Thursday, July 30, 2009
FORT WORTH, Texas – At first, fire officials suspected that carbon monoxide or some other toxic fumes had sickened almost 150 people at a Texas bank call center. It turned out that perfume was to blame.
MedStar ambulance spokeswoman Lara Kohl says 34 people were taken to hospitals, 12 by ambulance, after reporting dizziness and shortness of breath Wednesday at a Bank of America call center in Fort Worth. An additional 110 were treated at the scene.
Fort Worth fire Lt. Kent Worley said the incident started with two people complaining about dizziness after a co-worker sprayed perfume. Others reported being sick when an announcement was made that anyone with similar symptoms should exit the building.
Investigators do not know what type of perfume was sprayed.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
DETROIT – A Detroit man who said he started robbing banks to pay for his mother's plumbing was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, a lenient term from a judge who said the defendant had been an "outstanding citizen" before his crime spree.
Prosecutors wanted U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to stick with federal sentencing guidelines, which would have given Jimmie Lee Fortune five years to six years in prison for stealing nearly $14,000 from five Michigan banks. Fortune, 29, had pleaded guilty in March, with prosecutors agreeing not to charge him with three more robberies.
Fortune had told investigators that he robbed the first bank in April 2008 to fix his mother's plumbing and get his driver's license reinstated. After that, he just kept going.
"I was so stressed and depressed," he told U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman on Tuesday. "I found it difficult to separate life from fiction."
He entered banks demanding money and yelling threats such as, "Large bills or I'll start shooting," according to the FBI. Fortune was not armed during the robberies.
Friedman received 17 letters of support for Fortune.
"Every defendant should be treated individually," the judge said. "He was an outstanding citizen before this happened."
BRISBANE, Australia - An Australian woman was rescued after spending a week wedged between her toilet and the bathroom door. The 67-year-old woman, suffering from dehydration, was taken to a hospital after firefighters in the eastern city of Ipswich ended her ordeal by removing the bathroom door.
Monday, July 27, 2009
PUNTA GORDA, Florida - The author of a new cookbook says residents of Florida should begin eating iguanas to avoid a possible population explosion of the animals. With several reptile species breeding in the wild throughout Florida, cookbook author George Cera wants iguanas on Florida residents’ plates rather than loose in the wild.
KEY WEST, Fla. – Wearing a wool fisherman's sweater in 90-degree heat, a Texas man won an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest at a Key West festival honoring the late Nobel prize-winning author.
White-bearded David Douglas, 55, bested 139 other contenders at the "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, staged Saturday night at Sloppy Joe's Bar, the author's favorite watering hole.
Douglas' attire emulated Hemingway's appearance in a famous 1957 photograph by Yousuf Karsh.
"It's very possible the sweater did it," said a perspiring Douglas of his victory. "It's about 120 (degrees) inside the sweater, but it's worth it."
Douglas, from Cypress, Texas, won the competition on his eighth attempt after originally entering on a dare.
The mechanical contractor said he shares Hemingway's fondness for fishing and cocktails, but has no literary aspirations.
"I haven't written any books, but I'm good writing checks and text messaging," Douglas said.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
NORTH ELBA, New York - A super-intelligent bear has deciphered how to unlock supposedly “bearproof” locked food canisters used by campers. The owner of BearVault says a female bear named Yellow-Yellow has managed to figure out a complex locking system on the canisters that confounds even some campers
OAKLAND, California - Oakland police say a man impersonating a police officer tried to pull over a real undercover officer and was arrested. Police say 21-year-old Antonio Fernandez Martinez of Oakland was arrested Wednesday in the Fruitvale district after trying to pull over an unmarked police vehicle.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man has sued a local Claim Jumper restaurant claiming he ordered French onion soup and bit into a condom instead of melted cheese. Zdenek Philip Hodousek filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court seeking unspecified damages over fears he may have contracted a disease.
Hodousek's attorney Eric Traut said his client wants to have restaurant employees' DNA tested to find a match to the condom.
A public relations firm representing Claim Jumper said no one can prove the so-called "foreign object" Hodousek took from the restaurant is the item that was submitted to a lab for testing.
The firm said an internal probe revealed no employee wrongdoing.
Information from: The Orange County Register
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) – An abandoned mine in northern Canada may lose its role as the country's only government-sanctioned marijuana farm.
Production at the mine -- deep under the tundra at Flin Flon, Manitoba -- had to be moved because the facility was not big enough and a deal to expand it had not been worked out, operator Prairie Plant System said on Wednesday.
The mine had been producing legal marijuana for nearly a decade since Canada began allowing patients legal access to marijuana for medical reasons such as controlling pain.
The switch to another location prompted media reports that the operation had gone up in smoke, but Prairie Plants Chief Executive Brent Zetti said that was premature.
Zetti still hopes to strike a deal with mine owner HudBay Minerals Inc "It may be or it may not be (closed forever)," Zetti said.
The company, which raises plants for pharmaceutical uses, has other operations in the Trout Lake mine. Its contract to supply pot to Health Canada for sale to authorized medical users runs for another 2-1/2 years.
Some marijuana activists have panned the quality of pot from the Flin Flon facility, saying many medical users simply grow their own or buy from sources other than the government.
Authorized medical marijuana users are allowed to legally grow their own pot.
While medical marijuana's use is controversial, some research has show has shown the drug to be effective in alleviating symptoms of debilitating diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Los Angeles, California - The poor economy is taking a toll even on the dead, with an increasing number of bodies in Los Angeles County going unclaimed by families who cannot afford to bury or cremate their loved ones.
New York City - Several rabid raccoons have been found in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx in recent weeks. That is prompting the New York City Health Department to issue a warning. Pet owners should make sure their animals are vaccinated agaisnt rabies...More
DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai's Al Nassma, the world's first brand of chocolate made with camels' milk, plans to expand into new Arab markets, Europe, Japan and the United States, its general manager said Tuesday.
Martin Van Almsick said the United Arab Emirates company planned to enter Saudi Arabia first, followed by Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the United States within the next few months.
The company plans to enter the Saudi market in a month through a partnership with a Jeddah-based distributor, said Van Almsick, adding the company plans to deliver the first ton of chocolates to Saudi Arabia soon.
Al Nassma is also in talks with British department store Harrods and San Francisco's Chocolate Covered to sell its products.
Al Nassma was formally established in October last year and aims to produce 100 tons of premium camels' milk chocolate a year.
In partnership with Austrian chocolate maker Manner, Al Nassma manufactures the end product at its Dubai facility.
With 3,000 camels on its Dubai farm, the company sells chocolates through its farm-attached store as well as in luxury hotels and private airlines. It plans to launch an online shopping facility within a month, Van Almsick said. The farm is controlled by the Dubai government.
The company is set to open its second store in the UAE in one of Dubai's large malls and is in talks with mall operator Majid Al Futtaim and others, he said.
"We aim to be the Godiva of the Middle East," Van Almsick said in an interview. "It's a luxury product, so we will never be in supermarkets. The plan is to be in one mall in each UAE city."
Al Nassma is also looking at the possibility of setting up a store in Japan, where demand for the product is high, he said.
All chocolates are produced without preservatives or chemical additives with a range of locally popular spices, nuts and honey, the company says.
Camel milk contains five times more vitamin C than cow milk, less fat, less lactose and more insulin, making it a good option for diabetics and the lactose intolerant, Van Almsick said.
(Editing by Will Waterman and Paul Casciato)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
MIAMI – This October, Kelly Hildebrandt will vow to share her life with a man who already shares her name.
This is no joke. Kelly Katrina Hildebrandt, 20, and Kelly Carl Hildebrandt, 24, expect just over 100 guests at a ceremony at the Lighthouse Point Yacht & Racquet Club in South Florida, where they will become husband and wife.
"He is just everything that I've ever looked for," she said in an interview. "There's always been certain qualities that a guy has to have. And he has all the ones I could think of — and more."
Their modern romance was a match made in cyberspace. She was curious and bored one night last year, so she plugged her name into the popular social networking Web site Facebook just to see if anyone shared it.
At the time, Kelly Hildebrandt, of Lubbock, Texas, was the only match.
So she sent him a message.
"She said 'Hi. We had the same name. Thought it was cool,'" Kelly Carl Hildebrandt said. "I thought she was pretty cute."
But there were also concerns.
"I thought, man, we've got to be related or something," he said.
For the next three months the two exchanged e-mails. Before he knew it, occasional phone calls turned into daily chats, sometimes lasting hours. He visited her in Florida after a few months and "fell head over heels."
"I thought it was fun," he said of that first online encounter. "I had no idea that it would lead to this."
Months after Kelly Hildebrandt sent her first e-mail, she found a diamond engagement ring hidden in treasure box on a beach in December.
"I totally think that it's all God's timing," Kelly Katrina Hildebrandt said. "He planned it out just perfect."
She's a student at a local community college. He works in financial services. They plan to make their home in South Florida.
It hasn't been all smooth sailing. A trip on a cruise ship almost got canceled when the travel agent deleted one ticket from the system, thinking someone had plugged in the same information twice.
There was also some uncertainty about how to phrase their wedding invitations, so they decided to include their middle names. But any confusion likely won't carry on past the husband and wife. Kelly Katrina Hildebrandt said there are no plans to pass along the name to future children.
"No," she said. "We're definitely not going to name our kids Kelly."
GREELEY, Colorado - A Colorado farmer who was drafted into World War II just as he was going to get his high school diploma says he has finally obtained the sheepskin at age 84. Takeshi Murata of Greeley, Colo., says he was awarded a diploma, 66 years after Uncle Sam plucked him as he was about to graduate from Greeley’s College High School...More
BOSTON - Police responding to a call about “two black males” breaking into a home near Harvard University ended up arresting the man who lives there — Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar. Gates had forced his way through the front door because it was jammed, his lawyer said. Colleagues call the arrest last Thursday afternoon a clear case of racial profiling...More
Monday, July 20, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY - A mass-kissing protest near the Mormon church temple Sunday drew a shouting match between gay activists and a group of faithful Mormons. For the second consecutive weekend, about 100 people gathered to stage a “kiss-in” to protest the treatment of two gay men cited for trespassing July 9 after they shared a kiss on the plaza owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...More
ZEPHYRHILLS, Florida - Couples can now say “I do” at a Florida drive-through. A store north of Tampa is offering weddings from a drive-through window. Couples who pull up with a marriage license, a witness over the age of 18 and $20 can tie the knot without turning off their car engine....More
WHITTIER, California - Thieves are preying on mourners at a cemetery in Southern California. Purses, laptops and other valuables are being taken from the unlocked cars of grief-stricken people attending mortuary and graveside services at Rose Hills Memorial Park in suburban Whittier....More
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese marathon runner Keizo Yamada has hung up his sneakers at the grand old age of 81 -- although he could be tempted back to run the odd half marathon.
Yamada, who represented Japan at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and won the Boston Marathon the following year, said the time was right for him to "scale back" on his running.
"I'm not getting any younger so I won't run any more 42-kilometre races," he told Sunday's Sports Hochi newspaper, adding that he still jogs 20km daily.
"I will carry on running for fun to stay in shape."
Dubbed "Iron Man," Yamada ran three marathons this year, including his 19th appearance in Boston, and completed the Tokyo Marathon in a time of five hours, 34 minutes and 50 seconds.
He was one of the pioneers of Japanese marathon running, along with Shigeki Tanaka and Hideo Hamamura, who also won in Boston in 1951 and 1955 respectively.
Kokichi Tsuburaya put the sport on map in the Japan by taking bronze in the men's marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan's women have had more success than their male counterparts in recent years, Naoko Takahashi capturing gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Mizuki Noguchi winning the 2004 title in Athens.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
HAVERFORD, Pa. – Seven suburban Philadelphia children had a brush with the law for selling without a permit — selling lemonade, that is.
But police say it was all a misunderstanding.
A neighbor called Haverford Township police July 10 about the sales. He says the youngsters were going door-to-door and he didn't think they were being properly supervised.
A responding officer told the kids they were violating an ordinance that bans sales without a permit.
But Deputy Chief John Viola says the officer didn't know the law doesn't apply to anyone under 16 years old.
Sgt. Joe Hagan says he has been buying lemonade from neighborhood kids for a dozen years and it never occurred to him he might be aiding and abetting lawbreakers. He met with the kids and told them they were doing nothing wrong.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Friday, July 17, 2009
BILLINGS, Mont. – Wielding his chain saw as a weapon, a Colorado man says he fought off a starving mountain lion that attacked him while he was camping with his wife and two toddlers in northwestern Wyoming.
Dustin Britton, a 32-year-old mechanic and ex-Marine from Windsor, Colo., said he was alone cutting firewood about 100 feet from his campsite in the Shoshone National Forest when he saw the lion staring at him from some bushes.
Britton revved his 18-inch chain saw and tried to back away. But the 100-pound lion followed.
As the animal pounced, the 6-foot-tall, 170-pound Britton raised his saw and met it head-on — a collision he said felt like a grown man running right into him.
"It batted me three or four times with its front paws and as quick as I hit it with that saw it just turned away," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Britton later discovered he'd inflicted a six- to eight-inch gash on the lion's shoulder. He said he was surprised the damage wasn't worse.
"You would think if you hit an animal with a chain saw it would dig right in. I might as well have hit it with a hockey stick," he said.
The wounded animal retreated, leaving Britton with a only small puncture wound on his forearm.
The attack occurred Sunday evening at a campsite 27 miles west of Cody. Wildlife agents shot and killed the lion Monday after it attacked a dog brought in to track the animal.
Authorities say the lion was in poor physical condition and appeared to be starving. The lion was 4 to 5 years old.
Mountain lions are considered reclusive by nature and officials said the circumstances of the attack were highly unusual. Wyoming officials have documented only eight cases of mountain lions acting aggressively toward humans over the last decade.
After Britton's confrontation, he and his wife, Kirsta, decided to stay the night in their pop-up camper with their two children rather than risk packing up with the lion still on the loose.
The next morning he told a passing U.S. Forest Service employee about the incident and that's when wildlife agents were called.
Tests for rabies and other diseases came up negative, but officials said they were continuing to analyze the animal for other potential diseases.
"It's very, very rare" for lions to attack, said Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Warren Mischke. "We're still trying to investigate why this lion would behave this way."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Minnesota - The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the 45-year-old Grand Marais man cannot escape more than $350,000 of student debt he piled up over more than a decade. Jesperson had hoped to discharge the debt in bankruptcy and won the first couple rounds in court. But last week a three-judge panel reversed the lower courts’ decision and said he must pay the money back
California - Multiple law enforcement sources tell TMZ the LAPD is already treating Michael Jackson’s death as a homicide, and they are focusing on Dr. Conrad Murray. Law enforcement sources tell us the evidence points to the anesthesia Propofol as the primary cause of Jackson’s death. As we first reported, vials of Propofol were found in Jackson’s home after he died.
Phoenix, Arizona - Claiming they needed to learn how to reduce stress because of a growing number of death threats being made against them, nearly 700 executives from the Social Security Administration gathered for a lavish three-day conference in Phoenix, AZ last week, costing taxpayers about $700,000.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Dazed Giant Squid Wash Up On California Beach After Earthquake
An earthquake wasn’t the only shock San Diego residents felt Saturday morning when dozens of dazed giant squid washed up on La Jolla’s sandy shores.
The sea creatures measured up to four feet long and weighed around 40 pounds, appeared on the beach around 8:30 a.m. Pacific time — about an hour after a magnitude 4.0 earthquake shook the San Diego suburb.
The earthquake was centered about 19 miles out to sea. It’s still unclear whether it was the earthquake or the something lese that drove the huge Humboldt squid onto the beach.
A spokesman for Scripps Institution of Oceanography said at this point they do not see a connection between the squid and the earthquake, but plan to look into it.
The La Jolla Light's website reports that divers, Cynthia Velazquez and Roger Uzun of San Diego, armed with bright floodlights and a video camera, went searching for squid about 8:30 p.m. in 30-foot-deep water off La Jolla Shores on July 10.
"They were already there waiting for us," said Velazquez, a veteran diver with extensive experience locally and in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. "At first there were about four of them, 4- to 5-feet long, and later there were probably like 10. They were very curious. They came right up to us: inches away from our faces," writes newspaper La Jolla Light.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This is unreal! 7 people connected with the murder of a Florida couple that adopted 12 handicap children and had 4 of their own.
The stupidity of this crime is hard to quantify....
New arrests likely in Fla. adoptive couple slaying
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Investigators were hoping for more arrests Tuesday in the shooting deaths of a Florida Panhandle couple who had adopted a dozen children with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Authorities made three arrests over the weekend and a fourth Monday evening. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said he hoped to make one or two arrests Tuesday. Morgan told ABC's "Good Morning America" that authorities have tied at least seven people to the crime but that nothing links any of the suspects to the family directly.
Morgan said day laborer Gary Lamont Sumner was arrested on a murder charge in a nearby county Monday after he was pulled over in a traffic stop. The sheriff said investigators have placed Sumner at the scene of the killings of Byrd and Melanie Billings, though he wouldn't provide details.
The couple took care to make their nine-bedroom house a safe place for their growing brood of children, wiring it with surveillance cameras in every room.
It was those cameras that captured images of the masked men who shot the wealthy couple Thursday in a break-in executed with chilling precision.
Morgan said that the crime appeared to have "numerous motives," though robbery was the only one he would mention.
"Mr. Billings was well-to-do. He was an entrepreneur and he opened his home to the community. You are asking me to speculate on a motive. That could have been one reason," Morgan said, likening the killings to the 1959 slayings of a Kansas farm family. In that case, chronicled by Truman Capote in the book "In Cold Blood," the killers mistakenly believed the prosperous family kept a safe full of cash at home.
When asked if the Billings kept much money at their home, Morgan replied, "That has not been verified."
The video from last Thursday showed three armed, masked men arriving in a red van, entering through the front of the house and then returning to the vehicle. Others dressed in what the sheriff called "ninja garb" went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.
The sheriff would not say what, if anything, was stolen.
Some of the nine children in the house at the time were sleeping, but several others saw the break-in, authorities said. One left the house and went to get a neighbor, who called 911.
"I think you'll find this particularly chilling and here's why: We have a team that enters at the rear of the home and another that enters at the front of the home," Morgan said. "It leads me to believe this was a very well-planned and methodical operation."
Morgan said, however, that there was no indication anyone had unlocked the door for the intruders, adding that people in the community felt comfortable leaving their doors unlocked. He also said he knew of no connection between the men under arrest and the Billings family.
The couple owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used-car dealership. They lived in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line, in a house set deep in the woods. They had 16 children in all — 12 of them adopted.
Tips from the public led police to the van on Saturday. Day laborer Wayne Coldiron, 41, turned himself in on Sunday, and Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., 35, was arrested the same day in a neighboring county. They were charged with murder and home invasion. The two were expected to have their first court appearances Tuesday.
Authorities also jailed Gonzalez's father on a charge of evidence tampering. Police said the 56-year-old tried to paint over and hide damage on the van.
Ashley Markham, an adult daughter of the victims, said she plans to carry on with her parents' legacy. The husband and wife were 68 and 43, respectively.
"My mother always told me some people grow up wanting to be doctors or lawyers or teachers. She wanted to be a mommy," Markham said in a statement. "Her lifelong dream was loving her babies and being a voice for them."
Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Never take a fake gun to a bat fight!
BAY MINETTE, Ala. – Authorities in south Alabama say a gas station employee used a cricket bat to chase away a would-be robber who brandished a toy gun.
The Baldwin County Sheriff's office says the suspect entered Bee Gee's gas station near Bay Minette Saturday afternoon and tried to use the fake weapon to steal money.
Sheriff's Cpl. Mike Gaull tells the Press-Register of Mobile that the employee noticed the gun had an orange tip on the barrel and grabbed the cricket bat. The suspect then ran out of the store without any money.
The 22-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery.
Information from: Press-Register
Sunday, July 12, 2009
BERLIN (Reuters) – Wannabe Latin lovers can improve their technique by playing with the erogenous zones of naked mannequins at a new interactive exhibition that has now opened in Berlin.
The "Amora sex academy" that opened in Berlin on Thursday welcomes visitors with the wry slogan, "Finally -- an exhibition for those who always have to touch everything."
More than 50 interactive displays guide visitors through the intimate areas of the male and female bodies, offering helpful tips on everything from striptease to oral sex and how to achieve a perfect orgasm.
"A lot of couples come in here together to learn something," said Uta Barkow, the manager of the Beate Uhse sex chain which is hosting the academy. "It's been very well received so far. A lot of exhibits have that 'aha' effect on a lot of people."
The show features several life-sized plastic models, naked and in various positions. One female mannequin light ups when touched in the right spot. A voice shrieks "That's it!" when the visitor manages to put his finger on the elusive G-spot.
Next to it is what the museum called its "Spank-o-meter." It measures the level of pleasure a mannequin receives when spanked with a leather whip.
"So far we've had just as many women in here as men," Barkow said. "Women coming in tend to have fewer inhibitions while the men tend to be a bit more embarassed."
The museum also shows film clips of various sexual positions, including the "Italian chandelier" that the viewer learns can burn up to 920 calories per hour.
Founded by Frenchman Johan Rizki, the sex academy opened in London earlier this year and is also due to come to Barcelona.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. – Authorities said a bullet from a gun that was accidentally dropped injured a Tampa woman sitting in a bathroom stall. Police said the bullet hit 53-year-old Janifer Bliss in the lower left leg. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Bliss was sitting on the toilet in a hotel bathroom when a woman in the next stall accidentally let her handgun slip out of her waist holster. The weapon discharged when it hit the ground.
Police said the gun belonged to a 56-year-old woman who has a concealed weapons permit.
The case has been referred to the State Attorney's Office to determine if any charges will be filed.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tyree Brown was arrested in California last week for pulling a true boneheaded act. Early in the morning on New Year's Day, police responded to a store alarm. When police arrived they found that the store had been broken into and merchandise had been stolen.
It was then that officers noticed a trail of popcorn on the ground. The trail led from the scene of the crime to some nearby apartments. The officer's followed the trail to Brown's apartment door. When police entered the apartment, the popcorn kernels led right to the stolen items and King Bonehead himself (all that stealing must work-up an appetite!).
Three punks who thought that they could profit from stealing and selling 14 cell phones - actually stole 14 GPS devices. They never got a chance to "cash in" from the crime because it didn't take police long to catch up with them (imagine that). The global positioning system devices led police right to their home.
Officials said the thieves didn't even know what they had. The GPS devices were stolen from a public works garage in which the devices were installed in snow plows, dump trucks, street sweepers and other vehicles to monitor the equipment. When stolen, the town immediately tapped its GPS system, and it showed that one of the devices was inside a house. Police said that when they arrived there, one of the stupid criminals had the device in his hands (at least hide it moron!).
Thursday, July 9, 2009
MADRID – A British man who arrived at a Spanish airport on Wednesday after having too much to drink was taken into custody — not for bad behavior but for being too generous. Turns out the tourist had recently received an inheritance, and he had started to give away 52,000 ($72,285) he was carrying in cash and travelers checks.
Spain's Interior Ministry said people at Son Sant Joan Airport in Palma de Mallorca first alerted police because the disheveled man "looked like a tramp" and "had a disagreeable smell."
Police determined he was giving away thousands of euros, without realizing what he was doing.
"Having arrived at the airport terminal he began handing out cash while laughing," a ministry statement said.
The ministry said the man — identified as James B.N., from Manchester, England — was taken in custody and soon persuaded to put his wallet away and fly home.
The British Foreign Office was informed but consular officials did not have to intervene to coax the 59 year-old man back aboard a return flight.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, Minn. – A 21-year-old woman faces felony charges after allegedly prank-calling her 69-year-old grandmother 45 times in one day, threatening to kill her. The woman faces five felony counts including harassment. A criminal complaint said she told police she was "bored" and "wanted to have some fun."
The woman and a 20-year-old friend, also facing charges, allegedly called the older woman on Feb. 5 and said "I'm gonna kill you," "You're going to die" and "I'm watching you."
Police officers answered some calls for the grandmother and heard a female caller make threats.
The criminal complaint said the suspect told investigators she wanted to scare her grandmother but didn't want her dead. She said she knew it was wrong but not illegal.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com
SARASOTA, Fla. – Authorities arrested two people connected to the theft of a baby skunk from a pet store. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office reported that the skunk was stolen Wednesday from Animal Crackers Pet Store. The animal was valued at $400.
Deputies said they arrested 21-year-old man on Thursday when he tried to return the skunk to the store. Deputies also picked up 20-year-old woman while she was at work.
The man, who deputies said actually stole the skunk, was charged with grand theft, and the woman was charged with accessory to grand theft.
Monday, July 6, 2009
LONDON (Reuters) – "Great Train Robber" Ronnie Biggs lost his long-running bid for early jail release on Wednesday after the British government said he should not be allowed out on parole because he was "wholly unrepentant."
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said he had rejected the Parole Board's recommendation to allow Biggs, 79, to be released.
"Mr. Biggs is wholly unrepentant and the Parole Board found his propensity to breach trust a very significant factor," Straw said in a statement.
Along with 11 other gang members, Biggs robbed a Glasgow-to-London mail train in 1963 and stole 2.6 million pounds -- about 30 million pounds ($49 million) in today's money. The crime became known as "The Great Train Robbery."
He was caught and sentenced the following year but escaped from prison after just 15 months.
He used his share of the loot to pay for plastic surgery and papers for a passage to Australia where he returned to his old job of carpenter and decorator. He later fled to Brazil via Panama and Venezuela.
His playboy lifestyle and cocky defiance of the British authorities made him a criminal legend, spawning several films and making heroes out of the villains in the eyes of millions around the world.
He surrendered to police in 2001 after 36 years on the run and is now serving the rest of his sentence at Norwich prison in eastern England.
Biggs has served 10 years of a 30-year sentence for one of Britain's most infamous crimes.
His son Michael, 34, said he and his family were devastated by Straw's decision.
"Even though he was on an embankment during the robbery, he has always expressed how sorry he was about it all and extended his sympathy to the train driver and the families concerned," he said.
He added his father was suffering from a fractured hip, spine and pelvis, is recovering from pneumonia and unable to walk, talk, drink or eat properly.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Vicki Allen)
Saturday, July 4, 2009
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?
Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.
The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.
"Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs," High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.
The makers of "Penitents Compete" are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion.
"We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God," Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.
"We don't approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe," Soylu said.
The project focuses attention on the issue of religious identity in European Union-candidate Turkey, where rights groups have raised concerns over freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities.
Detractors of the ruling AK Party government, which is rooted in political Islam but officially secular, accuse it of having a hidden Islamist agenda, a charge it denies.
Some 200 people have so far applied to take part in the show and the 10 contestants will be chosen next month.
A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.
(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans)
MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police said on Friday they had foiled an Italian drug trafficker's plan to break out of jail in the Canary Islands using climbing equipment and a four-meter-long zeppelin.
"The plan consisted of using a remotely controlled zeppelin to bring him night-vision goggles and climbing equipment with which to escape," a National Police statement said.
The prisoner, named as Giulio B., 52, was in jail after being caught piloting a seaplane taking 200 kg (440 pounds) of cocaine from Mauritania to the Canaries.
Police said they had arrested three people outside the jail who were preparing the escape, and had intercepted a package sent from Italy containing the balloon, night-vision goggles and climbing gear.
House searches on Grand Canary island had also uncovered a tent and a telephoto lens the gang had used to observe security details at the jail from a hill 600 meters away, as well as plans drawn by the prisoner.
The plan was for Giulio B. to climb out of the prison and meet a driver who would smuggle him off the island, said police, who have been investigating the plot since February.
"They would then have gone abroad to lie low while waiting for forged papers and to continue arranging the shipment of narcotics into our country," the statement added.
(Reporting by Martin Roberts, editing by Tim Pearce)
Thursday, July 2, 2009
WEBSTER, Texas – Police in Texas said they used a Taser on a pastor and pepper spray on his congregants after the man interfered with a traffic stop in the church parking lot. Police said the traffic stop Wednesday morning involved a member of the Iglesia Profetica Peniel church in its parking lot in Webster, southeast of Houston.
The department's incident report says Officer Raymond Berryman tried to calm 42-year-old Jose Elias Moran and arrest him, but he pushed the officer, entered the church and returned with 40 other congregants.
The family said Moran did not touch the officer. Moran's son Miguel said 30 witnesses saw the police officer turn aggressive and repeatedly kick the church door.
Moran was charged with interfering in the duties of a police officer.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
LONDON (Reuters) – Quiet please -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth is preparing to have her swans counted.
Buckingham Palace has announced that the annual Swan Upping, a tradition dating back to the 12th century which involves a census of the swan population on the River Thames, will be conducted by the queen's official Swan Marker from July 20-24.
"With the assistance of the Queen's Swan Warden, Professor Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, the swans and young cygnets are also assessed for any signs of injury or disease," Buckingham Palace said in announcing the count.
The process involves the Swan Marker, David Barber, rowing up the Thames for five days with the Swan Warden in traditional skiffs while wearing special scarlet uniforms and counting, weighing and measuring swans and cygnets.
It may seem eccentric, but it is very important to the queen.
According to custom, Britain's sovereign owns all unmarked, mute swans in open water, but the queen now exercises the right only on stretches of the Thames and its nearby tributaries.
In medieval times, the Swan Marker would not only travel up the river counting the swans, but would catch as many as possible as they were sought-after for banquets and feasts.
This year, the Swan Marker and the Swan Warden are particularly keen to discover how much damage is being caused to swans and cygnets by attacks from dogs and from discarded fishing tackle.
It is also an important year because Queen Elizabeth has decided to join her team of Swan Uppers for part of the census.
She will follow them up the river and visit a local school project on the whole subject of swans, cygnets and the Thames.
"Education and conservation are essential to the role of Swan Upping and the involvement of school children is always a rewarding experience," Buckingham Palace said.
(Reporting by Luke Baker)
California - Police say a registered sex offender in the Los Angeles area who found a 17-year-old girl's lost dog threatened to torture the animal unless she gave him cash or sex. Alfredo Demkey of Lancaster found the girl's 2-year-old mutt Pineapple on Friday, called the number listed on the collar and said the dog would suffer if she didn't give him $70 or sexual favors...More
BAKER CITY, Oregon - Bill Fulton doesn't remember losing his wallet, but getting it back more than 60 years later helped him remember the past.
The leather stayed smooth and the zipper moved as easily as it did in 1946, when he apparently dropped the wallet behind the balcony bleachers in the Baker Middle School gym while cheering for the Baker High basketball team....More