The Trentonian's Strange But True Page

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This is not a bad deal

WEXFORD, Pa. - It's the deal of a lifetime. Bob and Ricki Husick of Pittsburgh are offering anyone who buys their home a full refund when they die. The Husicks have been trying to sell their suburban home for almost a year, but have failed to do so in the current shaky market.
Some area homeowners have lowered prices, offered free trips and tried a variety of other gimmicks, but the Husicks came up with their own unique incentive.
The couple have no heirs and built the house in 1993. They want $399,900 for the four-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath home, which is located about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Under the Husicks' offer, the buyer would get the sale price back when they die.
Wait, there's more: If the buyer agrees to care for the couple in old age, he could also inherit their retirement home in Arizona.
"Why not go for the works? So if we're worth $2.5 million, you get it all," said Husick, 55.

Cat scratch fever

SWANVILLE, Maine - Police said siblings who fought over shaving the family pet cat last week over fleas have scratched out a deal.

Police launched a search last week using tracking dogs for Nicholas Palmer, 22, after his 18-year-old sister claimed her choked and struck her.
He fled after she called 911 and was located several days later.
State Trooper Luke Cunningham said Palmer is back home, and the trooper said the sister has recanted her story.
Cunningham said the sibling altercation began when Palmer attempted to stop his sister from shaving the family cat to help control fleas and ticks. He said the family has since decided to use insect powder.

Ghost, bug, whatever

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Jeepers, it was just one of those creepers. An investigator specializing in all things bizarre has debugged the mystery of the Santa Fe Courthouse Ghost — a specter captured on a blurry surveillance videotape.

"Whooooooooooooo....," Benjamin Radford said in his finest ghostly Halloween howl.
"In the end, it was in fact a bug or insect of some sort that was on the lens of the surveillance camera," said Radford, an Albuquerque-based professional scientific paranormal investigator and managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
"To my mind, it's a case of where people typically say something is unexplained and all that means is they haven't worked hard enough to look for an explanation. They've given up," he said.
The image — a glowing spot drifting in front of a patrol car parked beneath some trees — generated more than 132,000 hits on YouTube since Santa Fe County Deputy Alfred Arana first noticed the image June 15.
"There were a wide variety of theories on what it was," said Radford. "Some said it was a ghost. Some said it was drifting cottonwood fluff. Some said it was a prank."
But the one that stuck was a ghost, he said.
Radford drove to Santa Fe to watch the original video, ruling out a couple of theories.
"If it was a reflection, what would be reflecting and why was the sun in the wrong place?" he said. "And why would someone conduct a prank on courthouse surveillance with deputies with guns watching. That didn't make sense."

Drive on, young one

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - He could barely reach the pedal, but one 7-year-old boy managed to take the family car out for a spin in his Lehigh Acres neighborhood.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman says John Vega took the keys to the car, drove it out of his driveway and crashed into several trees and a mailbox along the way.
Vega is being treated at Lee Memorial Hospital for minor injuries.
In all, authorities say the boy drove about 200 feet from start to finish.

Iowans taxed on pumpkin purchases

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Revenue is taxing jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween. The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman.

"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," Mulvey said. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o'-lanterns."
Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable — with some exceptions — if they are advertised for use as jack-'o-lanterns or decorations.
Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get a tax exemption if they fill out a form.
The new policy, published in the department's September newsletter, has some pumpkin farmers feeling tricked this Halloween.
"I don't mind paying taxes, but let's get real here, people," said Bob Kautz, owner of the Buffalo Pumpkin Patch in Buffalo, about eight miles west of Davenport.
Kautz, who has owned his farm for seven years, was particularly dismayed with the notion of requiring customers to fill out a form verifying that they planned to eat the pumpkins they were buying.
"It's another crazy, crazy, stupid thing," he said.
Kautz said he will estimate how many pumpkins were bought for non-food purposes, and then will send the tax on that amount to the revenue department.
"It gets unfeasible for people to have small businesses," he said.
Danny Carroll, who owns Carroll's Pumpkin Farm in Grinnell with his wife, said he will have to pay the sales tax out of profits.
"Essentially, they just reduced our income by 6 percent," he said. "It's too bad, but it's not surprising."

Yes officer, those are two dozen heads

ROYSE CITY, Texas - A traffic stop in Texas yielded about two dozen embalmed heads. But it's no Halloween joke. Investigators said the human heads had been used for medical training in the Fort Worth area and were being returned to Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hunt County Justice of the Peace Aaron Williams was summoned during a traffic stop Sunday in Royse City after a trucker was suspected of speeding.
"This is in the top five of the strangest things maybe the strangest that I've ever encountered," Williams told The Dallas Morning News on Monday.
The wrapped-in-plastic heads were found in the trailer. The driver couldn't immediately locate the documentation. The trucker and his cargo were later allowed to proceed after the paperwork was faxed to him.

Charges pending against pig-fattening pig sitter

WINONA, Minn. - A woman wants abuse charges filed against an acquaintance who was pet-sitting for her potbellied pig and allowed the animal to get fat.
Michelle Schmitz said her pig, Alaina Templeton, weighed 50 pounds when Schmitz left her with a co-worker who offered to care for the animal in February, when Schmitz went on medical leave to recover from ankle surgeries.
Nine months later, the pig weighed 150 pounds and it took veterinarians 4 1/2 hours to surgically remove the animal's collar, the Winona Daily News reported. Officers are investigating whether Alaina was abused by the sitter's neglect and overfeeding.
Investigator Jeff Mueller of the Winona County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that no charges had been filed against the pig sitter, whose name was not released.
Schmitz, 22, said she bottle-fed Alaina when she was just 11 days old and kept her on a strict diet to keep her weight at about 50 pounds.
When she tried to recover the pig in April, Schmitz said the co-worker wouldn't return her calls. She said that she didn't know where the woman lived and that when she finally found the woman's farm Saturday, she discovered that Alaina's neck had grown around her collar and that the pig had trouble breathing.
The pig now wears bandages and is healing from a pressure wound and neck infection.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Get off the computer right now!

WATERFORD, Conn. - A 34-year-old woman has been charged with using the Internet to try to get revenge on an old boyfriend by breaking up his marriage. Pilar Stofega has been charged with second-degree harassment and breach of peace and released on $2,500 bond.
Waterford police say she created phony profiles of the former boyfriend's current wife on some adult Web sites that included the wife's home and work phone numbers and high school yearbook picture.
Stofega said she did to it "to be vindictive, knowing that the profiles would create marital problems between" the victim and her husband, according to court documents.
The plot came to life when strange men started calling a Waterford woman's house over the summer, saying they had seen her profile on an adult Web site.
The man Stofega had dated eight years ago used his own computer to investigate and discovered someone had created a profile for his wife on several Internet sites, according to court records.
Police say the husband did more online investigating and was able to find out that the person behind the phony profiles of his wife was the woman he dated in 1999. He passed the information on to Waterford police, leading to Stofega's arrest last week.
Waterford police got a court order to seize Stofega's Internet records. They reviewed the account records before searching her house in late September.
Stofega was at the house when police served the warrant. Officers said she provided them with a sworn written statement in which she admitted to intentionally creating the profiles in the victim's likeness on the adult Web sites.

How could this not have worked?

WOODSTOCK, Ga. - It was billed as a rain festival to fight Georgia's drought, and even included a rain dance, but turnout was slim and precipitation was even scarcer than people.
"Not much of a turnout," landscaper Linda Boyer said Saturday, squinting against bright sunshine under a cloudless sky and scanning the nearly empty parking lot sprinkled with several tables of water-related activities and volunteers.
Competition was part of the problem. "There's a lot of festivals going on elsewhere — the Ellijay Apple Festival, the pumpkin patches, haunted houses, Cagle Dairy's Corn Maize Festival ...," Boyer said.
Cherokee County Water Authority employees handed out pamphlets and water-saving shower heads. Recycled water gurgled in a wishing well set up in the parking lot outside the Woodstock Art Center.
A local teen dance troupe appeared to perform in the tradition of Native American rain dances — but drew an audience of less than a dozen.
"Bottom line, when it's not raining, everybody prays to the Big Guy regardless of culture," said Kendra Cosner, who called herself "company mom" for the teen performers from Dancentre South.
Boyer said the event was a last-minute decision and was organized in just 10 days.

Captain Underpants banned

LONG BEACH, N.Y. - Call it the Misadventure of Captain Underpants and the Peeved Principal.

A suburban Long Island high school has banned all Halloween costumes after three senior girls showed up last year dressed as the underwear-baring subject of a series of best-selling children's books.
Long Beach High School Principal Nicholas Restivo, who sent the three seniors home to change last year, said the episode solidified his sense that the school's costume tradition was disruptive.
For the Captain Underpants costumes, the three girls donned beige leotards and nude stockings under white briefs and red capes to portray the superhero, who has battled such foes as talking toilets. To Restivo, the appearance was that the girls were naked.
"I'm being a principal. I'm not being an ogre," Restivo said.
He added that some gory costumes could make some students uncomfortable.
Some students don't see it that way. They are circulating a petition opposing the costume crackdown.
"It's one thing if the school won't let us wear outfits that are revealing or inappropriate, but if it is an innocent Halloween costume, we should be allowed to wear it," said junior Meghan Beck.

Hungry much?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - A competitive eater who has already triumphed at a famous hot dog eating contest swallowed 103 small hamburgers in 8 minutes Sunday to take home $10,000.

Joey Chestnut, 23, of San Jose, Calif., surpassed the previous record of 97 Krystal burgers — 2 1/2 inches square — held by Japan's Takeru Kobayashi, set at last year's Krystal Square Off.
"We never thought we'd see someone anywhere near, let alone past, the century mark when we started the Krystal Square Off in 2004," said Brad Wahl, vice president of marketing for The Krystal Co.
Chestnut beat 12 other contestants. Kobayashi, who won all previous Krystal Hamburger Eating Championships, didn't compete this year because of lingering jaw pain from having a wisdom tooth extracted in June.
The 29-year-old Kobayashi received chiropractic treatment before losing his hot-dog-eating belt in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July tussle in New York.

Bigfoot's back, baby

RIDGWAY, Pa. - It's furry and walks on all fours. Beyond that, about the only thing certain about the critter photographed by a hunter's camera is that some people have gotten the notion it could be a Sasquatch, or bigfoot. Others say it's just a bear with a bad skin infection.
Rick Jacobs says he got the pictures from a camera with an automatic trigger that he fastened to a tree in the Allegheny National Forest, about 115 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, hoping to photograph deer.
"We couldn't figure out what they were," Jacobs said of the images captured on Sept. 16. "I've been hunting for years and I've never seen anything like this."
He contacted the Bigfoot Research Organization, which pursues reports of a legendary two-legged creature that some people believe lives in parts of the U.S. and Canada.
"It appears to be a primate-like animal. In my opinion, it appears to be a juvenile Sasquatch," said Paul Majeta of the bigfoot group.
However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has a more conventional opinion. Agency spokesman Jerry Feaser said conservation officers routinely trap bears to be tagged and often see animals that look like the photos.
"There is no question it is a bear with a severe case of mange," Feaser told The Bradford Era.

Hloy meteor!

NEW YORK - Two of the world's most famous meteorites failed to attract buyers at an auction Sunday, while an ordinary metal mailbox zapped by a falling space rock in 1984 was sold for the unearthly price of nearly $83,000.
A 30-pound chunk of the Willamette Meteorite, which was found in Oregon in 1902 and has been steeped in ownership controversies for more than a century, was offered by Bonhams auction house at an estimated value of $1.3 million but was withdrawn from sale after bidding ended at $300,000.
Similarly, the 1,410-pound Brenham Main Mass, dug out of a Kansas farm field in 2005, was withdrawn by Bonhams CEO and auctioneer Malcolm Barber after it drew a top bid of only $200,000 — well short of the pre-sale estimate of $630,000 to $700,000.
In both cases the sellers, who were present, said they weren't worried because potential purchasers were known to be interested in the extraterrestrial rocks even though they may not have joined the bidding.
"I'm disappointed, but it was not through any lack of effort," said Philip Mani, a San Antonio lawyer and geologist who is one of three owners of the Brenham meteorite, along with Steve Arnold, who found it, and Allen Binford, who owns the wheat field near Greensburg, Kan., where it was discovered.
"We are in the process of putting together a plan, and we have a number of inquiries from people expressing interest."
The entire 15.5-ton Willamette Meteorite has been owned by the American Museum of Natural History since 1908, with pieces loaned or given to other collectors from time to time.
The small piece was offered at auction by Darryl Pitt, curator of the Macovich Collection, the world's largest collection of space rocks, who traded the museum a Martian rock for the Willamette chip in 1998.

And the winner is...

Once again, Hillary Rodham Clinton leads in a poll. This time, she was top choice when people were asked which major 2008 presidential candidate would make the scariest Halloween costume.

Asked about costume choices, 37 percent in an Associated Press-Ipsos survey this month chose New York Sen. Clinton, the front-runner among Democratic presidential contenders. Fourteen percent selected former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who leads Republicans in national polls.
No other candidate exceeded 6 percent.
Clinton was the choice of four in 10 men and one-third of women. While a predictable two-thirds of Republicans picked her, she also was the choice of 18 percent of Democrats. Among members of her own party, that made her second only to Giuliani as the scariest costume.
About one-third of independents, nearly half of whites and just over half of conservatives selected her.
Giuliani was the choice of 17 percent of men and 12 percent of women. About one-fifth of minorities and city residents and one-quarter of Democrats also picked him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who doesn't prefer Oregon jails?

ONTARIO, Ore. - An Oregon man was been arrested after fleeing police across a Snake River bridge into neighboring Idaho — only to reverse course near the stateline because he reckoned Oregon jails would be better than those in Idaho.
Michael Maddox, 42, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of driving without insurance, failure to follow traffic laws, eluding police and drug possession.
According to Oregon State Police, Maddox had eluded officers on Sunday by heading eastward in his car into Idaho.
At that point, he stopped and drove back across the border before surrendering in a Wal-Mart store parking lot.
An Oregon State Police trooper says Maddox told him he didn't want to go to jail in Idaho.
Maddox is being held in Malheur County jail in Vale, Ore.

Man corns ex-girlfriend

BURLINGTON, Iowa - A Burlington man's "corny" overtures didn't go over so well with local police. Daniel Eugene Wilson, 47, was arrested on Tuesday after police allege he impersonated an officer and made harassing phone calls to a former girlfriend.
The woman involved has also accused Wilson of "corning" — or throwing ears of corn — at her home.
Police honed in on Wilson on Saturday, after his former girlfriend called the police claiming he had been calling and chucking ears of corn at her house.
Several phone calls and at least one "corning" later, Wilson was arrested near the woman's home after a brief chase, police said.
Once Wilson was caught, the woman and other witnesses told investigators he had left a message on an answering machine saying he was Burlington police officer. Officers listened to the taped message, verified the voice was not that someone on the force, and arrested Wilson.

Now that's a beer run

OMAHA, Neb. - A woman let her teenage daughter lean out of a moving van to take beer from a vehicle that was driving alongside on a southeastern Nebraska highway, authorities said Wednesday.

Terry Kisling, 47, of Hickman, was driving the van of high school cheerleaders to a football game in Nebraska City earlier this month when a group of boys pulled up next to them in a sport-utility vehicle, Norris High School principal John Skretta said.
One of the girls apparently signaled to the boys and asked for a beer, and Kisling inched the van closer to the SUV, letting her daughter lean out to grab the can, he said.
"To say that we were shocked and taken aback would be an understatement," said Skretta, who said he learned of the incident last week. "It's almost unfathomable."
The vehicles didn't touch and nobody was hurt. The beer was passed around the van for several girls to drink, Skretta said.
Kisling was charged with procuring alcohol for minors, contributing to the delinquency of minors and reckless driving, said Chief Deputy Mike Holland of the Otoe County sheriff's department. Kisling is due in court Nov. 26.
A woman responding to a message left by The Associated Press at a telephone number listed for Kisling said Wednesday that the listing was wrong.
Authorities said they did not know how fast the van was traveling. Nebraska Highway 2 is a divided four-lane highway with a speed limit of 65 mph, Holland said.
Kisling, one of many parents who volunteer to drive students to school activities in district-owned vans, will not be allowed to drive students for the school again, Skretta said.

Now that's a crime-fighting mayor

OGDEN, Utah - It's not a good idea to mess with the mayor, even if he isn't very big. Mayor Matthew Godfrey and his wife were awakened early Wednesday when somebody tried to break into their house through a side and then a rear door. Godfrey jumped out of bed, checked on his children and went outside.
"He was heading across the front lawn riding a bike of ours," Godfrey said. "I ran him down and tackled him, wrestled him and put him in a headlock."
He held the man down while his wife called 911.
Curtis Poorman, 20, was arrested for investigation of burglary, robbery, public intoxication, illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, possession of marijuana — "we'll stop there," police Lt. Scott Sangberg said.
The mayor is "half the burglar's size," police Chief Jon Greiner said with a trace of exaggeration.
Godfrey, a long-distance runner, stands 5-foot-6 and weighs 135 pounds. Poorman, 20, weighs 163 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame, jail records said.
The mayor, whose only injury was a cut behind one ear, has made reducing crime an issue in his re-election campaign. Asked if it was wise to take on an intruder in an early morning break-in, Godfrey said he would encourage others to let the police handle it.
"It should be left to mayors who are determined to make their streets safe and the police. Everyone else should call 911," he said.

All in a non-day's work

THACKERVILLE, Okla. - Feeling like playing hooky, but nervous about getting caught? The Excused Absence Network has got your back.
For about $25, students and employees can buy excuse notes that appear to come from doctors or hospitals. Other options include a fake jury summons or an authentic-looking funeral service program complete with comforting poems and a list of pallbearers.
Some question whether the products are legal or ethical — or even work — but the company's owners say they're just helping people do something they would have done anyway.
"Millions of Americans work dead-end jobs, and sometimes they just need a day off," said John Liddell, co-founder of the Internet-based company Vision Matters, which sells the notes as part of its Excused Absence Network. "People are going to lie anyway. How many people go visit their doctors every day when they're not sick because they just need a note?"
The company's customers receive templates so they can print the notes after typing the name and address of a local doctor or emergency room. Those who choose jury duty as an excuse to miss work enter their county courthouse information on the form.
Though the company's disclaimer advises the notes are "for entertainment purposes only," its Web site shows pictures of people sunbathing and playing golf using the fabricated excuses. One testimonial says: "I've managed to take the nine weeks off using these templates! It couldn't be any easier!"
Actually, for one New Jersey woman it wasn't so easy. She was arrested this year after using one of the company's notes to support her claim she was too injured to appear in traffic court for a speeding ticket. She was caught after court officials called the chiropractor listed and he told them he never heard of the woman.
Vision Matters co-founder Darl Waterhouse said people looking to trick their bosses probably won't get caught because of federal restrictions on the release of patient medical information.
But some are concerned about potential problems.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pants being pulled up all over town

PORT ALLEN, La. - With a councilman saying underwear "is called underwear for a reason," another Cajun-country town has banned saggy pants from its streets.
The ordinance, passed unanimously Monday by the Port Allen City Council, requires pants to be secured at the waist so they do not fall below the hips, expose underwear or create indecent exposure.
Violators could be fined $25 to $250 for a first offense, and $250 to $500 for repeat offenses.
Council member Ray Helen Lawrence said she voted for the ordinance only because she got numerous calls from constituents who consider the look a fashion faux pas. Many said they associate droopy outerwear with crime, she said.
Council member Hugh Riviere said he didn't want to view other people's undergarments, saying it "is called underwear for a reason."
Stephanie DeLaney, one of two women asking the council to reject the proposal, said lightheartedly that she has lost weight, so she sometimes wears baggy pants.
"I'd hate for someone to call the cops on me for that," she said.

One way to beat the machine

BURLINGTON, Iowa - Frustration and anger over losses compelled a homeless man to bash a slot machine until it broke, an eastern Iowa man told a judge on Monday.

Truy Huu Phung, 41, admitted to losing his cool at the Catfish Bend Casino and also pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal mischief in the incident, which was caught on surveillance tape.
Phung, a homeless man from the Davenport area, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 3. He is expected to seek a deferred judgment and probation.
Phung was granted pretrial release on Monday, with the condition that he report to probation officers. He told the judge he would be staying at the same Davenport-area homeless shelter he used before his arrest.
Phung had been in custody since mid-August, when police arrested him after surveillance footage showed him repeatedly punching a slot machine with a closed fist.
After the machine broke, Phung walked out without anyone noticing, but police used the footage and a Player's Club card from the casino to track him down.

Now that's one hell of a parrot

MUNCIE, Ind. - A noisy parrot that likes to imitate sounds helped save a man and his son from a house fire by mocking a smoke alarm, the bird's owner says.

Shannon Conwell, 33, said he and his 9-year-old son fell asleep on the couch while watching a movie. They awoke about 3 a.m. Friday to find their home on fire after hearing the family's Amazon parrot, Peanut, imitating a fire alarm.
"He was really screaming his head off," Conwell said.
The smoke alarm had activated, but it was the bird's call that caught Conwell's attention.
"I grabbed my son and my bird, and got out of the house," he said.
The fire destroyed the home's dining room, kitchen and bedroom, Muncie fire officials said. It remains under investigation.
Aside from Peanut, Conwell said the fact that he and his son fell asleep on the couch helped save them. They may not have heard the alarm or the bird if they were asleep in their bedrooms.
Conwell said he runs an air conditioner and a breathing machine in his bedroom and they drown out a lot of noise around the house.

Bra thief at it again

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Fairfield police say thousands of dollars worth of bras have been stolen from the Victoria's Secret store in recent weeks. In the latest theft, last week, someone stole 50 bras from the lingerie store. Lt. Michael Walsh says the bras were valued at a total of about $4,000.

Earlier this month Victoria's Secret reported the theft of seven to eight drawers full of reversible bras.
The lingerie store also reported the theft of 100 bras, from its pink collection, earlier this month valued at $4,000.
Walsh say he doesn't know if the bra thefts were prompted by a fetish, but says "We have some people who steal strange things."

Now that's a wedding gift

MANSFIELD, Ohio - A couple won't mark their 27th anniversary until Thursday, but they've already received the perfect gift: the wedding pictures they couldn't afford when they married as teenagers. Their photographer showed up last week at the diner where Karen Cline works and surprised her with a photo album from her big day in 1980.
"About a month ago, I was just cleaning out some of my old things and I found it," said photographer Jim Wagner, who's now 80. "I knew she didn't have any money back then, and I just thought she might like to have it."
"I just stood there and cried and cried and hugged him," Cline said afterward, tearing up again.
She recalled being a new bride at 18 and admiring the pictures, but feeling heartsick because she and her husband, Mark, who was 19 at the time, didn't have $150 to pay for them.
All these years, the Clines have had just one wedding picture that someone else took, of her walking down the aisle.
Wagner said he was able to track down Karen Cline after running into her stepfather a few weeks ago.
When the photographer showed up in the diner, she wrote him a check for the long-awaited $150 — and that's when he cried, she said.

This is going to tick off our troopers

OLYMPIA, Wash. - It's a look that lead-foot drivers know all too well: the crisp black bow tie and blue "Smokey Bear" hat of a Washington State Patrol trooper.
And according to a national trade group, the outfits are the best-looking state police uniforms in the country.
The patrol, which has been wearing the peaked hats and distinctive bow ties for about 70 years, recently was named America's "Best-Dressed State Law Enforcement Agency" by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors.
The agency has taken runner-up honors before, but this is the first year the attire has been recognized as tops in the country, said Capt. Bill Hilton.
Judges were impressed by the Washington troopers' formal uniform, which includes the black bow tie on a long-sleeved blue shirt, with darker blue pocket flaps, epaulets and cuffs.
Matching blue pants sport a dark blue stripe down the side, and the peaked, flat-brimmed dark blue felt cap tops it all off.
There are several variations of a Washington trooper's uniform, depending on duty, and many don't wear the formal bow tie in day-to-day service.
But the full complement of clothes can project a certain bearing, Hilton said.
"You check to see that things are straight before you head out the door, and the brass is shined up," he said. "Sometimes, my wife will comment that it's taking me a bit of time to get ready."

Vampire gets 10 years

MESA, Ariz. - A woman who stabbed her tied-up lover so she could drink his blood has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tiffany Sutton told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Udall that she was sorry for the incident and said she never meant to hurt anyone, but received the stiff sentence anyway after he called the crime especially heinous.

Sutton, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in August. She was arrested by Tempe police in February after she repeatedly stabbed her lover during an alcohol- and drug-fueled sexual tryst.
According to police reports, the victim, 46-year-old Robert McDaniel, agreed to be tied up during sex but became alarmed and asked to be untied when Sutton pulled out a knife and said she liked to drink blood. Sutton then attacked him, slicing his leg, puncturing his arm, shoulder and back and cutting his neck and stomach. When he escaped, she chased him with a pickax.
Sutton's attorney, Elizabeth Houck, told the judge at Tuesday's hearing that she suffers from a personality disorder that causes instability and has taken responsibility for her actions, according to the East Valley Tribune.
Houck wrote in a sentencing memo that prison records show Sutton thought she was a vampire for the first several weeks she was in jail.

One way to catch a thief

SILVER SPRINGS SHORES, Fla. - A suspected thief trying to help himself to convenience store goods instead wound up crying for help after becoming stuck in an air shaft for 10 hours.
Jeffery Mumani, 25, was rescued Tuesday. He removed an air conditioning cover at a CVS store Monday night and tried to enter the store via the shaft but became trapped, Marion County Sheriff's Capt. James Pogue said. He began calling for help about 8 a.m. Tuesday.
"I heard a cat in the thing. I was trying to chase the cat," Mumani told the Ocala Star-Banner. He denied attempting to steal prescription drugs. "No, sir, it's a feline cat — a little animal."
It took firefighters an hour and a half to rescue Mumani, but he suffered only minor cuts and was in stable condition, Fire Rescue spokeswoman Heather Danenhower.

Now that's a find

MURFREESBORO, Ark. - A Wisconsin man digging at an Arkansas diamond park with his fiancee Tuesday found a 3.92-carat white stone, but the rock will go into his collection because his betrothed already has a ring and a setting.

Eric Blake, 32, of Appleton, Wis., spotted the stone along a trail at the Crater of Diamonds State Park when he set down a 70-pound bucket of mud that he was carrying to a wash basin. "I put the bucket down to switch hands. I looked down and there it was," Blake said.
Blake found a 1.49-carat stone Monday. The larger one is big enough to fashion into jewelry but Blake hadn't decided whether he will have it placed into a setting. "I only found it an hour ago," he said.
Blake, a carpenter, said his grandfather had taken him to the state park about 15 years ago and that he returns two to three times a year. "We usually find something," he said.
His fiancee Susan Gabrielson — who has "only one carat on her finger" — her daughter Sayde and Susan's sister Sarah accompanied Blake to the park this week. Susan found a 1.47-carat stone and some smaller gems Monday.
"We're going back out today. We'll take a lunch and then go back into the field," Blake said.
More than 700 diamonds have been found at the park this year.
The Crater of Diamonds park is the world's only diamond-producing site open to the public and visitors can keep the stones they dig up. The largest diamond ever found in the United States, the 40-carat white diamond named Uncle Sam, was unearthed in 1924 at the Murfreesboro park

No groping!

TOKYO - Did you just grope me? Shall we head to the police? That's the message women are flashing on their cell phones with a popular program designed to ward off wandering hands in Japan's congested commuter trains.
"Anti-Groping Appli" by games developer Takahashi was released in late 2005, but has only recently climbed up popularity rankings, reaching No. 7 in this week's top-10 cell phone applications list compiled by Web-based publisher Spicy Soft Corp.
The application flashes increasingly threatening messages in bold print on the phone's screen to show to the offender: "Excuse me, did you just grope me?" "Groping is a crime," and finally, "Shall we head to the police?"
Users press an "Anger" icon in the program to progress to the next threat. A warning chime accompanies the messages.
The application, which can be downloaded for free on Web-enabled phones, is for women who want to scare away perverts with minimum hassle and without attracting attention, according to Takahashi's Web site.
"I first downloaded this as a joke," said Spicy Soft official Michika Izumi. "But I think it could be a lifesaver if I get groped."

Monday, October 22, 2007

If I had a hammer...

BRISTOW, Va. - She was fined and got a suspended jail sentence, but Mona Shaw says she has no regrets about using a hammer to vent her frustration at a cable company.

"I stand by my actions even more so after getting all these telephone calls and hearing other people's complaints," she told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.
Shaw, 75, and her husband, Don, say they had an appointment in August for a Comcast technician to come to their Bristow home to install the company's heavily advertised Triple Play phone, Internet and cable service.
The Shaws say no one came all day, and the technician who showed up two days later left without finishing the setup. Two days after that, Comcast cut off all their service.
At the Comcast office in Manassas later that day, they waited for a manager for two hours before being told the manager had left for the day, the Shaws say.
Shaw, a churchgoing secretary of the local AARP branch, returned the next Monday — with a hammer.
"I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor ... and I went to hit the telephone," Shaw said. "I figured, 'Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.'"
Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company, disputes Shaw's version of its customer service record and calls Shaw's hammer fit on Aug. 20 an "inappropriate situation."
"Nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior," Comcast spokeswoman Beth Bacha said.
Police arrested Shaw for disorderly conduct. She received a three-month suspended sentence, was fined $345 and and is barred from going near the Comcast offices for a year.
The Shaws did eventually get phone and television service — with Verizon and DirecTV.
She said many people have called her a hero. "But no, I'm just an old lady who got mad. I had a hissy fit," she said.

Panties for peace

BANGKOK, Thailand - Women in several countries have begun sending their panties to Myanmar embassies in a culturally insulting gesture of protest against the recent brutal crackdown there, a campaign supporter said Friday.

"It's an extremely strong message in Burmese and in all Southeast Asian culture," said Liz Hilton, who supports an activist group that launched the "Panties for Peace" drive earlier this week.
The group, Lanna Action for Burma, says the country's superstitious generals, especially junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, also believe that contact with women's underwear saps them of power.
To widespread international condemnation, the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, crushed mass anti-regime demonstrations recently and continues to hunt down and imprison those who took part.
Hilton said women in Thailand, Australia, Singapore, England and other European countries have started sending or delivering their underwear to Myanmar missions following informal coordination among activist organizations and individuals.
"You can post, deliver or fling your panties at the closest Burmese Embassy any day from today. Send early, send often!" the Lanna Action for Burma Web site urges.
"So far we have had no response from Burmese officials," Hilton said.

Why did the alligator cross the street?

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Law enforcement officers are trained for all kinds of circumstances, but Ventura County sheriff's deputies were stunned to find an alligator crossing an intersection in Thousand Oaks.

Deputies were called to a residential area about 11 p.m., but admit they didn't believe the 911 call. They arrived and found a 2.5 foot-long gator in the intersection.
Deputy Jason Fuller grabbed the animal by the snout, and taped its mouth shut. It was taken to the Agoura Hills animal shelter.
The state Department of Fish and Game will take responsibility for the gator.
Sheriff's department spokesman Eric Buschow said the alligator may have been someone's pet, but so far no one has claimed it.

Leave my car alone!

LINCOLN, Neb. - A man was arrested after police say he attacked three people trying to repossess his car. The man, 59, was working at Shoemaker's Thursday evening when he was told his car was being repossessed.
Police said the man ran outside and got into the car. Two Priority Auto employees, a 22-year-old woman and 31-year-old man, jumped on the hood of the car to keep him from leaving. The suspect drove around the lot, then stopped and got out.
Police said the woman got in the driver's seat and the suspect allegedly grabbed her and threatened the other man with a screwdriver.
He also allegedly punched an 18-year-old employee.

Man bit by crocodile

BRISBANE, Australia - A man was bitten on the face by a crocodile when he accidentally collided with the reptile after diving through a wave at a surf beach in northeastern Australia, a newspaper reported Friday.
Camper Matt Martin, 35, received more than 40 sutures to gashes around his left eye and cheek after the mishap on Tuesday last week off the remote tropical northeast coast, The Cairns Post newspaper reported.
Martin said he was in waist-deep water when he dived through a wave and into the crocodile.
"I thought I was dead," the construction worker from Newcastle in New South Wales state told the newspaper.
"It was sort of like when you hit rocks but the rocks had give and movement in them," he added.
Martin, who is on a driving vacation across northern Australia, said his face was snapped before he hastily retreated to the beach.
Martin said the crocodile did not mean him serious harm.
"He wasn't serious. He had all the cards and he played it soft," Martin said.
The report did not mention the size of the crocodile. Martin could not be immediately contacted Friday.

Come our pet cockroaches

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Thinking about the University of California, Riverside for college? Then come pet our cockroaches!

UC Riverside is using a cockroach petting zoo to attract students and parents to an upcoming recruitment fair. The zoo will include several species, including cockroaches that emit a foul, ammonia-like scent and the famous, palm-sized Madagascar hissing cockroach.
Also in plentiful supply: rubber gloves for the squeamish.
The Nov. 3 event targets local high school students interested in careers as science teachers or engineers, said Steve Gomez, co-director of The Copernicus Project, one of two campus programs sponsoring the event.
It's the second time this year that UC Riverside, which has a well-respected entomology department, has used the cockroach zoo to entice potential recruits.
"Everybody gets grossed out at first," Gomez said. "But then they find out what uses they have in agriculture, like pest elimination."
Gomez said he held the giant Madagascar hissing roach in May and it nearly covered his palm. The bugs seem to enjoy being held, he said.
"I'm not a big cockroach fan," he said. "I held it for about five seconds and I gladly gave it back."

Crocs on the loose

BANGKOK, Thailand - Marksmen cruised rivers in northeastern Thailand on Sunday hunting for 11 crocodiles that scampered away from a farm during floods last week.

A total of 34 crocodiles escaped the commercial farm in Nakorn Ratchasima province on Wednesday, but the rest have been shot and killed, said Suwira Phonkoh, an official in the province's special task force to help flood victims.
Many people in the province have been evacuated due to the flooding. Authorities warned the remaining residents about the crocodiles, which were being raised for their meat and skins.
Some of them are as much as 20 feet long, and authorities said capturing them was increasingly difficult. Experts from a Bangkok zoo have been asked to help in the search.
"The area is huge, and the big crocodiles are more skillful and they can dive longer than small ones," Suwira said.

Fleas attack cops

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Four officers investigating a burglary were attacked, not by a fleeing burglar, but a swarm of fleas in a filth-ridden vacant house. The tiny, biting attackers were so overwhelming that the South Bend patrolmen had to be decontaminated and ended up being sent home early from their shifts.

"They were all over the place — in our socks and even in our shorts. It was disgusting," said Cpl. Ken Stuart.
To avoid infesting their squad cars, the police station or relatives, Stuart, Cpl. Chris Slager and Patrolman Paul Strabavy endured a lengthy flea decontamination process.
A van took them back to the station, where the men showered with flea/lice shampoo and soap. A wife of one of the officers brought them spare clothes.
As many as seven officers helped with the decontamination on Sunday.
"The guys were very angry. The last thing they wanted to deal with was fleas," said Sgt. Chuck Stokes. "That killed the whole shift."
Stokes said the house's tenants had recently been evicted, but returned periodically to feed a dog tied up in the backyard and allowed it to run around inside the garbage-filled house.

Rain, snow, sleet, hail, war, it doesn't matter, the mail is going to get there

TOKYO - A postcard that a Japanese soldier mailed from a Southeast Asian battlefront during World War II has reached a recipient in Japan 64 years later, a university whose student helped deliver it said Saturday.
Shizuo Nagano, an 80-year-old retiree in Japan's southwestern state of Kochi, received the card Friday — by way of Nagasaki, Arizona and Hawaii — said a statement from Mukogawa Women's University.
Nagano's former colleague at a retail store, Nobuchika Yamashita mailed the card in 1943 from Burma, now called Myanmar, a year before Yamashita died at war at age 23, the university statement said.
It said the card had initially failed to reach Nagano's address in Nagasaki, and was instead collected there by an American soldier during the U.S. occupation after Japan's 1945 defeat.
The American kept it at his Arizona home until he died 25 years ago and was kept by his son — who moved to the Hawaiian island of Maui and then gave the letter to a Japanese exchange student he met through his wife, who taught her sewing, the statement said.
"I never would have guessed I could see (Yamashita) again this way ... I'm overwhelmed," Nagano said as he was handed the postcard by the student, who spent two years after her return from Maui trying to find Nagano through the government. The student, Yuko Kojima, is now a sophomore at Mukogawa Women's University.

Check your arrows at the door

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - The city's Archery Park may need a name change. How about No-Archery Park?

Tom Draper was surprised recently when he found a sign that cited a city ordinance prohibiting bows and arrows.
"Several archers that I've talked to are kind of in disbelief," Draper said, who along with his bowhunting friends have practiced archery at the park for more than 20 years.
The park is next to the Eau Claire River, and the city had developed earthen berms and even an archery tower for deer hunters to practice shooting from a platform.
Wooded hillsides helped provide barriers to arrows flying out of the park, but it wasn't enough, Parks Superintendent Phil Johnson said.
The park was closed to archery in September after a neighbor complained of finding an arrow in his yard, Johnson said. It was the latest of several similar complaints from neighbors over 15 years or more, he said.
"Everybody's been most gracious about it up to this point, but the person has a legitimate concern," Johnson said.
Draper said he would like the city to appoint a committee of neighbors, archers and city representatives to review the situation.

Sounds like a DiCaprio flick

BOGOTA, Colombia - Forget going on a hunger strike. In Colombia, an unemployed man has sewn shut his mouth and locked himself behind an iron mask to demand the government attend to his family's desperate economic plight.

Luis Miguel Aldana, 52, told The Associated Press on Saturday that he adopted the peculiar form of protest five days ago, after being locked out of his apartment in Bogota. Instead of paying two months of rent, Aldana says he bought shoes for his three children.
He is demanding the government provide a loan to jump-start a cottage textile business and pay health care bills for his wife and children. Without the loan, he says his family will end up living on the streets.
"I'm doing this to get attention because people have a heart of iron and also a face of iron — they don't listen to anybody and think this is a joke," said Aldana, speaking out of the corner of his mouth that is not sewn shut.
Aldana currently is living in a neighbor's house, where he sits in bed with his hands and legs shackled in chains.
Despite soaring economic growth the past three years, Colombia's unemployment rate remained stubbornly high at 10.6 percent in August.

One airport that really SUX

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - City leaders have scrapped plans to do away with the Sioux Gateway Airport's unflattering three-letter identifier — SUX — and instead have made it the centerpiece of the airport's new marketing campaign.

The code, used by pilots and airports worldwide and printed on tickets and luggage tags, will be used on T-shirts and caps sporting the airport's new slogan, "FLY SUX." It also forms the address of the airport's redesigned Web site —*
Sioux City officials petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to change the code in 1988 and 2002. At one point, the FAA offered the city five alternatives — GWU, GYO, GYT, SGV and GAY — but airport trustees turned them down.
Airport board member Dave Bernstein proposed embracing the identifier.
"Let's make the best of it," Bernstein said. "I think we have the opportunity to turn it into a positive."
He noted that many airports, including some of the busiest, have forgettable three-letter codes.
"I've got buddies that I went to college with in different cities that can't even remember their own birthdays, but they all know the Sioux City designator — SUX," he said.
Mayor Craig Berenstein, who in 2002 described SUX as an "embarrassment" to the city, said he views the new slogan as a "cute little way" to make light of the situation.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Tis the season, after all

URBANA, Ill. - University of Illinois officials will take a closer look at this year's Halloween displays for a donated human skull that is missing from the anthropology department.

Students examined the skull in an undergraduate class on human osteology, or the study of bones, said Steven Leigh, head of the anthropology department.

"It's very difficult to get such materials," Leigh told the (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan. "If people insist on stealing them, we will run out."

The skull has been gone for about a month and was probably taken from a first-floor classroom at Davenport Hall, Leigh said. The department waited to report the loss to campus police until this week to make sure it was not being used in another class or for research.

The theft was uncommon, said Leigh and University of Illinois Police Lt. Roy Acree.

"I don't know what you would do with a human skull other than treat it as a Halloween decoration," Acree said. "It was sitting there and somebody probably thought it would be cool to have in a dorm room or apartment and took it."

The skull is not marked, but is "uniquely identifiable" if turned in to police, Leigh said.

"The police will recognize it as anatomical material instantly," he said.

One weird bird

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. - Snowball the cockatoo can't get enough of the Backstreet Boys. The 11-year-old medium sulfur-crested cockatoo lifts his legs, squawks and bobs his head, flashing his bright yellow crest to the beat of the boy band's "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." He even takes a bow with a vigorous bob of his head at the end of the 1997 pop tune.

When Snowball was given to a bird rescue shelter a few months ago, the man included the CD and instructions to watch his reaction.

Irena Schulz said she almost fainted at the sight.

"I'm thinking, `What on Earth is this? This is unreal,'" said Irena, who runs Bird Lovers Only Rescue with her husband, Chuck.

The couple said they have been contacted by people from around the world who have watched Snowball on the video-sharing Web site YouTube.

They have more than 30 birds in their home and many are available for adoption. "He makes a great spokesbird for the rescue," Chuck Schulz said.

Snowball has found his permanent home.

"He's my baby," Irena Schulz said. "He will stay here and be loved."

One way to beat the high price of gas

LAKELAND, Fla. - A 70-year-old man has been charged with grand theft after police watched him siphon off more than 900 gallons of gasoline from underground storage tanks at two gas stations, the Polk County authorities said Wednesday.

Deputies witnessed Hobert Gibson steal gasoline from two stations Tuesday, but sheriff officials believe he did this on a daily basis since at least January. The two gas stations he hit that day were about 40 miles from his Winter Haven home, and police believe it was typical for Gibson to visit a few stations per day across a wide geographical area. He is believed to have sold the stolen gasoline, which he stored at his towing company.

Gibson outfitted a stolen box trailer with tanks able to hold 3,250 gallons and with a trap door underneath, police said. He would pull over near the underground storage tank at a gas station, pop the trailer's hood and pretend to fix a problem, as the trap door obscured the view of gas being pumped into the tanks.

Once Gibson even chatted with a Florida Highway Patrol officer while on one of his missions, he told investigators after his arrest, sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers said.

"It was broad daylight, nobody knew that's what he was doing," Rodgers said. "He was that good at it."

No kissing!

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A young Muslim couple tried to speed off when Malaysian police caught them making out in their car but got into an accident, causing a five-car pileup, a report said Wednesday.

A police patrol car spotted the couple locked in an intimate embrace late Monday in their car parked at a hypermarket in Muar town in southern Johor state, The Star newspaper said.

As the patrol car neared them, the couple sped out of the car park onto a main road and collided with a passing car, causing three other vehicles to crash, the report said.

The unidentified couple, both in their 20s, have been detained and the man has been booked for reckless driving, it said.

Muar traffic police officer Lim Aik Sin told the daily that the couple have been referred to the district Islamic religious department. The man is a factory worker in nearby Malacca state while the woman, from Johor, studies in a college in Kuala Lumpur, Lim was quoted as saying.

Lim couldn't be reached for further details and other Muar police officers declined to comment.

Unmarried Muslim couples found alone together in a private place can be charged for "khalwat," or "close proximity," which is a crime under Malaysia's Islamic laws and carries a jail sentence of up to two months.

Malay Muslims, who comprise about 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, are subject to Islamic morality laws. Chinese, Indian and other minorities come under the country's civil laws.

Ashes to ashes

ATHENS, Ohio - A woman accused of digging up her ex-boyfriend's grave and stealing his ashes pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony vandalism, prosecutors said.

Martha LaFollete, 48, lived with Roger Barber in Roseville for five years until his death last November, said Athens County sheriff's Lt. Darrell Cogar. Police speculate she may have stolen Barber's ashes because she wasn't invited to his funeral.

The grave was dug up in June, but the theft wasn't discovered until about two weeks later, authorities said. Police found Barber's ashes several weeks ago at a home belonging to one of LaFollete's relatives, Athens County prosecutor David Warren said.

"I have a category of crimes that I like to refer to as 'aggravated stupid,'" Warren said. "I have been doing this for almost 30 years now and I have never had anyone steal someone's ashes."

Pardon me waiter, but there's a horse in my pool

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A 1,200-pound horse is safe after rescuers used a wrecker to pull the animal from a swimming pool at a Knoxville home. Mountain, an award-winning show horse, was pulled out a little more than two hours after owner Deborah Black found him shivering in the pool Tuesday.

The 27-year-old horse's trainer, David Cunningham, said Mountain apparently wandered onto the property and fell into the tarp-covered swimming pool sometime Monday night.

Authorities say Mountain will be treated with antibiotics to stave off pneumonia and will be watched for signs of internal injuries.

Get this (bleeping) snake out of my (bleeping) toilet

NEW YORK - There was no Halloween bogeyman in the closet for one Brooklyn woman — just a 7-foot-long python in her toilet. Nadege Brunacci was washing her hands in her bathroom before dawn Monday when she glanced back and saw the slithering serpent peeking out from her toilet, most of its body hidden in the pipes.

"I turned on the light and screamed," Brunacci, 38, told the New York Daily News. "It still makes my heart race."

Brunacci slammed down the lid, put a heavy box on top of the toilet and began calling for help, which came from her landlord and firefighters. Plumbers had to tear apart the downstairs neighbor's pipes to capture the snake, she said.

It's unclear how the snake made its way into the pipes.

Brunacci, a restaurateur, says she gave the snake to a friend who keeps it as a pet and named it after her.

Brunacci says she started using her daughter's training toilet after the scare in her third-floor apartment. And when she brushes her teeth, she said, "I'm looking over my shoulder."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

They didn't cover this in driver's ed

EUGENE, Ore. - When Robert Gillespie looked up from his text message, he saw a freight train. EOM. ("End of message," that is, for non-texters.) Eugene police say Gillespie's car crashed into the side of the Union Pacific freight train about 2 a.m. Tuesday.

When officers arrived, they found him alert and talking, but trapped in the car. They learned about the cell phone and text message as they worked to rescue him.
Gillespie, who had turned 38 the day before, was charged with drunken driving and careless driving, police spokeswoman Kerry Delf said. His injuries were described as not life threatening, and no members of the train crew were hurt.
Delf said officers believe he was driving faster than the 35 mph speed limit as well as using his cell phone to send a text message. She said he tried to brake for the train, but it was too close.
"There are all kinds of ways to get distracted these days," said police spokeswoman Kerry Delf. "We don't recommend any of them while you're driving."

Things not to do after your DUI arrest

MINDEN, Nev. - A man who was out on bail following a drunken driving arrest is back behind bars after he was caught drinking a 12-pack of beer on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn. Martin Ruiz asked the judge to release him on his own recognizance, promising not to drink another beer or drive.

But Judge Michael Gibbons set his bail at $100,000 on Monday, saying he was surprised Ruiz was released on recognizance the first time.
Ruiz was arrested in January shortly after his 21st birthday following an accident in which he, his passenger and the other driver were injured. He allegedly was driving 70 miles an hour down the twisting mountain road with a blood alcohol content of .104. The legal limit in Nevada is 0.8.

Which way to 42nd Street?

NEW YORK - After emerging from the labyrinth of New York City's subway system, riders often feel they could use a compass to navigate the world above.

Now transit officials are providing one, in the form of large stickers pointing out north, south, east and west and the nearest streets in each direction. The city is testing the decals at four midtown stations, with the idea of installing permanent ones in various places if the response is good.
Subway stations often have multiple exits, with signs specifying the cross streets at which a given exit is located. But even experienced riders sometimes have trouble figuring out which way they're facing once they get to the street.
"Not a single person, native New Yorker or visitor, can truthfully claim that they have not, at least once, been confused as to which direction to walk when emerging from a subway station," city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said as officials showcased the new stickers Tuesday.

Only in Maine...

PORTLAND, Maine - A lobsterman in a four-way race for a City Council spot was ordered to take down campaign signs attached to lobster traps.

Officials told Bill Linnell his signs placed along streets ahead of the Nov. 6 election posed a public safety and maintenance problem.
"What we don't want to get into is a case of one-upmanship, where somebody puts signs on lobster traps, so somebody else puts theirs on an inflatable cow," said Steve Landry, a state Transportation Department public safety engineer. "There's a safety factor out there."
Linnell said the traps meet state guidelines. He said he may sue the city but not until after the election.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kids today!

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - An eighth-grade boy is accused of landing a painful punch in the stomach of a deputy sheriff in a hallway at Mount Garfield Middle School.

The boy, whose name was not released, was arrested after allegedly slugging the deputy on Friday.

He was released to his mother's custody. The sheriff's department asked prosecutors to file a charge of second-degree assault on a peace officer.

The deputy, Matt McChesney, said in a written report he and the boy passed each other in a hallway when the boy stopped, drew back his fist and punched him below his body armor.

The blow hurt, he said.

"This was not an accidental bump in the hallway," McChesney's report said. "This deliberate punch was delivered with considerable force which knocked the breath out of my lungs."

McChesney is assigned to the school as a resource officer.

Sounds like extra-good salsa

WEST UNION, Iowa - Charges have been filed against a northeast Iowa woman accused of doctoring a salsa dip with her prescription drug that made another person ill.

Jayden Schwickerath, 18, of New Hampton, was arrested on Friday and charged with a felony count of administering a harmful substance, the Fayette County sheriff's office said Monday.

She allegedly put an antidepressant into a salsa-cheese dip at a home in rural West Union on Sept. 22, Chief Deputy James Davis said.

Davis said one person became ill, but didn't seek medical attention. The person reported it three days later, he said.

Well hello, Smokey

KENAI, Alaska - A man awakened by a bump in the night went to investigate and found an intruder, but it wasn't a burglar. Instead, Blaine Harling found himself face to snout with a black bear that had come in through an open window.

Harling, 19, has been staying at the cabin belonging to his grandparents, Vic and Jill Harling. Vic Harling said his grandson was sleeping in the basement Oct. 7 when a noise upstairs woke him.

"He thought it was the blinds flopping in the window from a two feet wide, by five feet high, crank-out window that he had left open for ventilation," he said.

The screened window was open just 18 inches, but that was enough for the adult black bear to slip through.

"He walked into the kitchen and it was just standing there, about three feet away, in front of the refrigerator," Harling said. "So he grabbed the first thing he could which was a shampoo bottle, or a lotion bottle, something like that, and he whipped it at the bear and then he took-off back down to basement."

Harling pushed a dresser in front of the door and called Alaska State Troopers, who contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The teenager also called his grandparents. After he persuaded them he wasn't joking, they told him how to unlock their gun cabinet and he armed himself with a .44-caliber and a .45-caliber handgun, said Jill Harling.

Classified ads: Be careful what you say

TACOMA, Wash. - A woman accused of placing an online ad that led to her aunt's house being ransacked pleaded guilty in the case Monday. Nichole Marie Blackwell, 28, maintained her innocence but entered modified guilty pleas to second-degree burglary and first-degree malicious mischief.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Vicki Hogan sentenced Blackwell to three months of electronic home monitoring.

Prosecutors had alleged that Blackwell maliciously posted an ad on the popular Internet site Craigslist on March 24.

The ad invited the public to "come and take whatever you want" from a Tacoma house.

The ad was titled "everything free," and said, "Nothing is off limits."

People took the ad at face value and carried off nearly everything, including the kitchen sink and the front picture window.

Investigators said Blackwell told them she posted the ad to get back at her aunt, who had been feuding with Blackwell's mother.

Blackwell did not speak in court, but told The News Tribune of Tacoma after the hearing that she took the plea deal so she could focus on caring for her father, who suffered a stroke in July.

"I didn't do it for whatever reasons they said I did it," Blackwell said. "I just wanted to offer it to people before it went to the dump."

We always thought an ax was an ax

CORD, Ark. - A couple thwarted a would-be robber by threatening him with a decorative ax and tearing off his mask before he fled their home, authorities said.

Fredrick Heyde, 25, and Beverly Robison, 26, were startled from sleep at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday because of a loud noise, authorities said. Heyde told police he saw a man with a handgun inside his home. The man pointed the gun at him and asked for money, authorities said.

Heyde told the intruder he only had a few dollars in change, which seemed to frustrate the man, police said.

Heyde's wife then grabbed a decorative ax from the wall and demanded he leave the home.

"While she had the ax pointed at the intruder, she was able to reach up and claw his mask off. That's when we got a good look at him," Heyde said.

That's some good drinkin'

SYRACUSE, Utah - The water looks clear, but the label on the bottle tells a different story.

"Ingredients," notes the back side of the bottle's label: "Water, fecal matter, toilet paper, hair, lint, rancid grease, stomach acid and trace amounts of Pepto Bismol, chocolate, urine, body oils, dead skin, industrial chemicals (aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, selenium, silver arsenic, mercury,) ammonia, ... soil, laundry soap, bath soap, shaving cream, sweat, saliva, salt, sugar. No artificial colors or preservatives. Some variations in taste and/or color may occur due to holidays, predominant cuisine preference, infiltration/inflow, or sewer cross-connections."

The specially labeled bottle water comes courtesy of the North Davis Sewer District.

Sewer-district manager Kevin Cowan hands out bottles to those who tour its facilities.

Cowan says he's trying to make a point with the disgusting ingredients.

"We make them (visitors) think it is the treatment product," he said. "But it's also a lesson about our environment ... (about) being more conscious about what goes down the drain."

Cleanliness is next to godliness

MOBILE, Ala. - An 81-year-old woman shot a homeless man Monday morning after finding him washing his clothes in her laundry room, police said.

Ethel Sanders told people she heard noises in her laundry room and found a man standing in his underwear near the washing machine when she went to investigate, police spokesman Officer Eric Gallichant told the Press-Register.

Sanders was carrying a handgun and shot the man when he came at her, Gallichant said. Sanders fell to the ground and dropped the gun after firing, Gallichant said.

The man grabbed the gun, pointed it at Sanders and took his clothes from the washing machine, Gallichant said.

The man fled and Sanders called police just before 8 a.m. Officers caught the man at the nearby Plateau Community Center.

James Penn, 25, was taken to University of South Alabama Medical Center. Gallichant said he is expected to survive. Upon release from the hospital, Penn will be charged with first-degree burglary, Gallichant said.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Everyone knows dentists have to rub your chest

WOODLAND, Calif. - A dentist accused of fondling the breasts of 27 female patients is trying to keep his dental license by arguing that chest massages are an appropriate procedure in certain cases. Mark Anderson's lawyer says dental journals discuss the need to massage the pectoral muscles to treat a common jaw problem.

Police say Anderson said during recorded phone calls that he routinely massaged patients' chests to treat temporo-mandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, which causes neck and head pain.

Attorney Robert Zaro told administrative law judge Jonathan Lew at a hearing Thursday that he should let Anderson keep his dental license while disciplinary appeals proceed. Anderson would be supervised by two assistants and would no longer do the chest rubs, Zaro said.

Zaro said Anderson, 48, of Woodland, needs to keep seeing patients so he can feed his seven children and pay for his defense.

The judge made no immediate decision.

Lew suspended Anderson's dental license last month. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and sexual battery. Yolo County prosecutors are investigating complaints from more than two dozen women who say they also were groped in the examining chair in the last five years.

Pepsi d. Coke, TKO

INDIANA, Pa. - The long-standing rivalry between Coke and Pepsi took a physical turn Friday when a Pepsi deliveryman allegedly punched his Coke counterpart in the face at a western Pennsylvania Wal-Mart, state police said.

The two deliverymen were "apparently bickering back and forth" while unloading their wares at the Indiana County store, police said. When the Coke deliveryman left the store, his counterpart allegedly punched him in the face three times, breaking his nose and giving him a black eye, police said.

No charges have been filed, but police characterized the incident as a misdemeanor simple assault.

That's what you get for singing 'Freebird' every day

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - A crazed attacker broke into a Long Island man's home, beat him with a karaoke machine and bit off his ear, police said. Doctors were unable to reattach the ear of the victim, but his injuries were not considered life threatening, said Nassau County police Officer Mary Verna.

The 64-year-old Uniondale resident attempted to defend himself with a vacuum cleaner hose.

The 27-year-old attacker punched and kicked him in the head and face before grabbing the karaoke machine and using it as a weapon, police said. He did not flee the scene of the violence Thursday but instead crouched in the hallway until police arrived.

"This guy just randomly picked this house," said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

In other words, she's out $19,500

WERNERSVILLE, Pa. - A woman who found $20,000 in cash at a convenience store last month is getting a $500 reward from the armored car company that lost it.

Joi Lyn Honer found the stack of $20 bills by a cash machine in Brigantine, N.J., over Labor Day weekend and turned the money over to police.

"I'm grateful," she told The Press of Atlantic City on Wednesday. "I didn't do it for the reward, but I think I have $500 that I didn't have three days ago, and that's really helpful to me."

News of the reward arrived in the form of a letter from Loomis, the armored car company. Honer said she has no regrets.

"If I didn't know all this was going to happen, I would still do the exact same thing," she said.

Goth kids are just silly

TULSA, Okla. - Some fashion statements draw more attention than others, and wearing handcuffs while walking near the Tulsa County Courthouse is one that got noticed.

A man wearing a pair of handcuffs on one wrist drew the attention of passersby Friday, who contacted law officers. But it turns out it was just his idea of a fashion statement, said sheriff's Sgt. Jody Britt.

The man, whose name was not released, was wearing "goth" clothing, with one end of the handcuffs on his wrist and the other end dangling, making it appear as if he had escaped custody, Britt said.

"Wearing a set of handcuffs near a courthouse is not exactly the most intelligent thing you could do," Britt said.

He also ordered the vegatarian meal

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Palestinian man managed to stow away in a wheel well of an airplane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, prompting Malaysian officials to order a probe into how he breached security, reports said Sunday.

Osama R.M. Shublaq stunned the ground crew at Changi Airport when he fell out from the wheel well of the Singapore Airlines aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, shortly after it landed late Thursday, The Star, a Malaysian daily, reported in its online edition.

It said Shublaq was dizzy from a lack of oxygen after the 55-minute flight, but was otherwise unhurt. Shublaq was detained by Singaporean police and charged with entering the island illegally.

Malaysian Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy expressed dismay at the breach of security at Malaysia's main airport.

"I am very unhappy," Chan was quoted by The Star as saying. "Such an incident should not occur, as the airport area has tight security."

Copper chopper back in garage

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The "Copper Chopper" is back home after being mistaken for trash.

The motorcycle, made by workers at a Cabot heating-and-air company, was reported stolen from the Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival in Fayetteville this week.

Employees built the motorcycle with copper tubing, tubing insulation, a refrigerant drum, a blower motor, refrigerant gauges, nut drivers, two squirrel cage blower housings and sheet metal.

The motorcycle was picked up by someone who was told everything left behind was trash. Moore Heat and Air paid a $200 reward for the motorcycle, which won the creative contest at the motorcycle festival.

"I am just glad that someone took it because it was cool and not just for the copper," employee Sherry Mash said. "With so much copper theft going on these days, we were afraid that it had been scrapped for the copper and we would never see it again."

The nonfunctioning motorcycle serves as a mascot for the company.

"It's basically junk to anybody but us," Dave Moore said.

As the lotus spreads

GROSSE ILE, Mich. - A rapidly spreading patch of flowering American lotus is causing an ugly battle.

Across the Detroit River's Gibraltar Bay on Hickory Island, Sue Liphardt said she doesn't like the sight of the aquatic plants. She and others fear the patch will grow to interfere with fishing and boating, driving down property values.

"It's like an island moving closer to our dock," she said. "I don't want them to wait until it's 50 feet away to decide how to control it."

But to Bruce Jones, a founder and board member of the Grosse Ile Nature Conservancy, the plants are lovely — and a sign the water near Grosse Ile, south of Detroit, is cleaner.

The American lotus is threatened in Michigan, and there is a fine as high as $500 for picking it, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

The fight between the nature conservancy and Hickory Island homeowners has escalated in the past year.

The lotus bed was spotted in 1999, when it consisted of a few plants, Jones said. But some homeowners say it's now nearly 10 acres and claim they saw people in boats planting seeds to expand it in 2002.

Only natural beds are protected by law. The nature conservancy planted lotus seeds in other parts of the bay in 2002, Jones said, but those seeds didn't take root.

The bed "is not our fault," he said. "It's nature."

Look out below

SEATTLE - Talk about bad omens. An overhead NBC television camera mounted on wires collapsed onto the turf during a timeout early in Sunday night's game between the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, almost hitting two Seattle players and causing a 10-minute delay.
The Saints had just called timeout with 11:24 remaining in the first quarter when the camera slumped and then fell a few yards from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the rest of the huddling Seahawks. After the camera was righted somewhat off the ground, it fell again — and nearly hit Bobby Engram as the receiver was walking to the sideline.

Game officials then cleared both teams from the middle of the field while the network got the camera back up to normal height. As the camera moved up and down the field for testing, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren looked up at its every move with his mouth agape. When the camera moved to the sideline, Seattle's players all cleared out from beneath it.

Somebody call Spielberg

DESTIN, Fla. - Six friends went to a fishing tournament looking to catch some grouper. They caught an 844-pound shark instead.

The fight by Adlee Bruner and friends to pull the 11-foot mako shark onto the boat from the Gulf of Mexico took more than an hour on Saturday. But when they made it back to land, it was a record for the decades-old Destin Fishing Rodeo.
"It was tense," Bruner, 47, said about the fight to land the shark, which has a mouthful of huge, fearsome teeth. "I've fished for 40 years. I've never see one that big."

Bruner and his fishing buddies were on a 52-foot charter boat with Capt. Robert Hill, about 70 miles southwest of this beach city in the Florida Panhandle.

The fishermen first noticed the big mako because it kept eating grouper and scamp they had hooked.

"It was like 'Jaws,'" Hill said.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This would be a good skill to have

WAUKESHA, Wis. - A man has been charged with trimming his utility bill by $24,000 over three decades by using a valve to bypass his natural gas meter.
Guenther Huebner, 66, was charged Wednesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court with felony theft and a misdemeanor count of fraudulent tapping of a wire, meter or pipe. His initial court appearance was set for Nov. 12.
His case marks the third such theft case filed against a Waukesha County resident in 18 months.
Jeff Meyer, an investigator for We Energies, said an investigation into Huebner was sparked by one of numerous tips the utility received in late 2005 after another case came to light.
In that case, Warren J. Krohn, also of New Berlin, was accused of ducking at least $36,000 in charges by bypassing his gas meter to heat his in-ground swimming pool and two buildings, Meyer said.
The tip concerning Huebner came from a caller who said his bypass was installed "when the swimming pool was put in about 20 years ago," according to the criminal complaint in the case.
The complaint said investigators found the bypass and a second line leading to the basement of Huebner's home during an excavation of the gas line in 2006.
The second line avoided the meter while the metered line had a valve attached to it that stopped the flow of gas passing through the meter, the complaint said.
Huebner investigators he saw "the bypass in his basement about 30 years ago, but forgot about it until the other day," the complaint said.
Meyer said it's unclear how many underground taps are out there but the utility is trying to locate them.

Tow truck tows away three-year-old

HOUSTON - A wrecker towed a vehicle with a 3-year-old boy sleeping inside to a private storage lot on Wednesday. The child was not hurt. The boy's aunt had left her Toyota Rav4 to go into a business. She called police when she realized the car was gone.

Employees at the lot also called police when they saw the boy inside. Paramedics examined the boy and determined he was fine.
Police said there didn't appear to be any wrongdoing on the tow-truck driver's part. Spokesman John Cannon said the car's windows were dark enough to prevent the driver from seeing the inside.
"Any time you leave a child unattended inside a vehicle, no matter what the conditions are, we take that very seriously," Cannon said in a story posted Wednesday on the Houston Chronicle Web site.

No word if the dog started the blaze

PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh-area veterinarian was forced to complete surgery on a dog in the street after a fire erupted at his clinic on Thursday.
Officials say the fire erupted at the Jasmine Veterinary Hospital in Springdale around noon just as Dr. Mark Jasmine was spaying a dog.
Jasmine, whose family lives on the top floor of the building, rushed to get his children out of the house. Then he removed the dog and cat that were in the clinic and completed the surgical procedure outside.

They could have sold it to first graders

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Robbers hijacked a Malaysian cargo truck but then abandoned it, most likely after discovering it carried boxes of fruit juice instead of a more valuable load, police said Friday.

The four assailants, armed with machetes and axes, forced the truck driver out at a rest stop in central Selangor state Tuesday, said Mohamad Mat Yusop, police chief of Klang district.
Barely 24 hours later, authorities found the vehicle on a roadside with its contents of lychee juice packets worth 82,000 ringgit ($24,000) untouched, Mohamad Mat said.
"We suspect (they hijacked) the wrong trailer because they just abandoned it," Mohamad Mat said. "Normally they look for very expensive items like computer chips or construction materials."

How about a wire transfer next time?

LUGANO, Switzerland - That's one check you hope won't bounce. Italian authorities said Thursday that they had arrested a man who was trying to leave the country on his way to Switzerland with a check made out for $500 million.
The man, identified only as an Italian national, worked for a multinational company, Italy's border police told The Associated Press, confirming local media reports.
The man sought to enter Switzerland earlier this week in a luxury car belonging to his company when he reached the Italian border station of Ponte Chiasso. He didn't declare the check, but it was discovered when guards conducted a routine search of the car. They did not say where they found the check.
Authorities arrested the man and set bail at $100 million. The traveler didn't have that much on him, so authorities confiscated the check instead.
Anyone attempting to leave Italy with more than $14,200 must notify customs and explain where the money comes from and why they are taking it out of the country.

What a dog!

IRWIN, Pa. - Bailey didn't need MapQuest or a navigation system to find his way back to his North Huntingdon home. Instead, the 10-year-old bichon frise dog used his nose.

Bailey was lost late last month when his owner took him to Darragh, where he was cutting wood for his sister. The 15-pound dog disappeared.
Three days later, Bailey showed up on his own front porch, whining from hunger and with a few scratches.
Since his trek, Bailey has become something of a star, getting phone calls and cards from around the country, a few gift baskets and even a free grooming at the Cutie Petutie dog salon in Westmoreland County.

Wrong person to ask for his urine

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A man who was apparently worried about a random drug test asked an 11-year-old boy at a mall for a urine sample.

White Plains Police say Marcos Delacruz, 42, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He was arrested several hours after the incident in the men's room at the mall on Wednesday.
Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Daniel Jackson said Delacruz took the sample to his appointment with his probation officer.
The 11-year-old boy told his mother that a man in the men's room had asked him to urinate in a bottle. The mom called police and the boy described the man.

That was easy

MILWAUKEE - A pizza-delivery man who sought treatment in an emergency room after being injured in a holdup attempt recognized one of his attackers when the suspect sought medical attention at the same hospital.
The victim, 28, was trying to deliver a pizza Tuesday when a man pointed a gun at him, Milwaukee police said. The Pizza Hut employee grabbed for the gun and attempted to wrest it from the first suspect when a second suspect hit the victim in the face.
The delivery man managed to pistol-whip the first suspect with the gun, hitting the suspect in the head several times, authorities said.
The victim fled and later sought medical help for injuries that included bruises and bite marks. At the hospital he recognized the suspect, who had sought treatment for injuries he suffered from the pistol-whipping, police said.

One hungry theif

APPLETON, Wis. - This thief apparently had quite the appetite. Appleton police received a call Wednesday of a burglary — not of valuables but of food.

The burglar apparently entered the unlocked apartment and walked away with a pizza, six eggs, a can of beef ravioli, a can of peaches and one chicken-and-broccoli Hot Pocket, authorities said.
The crime apparently occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., the police report said.
Police had no immediate suspects.

Three-year old takes joyride

OMRO, Wis. - The candy-apple red Mustang GT is just a toy, but that didn't stop 3-year-old Jordan Will from taking his battery-operated wheels for a brief ride along a busy stretch of highway. Drivers stopped and neighbors chased down the car until an officer could pull over Jordan and his 2-year-old passenger on Sunday.

"Nothing bad happened, so it's kind of cute now when you look at it," said his father, Doug Will. "But at the time, it wasn't cute at all. It was scary. I was really upset."
The Mustang is decked out with all the extras: a rear spoiler, a premium sound system and chrome wheels.
The boys drove the tricked-out ride through their Omro neighborhood and pulled up to a busy intersection.
"He even obeyed the signs, so that was good. He stopped at the red light and got on the cross walk," said neighbor Jaci Bauer.
Another neighbor, Jason Bauer, panicked when he saw the boys cross over a highway, onto a sidewalk and over a bridge. He gave chase for a few blocks until an officer pulled the boys over.
"By the time we stopped them, they probably made it five or six blocks from home before anyone even noticed they had been wandering around town," Jason Bauer said.
Doug Will had been searching for the boys when he got the call to come get the car.
"He just said, 'We went for a ride, daddy,'" Will said.
All Jordan can do now is sit in the little car. His father has taken away the keys and removed the battery.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pizza man makes his own dough

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. - A pizzeria owner has been accused of making his own dough, counterfeit money, in a room behind the oven. Police said Wednesday that they found $6,000 in fake bills, along with printing equipment and cutting devices, in a back office at The Brick Oven Pizza Shop, near the village Police Department.
Frank Donato, 39, of Dobbs Ferry, owner of the restaurant and an adjacent ice cream stand, was arrested Tuesday and charged with 16 counts of forgery. Sgt. Harold Young said in a statement that Donato had used the equipment "to print and subsequently distribute counterfeit United States currency."
Donato pleaded innocent at his arraignment and posted $7,500 bail on Wednesday, said his attorney, Bruce Bendish.
Bendish said the equipment seized was "what you'd consider standard equipment in any kind of business." He said he would need time to investigate the charges and expected the case to be adjourned on Thursday

Get this guy in the Cannonball!

ASHLAND, Ky. - A West Virginia ambulance driver has been charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances after he ran two red lights with a patient in the back, Ashland police said.

Steven Ray Marcum of Mingo County, W.Va., was transporting a patient Tuesday for Jan Care Ambulance Inc., a regional service, when he ran the traffic lights, said Ashland police Capt. Todd Kelley.
The lights and sirens of the ambulance weren't on, tipping police officer Bill Lucas that something was wrong, Kelley said.
"With this guy, it was obvious," Kelley said.
Marcum failed a field sobriety test and was blood-tested for drugs before going to jail at the Boyd County Detention Center, Kelley said. Marcum was released Tuesday night after posting a $750 bond, a spokeswoman at the detention center said Wednesday.

Get old, get ornery

WACO, Texas - An 84-year-old woman accused of trying to run over a neighbor amid a land dispute has been arrested. Ester McCullough of Downsville, near Waco, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Later Monday, she was released from the McLennan County Jail on a personal recognizance bond, a jail spokeswoman said. McCullough could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In May, she drove into her neighbor's yard, knocking over part of a brick wall, then drove into the garage and knocked a 3-foot hole in a wall, said McLennan County Chief Deputy Randy Plemons.
As McCullough reversed the car and headed for a vehicle in the yard, the neighbor ran toward her car trying to stop her, the arrest warrant affidavit stated. She then drove toward him, and he jumped on his car to keep from being hit.
The neighbor told police that McCullough believes part of the land under his home belongs to her, Plemons said.

If you're tired, youv'e got to sleep

RICHFIELD, Minn. - Police say a 26-year-old St. Louis Park man was asleep at the wheel of his pickup as it drove down the street before dawn on Sunday. He didn't wake when the truck crossed the centerline, or when an officer ran up and jumped on the running board, reached inside and put the truck in neutral.

The criminal complaint said Pedro Fernando Brito, 26, was undisturbed when the officer stopped the truck and pulled out the keys.
Then the officer got his attention. "Police had to shake the defendant's shoulder and yell at him to wake him up," the complaint said.
"This is a weird one. Strange," Richfield police Lt. Todd Sandel said. "He was out to the world, behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. We were lucky it was 3:30 a.m."

No more tobacco juice

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A lawmaker said Wednesday she'll try again to clean up the House rules that ban a cup of water on a desk but allow a day's worth of tobacco juice.
Rep. Pam Adcock said she will propose next week a ban on chewing tobacco from that chamber's floors or committee rooms. Adcock contemplated seeking the ban during a committee meeting earlier this year and said she would push for a state law in the 2009 session banning chewing tobacco throughout the Capitol.
"It's just going to be easier and quicker to get it done this way," said Adcock, D-Little Rock.
A law banning smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces in Arkansas went into effect last year. It does not cover chewing tobacco.
Adcock said a ban on smokeless tobacco would be similar to other rules regulating legislators' decorum in the Capitol, including prohibitions on food and drink in some areas.
The rule would only apply to House members, not the state Senate.
Gov. Mike Beebe in August said he was surprised that chewing tobacco was allowed on the House floor.
"It's fine with me. I thought it was already banned," Beebe said.

Dog saves family from fire

GREENVILLE, Maine - Thumper, a black Labrador retriever, is getting credit for saving a Greenville man when a fire swept through his home.

Roland Cote said his wife and their 7-year-old grandson were away when the blaze started early Sunday in a converted two-story garage. He said Thumper grabbed him by the arm to wake him, leaving just enough time for him to dial 911 before fleeing the fast-moving fire.
While the dog is the hero, a cat is the bad guy in this story.
Cote said the fire marshal investigator believes the blaze was started when Princess, the family cat, tipped over a kerosene lantern. Cote says he and his pets escaped safely, but he says Princess did get her tail singed by the flames.

Do not insult the dog

WARSAW, Poland - A Warsaw court has ordered an opposition party to apologize publicly to the speaker of parliament for making what the court said were false claims about him and his dog in a campaign ad, a court spokesman said Thursday.
The Left and Democrats opposition party claimed in a radio ad ahead of Oct. 21 general elections that Parliamentary Speaker Ludwik Dorn's schnauzer Saba destroyed furniture in government offices he used in his previous post as interior minister, and that Dorn had refused to pay for the damage.
The party accused the ruling Law and Justice party, to which Dorn belongs, of misusing public money.
Wojciech Malek, a spokesman for Warsaw's district court, said that the court determined that the information was false and ordered the Left and Democrats — an alliance of ex-communists and center-right politicians — to apologize in radio broadcasts that must run three times over three days.
The court ordered the party to say in the ad that its electoral committee "apologizes for spreading untrue information alleging that his dog Saba destroyed furniture in the ministry, that is, that it chewed it and that Ludwik Dorn did not pay for the destroyed goods."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cow arrested in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A Cambodian cow was taken into police custody for causing traffic accidents that resulted in the deaths of at least six people this year, a police official said Tuesday.

The cow's owner could also face a six-month prison term under a new traffic law that holds people responsible for accidents caused by their animals, said Pin Doman, a police chief on the outskirts of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.
The white, 5-foot tall cow was standing in the middle of a main road Monday night when a 66-year-old motorcyclist crashed into the animal and died. Most Cambodian roads are dark at night.
Earlier this year, the same cow was responsible for another traffic accident that resulted in the death of five people and several injuries, when a truck veered off the road and crashed as its driver tried to avoid the animal.
Pin Doman said he was holding the cow at his police station

And the grandmother of the year award goes to...

UPPER DARBY, Pa. - A woman had her 4-year-old granddaughter help her shoplift at a department store, police said Tuesday. Surveillance cameras recorded Monica Vitale, 42, on Monday taking items from a Sears and having her granddaughter put them into a toy stroller, Upper Darby Township Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
"She actually hands the little girl the package, and the 4-year-old puts it in the stroller, raises the hood of the stroller, and then Grandmom covers it," Chitwood said.
Vitale allegedly shoplifted from the same store Sunday, but store detectives decided not to pursue her because of the child, Chitwood said.
"I would like to think that the 4-year-old thought it maybe was a game or something like that. I cannot imagine in any way, shape or form that she was stealing," Chitwood said.

There are easier ways to get divorced

DEERFIELD, Mass. - John Carney was dumping a load of brush at the local waste transfer station last week when he noticed a man's gold wedding band partially buried in the sand.

Intrigued by the "Ed and Linda" and "June 9, 1996" engravings inside the band, Carney decided to do some detective work.
With the help of local librarians, the 57-year-old South Deerfield man went through the Deerfield town report for 1996 and looked up weddings. He found a listing for Ed and Linda LaCoille on June 9 of that year.
Last week, he returned the ring to the LaCoilles' house. Ed Lacoille had lost the ring more than six months ago.
"I never expected to find it again," Linda LaCoille said. "It was amazing."
It was the second time in just over a year the ring has been returned after being lost. Ed LaCoille said he lost the same band at a lake in Maine while on vacation. He left a note at the lake house for future renters.
A couple of weeks later, the ring was returned by mail.

Missing flamingo spotted

WICHITA, Kan. - After two years on the lam, a pink flamingo that escaped from the Sedgwick County Zoo has been spotted with a wild Caribbean flamingo in a ship channel area of southwest Louisiana.

The latest sighting three weeks ago was in the Calcasieu Ship Channel on private land accessible only by boat. Officials with the zoo in Wichita learned of the wayward flamingo's whereabouts late Friday because the birds were identified by numbers on their leg bands.
The zoo's flamingo was still traveling with the same companion that was with it during an earlier sighting. The two birds were seen at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas in December 2006.
The other bird, a rosy-red wild greater flamingo, came up from Mexico during hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The discovery excited bird watchers in Louisiana because it was the first documented sighting of a wild greater flamingo in the state.
"We're very happy to see he's been spotted again," said zoo spokeswoman Christan Baumer.
The zoo does not plan to try to get the flamingo back.
"There really isn't an easy way to recapture the bird. It would only disturb wildlife where it's been found and possibly could do more damage to the bird than just leaving him alone," Baumer said.
Flamingos are social birds, so it is not unusual they are staying together, she said.

And that's why you don't make a nude rug of yourself

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - Tamera Bremer titled the life-size nude self-portrait she laboriously wove into a rug "the sexy sex: all-nude review rug one." Somebody apparently found it fetching, and late Monday it vanished from an exhibit floor at Linfield College.
Bremer said the latch-hook work took thousands of hours and she valued it in the five-figure range.
It was the first in a five-rug project the Portland artist, an adjunct professor at Linfield, has in the works.
The curvy cutout was fashioned from monk's cloth, a heavy cotton, and hand-painted in 10 colors on alpaca yarn.
"I don't understand why anyone would want to steal something like this," she said. "Whoever did it doesn't understand what they've done. It's my life's work."

How is it collected in the first place?

TAMPA, Fla. - Cynthia Hunter spent almost two months in jail over a vial of cat urine. Hunter, 38, was arrested Aug. 15 on a charge of petty theft after she was accused of stealing from a Wal-Mart store.

Deputies added charges of possession of a controlled substance after finding a vial containing a yellow substance in her purse. A drug field test suggested the substance was methamphetamine, The Tampa Tribune reported.
Hunter had protested, saying the substance was dehydrated cat urine for her son's science project and that it had been purchased at an animal clinic. She was released Thursday after lab tests found the substance was, in fact, cat urine.

New chicken champ

LAS VEGAS - Two hot dog eating champs faced an upset — not of the stomach variety — when a Chicago culinary arts student trounced them in eating chicken wings.
Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti skinned champion Joey Chestnut and staved off a comeback by Takeru Kobayashi to win the chicken wing "Chowdown" for Spike TV.
Wriggling his body and gnashing his teeth, the 22-year-old downed 4.1 pounds of chicken meat in eight minutes flat in front of a cheering crowd in downtown Las Vegas Tuesday to win the $25,000 top prize.
Chestnut wolfed 4.05 pounds for second while Kobayashi came in third, inhaling 3.12 pounds.
Bertoletti, who came into the event ranked 3rd by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, said he used his thumb to squish meat off the bone for speedy ingestion, using the "umbrella technique." He credited the Buffalo Wild Wings staff for preparing a tasty meal.
"They were warm enough and they were soft enough. They had the perfect amount of sauce on them," he said. "It was perfect."

He loves those babyback babyback babyback

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - A 6-year-old boy was hungry and decided he'd go to Applebees. So he grabbed the car keys, took his booster seat from the back seat of his grandmother's car and placed it in the driver's seat, then made a go of driving himself to the restaurant Tuesday.

He made it about 75 feet. Unable to take the car out of reverse, he crossed the street and ran into a transformer and communication box, knocking out electricity and phone service to dozens of townhomes.
Nobody was injured and the boy, whose name was not released, got out of his car and told his grandmother what happened.
"He proceeded to start the car and started backing up," said Sgt. Colleen O'Connell of the Broomfield Police Department. "He went backward about 47 feet, hit the curb, then went backward another 29 feet."
Investigators couldn't figure out how the boy reached the accelerator.

My kind of hospital

BRISBANE, Australia - Doctors plugged an Italian tourist into a drip-feed of vodka to save him at a hospital in Australia that ran out of the medicinal alcohol it would normally have used for treatment.

The 24-year-old Italian, who was not further identified, was brought to Mackay Base Hospital in northeastern Queesland state and was diagnosed as having ingested a large quantity of ethylene glycol, a common ingredient of antifreeze that can cause renal failure.
Pure alcohol is often given in treating such cases because it can inhibit the toxic effects of ethylene glycol.
Mackay Base Hospital Dr. Pascal Gelperowicz said the man was given pharmaceutical-grade alcohol when he arrived, but that the hospital's supplies soon ran out.
"We quickly used all the available vials of 100 per cent alcohol and decided the next best way to get alcohol into the man's system was by feeding him spirits through a naso gastric tube," Dr. Gelperowicz said in a statement.
"The patient was drip-fed about three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit," he said. "The hospital's administrators were also very understanding when we explained our reasons for buying a case of vodka."

Pole dancer wins settlement

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana appeals court upheld a worker's compensation award Tuesday for an exotic dancer who was injured while performing on a pole at a strip club.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Angela Hobson and ordered the state Worker's Compensation Board to determine if she was entitled to double compensation.
Hobson claimed she suffered neck pain and numbness after injuring herself while dancing at the Shangri-La West club in Fort Wayne on Dec. 20, 2001. She underwent surgery for a herniated disc in her cervical spine, according to court records.
Hobson said she reported her injury to her employers, but they later denied knowledge of the injury.
In 2006, the compensation board awarded her temporary total disability benefits and other compensation totaling more than $10,000 and found that Shangri-La did not have a worker's compensation policy and was not approved as a self-insurer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And that's how it ends... with a whimper

NEW YORK - A New York City hotel is so determined to make sure its customers get a good night's rest that it's got its own sleep concierge.
"I've learned a lot about sleep since I started this job," said Anya Orlanska, who four months ago took the job at The Benjamin, a midtown Manhattan hotel. "There are so many things that can be done."
The hotel, which created the position several years ago, is serious about its mission.
It offers customers a mattress specifically created for the hotel and a menu of over a dozen different pillows including one with a speaker built into it and a cord that plugs into an iPod.
Guests also have the option of a before-bedtime massage and snacks believed to make you sleepy — for an extra charge.
"We've done a lot of research regarding sleeping, how to make people comfortable," Orlanska said Monday.
She said she's taken the hotel's different types of pillows — some made with buckwheat, others with down — home with her to try them out for a couple of days.
"You have to experience it yourself to actually sell the product," she said.
The hotel guarantees customers will sleep as well at the hotel as they do at home, or they get a free night's stay.

Are you happy to see me or is that a... whoa!

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - An Oregon man won the annual pumpkin weigh-off here, presenting a gigantic gourd that came it at 1,524 pounds. Thad Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Ore., set a contest record with the pumpkin. He'll get $6 a pound, bringing his winnings to $9,144.

"It's the thrill of the victory," Starr said after his pumpkin came out on top. "And it's the fruition of a year's work."
About 80 contestants competed for the first-place prize, according to festival officials.
Pumpkins were lowered by forklift onto a 5-ton capacity digital scale monitored by officials from the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner's Office.
The top five pumpkins at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival will remain on display throughout the week.
The 2006 winner weighed in at 1,223 pounds, officials said.

You should see how it handles around curves

SPOKANE, Wash. - Police responded to a woman's complaint on Friday that a naked man was repeatedly driving by in a van and masturbating.
The woman gave police the license plate number, and records showed the van belonged to Spokane Police Officer Sherilyn Redmon. Redmon said she left the van at a Chrysler dealership for servicing.
Police found the van back at the dealership and arrested an employee accused of taking it on a 16-mile test drive.
Police jailed Bradley S. Keegan, 49, of Idaho, for investigation of taking a motor vehicle without permission and lewd conduct.

Dogs and cats, living together

STEPHENS CITY, Va. - A stray kitten has found a new mother in a golden retriever, who began producing milk for the gray tabby after hearing its cries.

The hungry kitten, found in an old tire at a concrete plant, refused to drink from a bottle and her rescuers feared she would die. That's when Honey, the family dog who hadn't given birth in 18 months, stepped in with her motherly instincts.
"She started licking her and loving her. Within a couple of days, Honey started naturally lactating," said Kathy Martin, whose husband, Jimmy, brought the kitten home six weeks ago. "The kitten took right to her."
Initially, the family worried such a big dog would be too rough for the tiny feline named Precious. But Honey showed her elation at Precious' presence, wagging her tail and prancing all over the house.
Precious now sometimes plays with dog bones, and Honey lets the kitten gnaw on her like a puppy.
"She thinks she's a dog," Kathy Martin said. "She's really fit right in."

He really should buy the vacuum now

TWIN FALLS, Idaho - When Jamie Howard knocked on Paul Sucher's door six months ago, he was trying to sell him a new vacuum cleaner. He ended up giving him one of his kidneys.

The chance encounter with Howard, a traveling salesman for the Kirby Co., led to transplant surgery in August. Now, the color is returning to Sucher's cheeks and he is recovering.
Sucher, 35, suffered kidney failure three years ago because of high blood pressure, forcing him to undergo dialysis.
When Howard came by on a sales call, he learned that Sucher couldn't afford a new vacuum cleaner because of the illness. He also learned Sucher had O-positive blood — the same as his.
"I went outside, prayed about it, called my dad and my wife," Howard remembers. "(Donation) was something I was called to do."
Howard, who is also 35, passed the tests required for potential donors. The operation was done at the University of Colorado hospital in Denver, where Sucher had been on the transplant waiting list.
Two months later, Sucher says he feels so good it's almost as if he never was ill: "It's truly a miracle."

Anyone got change for a million?

PITTSBURGH - Change for a million? That's what a man was seeking Saturday when he handed a $1 million bill to a cashier at a Pittsburgh supermarket. But when the Giant Eagle employee refused and a manager confiscated the bogus bill, the man flew into a rage, police said.

The man slammed an electronic funds-transfer machine into the counter and reached for a scanner gun, police said.
Police arrested the man, who was not carrying identification and has refused to give his name to authorities. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.
Since 1969, the $100 bill is the largest note in circulation.
Police believe the $1 million note seized at the supermarket may have originated at a Dallas-based ministry. Last year, the ministry distributed thousands of religious pamphlets with a picture of President Grover Cleveland on a $1 million bill.

Anyone missing a brain?

RICHMOND, Va. - A brain was found in a bag near an apartment complex Tuesday morning, but it wasn't clear if it was human or animal, police said.

It was discovered in an area next to a suburban Richmond apartment complex under construction and near a mall, Richmond police spokeswoman Karla Peters said.
The state medical examiner was examining the brain, she said. It wasn't clear how long it had been there.
"We're waiting for the medical examiner to determine how we should proceed," Peters said.

Yet another reason you can't trust politicians

MEXICO CITY - After a humiliating defeat in Mexico's presidential election last year, Roberto Madrazo appeared to be back on top: He'd won the men's age-55 category in the Sept. 30 Berlin marathon with a surprising time of 2:41:12. But Madrazo couldn't leave his reputation for shady dealings in the dust. Race officials said Monday they disqualified him for apparently taking a short cut — an electronic tracking chip indicates he skipped two checkpoints in the race and would have needed superhuman speed to achieve his win.

According to the chip, Madrazo took only 21 minutes to cover the 15 kilometers between the 20-kilometer and 35-kilometer marks — faster than any human being can run. "Not even the world record holder can go that fast," race director Mark Milde said.
In a photograph taken as he crossed the finish line, Madrazo wears an ear-to-ear grin and pumps his arms in the air. But he also wore a wind breaker, hat and long, skintight running pants — too much clothing, some said, for a person who had just run for almost three hours in 60-degree weather.
Madrazo's outfit caught the attention of New York-based marathon photographer Victor Sailer, who alerted race organizers that they might have a cheater on their hands.
"It was so obvious to me, if you look at everyone else that's in the picture, everyone's wearing T-shirts and shorts, and the guy's got a jacket on and a hat or whatever," Sailer said. "I looked at it and was like, wait a second."

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Great TP Lawsuit of '07

PITTSBURGH - A woman has sued Kmart for allegedly collecting a 7 percent state sales tax on a nontaxable item: a 12-pack of toilet tissue. Mary Bach alleges a Kmart department store in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville improperly collected the tax on the $3.99 item, charging her $4.27 — or 28 cents too much.

Although most paper goods are taxable under Pennsylvania's sales tax code, toilet tissue is listed as a nontaxable item by the state Department of Revenue.
Bach told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette she was overcharged for the item at the same store twice before she filed the small claims suit last month in district court in Monroeville.
She is seeking $100 in damages plus court costs for the alleged violation of the state's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Under the law, plaintiffs can sue for the amount of the damages or $100, whichever is greater, said Bach, of Murrysville.

Pigs on the loose

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Nobody is quite sure how two potbellied pigs wound up in an upscale Grand Rapids-area neighborhood.

The wayward swine were spotted about 7 a.m. Wednesday. Animal control officers quickly netted one of the pigs, but they needed a little more time to capture the second one as it raced across tidy lawns surrounding $300,000 houses.
The Grand Rapids Press says the pigs are thought to be escaped pets. They were housed at the Kent County Animal Shelter, but no one immediately claimed them.
Local resident Laurie Blase says she doesn't know of any neighbors who kept pet pigs.

Man sentenced in ostrich slay

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - A man has been sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for killing an ostrich in San Mateo County.

Timothy McKevitt will also have to pay $5,000 in restitution for killing Gaylord the ostrich.
Authorities say McKevitt and his friend Jonathan Porter and a few others were drinking on Halloween last year and decided to trespass on a ranch.
Gaylord the ostrich apparently grew incensed and attacked and injured both men.
Porter and McKevitt later returned to the ranch with a rifle and shotgun and killed Gaylord.

Vincent Van Gogh he's not

MOBILE, Ala. - A man who claimed assailants cut his tongue out actually injured himself and has been arrested and charged with stealing $200,000 from his employer, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran announced Friday.

Cochran said Michael Crocker, 42, an employee of Vulcan Industries, was arrested without incident in Meridian, Miss.
Crocker reported the tongue-cutting after his neighbor, Stephen Perret, was found shot to death on Aug. 17. Perret's body was found in a truck in Citronelle.
Cochran described Crocker as a suspect in Perret's murder, but said he has not been charged.
Perret was a plant manager at Vulcan Industries in Mount Vernon and was also neighbor and co-worker of Crocker.
On Aug. 23, deputies went to Crocker's home. Deputies discovered that a portion of his tongue had been cut off. Crocker was treated for his injuries.
Based on forensics reports, investigators believe Crocker falsified his story of the attack and, in fact, cut his own tongue out. Crocker is charged with filing a false police report.

One way to end schoolyard bullying

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville authorities say a mother pulled out a gun at a school bus stop because her son was being bullied. The police report says 40-year-old Johnna Briggs pointed the gun at other students getting off the bus and said, "Does anyone have something to say?"
Her son was being bullied on the school bus and authorities say she wanted to put an end to it.
Briggs is charged with improper exhibition of a firearm, a misdemeanor.

Why you should never drink out of the punch bowl

UNIONTOWN, Pa. - A man who stripped naked in a Fayette County convenience store for no apparent reason has been convicted of indecent exposure and criminal mischief.
A jury rejected the defense offered by 26-year-old Gregory David Moore Jr. The Uniontown man said he didn't realize what he was doing because he had consumed a spiked drink at a party.
Moore went to the store after the party and was pre-paying for some gasoline when he undressed and told the female clerk, "I want everything."
Police say the incident was recorded by surveillance cameras.

Sounds like a plan for some judges we know

NEW DELHI - New Delhi's High Court justices, annoyed with lower court judges who issue problematic rulings, have decided to send one of them back to law school.

In an order issued late Friday, Judge R. K. Tiwari was told to return for a three-month refresher course after issuing an arrest warrant in defiance of a previous High Court ruling.
"Since Tiwari does not have even elementary knowledge of the criminal law and procedure it would be appropriate that he undergoes a refresher course at Delhi Judicial Academy," Justice V. B. Gupta wrote.
The move comes after a series of high-profile cases that have been overturned by the High Court or the national Supreme Court, citing lack of legal understanding by lower court judges.
Tiwari had ordered police to detain a landlord in a case where his tenant had failed to pay the power company, despite a previous High Court ruling that the landlord could not be held responsible. Tiwari could not immediately be reached for comment.

One lucky skunk

CARROLLTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - These are the salad days for one lucky skunk. Officer James Kellett said a skunk whose head was stuck in an empty salad dressing jar wandered into the police station's parking lot Thursday in Carrollton Township, near Saginaw and about 80 miles north of Detroit.

Kellett wanted to serve and protect the white-striped weasel, but wasn't interested in any resistance — spray or otherwise. So he grabbed a BB gun used in hunters' safety courses and shot at the jar from about 40 feet.
The shots cracked and shattered the jar, leaving a glass collar around the skunk's neck. With its head free, the skunk ran off.
"I didn't want to use deadly force, and it is a residential area," Kellett told The Saginaw News. "The way he was when he took off, he was able to eat, breathe and spray — and do anything else skunks like to do."
Kellett didn't get much in the way of gratitude, but he's grateful the skunk didn't spray. And the makers of T. Marzetti's salad dressing are sending the officer coupons good for free dressing as a reward

William S. Burroughs has no comment

GREENVILLE, Maine - "Naked Lunch" just doesn't sound appetizing to some people. A sandwich called the Skinny Dip, featuring sliced prime rib in a baguette roll, has been offered free of charge anyone willing to plunge naked from The Black Frog Restaurant's dock into a lake.
Since the free sandwich offer was introduced three years ago, owner Leigh Turner has found plenty of takers. "We've had two or three a week," he said.
But now the promotion is running into trouble: A patron apparently suggested to selectmen that the activity be banned.
The naked lunch issue surfaced this week when Town Manager John Simko presented the Black Frog's application to renew its liquor license. Simko said he had been approached about the nudity and suggested that Police Chief Scott MacMaster speak to the owner.
Turner did not attend the selectmen's meeting, but said he would remove the free lunch offer if asked to do so.
The skinny dip was typically done at night, no frontal nudity was exposed to customers and a towel was readily available, Turner said. "Most everybody applauded" after the plunge, Turner said.

Sounds like the next Ricky Bobby

DUMAS, Ark. - A 10-year-old boy took a school bus and led police on a chase along a rural highway, according to police.

School officials had spotted lights coming from the bus yard around 11 p.m. Friday night, and reported the bus stolen. Officers from three counties, four towns and Arkansas State Police began chasing the bus and its driver.
Despite road spikes set up to slow the bus, the bus kept traveling north toward Little Rock along U.S. 65 through Desha and Lincoln counties, then into the next county of Jefferson.
"Be advised, he missed them all. We're now coming into town. Speed's at 25 miles an hour," officers said over a radio scanner.
About 44 miles later, the bus slowed down enough for a sheriff's deputy to make the stop in Pine Bluff, and officers discovered their suspect was a child.
They cuffed the boy and took him into custody, then later released him to his parents. It wasn't known whether the child would face charges.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yet another reason to not open the junk mail folder

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - E-mail scams seek to separate people from their money by promising a share of unclaimed lottery riches, bounty from a dead fugitive, work-at-home schemes and other enticements.
But an Ocean County man recently got an e-mail with a darker twist: Gimme your money, and I'll cancel the contract someone put out to kill you.
Harry E. Whitworth, 72, of the Whiting section of Manchester Township, opened his e-mail Tuesday to find a curious screed supposedly from a man named Eddy.
"I know that this may sound very surprising to you but it's the situation," the e-mail began. "I have been paid some ransom in advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employer."
The price to call off the hit: $8,000 — half of which is to be paid up front as a sign of good faith. Sort of.
The e-mail also warned him not to tell friends or relatives, since they might be part of the plot to kill, too.
"I kind of knew it was a scam," said Whitworth, a retired accountant who lives with his wife in a senior citizen development. "The prosecutor's office came over to see me and asked if I had been involved in anything in the past that might have caused this to happen."

Got to be an easier way to make money

BOSTON - A man was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in prison for his role in a multistate insurance fraud scheme in which federal prosecutors said he and his wife intentionally ate glass fragments and collected more than $200,000 in compensation.
Ronald Evano, 49, also was ordered to repay $340,000 for his role in defrauding restaurants, grocery stores, insurers, hospitals and doctors in the scheme in which he and his wife claimed that there was glass in the food they ate.
Prosecutors say Evano and his wife, Mary, who remains a fugitive, filed fraudulent insurance claims worth more than $200,000 and incurred more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills in several states between 1997 and 2005.
In August, Evano pleaded guilty in federal court to 20 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, making false statements on health care matters and Social Security fraud. Prosecutors dropped four counts of identity fraud and health care fraud in the plea agreement.
An arrest warrant was issued last year for Mary Evano on the same charges as her husband.

Ma'am, we're going have to ask you to remove the bra

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Security guards refused to allow a woman into a federal courthouse until she removed a bra that triggered a metal detector.

Lori Plato said she and her husband, Owen Plato, were stunned when U.S. Marshals Service employees asked her to remove her bra after the underwire supports set off the alarm.
"I asked if I could go into the bathroom because they didn't have a privacy screen and no women security officers were available," Plato said Wednesday. "They said, 'No.'
"I wasn't carrying a shank in my bra. If it's so dangerous, why did they give it back and let me put it on?"
Patrick McDonald, the U.S. Marshal in Boise, said appropriate security protocols were followed in the Sept. 20 matter, and guards suggested she simply remove the bra in her car outside, or find a restaurant bathroom.
"She's inflating it," McDonald said. "All of a sudden she just took it off. It wasn't anything we wanted to happen and it wasn't anything we asked for her to do. She did it so fast."
Plato, of Bonners Ferry, said she was parked on a busy street and wasn't familiar with downtown Coeur d'Alene businesses. So her husband held up his coat to shield her from the rest of the people in the courthouse lobby while she removed her bra underneath her shirt.
Generally, McDonald said, undergarments aren't considered a danger to security.
"I don't think they're considered a weapon, really, the last time I looked," he said.

Cash found in trash

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A county garbage operations employee found a plastic bag on the road stuffed with $65,000 Thursday — and immediately turned it in to authorities.

It turned out the money had fallen off a Loomis armored car half an hour before Debbie Cole found it near the Pinellas County solid waste operations facility where she works. First she thought it was a turtle in the road.
The 53-year-old Largo woman found the bag just before 7 a.m., full of enough $50 and $100 bills to pay her salary for two years. She immediately contacted a supervisor, who called deputies.
It's not clear how the bag fell from the truck, said Mark Clark, spokesman for Loomis, a Houston-based cash-handling company.
Cole's boss, Bob Hauser, said he can't give her a raise or a bonus for her good deed because she's a government employee. But maybe, he said, he can arrange some extra time off.
Cole, who grew up in Long Island, said she was raised to be honest. She said she raised her four daughters the same way.
Did she think for just a minute about keeping the money?
"Everyone keeps asking me that," Cole said. "To be honest, no. It didn't even cross my mind."

Where was the last place you looked?

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Doctors in New Zealand lost a man's false teeth during his back surgery but found them four days later — stuck in his throat.

The 81-year-old entered the hospital in February 2005, and his upper dentures were removed before the operation, a Health and Disability Commission report said Friday.
But somehow, the report said, the false teeth got back into the heavily sedated man's mouth. A neurological condition allowed him to cope with having them in his throat for days — though not easily.
After the operation, the patient complained of "extreme pain," nurses noticed his voice was husky and he couldn't eat very much, the report said.
Doctors put a laryngoscope down his throat, found the missing denture plate and removed the teeth.
Experts said a cyst in the center of the man's spinal cord had pushed on his brain stem, damaging the parts responsible for swallowing and the feeling in the back of his mouth.

Newsflash: Mice exist

ALBANY, N.Y. - At the general store on Canada Lake in the southern Adirondacks, mice were the talk of the town this summer.

"My husband was buying mousetraps at the store and three people said, 'Do you have mice too?'" said Mary Cannon, secretary of the lake association on the body of water about 50 miles northwest of Albany. "We have over 300 families on the lake and I'll bet every one has been affected sometime this summer from excessive mice."
Now, with winter approaching, residents can expect to continue hearing the scratching of tiny feet as more of the destructive rodents move indoors to stay warm. A large berry and seed crop the mice feed on, a mild winter, and possibly fewer predators have all helped mice and other small critters thrive this year, researchers said.
"It's kind of the perfect storm, if you will, for mice," said biologist Charlotte Demers. "We're not talking plague proportions here or anything, but I think it was enough that we've gotten phone calls from a lot of local people."
At the Adirondack Ecological Center, run by the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, scientists say a high yield from beech trees, oaks, hickories, maples and conifers has helped propel the mouse population.
Demers said the rodents' high reproductive rates — four to six litters a year — along with a mild winter and dry spring have boosted survival rates.
Demers said there has also been a big jump in the red-backed vole, another small mammal that eats vegetation and seeds and, like mice, stays busy aboveground in winter.
There may also be fewer predators to decrease the population, Demers said.

Lost and found

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A 3-year-old boy who was lost in the dense Amazon rain forest was found after 11 days, dehydrated and scratched but apparently unharmed, police said Friday.
Neilson Oliveira Lima disappeared from his home in the rural community Pupuai on Sept 16, said Amazonas state police officer Ailson Carvalho.
"He went in the forest following his father and he got lost. He was found by his cousin, who was out hunting," Carvalho said in a telephone interview from Caraurai, the nearest town. "Nobody knows what he ate or how he survived."
Carvalho said the boy was found on Sept. 27 about 2 miles from his home with thorns covering his feet and legs. He said nothing about his ordeal except to ask for water.
The boy was taken to the hospital in Caraurai some days later, the long distance preventing faster transport, Carvalho said. A hospital receptionist who declined to give her name said the boy remained there under observation.
Evanise de Oliveira Lima, the boy's mother, told CBN Radio that Neilson was very thin and scratched but that she expected he would leave the hospital shortly.
"In the jungle near the house, there are jaguars, hawks, snakes," Lima told the radio station. "But his guardian angel and God protected my son."

Well, someone's got to update this stuff

TOKYO - A Japanese bureaucrat has been reprimanded for shirking his duties to make hundreds of Wikipedia contributions about toy robots, officials said Friday.
The agriculture ministry said the bureaucrat, whose name was not released, contributed 260 times to the Japanese-language Wikipedia entry on Gundam, a popular, long-running animated series about giant robots that has spun off intricate toys popular among children and adults who belong to the so-called "otaku culture" of fascination with comic books, animation and robots.
"The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam," ministry official Tsutomu Shimomura said.
The agriculture ministry verbally reprimanded five other bureaucrats who contributed to entries on movies, typographical mistakes in billboard signs and local politics. The six employees together made 408 entries on the popular Internet encyclopedia from ministry computers since 2003.
The ministry did not object to employees making limited contributions on World Trade Organization and free trade agreements.
The reprimands emerged from an internal probe following recent media allegations that a growing number of Japanese public servants were contributing to the Web encyclopedia, which anyone can edit, often to reflect their views. An unspecified number of other bureaucrats apparently had contributed to Wikipedia on Gundam, but could not be identified, Shimomura said.
Shimomura said the ministry reprimands were not related to WikiScanner, a recently introduced free program that reveals the identities of the computers used to make Wikipedia changes.
The agriculture ministry issued an order prohibiting employees from accessing Wikipedia at work, while disabling access to the site from the ministry, Shimomura said.
An Imperial Household Agency official was reprimanded last month for deleting references criticizing imperial tombs on the Wikipedia through the agency computer.

Wonder what clued the feds in...

SAN FRANCISCO - The founder of an Oakland food factory that laces everything from cookies to barbecue sauce with marijuana surrendered Thursday to face a federal drug charge.

Michael Martin, 33, was freed on $300,000 bond on the charge of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
Federal drug agents last week raided Tainted Inc. in Oakland and arrested three of Martin's employees on drug charges for allegedly producing such marijuana-laced products as honey, soda and other snacks. Federal officials couldn't find Martin and considered him a fugitive. Martin said he was on vacation and arranged to turn himself in once he heard of the raids, according to his supporters.
Martin's supporters with the nonprofit Safe Access Now organization said he was making the products for medical marijuana clubs in California. Martin's attorney Sara Zalkin didn't return a telephone call to her office.
California law has legalized marijuana use to treat medical conditions, but federal law bans the plant's use for all purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal law trumps state law when it comes to medical marijuana.

Hey! You're no cow!

CANNONBALL, N.D. - When Beverly and Ernie Fischer gathered up their cattle this fall in Morton County, they rounded up a little more than they expected.

"We were moving some cattle, and we got a moose," Ernie Fischer said. "He thinks he is a cow," said his wife.
Ernie Fischer said it was difficult to get the young bull moose away from the cattle, and workers put it in a separate corral until it could be released. The moose also broke fences on the ranch 20 miles south of Mandan.
It's not the only such incident in south central North Dakota this year. Emmons County rancher Sam Gross recently reported a lone bull moose in his cattle herd, and a moose also was spotted in a cattle herd in McIntosh County.

Just take it apart and put it back together

BUDAPEST, Hungary - After 25 years, the cube is coming home. Hundreds of competitors are meeting for the fourth Rubik's Cube world championship Friday in the Hungarian capital, which hosted the first such event in 1982.

The mechanical puzzle invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik sparked a global craze in the early 1980s. Some 7 million cubes were sold last year.
Competitors from 32 countries will take part in the three-day event, with prizes to be awarded in 17 categories, with experts trying to solve the classic 3x3 cube and its variations while blindfolded, with one hand, or with their feet.
The current world record for solving the 3x3 cube — which has six sides of a different color with nine tiles on each side — is 9.86 seconds by Thibaut Jacquinot of France, set in May at the Spanish Open.
Matyas Kuti, 14, is one of the host country's biggest hopes for a top finish. Kuti first picked up a cube he found at home in February 2006 and began competing a few months later.
Kuti is considered a master of the blindfolded event, in which he has set 11 world records and has 24 first-place competition finishes.
He practices about three hours a day and his favorite cube is souped up with cubes rotating more easily because of filed down rough edges and silicon lubricants applied. Such alterations are legal according to the rules.
"The 5x5 cube and doing it blindfold are my favorite events," Kuti, from Budapest, said. "These are the most complicated versions and it's a great feeling to solve them."
The United States is expected to have the biggest delegation, with 39 competitors.
Prize money totals $28,000, with the top prize of $7,000 going to the fastest 3x3 cube solver.

Happy birthday everybody

MARYSVILLE, Ohio - It won't take much for Jenna and William Cotton to remember the birthday of the newest member of their family.
Daughter Kayla was born Tuesday, which was Oct. 2 — the same date her brothers were born.
Ayden Cotton arrived on Oct. 2, 2003; Logan was born Oct. 2, 2006.
The parents said they had a feeling their baby daughter might come a couple of days past her Sept. 30 due date. Sure enough, Jenna Cotton, 23, began having contractions early Tuesday, hours before a planned birthday party for the boys.
She had a doctor's appointment scheduled later in the day and hung in for the party. Ayden, the 4-year-old, wanted to know if his new baby sister would make the festivities, Jenna Cotton said.
Kayla, at 7-pounds, 8-ounces, was born at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday.
The odds of a family having three children born on the same date in different years are about 7.5 in 1 million, said Bill Notz, a statistics professor at Ohio State University.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

She took her driving and child care lessons from Britney

LAKE MARY, Fla. - A mother faces felony child abuse charges after crashing while her 7-year-old daughter drove on her lap. The vehicle crashed into mailboxes and hit a palm tree, but no one was seriously hurt.

The child was treated for a scraped knee, a cut on her forehead and minor burns from the van's air bag.
Forty-two-year-old Lisa Lavoie told police the accelerator must have got stuck when the child mashed it down.
The crash happened over the weekend near the family's home in central Florida.

The fish were laughing

DURHAM, N.C. - Add another victim to North Carolina's prolonged drought. Donald Meeks set out Monday morning with bow and arrow in hand to hunt for carp on Falls Lake. He almost didn't return. The retired landscaper from Durham went one foot out on the lake because the drought had left the water level so low.

High school friend David Minshew came along for the ride and waited for Meeks at the car, expecting him to return in a few hours.
Those few hours passed. The afternoon faded. Darkness began to fall and still no sign of the 68-year-old Meeks.
A motorist stopped around 7 p.m. and asked if they were stranded. Minshew used the driver's cell phone to report his friend was missing and to call Meek's wife.
Durham County sheriff's deputies responded, using boats to search the grassy area to no avail.
It was now midnight. Maj. Mike Andrews asked for a Highway Patrol helicopter.
Using thermal-imaging equipment, the helicopter crew found Meeks at 2:11 a.m. Tuesday, about 300 yards north of Interstate 85.
He was surrounded by tall grass and "buried up to his chest in some mud, quicksand-type matter," Andrews said.
Deputies were unable to pull Meeks out using a rope. They created a walkway with plywood and used some "elbow grease" and finally freed Meeks about two hours later, Andrews said.

New York crap stinks up 'Bama

GOODSPRINGS, Ala. - Human waste from New York is creating a stink in rural north Alabama. A Texas company has opened a plant that treats sewer sludge from New York and turns it into fertilizer that is spread on Alabama farmland. It's a great deal for farmers, who get the fertilizer for free, but some in northwest Limestone County say they can't stomach the stench.
"When the wind is right, we can't even breathe," said Lori Muse of Goodsprings. "People out here are really upset about it. It smells 10 times worst than a pig barn."
Bill Daws, a county commissioner, called the odor "the worst smell that I've ever smelled."
"But we've checked everything out and it all appears to be legit," he told The News Courier of Athens, which first reported the flap.
Synagro Technologies Inc. of Houston, Texas, has a contract to dispose of human wastes from New York. The company treats sludge from wastewater plants in New York and ships it to Alabama by rail car by the ton.

This type of thing never happened in Lawrenceville

MOSCOW - It was a hostage situation with a twist, and a happy ending. A group of cranberry-pickers spent a night stranded on an island in a Russian swamp Wednesday after an encounter with a bear prevented them from leaving before dark, a ranger said.

Twelve people, including a pregnant woman, were harvesting the berries on an island near the town of Malaya Vishera, in the Novgorod region 280 miles northwest of Moscow, when a brown bear approached them, emergency official Sergei Orlov.
The pickers — most of them Gypsies, or Roma, from the area — set up a bonfire, shooed the bear away with shouts and called the mainland for help.
They had planned to leave the island but were afraid they would encounter the bear again if they left their makeshift camp, according to Vladimir Shikov, one of three rangers who arrived and spent the night on the island.
"There was a certain element of danger," Shikov told The Associated Press by telephone. But he said the bear was believed to be about three years old and was probably not mature enough to attack humans.

And there goes the whole freedom of religion thing

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A federal appeals court has rejected an Alabama inmate's bid to build a fire in a pit at a state prison as part of his religious worship. Tony Lee Smith, 38, wanted to build a fire at St. Clair Correctional Facility to practice an ancient polytheistic Nordic religion called Odinism, according to his lawsuit.
On Tuesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prison officials did not violate Smith's religious rights by refusing his request. The prison had feared a backlash because the religion is said to incorporate white supremacist beliefs.
Smith's attorney, Henry "Hank" Sherrod III of Florence, said Smith had never been a white supremacist.
According to the suit, prison officials gave Smith a candle.

Moon gets guy arrested

TORRANCE, Calif. - Mooning a police officer was community activist Steven Lee Myrick's undoing. Myrick, 41, was convicted by a jury Tuesday of raping a Hawthorne woman during a burglary seven years ago.
The crime was unsolved until he exposed his bare buttocks years later and a DNA sample collected by officers linked him to the rape.
Jurors deliberated less than a day before finding Myrick guilty of residential burglary and two counts of rape.
He faces multiple life terms when sentenced Nov. 5 because jurors found true special allegations that a gun was used, the burglary was gang-related and the rape occurred during a burglary while the victim was tied up, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jodi Link said.
"Thank goodness for DNA," Link said.

If only it was this easy to get a Pulitzer

NEW YORK - When three gold medals said to be Newsday's own Pulitzer Prizes were auctioned off, it was news to the newspaper.

Newspaper officials thought the awards for public service in 1954, 1970 and 1974 were locked away in a company safe. But they apparently were sold at an auction Friday in California for $7,000, $4,500 and $4,000, respectively.
The key to a lockbox within the safe where the medals were supposed to be had been lost, so officials called in a locksmith Tuesday to drill into the smaller box. Not only were the medals missing, but so was a silicone mold used to make reproductions of the awards, the paper said.
Newspaper officials are asking former executives for information about the medals.
"We have contacted the police and we are talking to our attorneys to pursue all legal avenues available to us," Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams said in a statement. "We are naturally disheartened and disappointed to discover that our medals are not in our possession. We are consoled by the fact that the medals are not the prize itself."

BB boys get busted by barrister

BURTON, Mich. - Two teens learned the folly of shooting a BB gun at an attorney, especially when the lawyer is a longtime rugby player who goes by the nickname "Dr. Death."
Michael J. Breczinski was walking to his car Tuesday night outside a Burton, Mich., mall when he heard a loud pop and felt a sting on his neck.
The 54-year-old turned to see the smirking teens, ages 14 and 15, hiding their hands.
The teens ran when he asked if they shot him with a BB gun, Breczinski told The Flint Journal.
As he gave chase, one of the teens pulled a BB gun and shot at him again. Pellets pinged him in the arms and torso, but Breczinski tackled the teen in a parking lot.
The youth got away from the lawyer's grasp, but both teens were later arrested by police in a nearby restaurant. They are expected to face felonious assault charges.

Somebody call DYFS

BEIJING - A father tied his 10-year-old daughter's hands and feet and watched her swim in a chilly southern China river for three hours in a task he said Thursday would help the girl achieve her dream of swimming across the English Channel.

Huang Li swam more than a mile in the Xiang River on Tuesday, traveling with the current, her father said. The girl swam by moving like a dolphin and would sometimes paddle with her bound hands.
"Her swimming skills are perfect and she insisted on doing this," Huang Daosheng said in a telephone interview. The girl, who lives in the city of Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, got the idea after seeing something similar on a local television program, he said.
With the Beijing Olympics less than a year away, sports is grabbing greater attention in an already sports-crazed country. Huang Li's swim is at least the second time in recent months that a child athlete has drawn media attention.
This past summer, 8-year-old Zhuang Huimin ran 2,212 miles from her home on the southern island province of Hainan to Beijing in 55 days, her father trailing behind her on a motor scooter. The run drew criticism from some media commentators as excessive for a young child.
News photos showed Huang Li, wearing a skirted swimsuit, being picked up out of the water by her father. Her ankles were tied together with string and her hands were bound by a strip of cloth. A newspaper report said the girl was so cold her face had turned blue.
"It's not dangerous because, first, her swimming skills are really good and second, I was swimming with her, staying close to her," the father said. "I had her when I was 35, so she is my heart. I would never play around with her life."

Mr. Ecstasy Head

SYDNEY, Australia - Customs officers discovered nearly 10.5 ounces of ecstasy tablets hidden inside a Mr. Potato Head toy sent to Australia from Ireland, the agency said Thursday.

Upon opening the parcel, the officers were greeted with the smiling face of the popular children's toy, which features a potato-like head and removable facial features. But when they removed a panel from the back of the toy, the officers found 10.34 ounces of ecstasy in a plastic bag.
The Australian Customs Service referred the matter to federal police, but no arrests were immediately made, the agency said. The maximum penalty for importing drugs to Australia is life imprisonment.
"Whilst this is one of the more unusual concealments that we have seen in recent times, people need to be aware that Customs officers are alert to unusual and often outlandish methods of concealment," Customs Director Post Karen Williams said.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Na-na-na-na you can't catch me... um, scratch that

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A Colorado Springs man pleaded guilty to felony eluding in connection with a case in which he taunted authorities. Alexander Craig, 22, entered the plea on Monday in district court, saying that he was having a mental breakdown at the time.
Police received about 10 cell phone calls during a three-hour period in March, when Craig made statements like "I'm hammered ... come get me."
Some 20 officers tried for two hours to locate and capture Craig. They eventually found him near a grocery store and used a Taser during his arrest.
A 911 recording revealed Craig said he was too drunk to remember his own name, and taunted police because they couldn't find him.

And they never had a fight

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. - A Scottboro couple recently celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary, one of the longest marriages among living people when compared to reports in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records.
Alonzo, 97, and Beulah Sims, 94, celebrated their anniversary a day early Sunday at the nursing home where they have lived since May 2002.
Without their families' approval, the two teens married in 1927, when he was working at a farm, plowing fields with a mule and picking cotton for 50 cents a day.
The couple, who raised six children, credit their long lives to hard farm work and eating lots of vegetables. They moved frequently to find farm work, going from Paint Rock Valley near Garth to Atchley Bottom in Madison County and then to Woodville in the 1960s.
They said their eight decades of marriage have been virtually free of fussing.
"We've been too busy to fight," Beulah Sims said.

The cow that won't croak

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A crippled cow moose in west Anchorage is showing such a knack for survival that state biologists have so far avoided the normal course of putting her down.

The moose, which is missing about 12 inches of its right hind leg, is also nursing what appears to be a large and healthy calf, according to Rick Sinnott, the state's Anchorage-area wildlife biologist.
"She seems to be getting around fairly well on three legs, although she's a little skinnier than she should be this time of year," Sinnott said. "A complicating factor is she still has a calf and, the last time we looked, the calf was still nursing."
Moose typically loose weight during the winter because they have less food to eat, and it may be necessary to put the moose down then, said Jessy Coltrane, the assistant Anchorage-area biologist.
"There's no need (now) for a pre-emptive strike," Coltrane said. "Her body condition looks good."
Many concerned residents phone the Department of Fish and Game to report seeing the three-legged moose, which may have been injured in a vehicle collision sometime this year, biologists said.
The crippled moose in West Anchorage apparently also has drawn the attention of bulls and biologists speculate that she could mate again.
Biologists know of a cow moose in Eagle River several years ago that was missing an entire rear leg and yet produced calves for several years running, Coltrane said.

Sexy cuffs help robber

FERNDALE, Mich. - A parolee faces charges of robbing a lingerie and adult novelties store after locking up a clerk with a pair of off-the-shelf handcuffs.

Police in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale say the clerk triggered a holdup alarm after seeing the masked suspect enter the Priscilla's store shortly after noon Monday. The man announced a robbery, led the woman into a back room and handcuffed her to a storage shelf.
The clerk got to a phone and called police, who were waiting for the man as he walked out the back door. Officers said they recovered $213 in cash.
Police say the man was released from prison in April after serving seven years in prison for armed robbery. He's scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Another reason to not shop at malls

MANILA, Philippines - The package from Hong Kong looked innocent enough, marked "personal clothing." But when customs officials opened it, they were stunned to see about 300 live scorpions and spiders.

The scorpions and spiders — which included tarantulas — were packed in nets, bottles and transparent plastic boxes, concealed under clothes, newspapers reported Wednesday.
"The scorpions almost bit the examiner," Nelson Ebio, a port collector at the Central Mail Exchange Center, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was the first time the post office had encountered such poisonous mail, he said.
The Philippine Star daily quoted Ebio as saying the package arrived from Hong Kong on Monday, but it was not clear who sent it or why, though some speculated they could have been intended for a collector of the creatures.

Hell no she won't go

SEATTLE - The little old lady who lives in a little old house is stubborn in a very BIG way.
Edith Macefield, 86, has refused a $1 million offer from a developer to move out of her 108-year-old farmhouse to make way for a commercial complex.
"I don't want to move. I don't need the money. Money doesn't mean anything," she said recently.
Instead, the five-story project is being built around her, ringing the death knell for her once-thriving, blue-collar neighborhood.
Macefield's house is the last on her block, though there's a restaurant nearby that's staying put as well. Gravel and cement trucks noisily work around them, and a tall concrete wall stands within feet of Macefield's kitchen window. Construction cranes hang over her roof.
"When she digs her heels in, there is no changing her mind. She is set in her ways," said Charlie Peck, a friend for more than 20 years.
Macefield has lived in the two-story, two-bedroom house since 1966. It has been assessed at about $8,000 on land worth about $120,000.
She said she has no regrets about refusing to sell and simply drowns out the construction noise by turning up the television or blasting opera so loud you can hear it outside.
"I went through World War II, the noise doesn't bother me," she said. "They'll get it done someday."
Construction workers watch out for Macefield, particularly superintendent Barry Martin. He takes her to doctor appointments and to the hair salon. He brings her lunch.
"It's like having your grandmother here," Martin said. "Once you get to know someone, you can't just walk by without saying hello."

Whole new meaning to the term "what exit?"

RENO, Nev. - Carla Dupree says God is trying to tell her that five kids is enough. That's after No. 5 was born at a freeway offramp.

Dupree, 29, said her mother-in-law was driving her from Sparks to a Reno hospital on Saturday when Jayden Dupree took things into his own hands.
"I had him on the freeway," she said. "This is the last one. God is telling me something."
Dupree had been in the car for about six minutes before they had to pull over just outside the Vista Boulevard exit on Interstate 80.
Jayden, who was due Oct. 19, weighed in at 6 pounds, 7 ounces. Mother and son are doing fine.

Naked ladies and stuff

NORWALK, Ohio - A state legislator surprised a high school class when the computer he was using projected a photo of a nude woman during a lecture on how a bill becomes a law.
State Rep. Matthew Barrett was giving a civics lesson Tuesday when he inserted a data memory stick into the school computer and the projected image of a topless woman appeared instead of the graphics presentation he had downloaded.
Police interviewed Barrett and school officials and seized the data memory stick and the computer to determine where the image came from, a state highway patrol spokesman said.
Barrett said there were a few snickers from the approximately 20 students in the senior government class at Norwalk High School when the image appeared. He said he immediately pulled the memory stick out of the computer.
The legislator said he finished his lecture using printouts and then met with the school's principal and technology staff, who examined the stick. He said the school's technology director determined the stick had a directory of nude images in addition to Barrett's presentation on civics lessons.
"I have no idea where these came from," the Democrat said.
Barrett said the data memory stick was a gift he received about three weeks ago from a legislative liaison from the state Library of Ohio.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A man in an eastern Dutch town went home last Saturday to find his lights on and his inebriated neighbor welcoming him at the front door with a drink.
The drunken 53-year old, who lives two doors down in the small town of Gasselternijveen, had broken into the wrong house after finding that his key didn't work, according to a police report. His furniture looked different, his dog was missing.
The drunken neighbor was arrested for trespass, but has since offered to pay for damages.

Sounds like a Hamilton restaurant

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Two centuries after rats first landed on a remote Aleutian island from a shipwreck, wildlife managers in Alaska are plotting how to evict the non-native rodent from the island that bears their name.

Rat Island, like many other treeless, volcanic islands in the 1,000-mile (1,609-km) long Aleutian chain, is infested with rats that have proved devastating to wild birds that build nests in the earth or in rocky cliffs.
"They pretty much made the island worthless for a lot of wildlife," said Art Sowls, a biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which sprawls across the Aleutians and other Alaska islands.
Rodents have reigned at Rat Island at the western end of the Aleutians since the 1780 shipwreck of a Japanese sailing ship, wreaking havoc on millions of seabirds with no natural defenses against land predators.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Maritime refuge, is drawing up plans to wipe out Rat Island's rats. A formal proposal is expected in about a month, according to Sowls.
The agency is trying to find an effective way to wipe out rat populations without harming other wildlife. Rat Island is a good starting point, according to biologists, for a removal program because it is small without much other wildlife.

No hugging!

OAK PARK, Ill. - If you need a hug, you won't get it at Percy Julian Middle School. Principal Victoria Sharts banned hugging among the suburban Chicago school's 860 students anywhere inside the building. She said students were forming "hug lines" that made them late for classes and crowded the hallways.

"Hugging is really more appropriate for airports or for family reunions than passing and seeing each other every few minutes in the halls," Sharts said.
Another reason to institute the no-hugging policy was that some hugs could be too long and too close, she said.
"There is another side to the issue when a hug is either unwanted or becomes inappropriate as judged by one of the students involved," Sharts wrote in a statement to parents. "On occasion, we do deal with those incidents. The goal is always to promote safe and orderly hallways where everybody can get by, be safe, and be on time."

You try and define art

LONDON (Reuters) - Pickled cows, elephant dung paintings and a transvestite potter -- The Turner Prize deserves its reputation as one of art's most controversial awards.

Now art lovers can decide for themselves if the prize rewards pretentious twaddle or cutting edge British art. Almost a quarter of a century of Turner prizewinners went on display on Monday at London's Tate Britain museum.

The Turner enrages traditionalists who argue that it is a travesty of modern art, but the show attracts up to 120,000 visitors a year intrigued to see what all the fuss is about.

In 1995, the "Bad Boy" of British contemporary art Damien Hirst won with a pickled cow. In 2003, transvestite potter Grayson Perry wore a frilly Shirley Temple dress to accept his award. Chris Ofili used elephant dung to adorn his 1998 winning entries.

Pop star Madonna swore live on television when presenting the award in 2001 to Martin Creed, who won with a bare room containing a light that switched on and off.

But is it art? The debate has raged ever since the Turner was first awarded in 1984, although one thing critics can agree on is that the prize deserved full marks for putting contemporary art in the center of public discussion.

Note to Bonnie and Clyde: Don't fall for it

LAPEER, Mich. - The Lapeer County sheriff wants to help two bank robbery suspects tie the knot.

"I'll volunteer to marry them in the jail if they surrender," Sheriff Ron Kalanquin said Monday. Kalanquin said he wanted the Lapeer couple off the streets before their cash ran out and they attempted another robbery.

A 24-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman are suspected of taking about $5,000 in the Sept. 19 robbery of a Lapeer County Bank & Trust branch in Deerfield Township, about 60 miles north of Detroit.

Detectives determined that the robbery money was used to buy wedding rings, pay back rent and pay the woman's attorney for work done in a child custody case, The Flint Journal reported.

The couple met after the man was released from the county jail and was introduced to her by another ex-inmate, Kalanquin said.

"We believe they could still be in the area, but could also be somewhere in Michigan or beyond," Kalanquin said. He appealed to the couple's relatives and friends to alert police to their whereabouts.

Monday, October 1, 2007

This guy got really screwed

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German factory worker stole over a million screws from his employer and skewed the market with his cheap stolen goods, police said Friday.

"In the end, it became obvious that screws were being sold for much less than they usually cost," said a spokesman for police in the southern city of Wuerzburg.
Over two years, the 33-year-old assembly plant worker smuggled between 2,000 and 7,000 screws out of work each night, and auctioned them on an Internet site, police said. The scheme cost his firm around 110,000 euros ($156,000).
The man confessed after officers raided his home.

Divorce loans on the rise in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's first-ever divorce loan caters to those who fell head over heels in love only to find themselves up to their necks in debt.
Named "Re" for those re-starting their lives, the loan helps divorcees cover the cost of compensation and legal payments and offers a lower interest rate than credit cards loans, on which Japan's growing number of divorce-seekers have depended in the past.
"It's not that we are recommending divorces," said Yoshimi Aoki, spokesman for Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank, based in Gifu, central Japan, which offers the loan.
"But we want people to feel more comfortable in visiting banks to consult on these issues," Aoki added.
While Japan's divorce rate is still low in comparison with the United States and Europe, failed marriages have been on the rise in recent years.

And their first born will be named Malachi

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. - Marriage proposals have been displayed on billboards, announced on scoreboards and even written into newspaper crossword puzzles.

Kevin Weaver's engagement to Karen Slusser got off to a smashing start — he painted his proposal on a car and drove it in a demolition derby.
"Every woman I know says she wants to announce it to the world when she gets engaged. I figured I'd announce it for her and make it well noted," said Weaver, 34, of Danville.
Slusser, 47, of Mifflinville, knew Weaver was entering the derby. She saw him paint the car white and light blue, then top it with a stuffed bunny to advertise her rabbit-breeding business.
But this past week, Weaver moved the car to a friend's garage, saying he needed to keep it out of the rain. While it was hidden inside, he painted "Karen Slusser will u marry me?" from the hood along the driver's side and up the trunk.
He also attached a large stuffed ring — with fabric diamond — to the bunny's paws.
When the car appeared in the derby arena Saturday, Slusser read the message and her family cheered.
Weaver finished third, then met Slusser at the gate to the drivers' pit and asked for her answer.
"Yes!" she said with a laugh.

Message in a bottle

RACINE, Wis. - Melody Kloska and Matt Behrs take it as a sign they were meant to get married.

After tying the knot on a Lake Michigan beach on Aug. 18, they released a bottle containing their wedding vows. A few weeks later, the bottle was found by Fred and Lynnette Dubendorf, of Mears, Mich., who were also married on a beach — exactly 28 years before Kloska and Behrs.
"It was meant to be," Kloska said. "This was a sign to me."
Kloska, 46, and Behrs, 41, have been together for five years, but with several failed marriages between them, they had doubts about remarrying.
They finally did it in a sunrise ceremony near the Wind Point Lighthouse in Wind Point in southern Wisconsin. They invited a few guests, read their own vows and released two balloons.
When it was time to throw the bottle sealed with their name, address and wedding vows into the lake, Behrs went to the rock farthest out in the water.
He threw it underhand, but the bottle landed back on the sand where Kloska was standing.
"After laughing so hard, I tossed it back to him to release it again into the lake," she said. "It landed not too far from where he threw it. My thought was that with our luck, it would wind up in front of the house next-door to the lighthouse."
Instead, it floated across Lake Michigan and landed in the path of Lynnette Dubendorf, who was scanning the beach for trash to clean up while she walked her dogs. She spied the clear plastic bottle partially buried in the sand and noticed the note inside.
"I opened it and read it and said, `Oh, this is pretty cool, it's somebody's wedding vows,'" she said. "I thought, `Wow, how funny, we were married on the beach, too, and on the same day.'"
She initially didn't plan to respond, thinking an answer would only encourage people to toss litter into the lake.
"Then I thought, `That's selfish, I really should respond,'" she said. So she wrote Kloska and Behrs to tell them of her discovery.
The letter read, "We thought you would want to know where your message in a bottle ended up! We picked it up on the beach between Pentwater and Silver Lake on Sept. 19. An ironic note, we were also married on the beach! Here in Michigan by Pentwater. Even more ironic, it was on August 18, 1979. We wish you both the best of luck in your new lives together."

Woman gives birth, and they're her grandkids

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A 51-year-old surrogate mother for her daughter has given birth to her own twin grandchildren in northeastern Brazil, the delivery hospital said.
Rosinete Palmeira Serrao, a government health worker, gave birth to twin boys by Caesarean section on Thursday at the Santa Joana Hospital in the city of Recife, the hospital said in a statement on its Web site.
Hospital officials were not available for comment on Sunday, but press reports said the grandmother and twins were discharged on Saturday in excellent health. The Caesarean section was performed about two weeks ahead of time because Serrao was having trouble sleeping, the statement said.
Serrao decided to serve as a surrogate mother after four years of failed attempts at pregnancy by her 27-year-old daughter, Claudia Michelle de Brito.
Brazilian law stipulates that only close relatives can serve as surrogate mothers. De Brito is an only child and none of her cousins volunteered, so Serrao agreed to receive four embryos from her daughter.