtown nightclub, where a man had the monkey on a leash inside its beer garden. People walking by were petting the monkey, who was wearing a white diaper.
But the woman was bit and suffered four small punctures in her thumb, police said.
The bite sent the woman to the hospital, where a physician said the monkey should be found so that it can be quarantined for 10 days to determine if it has a disease.
Police immediately launched into their monkey-hunt.
By 7:15 a.m., police found the man and the monkey. But the man lost the handle on the monkey before an animal control officer arrived and it got loose. About seven hours later, the monkey was captured and taken into custody downtown to be quarantined for 10 days, police said.
A woman later came forward and told police the animal was her "service monkey" and she had loaned it to a friend last night.

Priest charged with jogging nude

FREDERICK, Colorado (AP) - A Catholic priest faces an indecent exposure charge after jogging in the nude about an hour before sunrise.
The Rev. Robert Whipkey told officers he had been running naked at a high school track and did not think anyone would be around at that time of day, a police report said.
He told officers he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging. "I know what I did was wrong," he said in the report.
The Archdiocese of Denver said it takes the incident seriously but is awaiting the outcome of the case. Whipkey remains an active priest.
If convicted of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, he would have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.

'Lube Jobs' book includes 'maintenance sex' coupons

PORTLAND, Ore. - Authors Don and Debra Macleod have published a new sex manual tailored to the tensions of today's hectic life. "Lube Jobs: A Woman's Guide to Great Maintenance Sex" is essentially lighthearted but addresses sensitive issues that are taboo in many minds.
A marriage, like a car, needs maintenance, an occasional jump-start, they said, which inspired the title, sort of. They drew on their experiences and those of others to maintain or fire up a normal relationship strung out by dual jobs, churlish bosses, the kids, financial obligations and more.
A bottom line, said Debra Macleod, who has English and law degrees, is that "most women don't appreciate how important sex is to men" and that it needn't be complicated, although it can be your choice.
The book offers a variety of "maintenance sex coupons" that can be left discreetly to break the ice and are redeemable for ... well ... A few blank coupons are included for anything that might be forgotten, which isn't much.
There are times, the authors say, when you know your car needs full maintenance but there is no time to get it done. So settle for 10 minutes at a drive-through lube station.
The 20 "lube jobs" described in the book, the authors say, "are a great way to provide maintenance sex. They keep your man satisfied during those times you'd prefer to pass on the passion."
The appeal of parts of "Lube Jobs" will not be universal. But for couples who want to get things back on track, there are endless detailed suggestions, the Macleods say. Take your pick: Morning? Nighttime? In the shower? Under the table? In a parked car.

Hitler had Jewish music in headquarters

BERLIN (AP) - A collection of recordings taken from Adolf Hitler's headquarters at the end of World War II includes works by Jewish musicians and Russian composers, according to a German magazine report.
The weekly Der Spiegel said the daughter of a World War II Soviet military intelligence officer showed the magazine a collection of about 100 records her father took from the Reich chancellery in Berlin when the city fell to the Red Army in 1945.
Alongside predictable recordings, such as the overture to "The Flying Dutchman" by Hitler favorite Richard Wagner, the collection included works by composers from Russia, whose people were regarded as subhuman by Nazi ideologues, according to the report.
Among the works reportedly taken by Lev Bezymenski were an aria from Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," performed by Russian bass Fyodor Shalyapin, and an album of Tchaikovsky works featuring star violinist Bronislaw Huberman — a Polish Jew — as a soloist. Works by Rachmaninov and Borodin were also featured in the collection.

Fourth-generation pig cloned

TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese geneticist said Wednesday his research team created the world's first fourth-generation cloned pig, an achievement that could help scientists in medical and other research.
The male pig was born at Tokyo's Meiji University in July, said Hiroshi Nagashima, the geneticist at the university who led the project.
Earlier attempts to clone animals for several generations were problematic. Scientists had thought that was because the genetic material in the nucleus of the donor cell degraded with each successive generation, Nagashima said.
But the team's findings show that a large mammal can be cloned for multiple generations — in this case, the clone of a clone of a clone of a clone — without degradation, he said, while acknowledging that mice have already been successively cloned for multiple generations.

Crocodile survives 12-story fall

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A crocodile survived a fall from the 12th floor of a block of flats in Russia after making an escape bid through a window, emergency services said on Wednesday.
Diving out of the window has become a habit for the crocodile, called Khenar, with concerned neighbours saying it was the third time he had used that method to flee, Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported.
The crocodile lost one tooth in the latest fall but was otherwise unscathed, said a spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry in the Nizhny Novgorod region of central Russia.
"It seems the owner was not at home when the crocodile came out of the window," she said.
Emergency services put the crocodile in a local aquarium to recover from his fall. Within a few hours his concerned owner came to pick him up and the crocodile was last seen lying on the back seat of his owner's car.

Teen arrested for translating Harry Potter into French

PARIS (Reuters) - Police arrested a teenager suspected of posting his own translation of the latest Harry Potter novel on the Internet weeks before the official French release, the book's publishers said on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old schoolboy, from the Aix-en-Provence region in southern France, was taken into custody by a police anti-counterfeiting unit and later released, said a spokeswoman for the Gallimard publishing house, which handles the French editions of the novels.
"Concerned that such acts of counterfeiting are threats to basic authors' and creators' rights, (author J.K. Rowling and Gallimard) immediately agreed to support the investigation as it was launched," spokeswoman Marie Leroy-Lena said in a statement.
"It is not a young person or a fan we are talking about here -- these are organised networks that use young people," she told Reuters by telephone.
The official French language version of the book is scheduled for publication on Oct 26.
Many French stores are selling the English-language version.

Change to sensory organ in nose gives females a male sex drive

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Female mice became sexually voracious and tried to mate like males after scientists disabled a small sensory organ, casting fresh light on how gender-specific behavior develops in animals.
The difference seems to lie in how male and female mice use the vomeronasal organ to process pheromones, said Catherine Dulac, the Harvard biologist who led the research published in the journal Nature Sunday.
Pheromones are chemical signals that many animals, including humans, use to communicate socially and sexually.
The vomeronasal organ, found in the noses of some animals but not in people or higher primates, is a key processing center for pheromones.
Scientists had long attributed aggressive male mating tactics to a testosterone-induced hard-wiring of male brains.
"Here you have females that never had male hormones but have perfectly male behavior," Dulac said in a telephone interview.
In female mice, pheromones normally suppress male sex behaviors and activate female ones, the research suggests.
"This comes as a surprise to think that the neural circuitry for male behavior had been sitting in the female brain all this time," said Mark Breedlove, a neuroscientist at Michigan State University not involved in the study.

'4Real' rejected, couple wants to name baby Superman

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand couple is looking to call their newborn son Superman -- but only because their chosen name of 4Real has been rejected by the government registry.
Pat and Sheena Wheaton say they will get around the decision by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages by officially naming their son Superman but referring to him as 4Real, the New Zealand Herald newspaper has reported.
The Wheatons decided on the name after seeing the baby for the first time in an ultrasound scan and realising their baby was "for real".
They decided 4Real was the best way to write it, but the name was rejected because the registrar said a name had to be a sequence of characters.
Pat Wheaton said he was considering appealing against the decision through the courts, but whatever happens he won't be budged on his choice.
"No matter what its going to stay 4Real," Wheaton told the Herald, "I'm certainly not a quitter".
The baby is now two months old, after the Wheatons first applied to register his name in later June.

Is that a monkey under your hat or ...

NEW YORK (AP) - A man smuggled a monkey onto an airplane Tuesday, stashing the furry fist-size primate under his hat until passengers spotted it perched on his ponytail, an airline official said.
The monkey escapade began in Lima, Peru, late Monday, when the man boarded a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Alison Russell. After landing Tuesday morning, the man waited several hours before catching a connecting flight to LaGuardia Airport.
During the flight, people around the man noticed that the marmoset, which normally lives in forests and eats fruit and insects, had emerged from underneath his hat, Russell said.
"Other passengers asked the man if he knew he had a monkey on him," she said.
The monkey spent the remainder of the flight in the man's seat and behaved well, said Russell, who didn't know how it skirted customs and security.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New species discovered in the Congo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Six new species, including a bat and two frogs, have been discovered in Democratic Republic of the Congo in an eastern area off limits to scientists for decades because of violence, a wildlife group said on Tuesday.
The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said researchers conducted a survey of a remote forested region just west of Lake Tanganyika between January and March.
"If we can find six new species in such a short period it makes you wonder what else is out there," said researcher Andrew Plumptre.
The new species discovered were a bat, a rodent, two shrews and two frogs.The area had been off limits to scientists since 1960 because of instability. The team also included researchers from the Field Museum in Chicago, the National Centre of Research and Science in Lwiro and the World Wildlife Fund.
The statement said the forest was extremely rich in biodiversity, containing a large number of chimpanzees, buffalo, elephants, leopards and monkeys.
Around 10 percent of the plant samples collected have yet to be identified.

India offers second honeymoon for not having kids

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Authorities in western India are offering to pay for a second honeymoon for couples who delay the birth of their first child by two years in an attempt to control birth rates, a newspaper report said on Tuesday.
The offer, called the "Honeymoon Package", is being made by authorities in Satara district in the state of Maharashtra, the Times of India said.
"The money is sufficient for a couple to enjoy a second honeymoon for two or three days at a favourite destination," district health officer V.H. Mohite was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Satara has a population of about 3 million. A recent survey found that the district registered about 25,000 marriages every year and 87 percent of the newly weds had a child in the first year of marriage. Authorities hope that if 20 percent of couples take up the offer, the birth of more than 4,000 babies could be delayed every year.
India, with 1.1 billion people, is the world's second most populous nation. But with an annual population growth rate of 1.7 percent, it is expected to overtake China by 2025.

Giant Lego Man emerges from the sea

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A giant, smiling Lego man was fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort on Tuesday.
Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 8-foot tall model with a yellow head and blue torso.
"We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water," said a stall worker. "It was a life-sized Lego toy."
A woman nearby added: "I saw the Lego toy floating towards the beach from the direction of England."
The toy was later placed in front of the drinks stall.

Now that took balls!

When conventional medical professionals refused to remove a 62-year-old St. Paul, Minn., man's testicles, police said he turned to mysterious "professionals" to relieve what he called chronic pain. Now police want to find the fly-by-night surgeons.

The man would not tell officers who they were, saying he didn't want to get them into trouble. Police said a couple of weeks ago, two or three people operated on the man in his home.

He was unconscious. When he woke up, his testicles were gone. So were his "professionals." His groin area was bleeding heavily, so he called his daughter. She called for help.

Police found an improvised operating room in the man's house, with bright lights, an apparent operating table, a camera and various medical supplies and equipment. There was also blood in several rooms of the house.

The other woman

A large ceramic turtle containing a woman's ashes has been recovered after it was accidentally sold for 50 cents at a rummage sale. When Anita Lewis of Elmira, N.Y., sold the turtle Saturday to a woman with plans to use it as a cookie jar, she didn't know it held the ashes of her husband's late wife. Terrence Lewis' previous wife had collected turtles and the couple's home was full of them. She realized her mistake and began a frantic search that led to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in Horseheads.

Germany has its priorities straight

BERLIN (AP) - Germany's national railway wasn't about to risk sending a trainload of soccer fans to a German Cup match without beer.
Federal police said Monday that the beer tap failed aboard a special train carrying Bayer Leverkusen fans to Hamburg on Saturday. The fault was discovered half an hour into the journey.
"In order not to endanger the good mood" of the passengers, railway officials halted the train in Wuppertal for 25 minutes and had a replacement part delivered by taxi, a police statement said. It added that there was no trouble among the fans.
Their team was less obliging. Top-division Leverkusen's 1-0 elimination from the cup by second-division St. Pauli in a first-round upset left its fans with plenty of sorrows to drown on the way home.

Seeing double

Identical twin sisters Connie (L) and Kendra Millar from Niagra Falls, Ontario, pose under matching umbrellas during the final day of the 32nd annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio August 5, 2007. The twins have been to the festival for the past 24 years. The self-proclaimed "largest annual gathering of twins in the world" attracted almost 2,000 sets of identical and non-identical twins this year, who participated in look-alike contests, talent competitions and other entertainment. REUTERS

Monday, August 6, 2007

Police stop erratic blind driver

TALLINN (Reuters) - Police in the Baltic state of Estonia stopped a man who was driving erratically at the weekend, only to find he was blind.
The 20-year-old was driving in the southern city of Tartu early Sunday -- helped by instructions from his 16-year-old passenger.
"At first they thought he was just drunk, but the man kept missing the tube for the breath test, then they realized he was blind" and arrested him, Tartu Police spokeswoman Marge Kohtla said Monday.

Removal of pencil from head follows years of headaches

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 59-year-old German woman has had most of a pencil removed from inside her head after suffering nearly her whole life with the headaches and nosebleeds it caused, Bild newspaper reported on Monday.
Margret Wegner fell over carrying the pencil in her hand when she was four.
"The pencil went right through my skin -- and disappeared into my head," Wegner told the newspaper.
It narrowly missed vital parts of her brain.
At the time no one dared operate, but now technology has improved sufficiently for doctors to be able to remove it.
The majority of the pencil, some 3.1 inches long, was taken out in an operation at a private Berlin clinic, but the 2 cm tip had grown in so firmly that it was impossible to remove.

Same food in McDonald's wrapper tastes better; just ask your 3-year-old

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Preschoolers preferred the taste of burgers and fries when they came in McDonald's wrappers over the same food in plain wrapping, U.S. researchers said, suggesting fast-food marketing reaches the very young.
"Overwhelmingly, kids chose the one that they perceived was from McDonald's," said obesity prevention expert Dr. Thomas Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine, whose work appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.About 22 percent of the kids chose food in the plain wrappers while 18 percent said the food tasted the same or were unable to complete the experiment.
"It ranged from 48 percent who chose the hamburger up to over 70 percent who chose French fries as tasting better if they thought they were from McDonald's," he said.
"Even for baby carrots, kids said the carrots they thought were from McDonald's tasted better," Robinson said.
The same was true of milk.
He said the study supports efforts to ban or regulate advertising or marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages directed to young children.
A McDonald's Corp. spokesman said the company has been working to address the need for responsible marketing to kids and providing healthy food choices.
"McDonald's is only advertising Happy Meals with white meat McNuggets, fresh apple slices and low-fat milk, a right-sized meal of only 375 calories," said spokesman Walt Riker, in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.
"Our recent program with 'Shrek' was our biggest-ever promotion of fruits, vegetables and milk, another indication of our progressive approach to responsible marketing," he said.

Sumo wrestler depressed, having trouble eating

TOKYO (Reuters) - Troubled "yokozuna" Asashoryu was diagnosed on Sunday as being one step away from clinical depression following his suspension from two sumo tournaments, Kyodo news agency reported.
The firebrand Mongolian was banned last week for playing soccer while supposedly injured.
"His face is gloomy and I felt sorry for him," Kyodo quoted psychiatrist Masaki Honda as saying after examining the grand champion at his home in Tokyo.
Honda said Asashoryu was having trouble eating and sleeping and recommended that he should be allowed to return to Mongolia to prevent further deterioration of his condition, Kyodo said.
Asashoryu has been told to stay at home following his suspension from major tournaments next month and in November.
The mighty Mongolian, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, was promoted to sumo's highest rank of yokozuna in 2003. He has won 21 Emperor's Cups but his short temper and constant breaches of protocol have landed him in hot water.

Fat corpses a challenge for funeral homes

SYDNEY (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Australians living outside major cities are overweight or obese, and extremely obese corpses are creating a safety hazard at mortuaries, according to two studies released Sunday.
Nearly three quarters of men and 64 percent of women were overweight in a study of people in rural areas. Just 30 percent of those studied recorded a healthy weight, said research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Pathologists are calling for new "heavy-duty" autopsy facilities to cope with obese corpses that are difficult to move and dangerously heavy for standard-size trolleys and lifting hoists.
The bodies presented "major logistical problems" and "significant occupational health and safety issues," according to a separate study, which found the number of obese and morbidly obese bodies had doubled in the past 20 years.
Specially designed mortuaries would soon be required if the nation failed to curb its fat epidemic, providing "larger storage and dissection rooms, and more robust equipment," said Professor Roger Byard, a pathologist at the University of Adelaide.
"Failure to provide these might compromise the post-mortem evaluation of markedly obese individuals, in addition to potentially jeopardizing the health of mortuary staff."
In the past year, there have also been requests for larger crematorium furnaces, bigger grave plots as well as super-sized ambulances, wheelchairs and hospital beds.

Pandas gone wild

BEIJING (AP) - A zookeeper needed more than 100 stitches after a 2-year-old panda bit and scratched him during feeding time at a zoo in northwestern China, a zoo official and a newspaper reported Monday.
The zookeeper was hospitalized after the attack Saturday in Lanzhou, Gansu province, but his life was not in danger, said a woman surnamed Zhou, who is director of the zoo office. The Lanzhou Morning Post said the man needed more than 100 stitches.
The zookeeper was feeding the panda from outside the enclosure, sticking his arms through the wire, when the panda, Lan Zai, grabbed his arms and began biting them and then scratched his legs, Zhou said in a telephone interview.
Last October, a panda cub bit off part of the thumb of an American visitor who was feeding the animal at a reserve in southwestern China. A month earlier, a drunken Chinese tourist bit a panda at the Beijing Zoo after the animal attacked him when he jumped into the enclosure and tried to hug it.

Thai police forced to wear Hello Kitty armbands

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.
Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won't wear the armband in public.
The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.
"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.
"(Hello) Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps," Pongpat said.
He said police caught breaking the law will be subject the same fines and penalties as any other members of the public.
"We want to make sure that we do not condone small offenses," Pongpat said, adding that the CSD believed that getting tough on petty misdemeanors would lead to fewer cases of more serious offenses including abuse of power and mistreatment of the public by police officers.
Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio Co. in 1974, has been popular for years with children and young women. The celebrity cat adorns everything from diamond-studded jewelry, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunch boxes, T-shirts and stationery.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Botulism, anyone?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers should not eat certain brands of French-cut green beans because of concerns they could be tainted with the toxin that causes botulism, U.S. health officials warned on Friday.
The green beans were manufactured by Lakeside Foods Inc. of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and packaged in 14.5-ounce cans, the Food and Drug Administration said.
The FDA said the beans may not have been processed adequately to eliminate the potential for botulinum toxin, which can cause a life-threatening illness.
Lakeside Foods said on Wednesday it was voluntarily recalling 15,000 cases of green beans because of the botulism concern. No botulinum toxin has been found in any cans that were tested, David Aggen, Lakeside's vice president of quality assurance and product safety, said in an interview on Friday.
The green bean warning is unrelated to a recall last month of chili sauce, canned meat products and dog food made by Castleberry's Food Co., a unit of Connors Bros. Income Fund's Bumble Bee Foods division. Four people became seriously ill with botulism poisoning associated with eating Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, officials have said.
The FDA said the affected Lakeside French-cut green beans are sold nationwide under the brands Albertson's, Happy Harvest, Best Choice, Food Club, Bogopa, Valu Time, Hill Country Fare, HEB, Laura Lynn, Kroger, No Name, North Pride, Shop N Save, Shoppers Valu, Schnucks, Cub Foods, Dierbergs, Flavorite, IGA, Best Choice and Thrifty Maid.

Smoking kills

David Pawlik called the fire department in Cleburne, Texas, in July to ask if the “blue flames” he and his wife were seeing every time she lit a cigarette were dangerous, and an inspector said he would be right over and for Mrs. Pawlik not to light another cigarette. However, anxious about the imminent inspection, she lit up and was killed in the subsequent explosion. (The home was all-electric, but there had been a natural gas leak underneath the yard.)

Man pays $5,000 for 'BRUCELEE' vanity plate

HONG KONG (AP) - A Hong Kong man paid $5,000 on Saturday for a car license plate that read "BRUCELEE," after the late kung fu movie star.
"When I studied in England, foreigners would only know two Chinese people. One is Bruce Lee. The other is Chairman Mao (Zedong)," the buyer, identified only by his surname, Wong, said on a Hong Kong cable television station.
The Lee-inspired plate was among several vanity plates to be auctioned Saturday by the Hong Kong Transport Department, according to the department's Web site. The results of the auction weren't immediately available.
Calls to the Transport Department went unanswered.
Lee, who died in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain, was born in San Francisco but grew up in Hong Kong, where he also made his name as an actor.
The action star was known for films in which he portrayed characters that defended the Chinese and the working class from oppressors.

Mahjong can cause seizures

HONG KONG (AP) - Playing the popular Chinese tile game mahjong can lead to seizures, Hong Kong researchers say, calling the phenomenon "mahjong epilepsy."
In a study published in the Hong Kong Medical Journal's August edition, researchers from the Queen Mary Hospital reviewed 23 cases of mahjong players in Taiwan and Hong Kong who suffered seizures. They concluded that mahjong-induced epilepsy is a specific condition _ not the result of the stress or exhaustion associated with the game.
Most of the 23 patients never suffered seizures other than when playing mahjong and the seizures occurred as early as one hour into their games, the researchers said. One patient stopped having seizures after quitting mahjong but relapsed after taking up the game again, according to the study.
The researchers called mahjong a "cognitively demanding game."
"It involves substantial higher mental processing and outputs: memory, concentration, calculations, reasoning, strategies, sequential thinking and planning," they said.

Man checks out library books, sells them

DENVER (AP) - A library patron suspected of selling hundreds of books, tapes and DVDs he had borrowed has cost Denver-area libraries tens of thousands of dollars, officials said.
Thomas Pilaar, 33, was suspected of using different names to obtain seven library cards from the Denver Public Library, then checking out 300 items per card and selling at least some of the items, KCNC-TV in Denver reported.
"It appears his intent was to sell 2,100 (items) from the Denver Library collection," Denver Public Library spokeswoman M. Celeste Jackson told the station. She estimated the losses at about $35,000.
Arapahoe County library administrators said Pilaar obtained three library cards and checked out 250 to 300 items.
James Larue, Douglas County's head librarian, said Pilaar checked out more than 300 items from two county libraries and had $11,000 worth of overdue items.
Authorities were tipped by a woman who recently bought books through and noticed the library identification stamps.

Hearty meal produces swallowed necklace

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Dozens of bananas failed to do the trick but an Indian thief has finally produced a gold necklace he had snatched and then swallowed after police fed him a hearty meal of chicken, rice and local bread.
Sheikh Mohsin, 35, grabbed the 45,000-rupee (546 pound) necklace from a woman in the eastern city of Kolkata on Friday and popped it into his mouth when cornered by police.
Officers then fed him 40 bananas over a few hours believing they would act as a purgative, and sat back and waited for results.
Mohsin passed an uncomfortable night in jail, but not the piece of jewellery.
Police said on Sunday he was then given more substantial fare.
"Now he wants to go free and doesn't want to even hear about bananas any more," senior officer Gyanwant Singh told Reuters.
A tired and rueful Mohsin was, however, staring at 3 years in jail if convicted, Singh added.
"Bananas were good enough for another thief who had swallowed an ornament a few months ago, but Mohsin was definitely a tough cookie," said one clearly impressed police constable.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Workaholics may be suffering from lack of sex

BERLIN (Reuters) - German workaholics may be suffering from a lack of sex, according to a university study published on Friday.
A survey of 32,000 men and women by researchers at the University of Goettingen found over 35 percent of those reporting unsatisfying sex lives tended to use hard work as a diversion.
Some 36 percent of men and 35 percent of women surveyed for the "Apotheken Umschau" newsletter said they were likely to put in extra time at the office and volunteer for extra assignments.
The hard work ethic was even more pronounced among those who reported having no sex -- 45 percent of men and 46 percent of women said they voluntarily took on more responsibilities.
"These findings are worrying," the leader of the study, Ragnar Beer, was quoted as saying.

That's an ugly baby! Oh, wait

A keeper holds Elmo, a four-day-old male baby orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) from Borneo, in an animal hospital at Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java July 26, 2007. Wild populations of orangutans are found only in the tropical forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and all populations are under severe threat from habitat loss, illegal logging, fires and poaching. REUTERS/Supri (INDONESIA)

Woman sleeps next to dead husband for a year

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A woman in Mexico City kept the body of her dead husband by her bedside for a year until neighbors, disturbed by the smell, called the police.
Police broke down Mercedes Velarde's door on Tuesday and found the putrefied body of her husband Edmundo on the floor of her bedroom.
Authorities said on Wednesday they were investigating Velarde's claim her husband died of natural causes. They believe the man, in his early 60s, had mental problems that may have been linked to his death.
Local media reported that Velarde's son regularly helped remove worms infesting his father's body.
Police could not confirm the reports but said her two adult children knew their mother was keeping the body.
The family is being examined by a psychiatrist. After an autopsy, the family could face criminal charges or be sent to a psychiatric hospital.
Authorities said hiding a dead person, even a family member, is a crime.
"Yes, these people have psychological problems, (but) they hid a corpse. Even if it is a family member, they committed a crime," Veronica Sanchez at the Mexico City attorney general's office told Reuters.

Friday slackers cost companies bigtime

LONDON (Reuters) - Businesses are losing more than 50 million pounds a year because of employees leaving work early on Friday, according to a survey published on Friday.
The top excuses for starting the weekend early are a long lunch, doctor's appointment and an out-of-office meeting near to home.
"Our evidence suggests that more and more workers are seeing Friday afternoon as an unofficial holiday," said Pam Rogerson, head of personnel at Employersafe.
"We have estimated that this is costing British business just over 50 million pounds a year, which all goes to form part of the overall 13 billion pound cost of workplace absenteeism."
The company has developed a software system which detects patterns of absence and recommends appropriate disciplinary action.
Employersafe also said the "Friday Feeling" trend has been reinforced by motoring organisations which report that the Friday rush hour now starts around noon.
Research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggested earlier this year that managers believe one in eight of all workplace absences are due to staff faking illness - and the favourite days to do so are Fridays or Mondays.

Soldiers to pay $3,600 each to move kangaroos, instead of just shooting them

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's military, caught on the hop by public outrage at plans to shoot thousands of kangaroos on its bases in Canberra, is considering moving them in air-conditioned comfort at a cost of over $3,600 each.
News reports said some of the 3,200 eastern grey kangaroos would be trucked to a village more than an hour away from the capital after protests over plans to employ professional hunters to shoot them.
The Defence Department said in May the kangaroos were causing serious erosion due to over-grazing on two drought-ravaged military bases, including a firing range, and were endangering a species of local lizard and the threatened gold sun moth.
The marsupials, which feature on Australia's coat of arms, moved from the fringes of Canberra into the city centre amid a 10-year drought only partly eased by recent light winter rains.
A secret plan prepared for the department and obtained by the Canberra Times newspaper said thousands of kangaroos would be sterilised at two military sites to control numbers.
Hundreds of others would be sedated with valium and trucked in special air-conditioned vans to the rural village of Braidwood, east of Canberra.
The kangaroos would be herded into a padded pen and sedated, then shot with a paintball gun to mark them as ready for transport. They would be released in a fenced area covered with shadecloth, the report by the Wildcare protection group for the Defence Department said.
At A$3,600 a head, the cost of moving each animal is more than a standard economy class return air ticket from Sydney to London on Qantas, the national carrier which features a kangaroo on its tail.

Leaking quarters

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Imagine the ringing noise of 32,000 quarters hitting the pavement.
An armored car company reported losing $8,000 in quarters along highways in two Wisconsin counties last month. About half has been returned.
"I guess somebody found that and figured it was an early Christmas," Jefferson County Detective Sgt. Lawrence Lee said.
Eight-hundred dollars of loose quarters was found late last month in the Madison area and $3,200 in Jefferson County the next day.
Loomis Fargo officials told authorities that a truck headed for Madison carrying boxes of quarters broke down in the Pewaukee area, so they sent another one. The load was transferred, but someone forgot to secure the door.
The driver was issued a citation for failure to prevent a leaking load.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tits for tots

ATLANTA (AP) — Nearly three-quarters of new mothers in the United States are breast-feeding their babies, but they are quitting too soon and resorting to infant formula too often, federal health officials said Thursday.
A government survey found that only about 30 percent of new moms are feeding their babies breast milk alone three months after birth. At six months, only 11 percent are breast-feeding exclusively.
Formula isn't as good at protecting babies against diseases, eczema and childhood obesity. Ideally, nearly all mothers should breast-feed their babies for six months or more, said Dr. David Paige, a Johns Hopkins University reproductive health expert. But many do not because of their jobs, the inconvenience, and perhaps because of convincing advertising for baby formula.
What's wrong with giving a baby a bottle every once in a while? Not much, except it can begin a pattern as a child sucks at the breast less, causing less stimulation needed to produce milk, Paige said.
"It creates a downward spiral," he said, adding that often, a woman then moves away from breast-feeding altogether.
The annual random-digit-dial survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of women who start breast-feeding rose slightly from 2000 to 2004, from 71 percent to 74 percent. That's a new high, CDC officials said, and is based on nearly 17,000 responses.

Mom takes allowance away from son, 61, and calls police

ROME (Reuters) - A Sicilian mother took away her 61-year-old son's house keys, cut off his allowance and hauled him to the police station because he stayed out late.
Tired of her son's misbehaviour, the pensioner in the central Sicilian city of Caltagirone turned to the police to "convince this blockhead" to behave properly, La Sicilia, one of Sicily's leading newspapers, reported on Thursday.
The son responded by saying his mother did not give him a big enough weekly allowance and did not know how to cook.
"My son does not respect me, he doesn't tell me where he's going in the evenings and returns home late," the woman was quoted as saying. "He is never happy with the food I make and always complains. This can't go on."
Police helped the squabbling duo make up and the two returned home together, with the son's house keys and daily allowance restored.
Most Italian men still live at home late into their 30s, enjoying their "mamma's" cooking, washing and ironing.

Seven-toed kitten a freak of nature

One of Patricia Yanda's seven kittens, born July 7, 2007, has seven toes on each paw. A normal litter of seven kittens would typically have toes adding up to 140. This litter has 160 with Sasquatch, shown here Wednesday, August 1, 2007 in Pinehurst, Idaho, holding the individual claim of having a total of 28 toes. (AP Photo)

Leggy lamb a freak of nature

A seven-legged lamb is pictured on its farm at Methven near Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, Tuesday. Veterinarian Steve Williams said he believed a misprint in embryo formation had resulted in the lamb being born polydactyl, with many legs, a condition that occurs once in several million sheep. (AP Photo)

Town's only police car is broken, so don't bother calling 911

HESSMER, Louisiana (AP) - Don't bother calling the police if you need help.
A plywood sign in front of the police department reads, "Village of Hessmer: the only police car is broken. If you need assistance contact the mayor and council."
Police Chief Mack Villemarette says he has struggled to get help from the city council or mayor after one of the force's two cars was wrecked in May. The other broke down Sunday.

Couple with 17 kids wants to have more

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - An Arkansas couple had a baby daughter Thursday - their 17th child and seventh girl - and the pair say they're still not ready to give it a rest.
Jennifer Danielle was born at 10:01 a.m. at a hospital in Rogers, Arkansas, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said in an interview.
"We'd love to have more," Michelle said, referring to baby girls. "We love the ruffles and lace."
Jennifer joins the fast-growing Duggar brood, who live in a 7,000-square-foot (650-square-meter) home in Tontitown. All the children - whose names start with the letter J - are taught at home.
The oldest is 19 and the youngest, before Jennifer, is almost 2 years old.
"We are just so grateful to God for another gift from him," said Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative. "We are just so thankful to him that everything went just very well."
Jennifer joins siblings: Joshua, 19; John David, 17; Janna, 17; Jill, 16; Jessa, 14; Jinger, 13; Joseph, 12; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 9; Jedidiah, 8; Jeremiah, 8; Jason 7; James 6; Justin, 4; Jackson, 3; Johannah, almost 2.
Among the "fun facts" listed on Discovery Health's Web page devoted to the Duggars: A baby has been born in every month except June; the Duggars have gone through an estimated 90,000 diapers, and Michelle has been pregnant for 126 months - or 10.5 years - of her life.

Stefani won't wear sexy outfits after Muslim protest

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Gwen Stefani will not wear revealing costumes during her Aug. 21 concert after Muslim students protested her sexy outfits and steamy performances.
Show organizer Maxis Communications Bhd. said the 37-year-old singer will follow the local code of ethics for foreign artists, which bans the unnecessary baring of skin.
"Gwen Stefani has confirmed that her concert will not feature any revealing costumes. She will abide by the Malaysian authorities' guidelines to ensure that her show will not be offensive to local sensitivities," the company said Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press.
Maxis, the country's biggest mobile phone company, hopes to attract some 9,000 people to the show, one of the stops on Stefani's Sweet Escape world tour.
The National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students, which has some 10,000 members, charged that Stefani's skimpy outfits and cheeky performances clashed with Islamic values.
"Her performance and her attire are not suitable for our culture. It promotes a certain degree of obscenity and will encourage youth to emulate the western lifestyle. The concert should be stopped," the union's vice president, Abdul Muntaqim, told the AP.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cops determined to keep armless man from driving

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. (AP) - There was a time when nothing could keep Michael Francis Wiley from behind the wheel - not even a triple amputation that makes simple tasks like tying a shoe impossible.
Even police, who busted Wiley so many times that it's now a felony for him to drive, couldn't stop him.
But now he is at the end of the road: He is scheduled to face a judge Friday for sentencing on a new round of felony traffic and drug possession charges. Prosecutors want to put him in jail for five years, and this time, Wiley says he's turning in the keys for good.
"I'm beat. The white flag is up," said Wiley, 40, from behind thick glass in the Pasco County Jail. "You can only bang your head against the wall so long before it hurts."
Wiley lost his arms and most of his left leg in a 1980 accident when he was 13. He fell off an elevated train platform while fooling around at an abandoned switching station in New York City, and grabbed a live electrical line to break his fall. He touched metal while trying to regain his footing, and roughly 11,000 volts of electricity surged through his arms and legs.
He learned to live without limbs. He taught himself to drive. He starts the car with his toes, shifts with his knee and steers with the stump of his left arm. He turns on the lights with his teeth.
Driving, he says, is one of the few things that lets him feel free and exert his independence.
"I'm an excellent driver," Wiley said. "It is something I can do well by myself. I've been thoroughly tested by the department of motor vehicles and I passed with flying colors."
On that point, authorities disagree. His clashes with authorities over his driving habits date back two decades.
He once had a valid license, but it has been suspended several times for motor vehicle and drug infractions. Wiley has said he turned to drugs - both prescription and illegal - to numb his chronic pain.
He's been accused of everything from sneaking drugs into jail in his prosthetic leg, possessing marijuana while driving to kicking a Florida Highway Patrol officer investigating a crash. He's led police on chases."I don't like the idea that I'm Pasco County's most notorious driver. That's hype," Wiley said. "I'm not public enemy No. 1. I'm just a regular guy with some handicaps. I made a few mistakes. I'm sorry and I'm paying for them."

Surfer Dude Dog

Saint, a three-year-old golden retiever, catches a wave in Morro Bay, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007. His owner, Kat Young, said he has been surfing most of his life. (AP Photo/The Tribune, Jayson Mellom)

'Pouty' backup accused of trying to kill punter

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - A backup punter charged with trying to kill the starter clearly wanted the starting job and was "pouty" when he didn't get it, a former teammate testified Wednesday.
Mitch Cozad, charged with attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault, also asked if he would get the job if the starter were hurt, said David Dyches, a former place-kicker at Northern Colorado.
Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., is accused in the Sept. 11 stabbing of Rafael Mendoza. If convicted, Cozad could face up to 48 years in prison.
In his opening statement on Tuesday, defense attorney Joseph "Andy" Gavaldon blamed the stabbing on another Northern Colorado student, Kevin Aussprung, who told police he was with Cozad that night but did not participate in the attack.
Aussprung has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime. Aussprung was not in court Tuesday and he did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. He was expected to testify later in the trial.

Lottery winner mistakenly buys two tickets, doubling jackpot

LONDON (Reuters) - A lottery winner doubled his share of the jackpot to nearly 1 million pounds after he mistakenly bought two lucky tickets for the same draw, organizers Camelot said Wednesday.
Derek Ladner, 57, from Cornwall, and his wife Dawn, 60, won with their usual numbers in the mid-week draw, sharing the 2.4 million pounds jackpot with four other tickets.
A week later, he found a second identical ticket in his wallet and realized he had absent-mindedly entered twice.
Their double-share of the jackpot is worth just under a million pounds.
The pair have handed in their notice at work and are taking a break to decide how to spend their windfall.
"It's beginning to sink in," Ladner told a news conference. "We are going on holiday first...and then think about what we are going to do for the rest of our lives."

Man speaks for first time in six years

NEW YORK (AP) - A brain-damaged man who could communicate only with slight eye or thumb movements for six years can speak again, after stimulating electrodes were placed in his brain, researchers report.
The 38-year-old also regained the ability to chew and swallow, which allows him to be spoon-fed, rather than relying on nourishment through a tube in his belly.
The man's brain was injured during an assault, he spent six years with only occasional signs of consciousness and no useful movement of his limbs. In an experiment, researchers implanted electrodes in his brain for a procedure called deep brain stimulation, which is routinely done for Parkinson's disease and some other illnesses.
They turned the electrodes on and off over six months to test their effect, and reported the results in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. The man, who was not identified at the family's request, now has them on throughout the day.
Experts called the report exciting but cautioned that the approach must be tested in more people before its value can be known. The researchers have already begun a study of additional patients.

Marijuana makes it harder to breathe, easier to go psychotic

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A single joint of marijuana obstructs the flow of air as much as smoking up to five tobacco cigarettes, but long-term pot use does not increase the risk of developing emphysema, new research suggests.
The study by New Zealand’s Medical Research Institute found that longtime pot smokers can develop symptoms of asthma and bronchitis, along with obstruction of the large airways and excessive lung inflation. The paper was released yesterday ahead of its publication in the journal Thorax. Last week, another study published in The Lancet medical journal suggested that using marijuana may increase the likelihood of becoming psychotic, with even infrequent use potentially raising the risk by up to 40 percent.

Dude, no woman's that great

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A 23-year-old Nepali man cut off his right hand after morning prayers and offered it to Kali, the Hindu goddess of power, the Annapurna Post local daily said on Wednesday.
Rajesh Tajpuria, who runs a drug store in the southeastern town of Rangeli, is undergoing treatment at a hospital, it said.
More than 80 percent of Nepal's 26 million people are Hindus who frequently sacrifice animals such as goats, buffaloes and roosters in temples.

Hollywood to put pigeons on birth control pill

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hollywood residents believe they've found a humane way to reduce their pigeon population and the messes the birds make: the pill.
Over the next few months a birth control product called OvoControl P, which interferes with egg development, will be placed in bird food in new rooftop feeders.
"We think we've got a good solution to a bad situation," said Laura Dodson, president of the Argyle Civic Association, the group leading the effort to try the new contraceptive. "The poop problem has become unmanageable and this could be the answer."
Community leaders planned to announce the OvoControl P pilot program, which Dodson believes is the first of its kind in the nation, at a news conference Monday.
Dodson said representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contacted her group with the idea to use OvoControl P. Other animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, support the contraceptive over electric shock gates, spiked rooftops, poisons or other methods.
It's estimated about 5,000 pigeons call the area home. Their population boom is blamed in part on people feeding the birds, including a woman known as the Bird Lady, who was responsible for dumping 25-pound bags of seed in 29 spots around Hollywood.

Employer kills two workers for repeatedly asking for a raise

ATLANTA (AP) - A finacially strapped owner of a car dealership told authorities he was under stress when he killed two employees because they kept asking for pay raises, police said Tuesday.
Rolandas Milinavicius was charged in the shooting deaths of Inga Contreras, 25, and Martynas Simokaitis, 28. All three are from the eastern European nation of Lithuania but had been living in Atlanta, authorities said.
Milinavicius, who was having financial problems, told police he shot the two Thursday after they kept asking for more pay, said police in East Point, which is just outside Atlanta.
Milinavicius, 38, turned himself in two days after the shootings and confessed to the killings, telling them he was under a lot of stress, East Point police Capt. Russell Popham said.
"As I understand, the employees were not really happy about the pay, and they had questioned him about it over the course of time," Popham said. "That morning he said he just snapped."

Puzzlingly pointless scientific study finds that sex feels good

WASHINGTON (AP) - After exhaustively compiling a list of the 237 reasons why people have sex, researchers found that young men and women get intimate for mostly the same motivations. It's more about lust in the body than a love connection in the heart.
College-aged men and women agree on their top reasons for having sex — they were attracted to the person, they wanted to experience physical pleasure and "it feels good," according to a peer-reviewed study in the August edition of Archives of Sexual Behavior. Twenty of the top 25 reasons given for having sex were the same for men and women.
Expressing love and showing affection were in the top 10 for both men and women, but they did take a back seat to the clear No. 1: "I was attracted to the person."
Researchers at the University of Texas spent five years and their own money to study the overlooked why behind sex while others were spending their time on the how.
"It's refuted a lot of gender stereotypes ... that men only want sex for the physical pleasure and women want love," said University of Texas clinical psychology professor Cindy Meston, the study's co-author. "That's not what I came up with in my findings."