The Trentonian's Strange But True Page

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stop... before you crash your car reading these stupid signs

OAK LAWN, Ill. - A big red sign that says "Stop" sometimes isn't enough to get everyone to stop. Maybe a laugh will get their attention.

This Chicago suburb has installed second stop signs beneath the regular ones at 50 intersections with messages, including "WHOAAA" or "Stop ... and smell the roses."

"I thought it might make people smile and take notice," Mayor Dave Heilmann said as he launched the campaign Friday. "You've got people on their cell phones, their BlackBerries and iPods while driving. Those are all distractions. Hopefully, when they see a sign they're not expecting it might make them stop."

The new signs are red octagons, just like the real stop signs, but instead of just "Stop" they say "Stop ... right there pilgrim" and "Stop ... in the naame of love." Naame? Think of the drawn-out pronunciation in the hit by the Supremes.

New condoms for D.C.

WASHINGTON - Who cares if they're free? Residents in the nation's capital say the condoms being handed out have a serious problem.

As many as 70,000 condoms given away in a citywide campaign to reduce HIV and AIDS were returned this week by community groups. Another 100,000 condoms were returned in early September because of complaints their paper packaging can be easily damaged and could make the condoms ineffective.

City health officials agreed that complaints about the packaging were damaging to their citywide distribution campaign, but they have insisted the condoms were safe. They said this week they will distribute brand-name substitutes.

Dude eats 21 pounds of grits

BOSSIER CITY, La. - He'll never want breakfast again.

Pat Bertoletti, a mohawk-sporting chef from Chicago, gulped down 21 pounds of buttery, goopy grits in 10 minutes to win $4,000 in the first World Grits Eating Championship at Louisiana Downs on Saturday.

The grits were presented in 2-pound trays, each about 8 inches by 6 inches and 1 1/2 inches deep, said Ryan Nerz, a spokesman for Major League Eating.

Bertoletti, in a statement, said the race "tested our stomach capacity like no other."

The buzz going in was that a lot of grits would go down because they are so easy to eat, Nerz said. There were nine contestants, and the top three ate a combined 60 pounds.

Tim "Eater X" Janus of New York was second, with 20 pounds. Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who this summer ate a record-breaking 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes to become world hot dog-eating champion, finished third, polishing off 19 pounds.

The top seven eaters split $10,000 in prize money.

Let all toilets be clean!

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian state plans to set up "toilet squads" to monitor cleanliness at key tourist destinations following criticism of standards, reports said Sunday.

Northern Perak state was criticized in a recent Auditor-General's report which charged that toilets in most recreational parks in the state were deplorable, poorly maintained and dirty, the New Sunday Times said.

Perak tourism committee chairman Mohamad Radzi Manan was quoted as saying that several squads would be formed to visit public toilets in tourist locations and report on hygiene and cleanliness.

"With the formation of the squad, dirty toilets, especially in tourist spots, will be a thing of the past," he said in the report.

What's Chinese for "No more Victoria's Secret?"

BEIJING - China has banned television and radio ads for push-up bras, figure-enhancing underwear and sex toys in the communist government's latest move to purge the nation's airwaves of what it calls social pollution.

Regulators have already targeted ads using crude or suggestive language, behavior, and images, tightening their grip on television and radio a few weeks ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress at which some new senior leaders will be appointed.

The latest move by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT, also bans advertisements for sexual aids such as tonics that claim to boost performance in bed.

The notice indicated that regulators were concerned about both lascivious imagery and outrageous or insupportable claims about some products' benefits or effectiveness.

"Illegal 'sexual medication' advertisements and other harmful ads pose a grave threat to society," said the SARFT notice, issued in the past week and posted on the administration's Web site.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Suicidal bear talked down from California bridge

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - A 250-pound bear stranded under a bridge near Lake Tahoe was saved by an army of rescuers, a tranquilizer dart and a nylon net bought at an Army surplus store.
Claw marks on the concrete railing of the Rainbow Bridge show where the bruin's ordeal began, said Dave Baker of the Truckee BEAR League, who was the first to arrive on the scene Sept. 15.
It was walking across the span on Highway 40 near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada when at least two oncoming cars spooked it, causing it to jump over the railing.
At one point it was dangling over the edge of the 80-foot-high bridge, but it caught a ledge and pulled itself onto a concrete girder beneath the bridge.
Officials initially decided nothing could be done, but when they returned the next morning and found it sleeping on the ledge, they decided to take action.
Volunteers strung the net beneath the bridge and an animal control officer shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart.
After the bear lost consciousness, volunteers used a pole to push it into the net, then lowered the bear onto the floor of the granite-strewn ravine as more than 100 spectators cheered.
The groggy bear was steered away from the crowds and back into the wilderness.
"I've been on a lot of bear rescues," Baker said, "and this is the most intense bear call that I've been on."

Patient left in CT scanner as clinic closed for night

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A cancer patient says she was left alone in a CT scanner for hours after a technician apparently forget about her, and she finally crawled out of the device, only to find herself locked in the closed clinic.
Elvira Tellez of Tucson said she called her son in a panic, and he told her to call 911.
Pima County sheriff's deputies arriving at the oncology office had her unlock the office door to let them in, said Deputy Dawn Hanke, a department spokeswoman. The deputies contacted the office manager, who was not aware of the situation.
Diagnosed with bone cancer, the 67-year-old Tellez had been sent to the clinic for tests to see if her cancer had spread.
A technician placed her inside the large machine at about 4 p.m. on Sept. 19, dimmed the lights so she could relax and told her not to move during the 25-minute procedure.

Hey, big girls DON'T cry

Baby girl Nadia, who weighed 17.1 lbsafter birth, lies on a scale in the Siberian city of Barnaul September 26, 2007. One Siberian mother has done more than her fair share to heal Russia's dire population decline. Tatyana Barabanova shocked her husband by giving birth to a 17.1 lbs baby girl this month, her 12th child. (Reuters)

Yes, that's a woman

Professional bodybuilder Dayana Cadeau of Canada poses during a press conference for the 2007 Ms. Olympia in Las Vegas, Nevada September 27, 2007. Ms. Olympia finals will be held September 28. (Reuters)


Friday, September 28, 2007

Raccoon makes a break

MANSFIELD, Ohio - A masked prisoner, of sorts, got some help with a breakout at the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. At the more than 100-year-old prison now operated as a museum, volunteers came to the aid of a raccoon with a plastic peanut butter jar stuck on its head.

After the critter was spotted scurrying around the grounds last Sunday night, it bumped into a tree and then climbed up and wouldn't come down.

The raccoon rescuers used a rope to pull the small tree over so an off-duty Mansfield police officer who volunteers at the reformatory could grab the animal with a snare.

An official with the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society says once its plastic prison was cut off, the raccoon made a run for it into the brush.

Who shot Tais?

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil's national electricity grid is laying on extra energy to avoid a nationwide blackout Friday when the final chapter of the hit soap opera "Tropical Paradise" airs, officials said Thursday.

TV Globo expects that 90 percent of television viewers in the country of 186 million people will tune in for the final chapter to learn who murdered the scheming villain Tais and to find out if Bebel, the Pygmalion-like prostitute, will live happily ever after.

"We are worried about a possible blackout caused by a sudden surge in electricity at the end of the program," said a spokesman for the electricity company, who spoke on condition he not be named, in accordance with department policy.

"When it is all over, millions of people will get up from their armchairs and sofas to turn on the lights of their living rooms, open the refrigerator for a cold beer or heat a meal in the microwave oven," he said.

They're just shoes

WAUKESHA, Wis. - A man pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than 1,500 pairs of girls' shoes from area schools in a deal that calls for prosecutors to recommend probation.

Erik D. Heinrich, 26, of Kenosha pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and was scheduled for sentencing Oct. 23. He told police he did it for sexual gratification.

He was arrested May 24 after a security video showed him entering North High School on May 20 and leaving with some items. Police tracked him through his vehicle registration, searched his home and a rented storage unit and found the shoes.

Police have said Heinrich worked for a cable company and collected keys to the schools as he responded to calls. He used the keys to burglarize three Waukesha public high schools and one middle school six times during the past two years, according to a criminal complaint.

Thanksgiving turkeys are smaller

MOSCOW - A small Russian city just got a really big addition: a 17-pound, 1 ounce baby whose mother had already delivered 11 other children.

Tatiana Khalina, 42, delivered the girl by Caesarean section at a maternity clinic in Aleisk, a town of 30,000 people in the Altai region in southern Siberia, a nurse at the clinic said Thursday.

Nurse Svetlana Gildeyeva also said the Sept. 17 birth went smoothly, and mother and the child were fine. She said the baby, Nadezhda, was transferred from the small clinic to a maternity hospital in Barnaul, a larger city.

The girl was feeling well and developing normally, said Irina Kurdeka, a doctor at the Barnaul hospital.

The daily Moskovsky Komsomolets quoted the local social services chief, Marina Alistratova, as saying the family had modest means. She said Khalina's husband was on contract with a local military unit.

Sounds like she's a Malachi sibling

HASTINGS, Minn. - A Farmington woman accused of driving for half a mile with her husband on the hood of her car and her 9-year-old child in the front passenger seat now faces criminal charges.

The Dakota County Attorney's office filed a felony criminal complaint this week charging Jill Ann Miller-Cooper, 34, with two counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm and one count of child endangerment.

Miller-Cooper is accused of hitting her husband on Aug. 15 in the parking lot of the restaurant he owns. The complaint said the impact tossed Randall Cooper onto the car's hood and Miller-Cooper drove off. The complaint said she eventually stopped and her husband fell off the car, then she drove away.

However, Miller-Cooper told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that her husband climbed on the car while it was parked.

"He was very threatening, and I wanted to leave," she said. "I stopped two times. He put his leg down, and I slammed on the brakes. ... It's been an ugly situation."

Well, he looks human to me

VIENNA, Austria - He's now got a human name — Matthew Hiasl Pan — but he's having trouble getting his day in court. Animal rights activists campaigning to get Pan, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, legally declared a person vowed Thursday to take their challenge to Austria's Supreme Court after a lower court threw out their latest appeal.

A provincial judge in the city of Wiener Neustadt dismissed the case earlier this week, ruling that the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories had no legal standing to argue on the chimp's behalf.

The association, which worries the shelter caring for the chimp might close, has been pressing to get Pan declared a "person" so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests and provide him with a home.

Group president Martin Balluch insists that Pan is "a being with interests" and accuses the Austrian judicial system of monkeying around.

"It is astounding how all the courts try to evade the question of personhood of a chimp as much as they can," Balluch said

Sneezing gets you a year

MORRISVILLE, N.C. - Morrisville police have charged a man with assault on a government official after an officer said the man coughed into his face during a traffic stop.

Officer Chris Gill said in his report that Kent Kauffman looked into his eyes before "hacking" in his face three times, according to Morrisville spokeswoman Stacie Galloway. Kauffman said he did cough from the window of his minivan but did so toward Gill's waist.

"He says I coughed in his face," Kauffman said. "But that would only work if he had a 4-foot-long face."

Kauffman said he developed a cough after his dog died last week. He said Gill put him in handcuffs and threw him into the side of the patrol car.

Gill pulled Kauffman over Tuesday for not wearing a seat belt. He now faces a misdemeanor charge and, if convicted, could spend up to 60 days in jail.

You smell something?

WOODLAND, Calif. - Something that smelled like a wet dog that rolled in manure and a report of a pungent, foul odor that has persisted for the last 13 years are among the calls so far to a 24-hour "odor hot line."

The city of Woodland set up the hot line this month to help investigate a recent flood of complaints about nasty smells in a place where urban growth has encroached on areas that once were strictly devoted to farming.

"We have had a couple of issues about odor, but when you live in a food processing area and near sewer areas, you're going to get those problems every once in a while," said Marlin "Skip" Davies, vice mayor of Woodland, which is about 20 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Callers are urged to be specific — noting the time, place and wind direction when the odor was detected — and are asked to use descriptors, such as musty, pungent, compost-like, swampy or smelling of wet hay.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bottom line, jaywalking is a crime

TEANECK, N.J. - Teaneck officials will meet with parents who are fuming after police ticketed middle schoolers for jaywalking. Some of the Thomas Jefferson Middle School students are as young as 11.

About half a dozen students were returned to school in police cars so their parents could be notified.

Some parents and civil rights leaders question whether police are singling out a predominantly black section of town.

Police say they are responding to complaints from neighbors.

Step one: Buy bigger car

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Two Kingsport men learned that an older Honda Accord didn't have the juice to drag an ATM machine from a drug store in a burglary attempt, police said.

Pablo Ibanez and Keith Tester are accused of breaking a window at a Walgreens pharmacy and trying to use a logging chain to pull the machine outside early Sunday morning.

They were found at their apartment after a witness identified the car used in the unsuccessful attempt.

There goes the resale value

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - David Harrah thought he had time for coffee before racing his pregnant wife and their eight children 15 miles to the hospital.

Think again, Daddy.

Sherry Harrah gave birth shortly before dawn Tuesday to the couple's ninth child inside the family's new Ford Expedition alongside U.S. 119 in front of a Toys 'R' Us.

"I told him I wasn't going to make it," Harrah said Wednesday from her bed at Charleston Area Medical Center's Women's and Children's Hospital. "He didn't know what to do because my water broke."

As a labor and delivery nurse at Cabell Huntington Hospital, Harrah said she knew time was of the essence.

"I told him it was his fault, that if he'd have left when I first told him to, this wouldn't have happened," she said. "But he had to make coffee and he wanted to wait until 6:30 to get the kids on the bus. I kept telling him, 'We need to go.'"

Harrah and her husband, who is a stay-at-home dad, named their 5-pound, 10-ounce baby girl Carlee, "after the car."

That'll show 'em

HILLSBORO, Ohio - A man angry that he wasn't going to be sold a house is accused of using a power saw to turn the abode into a convertible. Rodney Rogers apparently thought an acquaintance was going to build a house and sell it to him, and he was living in it while it was being completed, Highland County Sheriff Ronald Ward said Wednesday.

After the acquaintance refused to complete the sale, Rogers used a power saw last week to make a lateral cut through the walls and siding at about chest level, authorities said.

He cut all the way around the house, Ward said.

Only one thing was keeping the top half of the house in place on the bottom half.

"Gravity," Ward said.

Bras aplenty

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A thief with a hankering for sexy undergarments slipped off with hundreds of bras from a Victoria's Secret store in broad daylight.

Police in Flagstaff say they're taking a close look at how the thief managed to take off with about 350 bras while the store was open. The anti-theft tags hooked on the bras did not trigger a store alarm.

The theft from the store at the Flagstaff Mall on Sunday was not captured by surveillance cameras, police said. They suspect the items may be resold, and are monitoring Internet auction sites.

The bras are worth an estimated $15,000.

Only six months?!?!

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian court sentenced an Indonesian woman to prison for six months for almost severing her husband's penis out of jealousy, police said Wednesday.

Umidah Setu, an Indonesian migrant worker living in Malaysia, pleaded guilty in court Tuesday in the southern city of Johor Bahru to voluntarily causing hurt, said Che Yussof Che Ngah, deputy chief of Johor state's criminal investigations department.

Umidah, a 47-year-old canteen operator, was arrested Sunday after her husband, who is also from Indonesia, filed a police report claiming she tried to cut off his penis with a knife, Che Yussof said.

Che Yussof said the man, whom he declined to identify, received 11 stitches after going to the hospital on his motorcycle for treatment.

Che Yussof said the dispute surfaced because Umidah was jealous of another woman, but he declined to elaborate on whether the man had been having an affair.

The couple have been married for 17 years and have two children, the New Straits Times newspaper said.

Muslim men in Malaysia are allowed to take up to four wives. It was not clear if Umidah will appeal the sentence.

Being dead is no excuse

HARRISON, N.Y. - Even the dead apparently have to pay the fines on their overdue books at one Westchester County library. Elizabeth Schaper said she was charged a 50-cent late fee while turning in a book that her late mother had checked out of a Harrison Public Library branch.

"I was in shock," Schaper said. "This has rocked me to my core."

Schaper's mother, Ethel Schaper, died at the age of 87 on Sept. 16 after suffering a massive stroke. A few days later, Schaper said she found a library book, "The Price of Silence," by Camilla Trinchieri, that her mother had checked out from the library.

"My mother was an avid reader — she read an average of two books a week," Schaper said. "She was a frequent patron of the library."

Schaper said she returned the book last week, and was stunned when the man behind the library counter told her of the 50-cent fee.

"I told him that maybe he didn't hear me right, that my mother had just died, otherwise I'm sure that she would have returned it on time," Schaper said. "His only reply was that, 'That will be 50 cents.'"

That's one way to draw some blood

INDIANAPOLIS - A laboratory technician was fired after the parents of a 3-year-old boy claimed she bit his shoulder during a blood test, a hospital spokesman said.

Faith Buntin took her son Victor to St. Vincent Hospital on Friday to have blood drawn because of recent recalls of toys involving lead. She said she saw the worker put her mouth on Victor's shoulder as she restrained him so another lab worker could draw the blood.

"I looked at her like that was the craziest thing that I'd ever seen," Faith Buntin said Tuesday. "She looked at me and smiled and said, 'Oh, it was just a play bite. He's not hurt.'"

Buntin said she saw teeth marks on the boy's left shoulder after they went home, and her husband drove the child back to the hospital, where he was prescribed antibiotics.

"Taking a bite out of him like he's an apple, this is heinous," said James Buntin, the boy's father.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Love your goat, guy

SEATTLE - They have hoofs instead of paws and aren't known for fetching sticks or chasing mice, but pygmy goats are now legally pets in Seattle
The City Council voted unanimously to reclassify the goats — also known dwarf or miniature goats — as small animals rather than farm animals after testimony touting the virtues of the dog-sized critters as companions, weed eaters and milk producers.
"One small step for man, one giant step for goatkind," council member Richard Conlin, who sponsored the measure, said after Monday's vote.
The little goats — up to 2 feet tall and weighing 50 to 100 pounds — must have pet licenses, just like cats, dogs and potbelly pigs. However, these pets must be dehorned and males must be neutered to reduce musky odors.

Thanks, but I'll stick with the Poland Spring

SAN JOSE, Calif. - With water shortages a possibility looming in the state's future, this city's starting to look at what it would take to turn sewage back into water that's pure enough to drink.

"This is a homegrown resource. It is the most reliable supply you can have," said Eric Rosenblum, division manager for San Jose's South Bay Water Recycling Project.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District and the city of San Jose are partnering in initial discussions of the potentially controversial idea.
If they can get the public to support the plan, millions of gallons of purified waste water could one day be pumped back into the aquifers the county now relies on for half of its drinking water. The other half comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta.
Officials noted that technology exists to treat sewage water using methods such as reverse osmosis, microfiltration and ultraviolet light, and render it pure enough to meet California drinking water standards. But they also explained the idea is still in its initial phase, and a final, detailed proposal isn't expected until next year.

Laying the golden goose, or something like that

SALEM, Va. - A suggestive birthday card featuring a photo of a poultryman holding a goose has really ruffled the farmer's feathers and prompted him to file a $7.5 million lawsuit against the photographers and companies who used his image.
Andrew Marsinko claims he never signed a release allowing his photo to be used for commercial purposes, as required by Virginia law. Now he's suing for a variety of reasons, including defamation and reckless infliction of emotional distress.
The front of the card features Marsinko holding a goose on one knee, under the words, "Since it's your birthday, you decide — Would you rather get spanked ..." and then, inside: "Or goosed? Happy birthday!"
The Botetourt County farmer claims he didn't even know about the card until he attended an animal auction in Mount Hope, Ohio, where people began teasing him. According to the lawsuit, one person asked him, "When did you give up women to hug a goose?"
"That's not something you want to wake up and find out's been done," said Roanoke lawyer David Harrison, who represents Marsinko.

Next time, the rat gets it

GULFPORT, Miss. - Police were called to break up a weekend fight among a rowdy group of teenage girls at the family-themed pizza restaurant, Chuck E. Cheese.

The more than a dozen girls, between 13 and 16 years old, went berserk in the restaurant's lobby Saturday night, police said.
Witnesses said the fight erupted with two girls using profanities near the front entrance and ended with several girls involved in a physical fight.
The group had apparently been dropped off and left alone at the restaurant, known for its singing and dancing animatronic rodents.
Assistant Police Chief Alfred Sexton said the incident wasn't the first time Chuck E. Cheese was nearly overrun by unruly teens.

Even strippers don't want blurry bills

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Sioux Falls man has been arrested for trying to pass a counterfeit $100 bill in a strip club. "There was some blurring of the ink" on the bill allegedly passed by David Eugene Hayes, 32, said police Lt. Dan Kaiser.

Police said they also found methamphetamine on Hayes.
Authorities also received another report of counterfeit money in Sioux Falls. A clerk at a convenience store took in a fake $20 bill on Friday. The person who passed the bill got away.
That bill also was of poor quality, Kaiser said. "It was very fuzzy and blurry looking," he said.

Man bites horse

OKLAHOMA CITY - The coach of Oklahoma City's minor-league hockey team helped prevent a possible stampede of Belgian horses at the Oklahoma State Fair by biting one of the animals on its ear.

Doug Sauter, who coaches the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League, was at the fair Saturday attending the Centennial Expo's Draft Horse Show when he saw a Belgian horse break free from its reins. That caused a chain reaction that spooked other horses, he said Monday.
He bit the ear of one of the spooked horses to stop it from stampeding.
"That's how you stymie a horse," he said.
"You bite as hard as you can, and it won't move."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Honestly, these people just sound annoying

BOSTON - It was the crossword puzzle fan's version of getting his marriage proposal plastered on a stadium Jumbotron.

Aric Egmont and Jennie Bass were working on a puzzle titled "Popping the question" in the latest issue of The Boston Globe Sunday magazine. Bass spotted her sister's name and her best friend's name, but initially thought it was just a coincidence.

Then they got to 111 across: "Generic proposal" (Jen + Aric generic). The answer: "Will you marry me?"

"We get to the `Will you marry me?' clue, and I said, `Will you marry me, Jenny?' I got up, got the ring, and got down on one knee and she screamed, and hugged me. It took her a minute to say yes," Egmont told the Globe.

Egmont, 29, of Cambridge, contacted the magazine this summer to ask if the people who create the crossword puzzles would write a special puzzle for him.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, a married puzzle-writing team who have been writing Globe magazine crossword puzzles for years, agreed. Their puzzle included several variations on proposals; for example, "Macrame artist's proposal" was "Let's tie the knot."

The tricky part was writing an entire puzzle that would be clear to the happy couple, but not obscure to all the other readers who do the puzzles.

Bass, 29, said there was no reason for her to suspect anything when they started doing the puzzle.

"Then he got up and came back with a box and it was pure elation," she said.

This will be a good one to tell the grandkids

NEW YORK - For richer, for poorer? It'll have to be for poorer after Luke Jacunski and his girlfriend were robbed at gunpoint just seconds after he proposed.

Jacunski got on one knee and popped the question to his girlfriend of six months, Mami Nagase, in a romantic spot at a gazebo in Central Park on Saturday night. She had just agreed to marry him when, they said, a gunman jumped from the bushes and yelled, "Give me your money and get on the ground!"

As Jacunski, 30, and Nagase, 24, got on the ground, he was able to slip the engagement ring off her finger and hide it in his pocket.

The robber took a Rolex watch from Nagase and $125 from Jacunski, who had planned to use it to pay for a romantic dinner at a French restaurant. The robber then ran away.

Nagase, an artist from Japan, and Jacunski, a musician from Cincinnati, spent the next several hours at a police station looking at mug shots and sharing potato chips for dinner. They said they still plan to get married.

"It makes for a pretty good story for our anniversary," Jacunski said.

Dinks the world over are outraged

MERLIN, Oregon - The state of Oregon has ordered a family to turn in the vanity license plates on its cars because their Dutch last name, which is written on the plates, is similar to an offensive word.

The plates, UDINK1 UDINK2 and UDINK3 are on the vehicles of Mike and Shelly Udink and their son Kalei. Two of the plates are five and seven years old. One was issued last year.

Last summer, Kawika Udink's application for UDINK4 was rejected and the state ordered that the other three plates be returned.

"DINK has several derogatory meanings," Yvonne Bell, who sits on the Department of Motorvehicles panel that approves vanity plates, told the Daily Courier newspaper.

DMV spokesman David House and Bell said the word can be treated as a verb, which gives it a sexual reference, and also can be a racial slur targeted at the Vietnamese.

House said the "U" in the front could be construed as "You."

I am Joba, hear me roar

NEW YORK - Joba Chamberlain raised his oversized paws, shook his shaggy brown mane and let out a feeble roar. Looking and acting every bit the Cowardly Lion, the big reliever was ready for a scrap Monday.

"Put 'em up! Put 'em up!" he said, playfully challenging Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina. No takers — they were laughing too hard at Chamberlain's head-to-toe costume.

It was rookie hazing day for the New York Yankees, and this well-worn baseball tradition came with a theme: The Wizard of Oz.

So after their 4-1 loss to Toronto, and while the movie's soundtrack played over the locker room speakers, about a dozen rooks slipped into their outfits for the bus ride to the airport and the flight to Tampa Bay.

They're off to see a playoff spot, they hoped.

"I'd rather be here dressing up than anywhere else," pitcher Ian Kennedy said, stepping into the sparkling ruby red slippers as Dorothy. "It makes you feel like one of the guys."

We'd like to start the bidding at pi

PULLMAN, Wash. - Looking to recruit more women, and perhaps date some sorority girls, the largest computer club at Washington State University hopes to hold a "nerd auction."

The idea is to trade their computer skills to sorority girls in exchange for a makeover and, possibly, a date.

"You can buy a nerd and he'll fix your computer, help you with stats homework, or if you're really adventurous, take you to dinner!" Ben Ford, president of the Linux Users Group, said on its Web site recently.

Ford acknowledged that some of the group's 213 registered members may not be ready for the auction block.

"The problem is that we're all still nerds. Let's face it, guys. If anyone's going to bid on us, we'll need some spicing up," he wrote. "And who better to help with that than sorority girls who like nothing better than a makeover?"

Joba is not a coward!

NEW YORK - Joba Chamberlain raised his oversized paws, shook his shaggy brown mane and let out a feeble roar. Looking and acting every bit the Cowardly Lion, the big reliever was ready for a scrap Monday.

"Put 'em up! Put 'em up!" he said, playfully challenging Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina. No takers — they were laughing too hard at Chamberlain's head-to-toe costume.

It was rookie hazing day for the New York Yankees, and this well-worn baseball tradition came with a theme: The Wizard of Oz.

So after their 4-1 loss to Toronto, and while the movie's soundtrack played over the locker room speakers, about a dozen rooks slipped into their outfits for the bus ride to the airport and the flight to Tampa Bay.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The $500 coffee is the dealbreaker

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - This dessert may be a little too rich for you, but you're probably not rich enough for it. A Sri Lankan resort is charging $14,500 for what it calls the world's most expensive dessert, a fruit infused confection complete with a chocolate sculpture and a gigantic gemstone.

"The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence" was created to give visitors at The Fortress resort in the coastal city of Galle a one-of-a-kind experience, said the hotel's public relations manager, Shalini Perera.

The dessert is a gold leaf Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, served with a mango and pomegranate compote and a champagne sabayon enlighten. The dessert is decorated with a chocolate carving of a fisherman clinging to a stilt, an age old local fishing practice, and an 80 carat aquamarine stone.

The dessert has to be specially ordered, Perera said. Though the hotel has gotten calls about it from as far away as Japan, she said, no one has yet forked over the money to try it.

But it's the $500 coffee that really ticks people off

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - This dessert may be a little too rich for you, but you're probably not rich enough for it. A Sri Lankan resort is charging $14,500 for what it calls the world's most expensive dessert, a fruit infused confection complete with a chocolate sculpture and a gigantic gemstone.
"The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence" was created to give visitors at The Fortress resort in the coastal city of Galle a one-of-a-kind experience, said the hotel's public relations manager, Shalini Perera.
The dessert is a gold leaf Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, served with a mango and pomegranate compote and a champagne sabayon enlighten. The dessert is decorated with a chocolate carving of a fisherman clinging to a stilt, an age old local fishing practice, and an 80 carat aquamarine stone.
The dessert has to be specially ordered, Perera said. Though the hotel has gotten calls about it from as far away as Japan, she said, no one has yet forked over the money to try it.

But the coffee is only $500

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - This dessert may be a little too rich for you, but you're probably not rich enough for it. A Sri Lankan resort is charging $14,500 for what it calls the world's most expensive dessert, a fruit infused confection complete with a chocolate sculpture and a gigantic gemstone.
"The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence" was created to give visitors at The Fortress resort in the coastal city of Galle a one-of-a-kind experience, said the hotel's public relations manager, Shalini Perera.
The dessert is a gold leaf Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, served with a mango and pomegranate compote and a champagne sabayon enlighten. The dessert is decorated with a chocolate carving of a fisherman clinging to a stilt, an age old local fishing practice, and an 80 carat aquamarine stone.
The dessert has to be specially ordered, Perera said. Though the hotel has gotten calls about it from as far away as Japan, she said, no one has yet forked over the money to try it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Batman invades Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The arrival of Batman in Hong Kong this November for filming of the latest Hollywood sequel has ruffled local politicians who say the masked hero could disrupt traffic and cause noise pollution, reports said Friday.

In "The Dark Knight" due for release next July, the caped crusader will leave Gotham City for Hong Kong to fight his enemies, Hong Kong's Standard newspaper reported.

But local politicians who met the film's producers on Thursday reportedly expressed concerns at the inconvenience and "traffic chaos," Batman might cause during the nine-day shoot.

One district councilor warned residents in the normally teeming, high-decibel city to "prepare earplugs" as the movie-makers planned to use a helicopter for late night scenes, the report added.

And the gas chamber shampoo wasn't a big hit either

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish fashion chain Zara has withdrawn a handbag from its stores after a customer in Britain complained swastikas were embroidered on it.

Zara, owned by the world's second largest fashion retailer Inditex, said it did not know the 39 pound ($78) handbag had green swastikas on its corners.

The bags were made by a supplier in India and inspired by commonly used Hindu symbols, which include the swastika. The original design approved by Zara did not have swastikas on it, Inditex said.

"After the return of one bag we decided to withdraw the whole range," said a spokesman for Inditex, which has more than 3,330 stores in 66 countries.

Bad luck burglars

ANTIOCH, Calif. - Two men who police said broke into a building to steal copper wiring got more than they bargained for: a room full of police officers. Police said 26-year-old James Ayers and Frederick Guilliee, 38, broke into the 40,000-square-foot building at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

What they hadn't planned for is the Antioch police K-9 unit who was holding a training session there.

At the time of the break-in, an officer was hiding inside the building in a training exercise. Shortly thereafter, a K-9 officer announced that a dog was about to be released and that anyone inside should give themselves up or risk being bitten.

Ayers surrendered immediately, police said, and the K-9 officers found Guilliee hiding inside.

Police arrested the men on suspicion of commercial burglary.

You're not happy to see me, and that is cocaine in your pants

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - A 31-year-old Sheboygan man was charged with several felonies after police found more than eight grams of cocaine in his underwear. Harvey D. Johnnies was riding in a sport utility vehicle stopped by police Wednesday night, according to a criminal complaint. An officer found a pipe used for smoking crack cocaine in the console area.

Another passenger told an officer that he, Johnnies and the driver got crack cocaine in Milwaukee and shared the pipe in smoking the drug on their way back to Sheboygan, the complaint said. The passenger said Johnnies appeared to hide something in his groin area just before their SUV was pulled over.

Police retrieved 8.2 grams of cocaine from Johnnies' underwear while he was in a holding cell, the complaint said.

Chompers clipped

YORKTOWN, Ind. - A man accused of snatching another man's false teeth straight from his mouth during a fight has been charged with robbery. Robert Henry Stahl, 62, was charged Thursday in Delaware Circuit Court with felony robbery and battery causing bodily injury, a misdemeanor. If convicted of robbery, he could face two to eight years in prison.

Police and prosecutors said they did not know if Stahl had retained an attorney.

Billie Townsend, 56, told police he went to a bar on July 27 to pay Stahl money he owed him, then Stahl asked him to go outside and started punching him repeatedly.

During the fight, Stahl allegedly put Townsend in a headlock and removed his false teeth. "He said, 'You ain't getting these back,'" Townsend told police.

Bush's bootmaker busted

GUANAJUATO, Mexico - A bootmaker to world leaders, including President Bush and Vicente Fox, is in a Colorado jail, charged with money laundering and conspiring to illegally smuggle the skins of protected animals into the U.S. to provide exotic footwear for high-end clients.

The arrest of Martin Villegas — and Mexico's raid of a warehouse filled with hundreds of cowboy boots and belts made from endangered species — has raised questions about how much Fox knew of the scheme and whether the former Mexican president purchased illegal boots himself.

Before Fox left office in December, Villegas created a special brand of cowboy boot named after him, which was manufactured in Mexico's shoemaking capital, Leon, in Fox's home state of Guanajuato.

The Mexican bootmaker also produced footwear for Fox's bodyguards, Cabinet members, relatives and friends — including Bush, a fellow lover of ranchwear who accepted a pair of ostrich-skin cowboy boots as a gift during a visit to Fox's ranch in 2001.


CONCORD, N.H. - A federal judge was driven to rhyme after receiving a hard-boiled egg in the mail from a prison inmate protesting his diet. U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead reached for Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" for inspiration after getting the egg from inmate Charles Jay Wolff.

"I do not like eggs in the file," Muirhead wrote. "I do not like them in any style. I will not take them fried or boiled. I will not take them poached or broiled. I will not take them soft or scrambled/Despite an argument well-rambled."

He then ordered the egg destroyed: "No fan I am/Of the egg at hand. Destroy that egg! Today! Today! Today I say! Without delay!"

Wolff sent the egg in a manila envelope as part of his complaint against state officials. Wolff, 61, says he is an Orthodox Jew and has accused prison officials of refusing to feed him a kosher diet. Wolff also says he cannot tolerate hard-boiled eggs and is suing the state Department of Corrections for $10 million.

Wolff asked the judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would force prison officials to serve him meals that meet "both his spiritual and medical needs."

Are those three iguanas in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

LOS ANGELES - A man accused of stealing three endangered iguanas from a nature preserve in Fiji and smuggling them into the United States in his prosthetic leg has been indicted.

Jereme James, 33, of Long Beach, faces a single count of smuggling, according to a federal indictment returned Friday in Los Angeles. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Prosecutors say James stole the Fiji Island banded iguanas while visiting the South Pacific island in September 2002. He then brought the reptiles to the U.S. by hiding them in a special compartment he had constructed in his prosthetic leg, prosecutors said.

James will be summoned to appear for his arraignment next month.

And NEW burrito eating champion...

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - A day trader and aspiring pizza chef known as "Eater X" munched through 10 3/4 burritos in a dozen minutes Saturday to win what was billed as the world burrito-eating championship.

Tim Janus, 30, of New York City, said he prepared by just eating candy for a day, which he said helped clear his system.

"I love Mexican food," he said after his victory.

About 100 spectators watched the contest outside the Costa Vida restaurant, where about a dozen entrants competed for $3,000 in prize money. The 18-ounce burritos were made of rice, black beans, pork, cheese and a mild sauce wrapped in a tortilla.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Now this is bad luck

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A man who thought he was asking a friend about a drug deal instead sent a text message to the state police and was arrested, authorities said.
Joshua Wayne Cadle, 19, allegedly sent the message Wednesday to a phone number that used to belong to an unidentified friend. The number is now held by the State Police, Trooper B.H. Moore said Thursday.
"He text messaged that and asked his friend if he wanted to buy some reefer," Moore said.
Another trooper who received the message responded and set up a meeting. Moore arrested Cadle on Wednesday night in the parking lot of a shopping center in South Charleston.

Gimmie all your money or I'll... well, I'll do something

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. - A man accused of brandishing a medical syringe to rob a convenience store on Thursday morning later crashed his car into a house while trying to escape, police said.

A man walked into a store shortly before 4 a.m. and flashed a medical syringe, which he claimed was contaminated "with AIDS or something like that," Lt. David Flynn said.
The clerk handed over $80 in cash and the robber fled.
Flynn had worked a very similar robbery two weeks ago and had a description of that getaway car. When he saw one answering the description, he tried to stop it and the driver sped away.
After about two miles, the driver lost control and the car smashed into a house, buckling a wall. No one inside the home was injured.

No word if any wheelies were popped

MUNCIE, Ind. - Prosecutors have filed two misdemeanor charges against a former police officer who authorities say crashed a squad car while showing off for three female college students riding with him.
Jason Lyons, 38, was charged in Muncie City Court with reckless driving and interference with reporting a crime. A preliminary arraignment was pending.
Lyons, a six-year veteran of the police force, resigned this month after being suspended over the Aug. 28 crash along a street outside a Ball State University residence hall complex.
"These are clear-cut cases," Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney said Wednesday.
Lyons could not be located for comment because no telephone number was listed in his name.
The three female freshmen told investigators they met Lyons, who called himself "Rico," about 1 a.m. at a near-campus convenience store, police said.
"We all asked if he could give us a ride back to the dorms, and 'Rico' said, 'Sure, I'll take you,'" one of the students, Stacy Walters, said in a police statement.
Walters said she and the other girls then screamed in terror as Lyons drove fast down a couple streets before hitting a curb and crashing

And Dean Martin for mayor!

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - This Frank Sinatra isn't the "Chairman of the Board" — but he is running for a spot on the board of supervisors in the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township.

Frank W. Sinatra Jr., 38, realizes he has the kind of name recognition that most political candidates would die for.
Residents of this township about 10 miles west of Pittsburgh are sometimes ho-hum when he knocks on their door to campaign for votes — until they hear his name, Sinatra said.
"I had a person offer to buy me some color contacts because I have brown eyes," Sinatra said, referring to the late singer's nickname Ol' Blue Eyes.
"It's always, 'Chairman of the Board.' 'I'll vote for you if ya sing me a song,'" Sinatra told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for Thursday's editions. "People are pretty receptive to the name."

Talk about your high pressure systems

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - A television station apologized to viewers after an Internet video showed a longtime weather anchor clowning around in front of a computer graphic of a woman's breast.
WBKO-TV said on its Web site that it has reprimanded weather anchor Chris Allen for "acting in a juvenile and unprofessional manner." Rick McCue, station vice president and general manager, said Allen remains an employee.
The tape was from years earlier, never aired on television and was stolen by a former employee, who posted it on the Internet, according to the station, which did not name the former employee.
The video appeared on blogs and other Web sites, showing Allen to the left of a giant computer graphic of a woman's body in profile, under the text "Breast Milk Donors." A grinning Allen appears to lick the nipple and squeeze the breast while making honking noises, whistling and laughing.

And this little piggy went wee-wee-wee-wee all the way home

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man who made more than 600 telephone calls to a shoe store and other businesses to ask women about their shoes and feet must pay a $200 fine.

James Lee Fink, 31, placed 119 calls from his cell phone to the Chambersburg (Pa.) Mall, 513 calls to a Holiday Inn in Havelock, N.C., and 17 calls to a Comfort Inn in Chambersburg between Jan. 1 and May 8, 2006, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jeff Bopp said Thursday.
The caller would ask the women what kind of shoes they were wearing and whether they would show him their feet if he came into their store.
The man identified himself as Brian Thompson, but State Police used phone records to link the telephone number to Fink, whose last known address was in Martinsburg.

Thanks goodness it wasn't a cabbage

DES MOINES, Iowa - A man was arrested after he hit his wife in the back of the head with an onion. James Izzolena, 54, of Des Moines, had been drinking, became upset with his wife, Nicole Izzolena, 27, and threw an onion at her during an argument on Wednesday, police said.

Police said James Izzolena admitted throwing the onion at his wife but said he didn't mean to hit her.
His wife told police it made her head hurt.

Look out, Tiger

NEWARK, N.J. - The men were still calming themselves after witnessing a member of the foursome, Thomas Brady, score a hole-in-one, when Dennis Gerhart stepped to the tee. One stroke later, the celebration began anew. Gerhart had also holed out.

"I've never heard of that happening anywhere in the world," Jim Woods, director of golf at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, said Thursday, a day after the dual aces were recorded on the club's Banks Course. "Two balls on the same hole in the same group is pretty impressive."
Holes-in-one are rare. Neither Brady nor Gerhart had ever made one before. The odds of a golfer scoring an ace: 5,000-to-1. But the odds of two players in a foursome performing such a feat are 17 million to 1, according to a Golf Digest article in 2000.
"To have two happen like that, back to back, is just unbelievable," Brady said Thursday.
Brady, 41, of Lopatcong, used a 6-iron on the 179-yard seventh hole, a downhill par-3. It hit the green and rolled about 30 feet into the hole.
"Everybody was just high-fiving each other," Gerhart said.
Gerhart, 57, an electrical contractor from Point Pleasant, then made his ace with a 5-iron after hitting to about 20 feet. "It landed on the green and started trickling toward the pin. I thought it was going to stop short, but it kept rolling," he said.
"His ball hit in almost the same spot on the left side of the green and rolled to the hole," said Brady, a regional manager for Cooper Electric Supply, of Tinton Falls.
The group could not be sure the ball wasn't behind the pin until they drove up to the hole, he said.
"It was just utterly incredible," Gerhart said. "I'm just ecstatic when I stick the green and get a shot at par."

This might cause some rubbernecking delays

LOS ANGELES - Motorists traveling Southern California highways are used to seeing all sorts of debris, from mattresses to luggage to clothing. But the ultimate in freeway flotsam has landed along the Hollywood Freeway: a house.
Patrick Richardson's now immobile home was being moved Saturday from Santa Monica to Santa Clarita when several mishaps — including a roof-shredding blow while attempting to pass beneath an overpass — slowed its progress and it fell off its trailer.
Richardson, 45, got an oversized load permit from the California Department of Transportation. But instead of following the authorized Santa Monica-San Diego-Golden State freeways route, authorities said, he headed through downtown Los Angeles and then onto the Hollywood Freeway.
In the downtown area, the wheels started falling off, California Highway Patrol Officer Jason McCutcheon said.
"It was pretty ugly."
Richardson made some repairs and the roadhouse was moving again. But then the roof struck an overpass and he had to pull over in the Cahuenga Pass, which separates Hollywood from the San Fernando Valley.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

There's a physics lesson in here somewhere

NEW YORK - A man who tried to tow his 35-foot fishing vessel to a marina by paddling in a 9-foot inflatable boat was fished out of a Long Island canal by Coast Guard officials Wednesday.

"This is one of the most unsafe things I may have ever seen a boater do," said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Steven Koch.

Louis Pasquale, 35, of Seaford, N.Y., was attempting to tow his fishing vessel Barbara Ann from the North Channel near Bay Shore about 20 miles to Freeport. He was not injured, but not wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

Pasquale reportedly started towing the Barbara Ann at 5:30 a.m from the East Islip Marina, and had managed to move it about 100 yards in three hours when both the Coast Guard and Islip Harbor Police stopped him.

The case of the Queens cow

NEW YORK - An errant cow is headed for greener pastures after being corralled by police following a two-mile chase through the streets of Queens.

Dubbed "Queenie," the brown and white bovine was captured around 11 p.m. Tuesday, about one hour after she was first spotted roaming the streets of Jamaica, Queens, said Richard Gentles, a spokesman for Animal Care & Control of New York City.

"We have the cow. We're taking care of her. She will probably go to a farm sanctuary upstate," he said.

No one seemed to know where the cow came from. Gentles said there have been no reports of a missing cow from any of the area slaughterhouses.

"We wait a day or two to see if anyone claims her," he said. If no one does, Gentles said the white-faced Queenie, who's approximately 1 1/2 years old and sports white patches over a brown torso, will be taken to live on a farm in upstate New York.

Why being a Boy Scout isn't worth it

ALBRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. - The state Game Commission is setting traps in Hickory Run State Park after a bear bit a 12-year-old camping with his Boy Scout troop.

The bear entered the boy's tent Sunday night and bit down on his sleeping bag, probably trying to get candy bars and cereal hidden there, but bit the boy instead, Tim Conway, a game commission spokesman, said Tuesday.

The boy was treated at Blue Mountain Health Systems' Gnaden Huetten campus in Lehighton and released.

"The bear took off when the boy screamed," Conway said.

For that reason, game officials think the bear was after treats and are not considering the bite an attack, he said.

Things to do when you're bored

CARBONDALE, Pa. - Authorities said a man wearing nothing but a hat tried to rob a convenience store in Carbondale. Police say the 24-year-old man charged in last month's robbery attempt often stands naked in front of the window of his apartment.

He was first arrested on an accusation of exposing himself to two women at his apartment building. Carbondale Police Sgt. Thomas Heller says the man ultimately confessed to being the one who tried to rob the store — and said he did so because he was bored.

The clerk at the store kept her cool during last month's robbery attempt. She refused to give the man money and dialed 911. The man left, still undressed, without getting any cash.

Has anyone seen my cocaine?

SEATTLE - Federal agents thought there was something fishy about Leroy Carr. On four occasions since last December, Carr either crossed the Canadian border or was found near it with thousands of dollars in cash, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court. He also sometimes carried night vision goggles and a GPS device programmed with coordinates for a well-known drug-smuggling trail.

But Carr refused to speak with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and they let him go — until he called to ask if they had seen his cocaine.

According to the complaint, he told agents that on Aug. 3, he had stashed two blue backpacks containing 68 pounds of cocaine by the entrance to a Boy Scout camp near the Canadian border. When he returned the next day, they were gone, he said.

Carr, of suburban Federal Way, asked if ICE could put out a news release saying that federal agents had seized the drugs. That way, according to the complaint, the organization he was working for would believe his statements that he hadn't stolen them.

Two weeks later, a Boy Scout ranger found the backpacks, which were dry and in good shape, and called police.

Can the glue factory be far behind?

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A Puerto Rican horse that can't win a race now has a claim to fame. Dona Chepa, a 9-year-old brown mare, finished last in a six-horse field at Camarero Racetrack in eastern Puerto Rico on Wednesday, a 125th consecutive loss that is believed to be the longest in horse racing history.

Track spokesman Joe Bruno said Wednesday's loss surpasses an equine losing record of 0-124 set by Australian horse Ouroene, who raced from 1976-83.

There is no world governing body that tracks lack of success for horses, but Dona Chepa's penchant for losing at least beats other notable marks for futility, including Ouroene, Gloria Springs (106, Japan), Thrust (105, North America) and Quixall Crossett (103, Britain).

This is what happens when you put a snake in your mouth

PORTLAND, Ore. - Snake collector Matt Wilkinson of Portland grabbed a 20-inch rattler from the highway near Maupin, and three weeks later, to impress his ex-girlfriend, he stuck the serpent in his mouth.

He was soon near death with a swollen tongue that blocked his throat. Trauma doctors at the Oregon Health and Science University saved his life.

"You can assume alcohol was involved," he said. Actually, not just beer. It was something he called a "mixture of stupid stuff."

Calls from cable network television stations poured in Tuesday, when he still had sore muscles and nerves from the venom.

It happened at a barbecue with friends.

Wilkinson, 23, had downed a six-pack and his ex-girlfriend asked him for a beer. He handed her one, not realizing the snake was also in his hand.

"She said, 'Get that thing out of my face,'" Wilkinson said. "I told her it was a nice snake. 'Nothing can happen. Watch.'"

So he stuck the snake in his mouth.

"It got a hold of my tongue," he said.

Cannibalism? Well...

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Seven-year-old Finley Collins thought her pet 12-inch bearded dragon might be giving birth when she noticed an unusual protrusion near the lizard's tail.

But Finley's father, Jeff Collins, feared it might be something more ominous and rushed Mushu to an animal hospital, where a veterinarian pulled out a 7-inch toy rubber lizard.

"I've never extracted a lizard from another lizard before," said veterinarian John Rossi.

Rossi had sedated Mushu and pulled on the protrusion.

"The next thing I knew, I was seeing legs and a body and a head. It was very strange to be tugging on this thing," he said.

By the time the rubbery lizard's legs began to appear, Rossi realized what it was.

"We were all laughing," he said. "It passed completely through the entire (gastrointestinal) tract," Rossi said.

Not quite Santa

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Firefighters had to tear though a wall to rescue an intoxicated man who became stuck while trying to climb down a chimney into the residence of his former girlfriend.

Alejandro Valencio said he was drunk when he got into the chimney about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"Everyone do stupid things sometimes when they're drunk," he said.

Firefighters requested assistance from police after arriving because they said Connie Deweese was hampering the rescue effort by blocking the fireplace.

"I told them to leave him in the chimney and let him die," said Deweese, who received misdemeanor citations for disorderly conduct and interfering with a firefighter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's what you get for being a Kenny Chesney fan

DETROIT - Two Wayne police officers may spend a year in jail for trying to look like country star Kenny Chesney. Officers Gregg Richard Anderson and Frank Cazazos, both 38, were fired from the department after they were charged with stealing 21 beige straw cowboy hats from a vendor outside a Chesney concert last month at Ford Field.

Both were charged Tuesday with larceny over $200 and under $1,000, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. They were to be arraigned Tuesday at 36th District Court.
A vendor was selling hats on Aug. 8 before the Chesney concert when the off-duty officers approached him, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
Anderson and Cazazos asked him if he had a license to sell the hats, Worthy said. When the vendor said no, the officers allegedly grabbed the hats and left.
They told the vendor he could pick the hats up at a Detroit police precinct. People later saw the officers sporting some of the cowboy hats.

Best prank ever

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. - Students may be struggling this time of year to get back into the groove of school, but in the Black River Falls School District they're up-to-speed with pranks.

The district in western Wisconsin canceled classes Monday after someone deflated the tires on all 18 of its school buses.
The vandalism happened between 7 p.m. Sunday and 5:45 a.m. Monday, district transportation director Jeff Walker said.
He said they tried to fix enough buses to just delay the start of school by two hours, but they couldn't so classes were canceled.

A fowl way to end the day

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - A man faces a number of charges, including drug possession, after a traffic stop in which he was stunned several times with a Taser and police found a live chicken.

Richard D. Brown, 34, was charged with cocaine possession with intent to deliver, maintaining a drug trafficking place, resisting an officer, obstructing an officer, second-offense operating while intoxicated and operating after revocation.
According to Sheboygan police, the incident started about 2 a.m. Friday when an officer spotted Brown involved in a potential drug deal and tried to stop him. The man threw a pack of cigarettes out of his car window and tried to run. The pack was found to have contained more than an ounce of cocaine, authorities said.
An officer pursued Brown, caught him, punched him in the head and knocked him to the ground, authorities said, but he tried to run again. A second officer zapped both men with a stun gun as they were struggling, and Brown again before he was handcuffed.
Brown told the officers he got the fowl from a local fast food restaurant, police have said.

Spin rage is the new black

NEW YORK - A Wall Street stock broker has been charged with assault after he became enraged during a cycling class at a posh health club and slammed a fellow member and his bike against a wall, according to a complaint.
Christopher Carter, 44, a broker at Maxim Investments Group, was at Equinox gym taking a spin class, a high-impact workout using stationary bikes. He apparently became so fed up by member Stuart Sugarman's hooting and grunting during the workout that he picked up Sugarman and his bike and hurled them into a wall.
"This is spin rage," said Samuel L. Davis, Sugarman's attorney.
Sugarman, 48, a Manhattan hedge-fund manager, suffered a back injury that required surgery to correct a herniated disc pressing on his spinal cord, Davis said.
Carter was charged with a misdemeanor assault and was released on his own recognizance Monday, according to the Manhattan prosecutor's office. A criminal complaint charges that Carter caused a back injury to Sugarman.
Carter's attorney Michael Farkas denied the claim.

Seattle residents set to ride the SLUT

SEATTLE - Officially, it's the South Lake Union Streetcar. But in the neighborhood where the new line runs, it's called the South Lake Union Trolley — or, the SLUT. At Kapow! Coffee, a shop in the old Cascade neighborhood, 100 T-shirts bearing the words "Ride the SLUT" sold out in days, and another 100 are on order.
"We're welcoming the SLUT into the neighborhood," said Jerry Johnson, 29, a part-time barista.
Some claim — incorrectly, according to representatives of Vulcan Inc., the company that is developing the area — that South Lake Union Trolley was the original name and that it was changed when officials belatedly realized the acronym.

Don't buy hot sermons

SAN BENITO, Texas - A minister in South Texas arrived at church and discovered thieves had escaped with $15 in petty cash, a set of keys and her sermon.
The Reverend Dori Zubizarreta said she had to "wing it" for worshippers after the September 1st robbery at All Saints Episcopal Church in San Benito.
Zubizarreta arrived at church to find the lights and phone cut off, the offices in disarray, and a computer packed in a kitchen trash can as though "ready to go."
She said she thought she surprised the robbers, who apparently fled through an office window.
Damage repair including cleaning and a new alarm service totaled about $1,000.
As for the sermon?
The minister thinks it ended up in the trash somewhere.

Brown grass and low tides

OREM, Utah - A 70-year-old woman arrested in a dispute over her brown lawn pleaded not guilty Tuesday, then stood by as a Los Angeles lawyer waved handcuffs for the cameras outside court.

"I ask the citizens of Orem: How many of you would like to have your great-grandmother taken from her home with bruises and blood and placed in handcuffs for failing to water her lawn?" attorney Gloria Allred said.
"Let's bring sanity back to law enforcement," she said.
Betty Perry is charged with resisting arrest and failing to maintain her landscaping, both misdemeanors. She was arrested July 6 after failing to give her name to a police officer who visited her home.
During a struggle, Perry fell and injured her nose. She spent more than an hour in a holding cell before police released her.
The mayor and City Council apologized, and the police department said the situation could have been handled differently. But the city attorney still is pressing charges, and Perry is due back in court next month.
A state investigation found that Officer James Flygare acted properly in arresting Perry after trying to get her to cooperate.
Perry's water had been turned off for about nine months, at her request, although she was living at the house at the time of the arrest. Orem has a shut-off policy for people who are away for extended periods.

If the SUV is a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'

MOSCOW, Idaho - A carnival worker who hit a telephone pole with his SUV blamed the crash on two friends having sex in the back seat.
Joshua D. Frank, who had been living on the Latah County Fairgrounds, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of failing to notify a police officer of a traffic accident. He was fined $188.
Frank told Moscow police he was driving near downtown early Saturday while a man and woman were having sex in the rear of the vehicle. According to a probable cause affidavit, he said the movement caused the SUV to become "tippy" and he lost control of it.
Frank, 22, suffered a minor head wound in the crash and his friends were treated for unspecified injuries, according to the affidavit.

Get these (bleeping) snakes off this (bleeping) plane!

ATLANTA - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has fined a man $800 for flying dead snakes and birds inside his luggage from South Korea to Atlanta.

Last month, security officers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport found 30 snakes, a dead bird and pieces of several other birds in his luggage.
All the animals were dead, but screeners took extra precautions because U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers warned that some of the snakes, packed inside jars and bottles, could still contain venom.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers issued two citations against the man — one for failing to declare the unusual cargo and another for violating laws intended to protect endangered species.
"They're typically used in traditional Chinese or Asian medicine," said Darwin Huggins, Fish and Wildlife agent in charge of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. "Some of the snakes had scorpions in their mouths. And they were preserved in wine. It's a medicinal type wine that certain cultures drink."

No report on when, and if, the Boy Wonder will appear

HOUSTON - Bats took over a university dormitory, forcing more than 200 students into hotels and worrying health officials, who now fear the students could have been exposed to rabies. Videos posted on the Internet show students swinging a broom and a tennis racket as several bats fly about in a dormitory hallway at Texas Southern University. One student, 19-year-old Jason Smith, said he killed dozens of bats but didn't know of anyone who was bitten.
"When we saw the video, we knew we had a problem," said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the city of Houston's health department.
Health officials asked students who had been in Lanier Hall East to meet with them this week to determine whether any would need rabies vaccinations.
Texas Southern officials, meanwhile, are trying to rid the dorm of the bat infestation, said university spokesman Terrence Jackson. It wasn't clear how many bats were in the building. Exterminators went to the dorm on Monday.

You know you're about to be part of a TLC special when...

LANSING, Mich. - Firefighters cut a hole in the side of a house and used a forklift to extricate a 900-pound man from his second-floor bedroom after a visiting nurse became worried about his health.

Rescue workers were called in Tuesday by the nurse, who determined the 33-year-old man needed medical help, Fire Chief Tom Cochran said.
Cochran said the man had not left his home since 2003.
The man's brother, who lives with him, said he suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that creates a chronic hunger feeling that can lead to overeating and life-threatening obesity.
Rescue workers brought in a forklift, high enough to raise a platform to a hole cut into the wall of the house. They covered the man with a blue tarp to shield him from onlookers and slid the platform onto a flatbed truck for a trip to Sparrow Hospital.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More than one way to save a cat

YONKERS, N.Y. - A fearful feline that was stuck in a tree for a week, clinging to branches several stories high, was finally blasted to safety with a high-pressure fire hose.

Volunteers with an outstretched sheet made the save as the cat — soaked and hungry but unharmed — was hosed out of the tree by firefighters Sunday night.

"Everyone was cheering," said artist and animal rescuer Greg Speirs, who was among about 50 people assembled beneath the willow tree.

The cat had previously ignored people who banged cans of cat food and climbed ladders that were just out of reach. It took two shots with the hose to do the trick.

"As soon as the cat landed it jumped out and ran into the woods," Speirs said Monday.

Wallabies gone wild

WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita city officials may ban wallabies, a miniature kangaroo-like marsupial, from city limits after one of them briefly escaped from its owner.

The development is the latest in the adventures of Skippy, a 10-month-old wallaby who bolted last month from owner Joe Freed's home. His escape prompted news stories and a brief, intense search. He was found 20 hours later a half-block away, where he was trying to get some bread people were tossing to ducks.

Since then, Freed spent $1,000 in attorney's fees but succeeded in beating a city ticket for having an exotic animal.

Hanna, flamingo, get stuck

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Animal expert Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through an airport security turnstile. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out.

Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on nationally televised talk shows, was returning from a zoo fundraiser with a mongoose, a small leopard and the flamingo. Three other people were with them.

The entourage arrived at the Ohio State University Airport just after midnight Sunday to find the terminal closed. The only way to leave the tarmac was through a 10-foot-tall metal turnstile with several horizontal bars — not the easiest exit to squeeze through when you're traveling with boxed-up animals, Hanna said.

"I never thought about the crate being square and the turnstile being round," he said.

You smell something in here?

OGDEN, Utah - The city bought a $1,475 olfactometer to sniff out odor violations following complaints at a dog-food factory. Three citizens volunteered to join a city sniff squad and will be trained to used the device, Ogden Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson said.

The squad will be headed by municipal code enforcement officers.

"We need to do this because we don't want noxious odors to impact air quality in Ogden," Patterson said.

The city has received complaints for years about odors at American Nutrition Inc., which makes dog and cat food. The factory, however, has installed an exhaust scrubber to cut down on emissions from three ovens.

Restaurants and bakeries are exempt from the city's odor ordinance.

And take THAT!

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Two lightning strikes on the same day didn't topple the steeple of the 117-year-old Newman United Methodist Church but they exposed something that might have. They blew out the siding and exposed dry rot that might have brought the steeple down.

Scott Stegall of Stewart Restoration Services said most of the steeple will have to be replaced because of the dry rot.

Repairs began last week and should be done in October.

One of the beams was so soft you could poke a finger through it, said Charlene Burgess, the church administrative assistant.

The July 11 lightning strikes broke out windows and damaged the church organ and did other damage totaling about $60,000.

How much is that zebra in my driveway

MUSKOGEE, Okla. - Sharon McConough says a zebra has been visiting her home and she has the photograph to prove it. McConough, who lives in the Ranger Creek area east of Fort Gibson Dam, said her dog starting barking and she went outside to see what was causing the disturbance. A zebra was trotting down her driveway. It was wearing a halter.

She ran to get her camera because she knew no one would believe her.

"It's so weird, you can't imagine what it's like to look out a glass door and see a zebra trotting down the driveway," she said.

McConough thinks it wasn't the first time the zebra has come around. She has found various clues, including dog food scattered from an outside bowl.

You really can sue anybody

LINCOLN, Neb. - The defendant in a state senator's lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He's everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he's trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes."

He's seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

Chambers said the lawsuit was triggered by a federal suit filed against a judge who recently barred words such as "rape" and "victim" from a sexual assault trial.

The accuser in the criminal case, Tory Bowen, sued Lancaster District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, claiming that he violated her free speech rights.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And everybody trips when they walk through it

RICHLAND, Mich. - It's a corny tribute to the late Gerald Ford — and it can be fully appreciated only from the air.

A farm not far from where Ford grew up created a maze in a cornfield in the likeness of the nation's 38th president, who died last December.
Each year, Gull Meadow Farms near Richland cuts a maze in its corn fields. A company that specializes in corn maze design drew up the plans for the Ford portrait, which says PRESIDENT FORD across the top and THANKS below.
"Instead of just creating a path for people to travel through, we decided to make it a tribute to the late President Ford," said Justin Wendzel, a spokesman for the farm.

Let's just hope her skirt didn't ride up

BERWICK, Pa. - You might say she was born to be wild — a century ago.
Evelyn Warburton rode to her 100th birthday party Saturday in a motorcycle sidecar. She sported a black leather jacket, a helmet and a pair of sunglasses for the 10-minute ride from her home in Lightstreet to her granddaughter's house in Berwick.
"It was fun today," said Warburton.
Her chauffeur on the green 2000 Harley-Davidson Ultra was George Crawford, a friend who had been offering to take her to church on his motorcycle for several years.
Warburton finally accepted Crawford's offer of a ride to her party. She had actually turned 100 on Thursday.
Crawford said Warburton was nervous at first, but relaxed after he assured her she wouldn't fly out of the sidecar. The duo hit a top speed of 40 mph.

You know what? On second thought, I'll just have the turkey club

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan officials claimed a world record Saturday for making the largest pot of soup, a giant cauldron of stew prepared by President Hugo Chavez's government. The hulking stainless steel cooking pot, set up outdoors in downtown Caracas, contained about 3,960 gallons of "sancocho" stew, Food Minister Rafael Oropeza said. That would dwarf the current record-holder listed on the Guinness World Records Web site, a pot of 1,413 gallons of spicy soup prepared in Durango, Mexico, in July.
Oropeza called it "Bolivarian stew" — a play on the name of Chavez's socialist movement, named in honor of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar. He said it was enough to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people.
Workers stood on raised platforms stirring the soup with poles, and then dished out servings to a crowd at a state-run market.
It contained 6,600 pounds of chicken, 4,400 pounds of beef and tons of vegetables.

You should see the lines at George Michael's toilets

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - When tourists ask for the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport lately, it's usually not because they have to go.

It's because they want to see the stall made famous by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's arrest in a sex sting.
"It's become a tourist attraction," said Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. "People are taking pictures."
Craig was arrested June 11 by a Minneapolis airport police officer. The Idaho Republican pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Craig has since said his guilty plea was a mistake. His request to withdraw the guilty plea will be heard Sept. 26, just four days before he has said he will step down from his Senate seat.
Just 15 minutes into her shift on Friday, Evans said she had been asked directions to the new tourist attraction four times. Other airport workers field the same question.
"It's by the Lottery shop, right next to the shoeshine shop," said newsstand worker Abdalla Said, adding he gets the question daily.

Let's not blame "I Love Lucy"

RICHMOND, Ky. - A man who says he learned how to rob homes by watching a TV show was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a string of burglaries in central Kentucky.
Michael W. Hobbs, 36, of Waco, Ky., pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary. He was sentenced Thursday.
Police said Hobbs learned how to break into homes by watching the Discovery Channel TV show "It Takes a Thief." The show features two ex-convicts who show property owners how vulnerable they are to theft.
Police Maj. Steve Gregg said the ex-cons on the show say skilled burglars typically don't keep stolen items.
"He didn't hold onto any of the property," Gregg said of Hobbs. "He had no physical evidence at his residence whatsoever. When we entered a couple times, he said, 'Come on in, look around. I've done nothing.'"

Those who live in glass (animal) houses...

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. - Bloomsburg University's student government president was charged with drunken driving just weeks after saying the media has unfairly portrayed students as irresponsible.

Christopher Bevan, 21, was pulled over last weekend after a campus police officer said he saw the student driving more than 50 mph in a 15-mph zone.
A breath test showed Bevan's blood-alcohol level was .147 percent, authorities said. The legal limit for drivers in Pennsylvania is .08 percent.
Bevan recently wrote a letter to the Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg about media coverage of the central Pennsylvania college's annual Block Party, an event critics have described as rowdy and alcohol-fueled.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Santa demands return of Snow White, Grumpy

FLINT TOWNSHIP - An officer by the name of Santa has told two men they need to return Snow White's body and find Grumpy, too. The stone head of a Snow White statue was spotted in a Flint backyard and three of the four dwarf statues stolen from Sue Austin's Flint Township home have been returned.

Austin tells The Flint Journal the head likely broke when the statues were stolen August 31st.

Flint Township police detective Jim Santa says he was told the Snow White statue's body had been dumped on the side of a road. He says the two men told him they could retrace their steps to find it.

Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey already have been returned.

And he never got his Big Mac

PITTSBURGH - A 17-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the leg while standing in line at a McDonald's restaurant and now he faces an illegal weapons charge.

The boy was fiddling with the .25-caliber pistol tucked in his waistband when it fired, wounding him in the upper thigh shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday, city police Sgt. William Gorman said.

"Some days you deal with a victim, some days you deal with an actor," Gorman said. "But it's a strange day when the actor is the victim."

The boy was in good condition at Mercy Hospital. He was to be charged with illegal possession of a firearm, because he is not old enough to lawfully have a gun, police said.

Sounds like Titus got into the stash

SEQUIM, Wash. - The Sequim Police Department has decided to get rid of Titus the drug dog because he's simply not aggressive enough. Police said that Titus is fine for sniffing out drugs, but they need a patrol dog that can track and bite criminals.

Titus will be declared surplus next year and transferred to another police agency.

K-9 officer Mike Hill has mixed feelings about losing Titus because they've worked and lived together for three years. But Hill agreed that he needs a dog with more bite.

Mama mia, my penne is getting expensive

ROME (Reuters) - Many Italians excluded their beloved pasta from their supermarket shopping Thursday in protest at forthcoming price rises and consumer groups hailed the boycott as an excellent result.

Italians are in a state of outrage that rising wheat prices mean a plate of spaghetti in the next few months will almost certainly go up, even if by only a few cents, as many families eat pasta every day of the week.

"Pasta, bread, milk -- these are the most important things. We are not protesting for perfumes or jewels, but for pasta and bread," said one of demonstrators, Marisa, at a Rome protest.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

Pssst! Dustin Hoffman!

TOKYO (Reuters) - "Who played the father in the movie 'Kramer versus Kramer'?"

That's one of the 50 questions Japanese men could face in a "daddy exam," meant to raise awareness about fatherhood in a country where men tend to work long hours and leave their wives in charge of childcare and household chores.

Even men who remember Dustin Hoffman struggling as a father in the movie may have a hard time answering questions ranging from potty training and baby food to politics, such as the percentage of gross domestic product used for parenting support.

Tetsuya Ando, director of Fathering Japan, a Tokyo non-profit organization that came up with the test and will offer it to eager dads from next March, said the exam was a catchy way to get fathers into parenting.

"There just isn't enough information about parenting for fathers. Through the exam, we want men to realize that they don't know anything about child-rearing," he said.

Cops steal snacks

ROBELINE, La. - This village's only convenience store decided to do something nice for its police officers: give them a free fountain drink or coffee at closing time. But somewhere along the way, investigators say, it got out of control. Now, all three of the village's officers are accused of stealing snacks.

"Over a period of time, it evolved into regular drinks and more," Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's investigator Travis Trammell said. "There's no telling how it got to this point, but the store started experiencing losses and they watch their videotapes and see all of this going on."

Surveillance tapes showed each officer going into the Shop-A-Lott at Lott Oil around closing time and filling plastic bags with dozens of bottled soft drinks, Trammell said. The officers also are reportedly seen eating an assortment of other snacks without paying.

I said 'x' equals 12, you bastard!

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A teacher and a 14-year-old student were arrested after trading blows during an argument over taking out trash at the desert's Riverside County Community School.

Teacher Thomas Silva, 61, was arrested and booked for investigation of willful cruelty to a child, while the teenager was arrested for battery on a school employee, Sgt. Mitch Spike said Thursday. Both were released.

At about 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday, Silva asked the student to throw out the trash and the teen refused, Spike said. They argued and the student shoved Silva, who then slapped the student, the sergeant said.

The student then slapped the teacher and the teacher punched the student at least three times in the head, Spike said.

That did not go as planned

LANSING, Mich. - A man tired of burglars nearly blew off his hand when bomb-like devices he set around his house exploded in his presence instead, authorities said.

Victor Iacobescu, 50, ran to a neighbor's house Thursday with a bloody towel wrapped around his right hand.

"Apparently, he was trying to set booby traps to get the next guy who tried to break in," fire Lt. Maggie Murphy said.

Iacobescu had been the victim of several break-ins, she said.

The neighbor, Patrick Struble, said the explosives were "like a pipe bomb. He accidentally triggered it, and it almost blew his hand off."

Forget sub-prime mortgages; it's horses that are killing the housing market

MILFORD, Conn. - A man has filed a lawsuit against his neighbor, claiming he can't sell his house because of the smell of horse manure from next door. In court documents filed in Superior Court, Gino Sciortino claims Helen Catlin is permitting significant quantities of horse manure to accumulate in piles on her property and the foul odor can often be smelled at his home.

Helen and David Catlin have lived on Park Road more than a year and own three horses.

Sciortino said that at times, the smell is overpowering.

"When the wind blows, everything smells of horse manure," Sciortino said Thursday, saying the odor has made it difficult to sell his house for the past year.

Sciortino is asking for monetary damages as well as an injunction ordering Helen Catlin to relocate the horse manure and other debris and to re-grade the soil near their property line.

Southwest holds airfare sale honoring miniskirts

DALLAS (AP) - Southwest Airlines, after getting grief for telling a young woman her outfit was too revealing to fly, is now using the brouhaha as a marketing ploy — announcing a fare sale to honor miniskirts.
The airline on Friday offered 23-year-old Kyla Ebbert two free round-trip tickets and issued a double-entendre-laced news release announcing "skimpy" sale fares of $49 to $109 each way, available for 10 days.
Ebbert took her case to "The Dr. Phil Show" on Friday. Host Phil McGraw read an apology from Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly during the show, which is scheduled to air Tuesday.
Ebbert said she was on a Southwest plane ready to take off from San Diego on July 3 when an airline employee asked her to change her miniskirt, top and sweater or get off.
In a compromise, the 23-year-old Californian was allowed to stay on the flight to Tucson, Ariz., after pulling her skirt down a bit and her top up.

Ringtones disputed as Bob Marley rolls over, calls from grave

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Verizon Wireless resumed selling mobile phone ringtones Friday based on Bob Marley songs, despite objections from the estate of the late reggae music star to a licensing deal struck between the wireless carrier and recording company Universal Music Group.
Universal Music owns the rights to distribute some of the biggest hits by Marley and his band, The Wailers, including "I Shot the Sheriff," "Buffalo Soldier" and "Redemption Song."
The company struck what was initially an exclusive deal with Verizon late last month allowing Verizon to sell cuts of the songs for use as customized ringers on its mobile phones.
The Marley estate objected, claiming Verizon failed to get permission from the singer's family before making use of his music and likeness on its Web site. The estate threatened to sue for trademark infringement.

Donkey rescued after falling into well

UNDERWOOD, Minn. (AP) - A donkey is happily eating grass again after falling down a dry, abandoned well and being freed in an intensive rescue effort. It appeared that the animal wandered away from its farm and onto some boards covering the well, which broke, said Bruce Huseth, fire chief in this western Minnesota town.
Firefighters quickly realized that the animal, which belongs to farmer Warren Gundberg, couldn't just be pulled from the abandoned well on Bryan Nelson's land.
So they started pulling away earth with a tractor and dismantling the well block by block Thursday. Once one wall had been taken apart, firefighters put a harness around the donkey and guided it out with a rope.
"Whatever it takes," Nelson said as he watched his well come down. "I love animals, and I'm just glad it's OK."
Huseth said that he has rescued cows that have fallen through ice, but that the donkey was a first.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Venezuela backs off ban on weird kids' names

Venezuelan officials withdrew a proposal to bar parents from giving their children odd names like Edigaith, Mileidy or Superman, the state-run news agency reported yesterday.
The National Electoral Council had proposed banning “names that expose (children) to ridicule, are extravagant or difficult to pronounce” or raise doubts about whether a child is a girl or a boy.
The council also proposed to draw up a list of traditional names for parents to use “as a reference” when registering their children.
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Bald man steals hair loss products

A bald man went into a pharmacy and stole five bottles of a hair loss treatment but was caught while running away, police said.
Mark Hoousendove, 42, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of petty larceny and resisting arrest, Detective Lt. William Sullivan said. The product was worth about $50.Hoousendove, of Freeport, had just dropped off friends who were visiting an inmate at Sing Sing prison on Sunday when he went into the pharmacy, police said. An officer nearby chased him and grabbed him, they said.
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Least competent criminals

Jazmine Roberts, 19, was apprehended by a Neiman Marcus security guard in White Plains, N.Y., in August and held for police after she allegedly walked out of the store with a $250 pair of jeans and raged against the guard. According to a police report, Roberts was under the impression that once she walked out the door, she was immune from arrest, telling the guard, “It’s too late. I already left the store.”
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird

Brand new fetishes

Verle Dills, 60, was arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., in July after police found numerous homemade videos of Dills having sex in public with “traffic signs.”
And Jeff Doland of Uniontown, Ohio, was arrested in July, caught in an Internet sting after he flew to Miami thinking he had arranged to pay a “mother” to let him photograph her two adolescent daughters while she periodically pushed them underwater (because he “liked watching the bubbles”).
- Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Banks banned from using hot women to lure customers

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian banks must stop using attractive women to persuade customers to open accounts, Senate President David Mark was quoted as saying in Thursday's newspapers.
Mark said that despite a consolidation of the sector in 2005 that reduced the number of banks to 25 from 89 and was supposed to make them more efficient, many banks still used women to attract new business.
"Banks have made it a policy to employ beautiful ladies and give them targets to meet," Mark said during the inauguration of the new Senate committee on banking and insurance Wednesday.

Susage fest protest disrupts jail

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) - Some Lea County inmates set fires and broke toilets and windows after being told they would be allowed only one sausage at dinner. Jail officials said the inmates began yelling and banging on their doors in what they described in a news release as a "temper tantrum."
The damage to the jail was light, with some smoke damage and broken toilets and windows, the warden said.

Man steals car to turn himself in

GENEVA, N.Y. (AP) - A western New York man faces grand larceny charges after being pulled over in a car that he said he stole so he could turn himself in on another charge.
Ontario County sheriff's deputies say they pulled over Vincent Estrada Junior, 29, and found that the car he was driving had recently been stolen from a parking lot.
Police said Estrada was wanted on a family court warrant, and he told deputies he stole the car so he could drive to the Geneva City Police Department to turn himself in.
But he never made it there. Deputies say they arrested him and drove him back to Canandaigua to face the car-theft charges.

Fake obit ploy fails to keep woman from jail

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Prosecutors are investigating whether a phony obituary was placed in a newspaper in an attempt to keep a convicted forger out of prison.
The obituary reporting the supposed death and cremation of Shawnda K. Hatfield was faxed to Delaware Circuit Court Judge Robert Barnet Jr.
But Hatfield, 41, was later found at her home in nearby Dunkirk and arrested. Barnet sentenced her Thursday to four years in prison for altering a check drawn on the account of White Feather Farms, where she formerly worked.
Hatfield said she had no idea how her obituary ended up in The Star Press.
Kathy Whittenburg, an employee in the newspaper's classified advertising department, said the obituary appeared after a caller purporting to be Hatfield's niece phoned The Star Press and later provided a telephone number she said belonged to a Florida crematory.
Deputy Prosecutor Joe Orick told Hatfield that if an investigation showed her relatives were involved in the fake obituary, "You can have a family reunion upstairs" — in jail.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A woman holds a Sphynx cat during a local cat show in Almaty September 9, 2007. REUTERS

Robot maker builds artificial boy

RICHARDSON, Texas (AP) - David Hanson has two little Zenos to care for these days. There's his 18-month-old son Zeno, who prattles and smiles as he bounds through his father's cramped office. Then there's the robotic Zeno. It can't speak or walk yet, but has blinking eyes that can track people and a face that captivates with a range of expressions.
At 17 inches tall and 6 pounds, the artificial Zeno is the culmination of five years of work by Hanson and a small group of engineers, designers and programmers at his company, Hanson Robotics. They believe there's an emerging business in the design and sale of lifelike robotic companions, or social robots. And they'll be showing off the robot boy to students in grades 3-12 at the Wired NextFest technology conference Thursday in Los Angeles.
Unlike clearly artificial robotic toys, Hanson says he envisions Zeno as an interactive learning companion, a synthetic pal who can engage in conversation and convey human emotion through a face made of a skin-like, patented material Hanson calls frubber.
"It's a representation of robotics as a character animation medium, one that is intelligent," Hanson beams. "It sees you and recognizes your face. It learns your name and can build a relationship with you."
It's no coincidence if the whole concept sounds like a science-fiction movie.
Hanson said he was inspired by, and is aiming for, the same sort of realism found in the book "Supertoys Last All Summer Long," by Brian Aldiss. Aldiss' story of troubled robot boy David and his quest for the love of his flesh-and-blood parents was the source material for Steven Spielberg's film "Artificial Intelligence: AI."
He plans to make little Zenos available to consumers within the next three years for $200 to $300.

Dubai builds world's ugliest, ah, tallest building

DUBAI (AFP) - The world's tallest building, still under construction in the booming Gulf emirate of Dubai, has become the world's tallest free-standing structure, its developers said on Thursday.
The Burj Dubai tower is now 1,831.5 feet tall and has surpassed the 1,824.9-feet CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, which held the record for the world's tallest free-standing structure since 1976, developers Emaar Properties said in a statement.
The skyscraper, being built by South Korea's Samsung and set for completion at the end of next year, is one of several mega projects taking shape in Dubai, which is part of the United Arab Emirates.
The statement did not reveal the tower's final projected height or its final number of storeys, which Emaar has kept secret since launching the project in January 2004.
The developer announced in July that Burj Dubai, Arabic for Dubai Tower, had exceeded Taiwan's Taipei 101 which is 1,676.4 feet tall, to become the tallest building in the world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You ever try to inject catfish bait?

LEBANON, Ohio - Three people who mixed vinegar with catfish bait and tried to sell it as heroin got hooked by undercover officers.
Authorities said the three also tried to sell fake LSD.
John Burke, director of the Greater Warren County Drug Task Force, said he didn't know what might happen if someone actually injected a bait-vinegar concoction. Authorities don't know whether anyone else bought the counterfeit drug.
"We have gotten no reports of anyone else getting them, but quite frankly the people who may have gotten them aren't likely to report it," prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said Wednesday.

Surfer saves pooch

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. - A surfer rode a wave on his stomach to rescue a struggling dog that had been swept off a pier and into Lake Michigan by a wave. Matt Smolenski, 25, said he grabbed the pooch's collar just as the exhausted, black-and-brown mixed breed stopped dog-paddling on Tuesday.
"He put the dog up on his surfboard, and the dog rode the surfboard in to shore," said Royce Rodgers, an off-duty Muskegon Heights police officer who witnessed the rescue. As the dog crouched on the board, Smolenski held on from the water, fighting large waves and a strong current all the way to shore.
"I've watched the dog about a million times," said Smolenski, of Grand Haven. "He barks at the waves and then jumps back when they wash up on the pier."
Rodgers, who had started walking his own dog on the pier but turned back around after seeing the size of the waves, said the other dog wasn't on a leash when the wave swept it over the side. The same wave knocked the animal's owner off his feet, Rodgers said.
"The dog was trying to swim, but the waves were very large. It was struggling," Rodgers said. "The owner was screaming for the dog."
Rodgers said the owner thanked Smolenski and gave him a high five. He then "left so fast, I couldn't get his name," he said.

Next up: Getting rid of doctors to cure illness

BERLIN (Reuters) - A town council in Germany has decided the best way of improving road safety is to remove all traffic lights and stop signs downtown.

From September 12, all traffic controls will disappear from the center of the western town of Bohmte to try to reduce accidents and make life easier for pedestrians.

In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way, Klaus Goedejohann, the town's mayor, told Reuters.

"Traffic will no longer be dominant," he said.

The idea of removing signs to improve road safety, called "Shared Space," was developed by Dutch traffic specialist Hans Monderman, and is supported by the European Union.

Beware of deer when flying

PROVO, Utah - A plane owned by Utah Valley State College sustained $50,000 in damage when it slammed into a deer during a landing. The Diamond DA42 Twin Star hit the deer at 1 a.m. MDT on Aug. 22, said Mario Markides, UVSC flight operations manager. As part of training, pilots fly at night. The deer died.

"The big problem is you can't swerve," Markides said of seeing deer on the runway at the Provo airport.

The airport is near Utah Lake, in an area where deer find food and shelter.

"Wherever you provide habitat for an animal, they find that niche," said Craig Clyde, wildlife-program manager at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Easier than a gun and a barrel

HAZLETON, Iowa - Residents found the fishing easy after a malfunction in a dam caused a lake to suddenly empty. Members of the Amish community near Hazleton waded into the muck with spears and nets to catch fish that were stranded in shallow pools after the lake emptied Monday.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said the malfunction caused much of the lake's water to be released through the opening. The lake is created by the dam which backs up Otter Creek.

The lake was completely drained to facilitate repairs, officials with the DNR said.

To minimize wasting fish that would die, the DNR relaxed fish harvest rules.

Through 5 p.m. Wednesday people can take fish by just about any means except electricity, explosives or substances which stupify the fish.

Just part of the job, ma'am

DELAND, Fla. - A animal control officer was recovering on Tuesday after being bitten by a boa constrictor he was removing from a woman's car on Friday.

Gary Thomas was bitten twice by the 5-foot boa, on the back of the hand and on the finger. The snake bit Thomas after another officer dropped it.

Police and animal control believe the snake had either been released or escaped from its owner. It coiled itself around coil springs in the wheel well of the woman's car when it had to be removed.

Anybody who says they got bit by a snake and it didn't hurt is a liar," Thomas said.

I like your ginseng, guy

KITZMILLER, Md. - A nearly one-pound wild ginseng root found in western Maryland is a rarity that could be worth thousands of dollars, according to a local dealer and market reports. The lumpy tan root with multiple twisted arms was the biggest Roger Welch has found in 45 years of ginseng hunting.

"Every time I go out to dig for roots, I hope it's a big one." Welch, 67, of Kitzmiller, told the Cumberland Times-News Friday. "This one, all the dealers said they'd never seen one this size. Only one had even heard of one that big."

The root weighed just under 16 ounces. Welch said it usually takes 40 to 60 average-sized roots to make a pound.

Prices for dried wild roots — which weigh about one-third as much as fresh roots — are over $400 a pound and could reach $600 this season, said Larry Harding of Harding's Ginseng Farm, which cultivates ginseng near Friendsville.

An unusual root like Welch's could fetch a premium because ginseng's purported healthful properties are believed to increase with the plant's age, Harding said. He estimated Welch's root is 100 years old.

"It is an unusual find," Harding said. "You just don't run across roots of that size."

He likened Welch's discovery to finding gold.

Hey dude - sweet gondola!

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Joe Deverell is taking a trip on the Erie Canal to promote the historic upstate New York canal system, to tackle a new challenge and to slow down his life to appreciate Mother Nature's offerings.

While many others have taken similar journeys on the canal over the years, Deverell's trek is a bit different. He will pole along the canal in a 36-foot gondola.

"It's about taking the time to look at the world in a different way. ...It would be easier to stay at home, watch TV and have a couple beers, but there will be plenty of time to do that," said Deverell, 41, a self-employed industrial engineer from Cato, N.Y., who departed on his trip Tuesday.

At 6-foot-2 and a muscular 220 pounds, Deverell appears ready for the physical demands of rowing a 900-pound boat an average of 12 miles a day for the next 20 days.

Before the shooting, they were a happy couple

VANCOUVER, Wash. - A woman is accused of shooting her husband four times with a 16-gauge double-barreled shotgun after learning of an affair.

Eddie Martin, 51, survived the attack, but may have to have a limb amputated. Sheryl Martin, also 51, had to reload after the first two shots.

Martin made her first appearance on Monday in Clark County Superior Court. Martin was released on bail and will live with her parents. She will be formally charged September 21st.

Eddie Martin told his wife he was having an affair and wanted a divorce.

They argued and Eddie went to sleep in a camper. Sheryl found a shotgun, loaded it and allegedly shot him while he was in bed.

Sheryl Martin called 911 and told a dispatcher what she had done and was arrested on Saturday.

The pair have been married for 30 years.

Early contended for the Darwin Award

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - A man robbing a bank demanded the money by writing a note on one of his own checks, authorities say. Not surprisingly, he was caught soon afterward.

Forest Kelly Bissonnette, 27, apparently tried to cover his name on the check, then handed the note to a teller Sept. 5 at the Bank of the West in Englewood, according to authorities.

"We could still make it out even though he blacked it out," FBI agent Rene VonderHaar said. Nearly $5,000 was taken.

Nobody complains about grape stomping

NANUET, N.Y. - Stomping on garlic with your shoes on is apparently not the correct way to prepare food. The Rockland County health department hit the Great China Buffet restaurant with two violations after someone took pictures of an employee stomping on a bowl of garlic with his boots in an alley. The man alerted health inspectors.

"I go back there, and the guy's stepping on garlic," said Dan Barreto, who used to eat at the restaurant. "There he was just jumping up and down on it, smashing it up, having a good time."

The health department does not consider a person's shoe or boot a proper instrument to use in food preparation, senior public health sanitarian John Stoughton said Tuesday.

"It was a novel way to prepare food," he acknowledged.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I need my rock n' roll, lady

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A man who tried to run over a Burger King worker while ordering breakfast had to settle for jail food instead.

Dana Salce, 20, got into a dispute with workers at a Burger King just after 8 a.m. Sunday when he refused to turn his music down while ordering at the drive-through, Syracuse Police Lt. Joseph Cecile said.

Cecile said Salce grabbed the eatery's female manager, tried to pull her through a window and then attempted to run over a worker who came to the manager's aid.

Mmmmmm..... burritos

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - The 100-pound woman who holds the world lobster-eating title will be trying her hand at burritos in a contest far from the land of TexMex.

The diminutive Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va., is coming to Maine for the Costa Vida World Burrito Eating Championship on Sept. 22 at the Mexican restaurant.

Thomas, who's known as "The Black Widow," humbled her larger male counterparts by consuming 11.3 pounds of lobster meat in 12 minutes in 2005 in Kennebunk.

Other burrito competitors include Tim "Eater X" Janus, who recently shattered the tamale record by downing 71 of them in 12 minutes, along with Chip "Dr. ChipBurger" Simpson of Birmingham, Ala., Tim "Gravy" Brown of Chicago and Jason "Crazy Legs" Conti of New York.

They'll be chowing down on Costa Vida's 18-ounce "Big Kahuna" burrito.

Student pic banned because of... flower?

MERRIMACK, N.H. - A New Hampshire teenager's yearbook photo has been rejected, because she's holding a flower. Merrimack High School student Melissa Morin's senior photograph featured her and a small red flower. School officials, however, said the picture is not going to make it in the yearbook because props aren't allowed.

In the photo, Morin, 17, who loves acting, is sitting on a costume trunk backstage at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. She wore a black and white sundress and clutched the flower.

"I totally understand that schools have right to dictate policy," said Manchester photographer Brett Mallard. "I think the issue is people need to be made aware that we've thrown common sense out the window. When we're restricting kids from holding a stupid flower in their hand, it's kind of silly, quite frankly."

The policy stemmed from a 2005 controversy in Londonderry, where a student posed with his gun. A judge ruled in favor of the school, but Merrimack officials said they didn't want to face similar scuffles.

Well, it could have been worse

ST. PAUL - Police said a man who robbed a woman of her keys and cell phone then took off her shoes and licked her toes. Commander Kevin Casper said the attack was "weird sexual behavior."

The 24-year-old woman was leaving work around 1 a.m. Saturday when the 27-year-old man approached her and demanded her keys and phone. After that he removed her shoes.

Police say the woman was not hurt.

Old man + tire iron = good times

BAY SHORE, N.Y. - A tire iron-wielding man who police said was looking to mug a senior citizen probably thought he had found an easy target — that is, until the 74-year-old fought back.

Bruce Ferraro had no idea someone was following him as he walked out of a department store at the South Shore Mall on Saturday and got into his car, police said. But then a man pounded on Ferraro's window and demanded cash.

"Ferraro says, 'What, are you kidding me?' and he actually gets out of the car," said Det. Sgt. Thomas Groneman, of the Suffolk County Police Department.

The mugger demanded Ferraro hand over his wallet, calling the Bay Shore resident an "old man" and threatening to hit him with the tire iron, Groneman said.

Instead, Ferraro grabbed the bar and the two fought, until the septaugenarian managed to snatch away the tire iron, police said.

Groneman said Ferraro did "a good job" of disarming his would-be assailant, though he would not recommend other people attempt such a brazen act of self-defense.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Birds in coal mines have it better

BEIJING (Reuters) - Think a bottle of mineral water might have poisoned you? Then test it on a chicken.

One Chinese family on the southern island province of Hainan had just that idea when one of their number started vomiting blood after drinking a bottle of water, a newspaper said.
They fed the luckless chicken the rest of the water to see what would happen, the Beijing News said, citing a report in a local paper. "The result was the chicken died within a minute," it said, showing a picture of a man holding a plastic bottle squatting over the crumpled body of the bird.

Next up, he'll try and rob a gun store

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A karate academy was not the best target for a robbery, a Colombian thief found when his attempt got the chop from practicing students, police said on Friday.
The robber was recovering in a hospital in Santander province north of Bogota after the martial artists used their combat skills and took away his gun.
"An individual entered a martial arts school with a firearm but they managed to react, put their knowledge to use and disarmed him," Santander police commander Col. Julio Cesar Santoyo told local Caracol radio.

The Nazis also demanded the family eats dinner together

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German public television network Sunday sacked a popular talk show host and former news presenter after she had praised the Nazi's family policies at a news conference for her new book on child-rearing.

NDR television program director Volker Herres said on the NDR website the network had fired Eva Herman, 48, with immediate effect for her comments "that we deemed to be incompatible to her role as a television presenter and talk show host."
Herman, who was a news presenter for the network's flagship "Tagesschau" news program for 18 years to 2006, has also hosted several other talk shows on NDR.
While presenting her book "Das Prinzip Arche Noah - warum wir die Familie retten muessen" (Arche Noah principle - why we must save the family), she said family values that were nurtured in the Nazi era were cast away by the turmoil of the late 1960s.

Numbers 10 and 11 were real trouble

BEIJING (Reuters) - A corrupt senior Chinese official was denounced by his 11 mistresses after some of their husbands were sentenced to death for graft, state media said on Friday.

The news comes just days after a senior provincial Communist Party official was executed for blowing up his mistress with a car bomb.

"Second wives" are common among government officials and businessmen in China and are often blamed for driving men to seek money through bribes or other abuses of power.

Pang Jiayu, 63, former deputy head of the provincial political advisory body in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, was sacked and expelled from the Communist Party for graft, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Pang did not expect that he would be brought down by his own 11 mistresses," the official People's Daily said in a report carried on its Web site.

Elmer Fudd would be proud

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Even for someone as gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush, he was in rare form on Friday, confusing APEC with OPEC and transforming Australian troops into Austrians.

Bush's tongue started slipping almost as soon as he started talking at a business forum on the eve of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney.

"Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction," he told Prime Minister John Howard. "Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit."

As the audience of several hundred people erupted in laughter, Bush corrected himself and joked, "He invited me to the OPEC summit next year." Australia has never been a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Later in his speech, Bush recounted how Howard had gone to visit "Austrian troops" last year in Iraq. There are, in fact, no Austrian troops there. But Australia has about 1,500 Australians military personnel in and around the country.

Upon finishing his speech, Bush took the wrong way off-stage and, looking slightly perplexed, had to be re-directed by Howard to a center-stage exit.

The venti vodka latte is outstanding

KHIMKI, Russia (Reuters) - Starbucks opened its first coffee shop in Russia on Thursday, two years after it won a legal battle to protect the right to its brand in the fast-growing Russian market.

"This is an important step for the company, and we are looking forward to being a part of every day life for Russians," said Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, as he opened the cafe.

The newest Starbucks in the worldwide chain of around 10,000 outlets is in the Mega shopping mall in Khimki, just north of Moscow.

In 2005 the company won a trademark fight over the Starbucks name. A "squatter" had registered to himself the right to use the name in Russia, and was asking $600,000 from Starbucks to relinquish it.

The company successfully proved in Russia courts that it was the rightful owner of the name.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Whale shot with machine gun

NEAH BAY, Wash. (AP) - An injured California gray whale was swimming out to sea Saturday after being shot with a machine gun off the western tip of Washington state, officials said.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker said five people believed to be members of the Makah Tribe shot and harpooned the whale Saturday morning. The extent of the whale's injuries were not immediately known.
Tribe members were being held by the Coast Guard but had not been charged, said Mark Oswell, a spokesman for the law enforcement arm of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
A preliminary report said the whale was shot with a .50-caliber machine gun, Oswell said.
Coast Guard officials created a 1,000-yard safety zone around the injured whale, which was shot about a mile east of Neah Bay in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The whale had begun heading to sea Saturday afternoon, Oswell said.
Although the tribe has subsistence fishing rights to kill whales, Oswell said preliminary information indicates the whale may have been shot illegally.
"We allow native hunts for cultural purposes. However, this does not appear to be of that nature so far," he said.
The Makah Tribe has more than 1,000 members and is based in Neah Bay.

Manager scratches mosquito bite, accidentally signalling runner to steal third

CINCINNATI (AP) - A pesky mosquito quickly made it a miserable night for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cincinnati scored six runs in the first inning, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 593rd homer in the second and the Cincinnati Reds breezed to an 11-4 victory Friday night.
All that happened after a 1-2-3 Milwaukee first inning in which Gabe Gross doubled and was thrown out trying to steal third as Ryan Braun struck out.
"It all started with a mosquito bite," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.
A mosquito bite?
"I was just itching a spot and Nick (third-base coach Nick Leyva) thought I was putting the steal on. I'm not going to steal with Prince (Fielder) coming up. I should have seen it was a preview of what was going to come. It set the tone for the night. I looked up and saw Gabe coming and thought, 'What the heck is going on?"'

Former supermodel now sleeping on the streets in India

Geetanjali Nagpal once walked the ramp with Sushmita Sen, but today she is forced to lead a desolate s life on the streets of Delhi. In 1990 Geetanjali left her home to venture into the glamourous world of modeling. She lived life in the fast lane, but soon it all came to a crashing halt. Daughter of a navy officer, and a graduate from the Lady Sriram college, Geetanjali now sleeps on the streets, dresses in shabby clothes and begs for scraps. (

Synagogue seats go for $1.8 million on eBay

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Just in time for the Jewish high holidays, two lifetime front-row seats to services at a synagogue here are being auctioned off on eBay. The bidding starts at $1.8 million.
Besides getting to schmooze up front with the rabbi, the lucky winner's family name will be engraved on Seats 1 and 2 of Row 1, Section DD, at Temple Emanu-El. The winner also will receive free parking, two custom-made prayer shawls and yarmulkes, and a hefty tax write-off. Plus, the winning bidder can pass the seats down to his or her children.
"It's a gift that goes from one generation to another," said Rabbi Kliel Rose, who came up with the concept with a little bit of chutzpah and the help of two congregants who work in advertising and marketing.

More snakes on a plane

ATLANTA (AP) - Airport security officers are used to finding strange critters while screening luggage, they just don't encounter the kind that have venom too often.
A man flying into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from South Korea recently packed 30 dead snakes in jars and bottles inside boxes he checked as luggage, said Jon Allen, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.
Even though the creatures were lifeless, screeners took extra precautions because U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers warned that some of the snakes could still contain venom, Allen said.
A dead bird and pieces of several other birds also were in the passenger's boxes aboard the Korean Air flight on Aug. 15, officials said.

Sexy Snoopy

A model presents a Betsey Johnson creation at the 'Snoopy In Fashion' charity show during New York Fashion Week September 7, 2007. (Jamie Fine/Reuters)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Japanese man wins air guitar championship

OULU, Finland (AP) - A Japanese man out-"played" challengers to win the Air Guitar World Championship for the second consecutive year at a contest in northern Finland.
Ochi Yosuke received the highest score from a panel of judges in the final late Friday at the Teatria rock club in Oulu, near the Arctic Circle.
Apart from the glory, he received a custom-made Flying Finn electric guitar worth $3,400.
The talent on display was variable at best. The surprise of the qualifying round was Oulu native Hilkka "Gore Kitty" Suvanto, who has twice before scored the lowest points ever in that round but now achieved a perfect six from many of the judges.One of the favorites for the title was American Andrew "William Ocean" Litz, whose act ends in a spectacular backflip onto an empty beer can. He finished 11th.

'That's not hot:' Paris sues card company

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Paris Hilton is suing over the use of her picture and catchphrase "That's hot" on a greeting card. Hilton sued Hallmark Cards Inc. in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction and unspecified damages to be determined at trial.
According to the lawsuit filed Thursday, the card is titled "Paris's First Day as a Waitress" and shows a photo of Hilton's face on a cartoon of a waitress serving a plate of food to a patron. In a dialogue bubble she says, "Don't touch that, it's hot." The customer cartoon asks, "What's hot?" She answers, "That's hot."
The suit says Hilton owns the trademark "That's hot," which was registered on Feb. 13, 2007.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mmmmmm.... tastes leady

TOKYO (Reuters) - Chinese merchandise took a fresh knock on Friday when car maker Nissan said it was recalling tens of thousands of mugs it gave away in Japan because the paint contains excessive lead.
It said it took the action after a hapless car-shopper fell ill after drinking from one of the mugs and complained.
Nissan Motor said the cups, which it was giving to anyone who test-drove one of its cars in Japan during a sales initiative that started on August 16, had a lead content that was more than 30 percent above the permissible level.
Japan's third-biggest carmaker said it would recall the mugs, which it said could have reached as many as 87,000 potential customers. It did not know the identity of the manufacturer in China.

China dials down the sexy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned sexually explicit television shows, such as those featuring sex toys and contraceptives, as it tries to clean up its airwaves and imbue socialist values.

The order follows the axing of controversial "Beautiful Makeover," a reality program in the southern province of Guangdong showing plastic surgery operations, and the banning of shows featuring "public participation" in sex-change operations.
The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television scolded provincial television stations in the western frontier city of Chengdu for broadcasting "lewd and obscene" footage, according to its online Web site (*
"All levels of television broadcasters must not air any vulgar content involving sexual experiences or functions of sex toys and birth control devices, effective immediately," SARFT said in the notice.

Sounds like Newman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian postman who lightened his mailbag by holding back thousands of letters and packages at home for up to five years now faces dismissal.
What was strange in this case was that he kept them all in his flat and that, while he opened a lot, he appears to have left the contents in the envelopes," a spokesman for the postal service said.
An internal control alerted the Post Office to the problem and prompted a police search of the man's home last week.
"A couple of thousand items of mail were found in his flat. We sorted through them last week and they are being sent out today with a note of apology," the spokesman said.

Here comes the leeches

TOKYO (Reuters) - Long confined to the mountains, Japanese leeches are invading residential areas, causing swelling, itching and general discomfort with their blood-thirsty ways.

Yamabiru, or land leeches, have become a problem in 29 of Japan's 47 prefectures, according to the Institute for Environmental Culture, a private research facility in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo.
The little suckers are riding into towns and villages, hitching lifts on deer and boar whose numbers have grown due to re-forestation and dwindling rural populations.
Once there, the leeches, which measure in at about 1.5 cms before a meal, take to feasting on warm human flesh.
"Yamabiru will climb into people's socks and stay for about an hour, growing five to 10 times in size. Unlike with water leeches, people don't immediately realize they've been bitten. Only later when they see their blood-soaked feet, do they realize what has happened," said Shigekazu Tani, the institute's director.
"The real problem is that the bleeding won't stop and the affected area swells up and really itches," he added.

I would have been fired 1,000 times already

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese woman is suing her former employer after falling victim to the company policy of firing staff who contradict their boss three times, local media reported on Thursday.
HWA-1 Enterprise Co Ltd, a light industrial manufacturer based in China's southeastern port city of Xiamen, sacked a woman surnamed Ni for refusing to pay fines she incurred for talking back to superiors, Xinhua news agency said, citing a local newspaper.
The company's policy held that a "first contradiction of superiors" would incur a fine of 30 yuan ($4), a second would incur 100 yuan, and a third would warrant dismissal, the agency said.
Ni incurred a 30 yuan fine after taking umbrage with her factory supervisor for reprimanding her for not filling in a form.
"The factory head told me that, according to company rules, no matter whether management is right or wrong, employees are not allowed to contradict them and must obey," Xinhua quoted Ni as saying.
Ni was then threatened with a 100 yuan fine for refusing to pay the first fine, and was sacked after she threatened to report her supervisor to the company's human resource's department.
The factory's supervisor, surnamed Cao, said it was his legal right to sack Ni.

Drink up, sweetie

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Police said a 9-year-old girl told them her grandmother poured her two drinks from a gin bottle while she was watching TV.

Commander Jim Ryan said the girl remembers vomiting, hitting her head and blacking out about 1 p.m. Aug. 31. Ryan said the girl's mother was working a 12-hour shift at the time and was out of the house.

He said police suspect the grandmother gave the child the alcohol in hopes that she would pass out so the adult could go out for the night instead of babysitting.

"A lot could have happened with a kid left alone," Ryan said. "A lot could have gone wrong. She could have choked on her vomit. ... This is a horrendous case of child endangerment."

Police arrived at the apartment around 10 p.m. after getting an anonymous call that a child was given alcohol. Ryan said a portable breath test showed the girl had an alcohol level of .042 percent, about half the legal limit for driving, more than eight hours after drinking the gin.

Step one: Don't steal the cop's pot

RUMFORD, Maine - A man swiped a pot plant from the back of a pickup truck that was being used by an undercover state drug agent, leading to a chase and drug theft charges against a pair of men.

Travis Child of Peru and Jeremy Belskis of Rumford, both 20, were arrested Wednesday afternoon after the pursuit ended at Child and Sons Auto Sales. The arrest was made by two uniformed Rumford officers while the plainclothes agent stood by.

Child told the Sun Journal newspaper in Lewiston that they'd seen the pickup with marijuana plants in the back and that he hopped out of their car and swiped one of the plants at a stop sign. He said he just wanted "to know what it was."

Child only managed to get part of one of the 4-foot-tall plants that had been seized earlier in the day, but the agent wasn't going to let them get away with it, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

"It was blatant the way they did it. One of them jumped out of the car in plain view and broke off part of the plant," he said.

The pickup gave chase and Child said they were initially fearful that they was being pursued by a drug dealer, not a law enforcement officer.

"It was a bad decision on our part," Child said. "It was stupid." Both of the men were released on cash bail.

This is my face, copper, so remember it

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An off-duty police officer had plenty of time to get a look at a man who attempted to rob a Metropolitan Bank branch when the suspect first walked right past the uniformed officer — three times.

Langston Robins, 21, faces multiple charges for allegedly handing a bank clerk a note and a gym bag and then fleeing as Officer Chad Herndon tried to arrest him.

Robins went into the bank at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and walked past Herndon to ask a teller where the restroom was. Robins walked past Herndon again on the way to the bathroom, and then again when he approached the teller.

"I just don't know why he didn't see a uniformed police officer standing basically right in front of him," Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said. "My guess is he's just not the brightest of people."

As Herndon approached, Robins saw him and the two became involved in a struggle. Robins got away but Herndon radioed for help and Robins was found by police about five minutes later hiding behind a house.

It takes two to tango

MARSHFIELD, Wis. - How do you become a celebrity? How about being charged with drunken driving while you and a friend are trying to drive the same pickup truck home. It worked for two men, Harvey Miller, 43, and Edwin Marzinske, 55.

"I always thought I'd be famous, just not this way," said Miller, a paraplegic who was steering a pickup truck with Marzinske on the gas pedal and brakes when they were stopped on a Friday night in August.

"Pretty much everywhere we go it's people coming up, 'Hey, can we get our pictures with you? Can we get your autograph?'" he said Wednesday. "We never expected this to escalate."

The news also got twisted somewhat, the men said, blaming it in part on a Colby-Abbotsford police report said Miller had no legs. He has his legs but a logging accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. A message left for the police department wasn't immediately returned Thursday.

Both were cited for drunken driving and driving while revoked. They're planning to defend themselves in court with an argument that neither had control, so neither was driving.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Do you have anything in a size 12?

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Three thieves robbing a sporting goods store in Uruguay spent half an hour waiting on customers before making their getaway with merchandise and the money from the till, police said on Wednesday.
The armed gang held up the store in an upper-middle-class neighborhood of the capital, Montevideo, on Tuesday. They locked up one store employee in a back room and forced another clerk to hand over money and sporting goods.
Then some customers came in, and the robbers sold them goods for about 30 minutes before jumping into a truck where a driver was waiting for them.

Let's see some ID there, grandma

FARMINGTON, Maine - A 65-year-old woman who went into a Farmington supermarket to buy wine was turned away because she didn't have an ID with her. But Barbara Skapa of Mount Vernon says that won't happen again.

"I'll be bringing my driver's license with me from now on," Skapa said.
She normally carries her license. But with her leg in a cast, Skapa was being driven by a friend when she went into the Hannaford Bros. market last week in and picked up several items, including a few bottles of wine.
The cashier told her it was policy to check for identification, said Skapa, who believes "no one would mistake me for 30 or even 40." Skapa asked if her friend could buy the wine for her, but that was disallowed too because it's considered "third-party" purchasing. Skapa asked to see the manager.
A spokeswoman for the supermarket chain, Rebecca Howes, said Hannaford's new policy is to check IDs of anyone who looks under 45 and wants to buy alcohol. The previous policy was to check for proof of age of those who look younger than 30.

The goat doesn't care your plane won't crash

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.

Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due the problem.

The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.

"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been.

Local media last week blamed the company's woes on an electrical fault. The carrier runs international flights to five cities in Asia.

It is common in Nepal to sacrifice animals like goats and buffaloes to appease different Hindu deities.

Next up for auction, Che Guevara's hair

MIAMI (Reuters) - A former CIA operative who says he helped hunt down Ernesto "Che" Guevara and bury him in Bolivia 40 years ago now hopes to make a killing from the famed Argentine revolutionary's hair.

Gustavo Villoldo, 71, a Cuban exile who says he was a major player in Guevara's capture in the Bolivian jungle, plans to auction off a strand of Guevara's hair and other items, kept in a scrapbook since the joint CIA-Bolivian army mission ended in Guevara's death in 1967.

"I'm doing it for history's sake and to have closure. This is a very unique piece," Villoldo said of his scrapbook.

"Guevara is, I would say, the world's leading recognized figure," he said. "To me the clipping of his hair, psychologically for me, for myself, meant that I was cutting off one of the symbols of the revolution, the long hair."

Guevara, a leading figure of the Cuban Revolution often seen as rivaling Fidel Castro, has been regarded as a martyred hero of radicalism by generations of leftists.

Villoldo said he expected the scrapbook -- which includes a map used to track down Guevara and photographs of his body -- to fetch as much as $7 million when it hits the auction block in Texas on October 25.

Man naked after clothes stolen

OELWEIN, Iowa - Two men have been arrested for stealing a man's clothes and leaving him to wander around naked, officials said. The victim, a 19-year-old Hazleton man, was taken by two men to a rural area west of Oelwein where the men took his clothes at gunpoint, officials with the Fayette County sheriff's office said.

The investigation began after the sheriff's office received a report of a naked man walking down a county road early Sunday morning.

Deputies searched an Oelwein home later in the day and found the victim's clothes and several guns.

Billy Ray Staton Jr., 36, and Arthur David Thomas, 53, both of Oelwein, were arrested and charged with first-degree robbery.


BOSTON - A pair of former Northeastern University freshmen are facing charges after prosecutors said one leaned out his dorm window Sunday and loudly told a woman in the dorm opposite his that he and his roommate were selling pot.

Oops. Two police officers happened to be nearby.

"If you're looking for weed, my roommate Ferrante has some for sale," Michael Emery said out the window, according to the Suffolk district attorney's office.

Two plainclothes Boston officers in the building overheard the conversation and went to a second-floor room where they arrested Emery, 18, and Matthew Ferrante, 18, after finding about four ounces of marijuana; drug paraphernalia, including a scale; and several bottles of alcohol, prosecutors said.

No word on what she watched on TV

POCATELLO, Idaho - Anita Ovard moved to her small home in this town in the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains because she wanted to see more wildlife. But the view got a little too close when a moose decided to make itself at home in her front room.

Ovard spotted two baby moose in her yard when she pulled into the driveway Tuesday. She immediately started looking for the mother moose, spotting the massive animal just before it plowed through her storm door and front door.

"There's a big gouge, and you can see where the whole front of the (moose's) body went right through it. It broke the wood frame," Ovard told the Idaho State Journal. "Try telling that to an insurance company."

Hoping to stop the moose from doing more damage, Ovard opened the sliding glass door in the rear of the home to give the animal an easier exit and then ran away as fast as she could. The moose, also frightened, turned and ran back out the front door.

Flying the friendly and naked skies

DENVER - A central Kentucky man accused of exposing his genitals on a Frontier Airlines flight faces trial in October on suspicion of obscene and indecent exposure on an aircraft.

Alan Michael Froula, 42, of Fisherville, about 20 miles east of downtown Louisville, pleaded not guilty Tuesday, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Passengers and flight attendants reported seeing Froula's genitals exposed on Flight 4961 from Louisville to Denver on Saturday, according to an affidavit.

Now that's some bargain hunting

NORTHGLENN, Colo. - They could have left the tree completely bare. But some honest shoppers at an unstaffed Dollar Tree store must have decided that honesty was the best policy while searching for bargains on Labor Day.

About 15 shoppers walked through the front doors of a closed Dollar Tree store Monday after a lock on the doors malfunctioned.

They also didn't see, or ignored, a sign on the doors indicating the store was closed for the holiday.

For one: the lights in the store were all on, plus, there was music playing in the background, all making it look like it was business as usual.

Northglenn Police spokesman Ian Lopez says one woman became suspicious when there was no one at the register to ring up her purchase, so she called authorities.

The cash registers were reportedly open and empty, but Lopez says it appears nothing was stolen.

Police were able to contact a manager, who fixed the lock and closed the store.

Lopez says the incident showed that people can be "honest and good."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cheat on your wife, pick up garbage

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Married Colombians engaged in passionate extra-curricular activities may soon have to think twice about their philandering ways if a senator's proposed legislation punishing adultery gets the green light.
Sen. Edgar Espindola said he has proposed a law that would impose fines and enforced community service as punishment for adulterers in an effort to protect family values and shield children from broken homes.
"I believe a lot of my companions are going to support this initiative," Espindola said on Tuesday. "This project should motivate Colombians to reflect on the importance of the marriage, the home and the importance of family."
He said aggrieved parties could take complaints and evidence such as photographs to local family judges, who would decide to impose fines of up to 20 minimum monthly salaries -- around $4,000 -- and obligatory welfare service.
Spouses forgiven by partners would escape punishment.
Some local radio commentators joked the proposal would get short shrift in Colombia's Congress because lawmakers were likely to want to hide their own indiscretions in the mostly Roman Catholic country.

Not only is she my aunt, she's also my mummy

VIENNA (Reuters) - An Austrian woman lived with the mummified remains of her aunt for a year, Vienna police said Wednesday.

Officers found the corpse of the 96-year-old aunt under a blanket on a bed after ignoring the 51-year-old niece's claim that her aunt was sleeping and should not be disturbed, a police statement said.
A preliminary inquiry had determined that the niece, who was taken to a psychiatric hospital for examination, may have covered up the death for financial reasons, it added.
Austrian news agency APA quoted police investigator Gerald Hoebart as saying possible theft was being looked into since the younger woman appeared to have lived off her aunt's pension since the death and used her cashpoint card to withdraw money.
An autopsy was planned to check whether any foul play was involved in the death, believed to have happened in August 2006.

If you can't do the time, don't write the crime

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish crime writer has been jailed for 25 years after authorities found he had committed a murder that had been described in one of his thrillers, officials said Wednesday.
In his 2003 book "Amok," Krystian Bala described in detail the brutal murder of a Polish businessman.
Police found that the fictional crime had similarities with a case in 2000 when a body was fished out of the river Oder in the town of Wroclaw, near the German border.
Prosecutors said Bala had humiliated, tortured, starved and later killed his victim, who had a love affair with the writer's wife.
"The court has sentenced Krystian B. to 25 years in prison for the murder of his ex-wife's lover," said a spokesman for the court in Wroclaw.
Bala told authorities that he had taken details of the case from press reports and made up other aspects of the story.

I'll defend you now, eat nails later

NEW YORK - A tattoo-covered Coney Island side show performer who specializes in eating nails says he's found a new calling: becoming a lawyer. "I know it sounds weird, but I want to be a freak lawyer," the man known for 15 years as "Eak the Geek" told the newspaper am New York in an article published Tuesday.

"I hope to have a little office in New York and work with the alternative people, all the so-called riffraff, to give them legal representation that is not judgmental."
"Coney Island was very good to me, but it was just time to go," Eak, 45, whose given name is Eduardo Arrocha, told the paper by phone from Lansing, Mich. "Eak the Geek is the performance, but I'm also a person."
The Mexico City native said he's following in the footsteps of his father and brother, both lawyers.
Arrocha said he earned a bachelors degree in political science in May from Marymount College in Manhattan, and was starting classes on Tuesday at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
"The people here are very curious about me," he said. "I'm the new zoo animal here."
Arrocha, a burly six feet tall with tattoos from his shaved head to his toes, acknowledges that his new career will bring a fashion challenge:
"I've never had to tie a tie before."

Sir, get your hands where I can see them

ANGOLA, Ind. - A naked man driving along the Indiana Toll Road was arrested and charged because his lewd conduct distracted other motorists, police said.
The 37-year-old Chicago man was traveling east to Ohio to visit his mother, police said. He was nude and had petroleum jelly on his hands when a state trooper pulled him over about 10 miles from the Ohio line Wednesday, police said.
The man, who told police he was comfortable driving in the nude, was charged with misdemeanor indecent exposure, punishable by up to a year in jail.
The trooper, Al Martinez, a four-year veteran of the Indiana State Police, said he walked up to the passenger side of the SUV and saw that the man had dropped a T-shirt across his midsection. Other motorists had called police about the driver, with several calls from truckers who could see into the front seat of the SUV.
Martinez made the man put his clothes back on before handcuffing him and putting him in the back of the squad car.

Chester Cheetah would not approve

DES MOINES, Iowa - A man has been charged with a cheesy snack attack on his dad, police said. The weapon? A bag of Cheetos. Patrick Hamman, 22, of Des Moines, was arrested on a charge of domestic assault after he threw a bag of Cheetos at his father, Michael Hamman, hitting him in the face Sunday night.

The bag hit his father's glasses, causing a cut to the bridge of his nose, police said.
The police report said "Michael's T-shirt was also covered in Cheeto dust."
Police said Patrick, who lives with his father, admitted that he was on methamphetamine at the time of the argument.

That's not a birdie, or a dog leg - it's an emu

ELMA, Wash. - Every golfer likes a birdie, even more so an eagle. But an emu? The big bird that showed up Tuesday at Oaksridge Golf Course was another matter, at least for Sue McMeekin of Satsop and Les Bell of Montesano.

The flightless bird, second in size among avians to the ostrich, followed the pair for seven of their nine holes, watching each swing and sometimes walking between them or standing directly in front of them. The emu seemed to take special interest in McMeekin's red fleece jacket.
"It was strange," McMeekin said. "She's awful big and she made me nervous."
Emus, natives of Australia, can grow to more than 5 feet and 100 pounds and are capable of running as fast as 30 mph.
Jeremy Behm, a golf course employee in this town between Olympia and Aberdeen, said he heard a strange sound as he was working in the pro shop around 6:30 a.m.
"I heard a noise and this crazy bird was standing right there," Behm said.
After hanging around the pro shop for a time, the emu began following McMeekin and Bell while Behm called the Grays Harbor County sheriff's office.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tuxedos optional

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is cracking down on shabbily dressed taxi-drivers, fining them for not tucking in their shirts or for wearing shoes of the wrong color.
Malaysia's lowly paid tax-drivers are supposed to wear white shirts, dark trousers and black shoes, but in reality passengers are happy if they can just persuade them to use the meter.
But the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board is out to make a fashion statement, the Star newspaper said Monday, quoting its chairman as saying drivers had to present a professional image.
Taxi-drivers have been fined 100-300 ringgit ($29-$86) -- or up to three days' average wages -- for wearing an off-white shirt or getting behind the wheel without socks, angering the drivers and reducing one of them to tears, the paper added.
"I actually saw a taxi-driver crying over having to pay a fine of 200 ringgit when I was at the (licensing board's) office recently," Abdul Jalil Maarof, president of the Klang Valley Taxi Owners Association, told the Star.

Insert Borat joke here

ALMATY (Reuters) - A lion escaped from its cage at a Kazakh zoo over the weekend, the second such incident in a month, news media reported Monday.

The six-year-old lion called Adam sneaked out of his cage through a door that had been accidentally left open, Kazakhstan Today news agency reported.
The lion roamed around freely for half an hour before zoo workers lured it back to safety.
Just a month ago, three bears broke out of their enclosure in the same zoo in southern Kazakhstan.

Pay up or the kitty gets it

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. - A man has been charged with extorting more than $20,000 from his elderly mother by repeatedly threatening to kidnap her beloved cat and demanding ransom, police said. Garry Lamar, 47, was arrested Friday and released on $200 bail. He has been ordered to stay away from his 78-year-old mother, Mary Lamar Grancher.
He started threatening to kidnap his the cat just over a year ago, after his mother kicked him out of her home, accusing him of abuse, North Kingstown Police Sgt. Daniel Ormond said.
"This isn't just a family cat," Ormond said. "She actually called this cat her companion since she lived alone."
During the past year, Lamar allegedly kidnapped the cat once and made kidnapping threats on an almost weekly basis, Ormond said. Police don't believe the cat was harmed but are continuing to investigate.
Grancher made at least two dozen payments totaling more than $20,000 in cash and checks to her son. Authorities are still sorting through her financial records to determine the precise amount.
A phone listing for Lamar couldn't be located. Court officials said Tuesday it was unclear whether he had an attorney.

Peeper's porn purloined

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - A man recently jailed for secretly videotaping a woman and a teenage girl has sued a police department for the return of his massive porn collection taken during the investigation. Dennis Saunders, 59, filed suit against San Rafael police in Marin County Superior Court after the department refused to give back some 500 pornographic movies and 250 magazines his lawyer described as unrelated to the peeping case.
"There's absolutely no legal foundation for them withholding perfectly legal adult-oriented material," Tiburon attorney Jon Rankin said.
The video collection alone was likely worth at least $10,000, Rankin said.
Saunders was arrested in 2002 and charged with taping the 45-year-old woman and 16-year-old girl in their bedrooms and bathrooms at an apartment complex where he worked. He was convicted of 48 misdemeanors and sentenced to more than eight years in jail, but was released last month with credit for good behavior.
A lawyer representing the city said authorities wanted direction from a judge on whether it would be "lawful or appropriate" to return the material to Saunders, who has a history of peeping-related arrests dating back to 1979.
"If the court orders us to give it back to him, we will give it back to him," city lawyer Thomas Bertrand said.

Convoy stops hit and run driver

BIGGS, Ore. - Three commercial truck drivers put on the brakes to help police stop a man who led authorities on a high-speed chase for more than 50 miles.

The truckers pulled alongside each other and slowed to about 5 mph, forming a rolling roadblock. The fleeing driver stopped and fled on foot but was quickly captured, authorities said.

Trucker Edwin Beach said he had heard police radio traffic and said, "OK, where's the high-speed chase at?" He coordinated with two other drivers over CB and placed his truck in the middle on Interstate 84.

"We were all kind of laughing because he was running down the freeway," said Beach, of Kelso, Wash. Identities of the other two truckers were not immediately available.

But where's the pink flamingos?

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - For Dwight DeGolia's neighbors, the last straw was the fake palm trees.

The 62-year-old retiree had spent years fixing up the sliver of sloping land outside his home, adding two putting greens that were almost 30 feet long, a small creek and a gazebo.

Then he added 50 tons of beach sand to complete the illusion of a tropical golf vacation, as well as a portable golf hitting cage and a bar with a pergola roof.

"We had that place really shining," DeGolia said.

But the 8- to 12-foot palm trees made it impossible for neighbors to ignore DeGolia's project anymore, a passion that they said was making the neighborhood look tacky and led them to take DeGolia to court.

"We gave it a nickname," said Dennis Taylor, a former subdivision trustee. "Wally World."

Drawing a line in the sand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The man who currently holds the world's record for the tallest sand castle is pouring cold sea water on Myrtle Beach's attempt to dethrone him.

Ed Jarrett, from Casco, Maine, said the 43-foot castle built in June in Myrtle Beach failed to follow Guinness World Records guidelines that ban using machinery and require the structure to be taller than it is wide.

"Myrtle Beach doesn't meet the criteria," Jarrett said. "You can't just pile up a bunch of sand, build a small castle on top of that pile, and call it a record."

He said his nearly 32-foot tall castle, completed last weekend in Maine, should be the new record holder.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Coke-head cat gets high on leftover drugs

SYDNEY (AFP) - An agitated pet cat left in a cupboard overnight turned out to be high on cocaine and benzodiazepines left over from a wild weekend dinner party, a report said Saturday.
The eight-month-old Himalayan cat arrived at a veterinary clinic with dilated pupils and a racing heart, while the owner said it had trouble walking and was easily startled, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Vets Dominic Barfield and Richard Malik, who run a clinic in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay, were unable to take blood or use a thermometer to take the cat's temperature as it was pacing incessantly around its cage.
While the owner was adamant the cat had not been exposed to toxic plants, mouldy foods or drugs, when contacted by telephone the owner's wife admitted the cat could have licked "plates of cocaine" which had been served at a dinner party two days earlier.
A drug screen also revealed the cat had benzodiazepines in its system.
The "remorseful" owner, who was not identified, was counselled and allowed to take the pet home, but no legal action was taken as there is no legal requirement in Australia for vets to report such cases to police.
The case was reported in this month's edition of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, the newspaper said, but did not specify when the incident happened, other than that it was on a Monday morning.

'Steamed crap' removed from Chinese menus

BEIJING (AP) - Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to choose between "steamed crap" and "virgin chicken" if Chinese authorities succeed in ridding restaurant menus of mangled English translations.
The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with 2,753 proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace bizarre and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.
Foreigners are often stumped by dish names such as "virgin chicken" (a young chicken dish) or "burnt lion's head" (Chinese-style pork meatballs). Other garbled names include "The temple explodes the chicken cube" (kung pao chicken) or "steamed crap" (steamed carp).
"These translations either scare or embarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding on China's diet habits," Xinhua said.
It's the latest effort by Beijing Olympics organizers to clean up the city and ensure that the best image is presented to the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected next summer.
Etiquette campaigns are afoot to stamp out bad manners such as jumping ahead in line, spitting, littering and reckless driving. The revised menu names are part of an effort to ban unintelligible English, known as "Chinglish," that abounds on signs everywhere.
A team set up by the Beijing Municipal Foreign Affairs Office and Beijing Tourism Bureau has been working on the menu names for more than a year, Xinhua said. Translators developed names for dishes based on one of four categories: ingredients, cooking method, taste, or the name of a person or place.
For example, a dish with mushrooms and ducks' feet will be listed as simply "Mushroom-Duck's Foot." Others proposed names include "Fish Filets in Hot Chili Oil" and "Crispy Chicken."
The tourism bureau is soliciting public opinion on the translations. Once a final decision is made on the list of names, they will be used in restaurants across China, Xinhua said.

105-pound woman wins chicken wing eating contest

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - When it comes to wolfing wings, Sonya Thomas is a wiz.
The 105-pound competitive eater who goes by "The Black Widow" bested a dozen beefy rivals Saturday night, scarfing 173 wings in 12 minutes to win the wing-eating contest at the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
"That's 5.17 pounds of wings," said Brian Kahle, spokesman for the annual Labor Day weekend event in the city where Buffalo wings were born.
Thomas, 40, of Alexandria, Va., also held the festival's previous record of 161 wings in 12 minutes, set in 2004.
"She's the crowd favorite," Kahle said. "It was 12 huge guys and her."
Thomas has set numerous records in competitive eating events, including 37 hot dogs in 12 minutes; 35 bratwursts in 10 minutes; 11 pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes; 44 lobsters in 12 minutes; and 250 Tater Tots in 5 minutes.
She is ranked No. 5 by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. According to the federation's Web site, No. 1-ranked Joey Chestnut holds the 12-minute record for chicken wings, downing 7.5 pounds of them May 21.

Quite a castle

Ed Jarrett collapses in exhaustion after completing his world-record 31.7-foot-high sand castle, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, at the Point Sebago Resort in Casco, Maine. Jarrett spent the summer building a 'Castle to the Sun' to raise funds to benefit Camp Sunshine, a camp on Sebago Lake for children with life-threatening illnesses. Just under a million pounds of sand - forty dump truck loads - went into building the castle. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Lottery winner is teacher of Wicca

NOTTINGHAM, Md. (AP) - Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett says a New Age book store made it possible for him to become an overnight multimillionaire.
He and his wife, Denise, were on their way to the shop where he occasionally teaches Wicca and Reiki (RAY'kee) healing when they stopped at a liquor store and bought two $5 Mega Millions tickets for Friday night's estimated $330 million jackpot. On Sunday, he said one ticket was a winner.
"If it wasn't for this place I wouldn't have won the lottery," Bartlett said Sunday at Mystickal Voyage, the New Age shop.
Four winning tickets to the Mega Millions jackpot were sold in Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia. Lottery officials said Sunday they cannot confirm the validity of Bartlett's ticket before they meet with him on Tuesday.
"There's no reason to believe it's not legitimate, but it has to go through security," said Maryland State Lottery Director Buddy Roogow, who said he has spoken with Bartlett.
Bartlett, an accountant from Dundalk, said he made a bargain with the multiple gods associated with his Wiccan beliefs: "You let me win the lottery and I'll teach." Both tickets he purchased had numbers chosen randomly from the computer.
Bartlett had not decided if he will accept his winnings as an annuity or choose the lump sum cash option. The jackpot could get larger once ticket sales are tallied, Roogow said, but the lump sum payment would be at least $48.7 million, or about $32 million after taxes.
Bartlett said the money won't change him, although he plans to invest in Mystickal Voyage. "I'm going to live my life like I have been," he said.
The odds that any ticket would match all five numbers — 8, 18, 22, 40 and 44 — and the Mega Ball number — 11 — were one in 176 million.

Championship Stache

Willi Chevalier, from Germany, competes in the World Beard and Moustache Championships, held at the Brighton Centre in Brighton, southern England Sept. 1. The bi-annual event is being held in Britain for the first time, and coincides with the 60th anniversary of The Handlebar Club, an international club for people with beards and moustaches. (AP Photo/PA, Clara Molden)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mythical bloodsucker turns up in Texas

CUERO, Texas (AP) - Phylis Canion lived in Africa for four years. She's been a hunter all her life and has the mounted heads of a zebra and other exotic animals in her house to prove it. But the roadkill she found last month outside her ranch was a new one even for her, worth putting in a freezer hidden from curious onlookers: Canion believes she may have the head of the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra.
"It is one ugly creature," Canion said, holding the head of the mammal, which has big ears, large fanged teeth and grayish-blue, mostly hairless skin.
Canion and some of her neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 80 miles southeast of San Antonio. Canion said she saved the head of the one she found so she can get to get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity.
She suspects, as have many rural denizens over the years, that a chupacabra may have killed as many as 26 of her chickens in the past couple of years.
Chupacabra means "goat sucker" in Spanish, and it is said to have originated in Latin America, specifically Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Canion thinks recent heavy rains ran them right out of their dens.
"I think it could have wolf in it," Canion said. "It has to be a cross between two or three different things."