Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's the weekend

Little fella bonds with bear

Gabriel appears to have found a friend in Cheyenne the bear.

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Taxi driver presses charges after drunk would-be bank robber failed to settle fare

Stanley Geddie arrived by taxi and was drunk during an attempted heist of a bank in Tallahassee, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon, police say. The 46-year-old was arrested on charges of robbery, petty theft and resisting an officer after demanding $100,000 from a bank manager at the Capital City Bank on Capital Circle Northwest. Geddie told the manager he had a .357 handgun, was carrying C4 plastic explosives and “would blow this place up,” court records show.

Police arrived at the bank to find the cab driver, who advised them Geddie was drunk and had not paid his $25.50 fare. The driver told police Geddie said, “I will take care of you when I come out.” When police made contact with Geddie sitting in the manager’s office, he appeared “very intoxicated and spaced out,” according to court records.

Geddie did not follow officers’ commands and was tasered during the incident. Court records say that when police told him he would be shot if he made any sudden movements, he said “well then kill me.” He was arrested without further incident. A search revealed Geddie did not have a firearm or explosives. In an interview with police, the bank manager said Geddie indicated he also had the bank surrounded while continuing to demand the money.

Tellers alerted police to the robbery after the manager closed his office door with Geddie inside and they became concerned. While being treated for Taser wounds at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Geddie indicated he had on two pairs of pants so he could remove one after the robbery to appear not to be the suspect. The cab driver told police he wanted to press charges for the unpaid fare, which resulted in the petty theft charge.

Dog which had plastic container stuck on his head for three weeks rescued by residents

A wayward black labrador is alive, thanks in no small part to three southern Minnesota residents who captured the scared animal and pulled a plastic container off his head. Katherine Nelson of Madison Lake says that she, her husband Don and their friend Sue Leach of St. Peter had been trying to capture the lab, who they nicknamed Jughead, for three days after hearing he had been spotted running around a North Mankato park with the container on his head, unable to eat and drink.

Police said he had been stuck in the plastic container for three weeks, and the Nelsons and Leach feared that he would not last much longer. Nelson says they set a live trap with food in it, but that strategy didn't work. Finally, on Wednesday morning they went to check the trap and saw dog tracks in the newly fallen snow. They followed the tracks to a brush-filled swampy area, and saw that the dog was sleeping.

Don Nelson crept up on him so the dog wouldn't wake, then scooped him up. The lab struggled to get away for a short time, but didn't have the strength to resist. They loaded him up in their van and took the tired dog to Minnesota Valley Pet Hospital. "He didn't have much time left," Katherine Nelson said of the emaciated pooch. "Someone would have walked up and found him dead." The dog finally managed to wiggle free of the container while the Nelsons were unloading him at the vet.

Katherine describes his condition as dire, but says the folks at Minnesota Valley Pet Hospital are doing a great job, and are donating their services to nurse the starving lab back to health. She says he has soulful brown eyes, and is handsome if shockingly skinny. When he is ready for discharge the dog will live at the Nelson's farm near Madison Lake so he can be socialised with their dogs and allowed to completely recover. At that time they will help find a great home for him, one with a fenced in yard as police reports suggest that the dog may have been on his own for a year or more.

Indian tourist destination bans kissing in public

An Indian village in the popular coastal state of Goa has imposed a ban on couples kissing in public, claiming the sight of such “obscene” behaviour is unwanted by local residents. The village parliament of Salvador-de-Mundo, eight miles north of Goa’s capital Panaji, unanimously passed a resolution this week warning holidaymakers against engaging in public displays of affection.

“We have adopted this resolution following complaints from villagers about couples kissing in public. This was the only way to put an end to it,” deputy village chief Reena Fernandes said on Thursday. She said they had complained to local authorities but a lack of response had forced the council to take matters into its own hands and pass a resolution which also “banned public drinking and playing loud music.”

However, she declined to comment on whether punitive action will be taken against potential violators of the bylaws. “We have serene beaches which attract tourists in a big way. Several times we saw couples acting indecently which irked us,” villager Savio Rebeiro sid. The fishing hub on the Arabian sea coastline has now displayed banners reading: "Commit no nuisance, visitors keep our village clean, drinking alcohol, smoking, loud music, kissing in public, nuisances in public are strictly prohibited here," in public places to spread awareness of the prohibitions.

Goa’s long sandy beaches have long been a haven for millions of tourists drawn mostly from the West, but a string of controversial statements by local politicians has dented its tourist-friendly image. Last year a top Goa minister demanded a ban on wearing bikinis on beaches, drawing criticism from the public and tourism industry.

Life-sized elephant sculpture made from crashed cars aims to help save lives in Western Australia

A life-sized elephant made from the parts of crashed cars has been erected as part of a campaign to get people talking about high road fatality rates in Western Australia's country areas. The brightly coloured sculpture, named The Elephant in the Wheatbelt, is currently in a wheat field on the outskirts of the Wheatbelt town of Northam and is being moved around different towns in the region by the RAC WA.

The motorists' association said the elephant was a symbol of the "silence" around road safety issues in the area. According to WA's Office of Road Safety, there were 105 deaths in the state's regional areas in 2014 and 79 in Perth. In the Wheatbelt, there were 2,155 people killed or seriously injured in the 10 years between 2004 and 2013. The RAC said it hoped to dispel myths about road safety such as most crashes happening at night time and only involving people visiting the area.

"What we want is for the community to start that conversation wherever they may be, in the sporting clubs, in the halls, in the pubs, in their lounge rooms, we want people talking about road trauma in the Wheatbelt," RAC general manager for corporate affairs Will Golsby said. "Attitudes, deliberate driver choices such as speed and drink driving, inattention and fatigue are major factors," Mr Golsby added. He said last year more than one person died on WA roads every two days.

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Mr Goldsby said people needed to start taking responsibility for their safety, and check the star safety rating on cars they buy. "We know that you're twice as likely to be seriously injured or killed in a one-star car over a five-star car," he said. He said statistics from last year show one in three Wheatbelt road victims was not wearing a seatbelt, and more than 70 per cent of fatalities were single vehicle run-offs. The elephant has already turned heads in Merredin, Narrogin and is currently in Northam and will continue to make its way around the Wheatbelt.

French baker ordered to remove 'racist' cakes

A court in the French Riviera has ordered a cake maker to remove cakes from his bakery after he was accused of inciting racial hatred and the cakes branded "obscene". On Thursday a court in Grasse, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of south-eastern France, ordered the town to force the baker to remove the offensive pastries from his boulangerie, deeming them an “attack on human dignity”. The sweet pastries in question, named “Gods” and “Goddesses” are in the form of obese people, covered in dark chocolate with over-sized sexual parts.

While the baker who sells the little men and women filled with shortbread and chocolate mousse saw the cakes as inoffensive, for one anti-racism group in France, they were anything but. “It’s pure and simple racism,” Louis-George Tin from France’s Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) said prior to the court ruling. CRAN denounced the “obscene slave trade caricatures that tap into the tradition of colonial racism” and threatened to lodge a complaint for inciting racial hatred.

“We are in a country where the word equality is part of the constitution, which means it doesn’t allow for racism. Does he think these treats adhere to the values of the French Republic?” said Tin. “We must fight this kind of racism. I cannot imagine what would be said (rightly) if an African baker decided to represent Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary in a similar way,” Tin said. However, baker Tannick Tavolaro is defiant.

He said he finds the complaint absurd and firmly denies he is racist. “At first I thought it was a joke. It’s absurd and hurtful. These pastries have absolutely no racial connotation at all," he said. They are made of chocolate mousse, which is why they're black. The characters are little human beings, a man and woman but not a black man and a woman. These people who attack me don’t know my story or my career or who I am. It’s just intellectual terrorism. I am not racist. I do not belong to any political party. I just argue for freedom of speech.”

Man stole tortoise to fund his heroin habit

A man stole a £300 tortoise from a pet shop before selling it on to fund his heroin habit. The 37-year-old Lee Pemberton was caught on CCTV cameras at Glovers Tropical Fish & Water Garden Centre in Stoke-on-Trent taking the reptile from a vivarium. North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard a customer warned the shop assistant there was a man in the store who smelt of alcohol. Steve Knowles, prosecuting, said: "The assistant went to where the defendant had been seen and was asked if he was okay. Pemberton told him 'Yes don't worry'.

"But when the assistant went to investigate he found the locking bar to the vivarium was not on and the animal was missing." The court heard the CCTV footage was reviewed which showed Pemberton taking the tortoise. Mr Knowles said that when the defendant was interviewed he told police he could not recall the incident but admitted he must have sold the animal to fund his drug habit. Pemberton, of Stoke, pleaded guilty to stealing the tortoise. He also admitted possession of heroin and two offences of possessing class B drugs.

Lee Yates, mitigating, said his client had pleaded guilty to the offences at the first time of asking. He added: "Mr Pemberton has been hospitalised due to health problems concerning his drug addiction. He is receiving help for his addiction." Magistrates jailed Pemberton for 18 weeks but suspended the sentence for 12 months because drug treatment had started. He was also ordered to pay £300 compensation, £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge. But Elizabeth Johnson, who works at Glovers, said the defendant should have been sent to prison.

She added that the staff will still concerned for the tortoise's welfare. She said: "It's all been very strange, and we still don't know where the tortoise has gone. The police said we can claim for the money, but it's not about the money, it's the animal's welfare. We've no idea if they were keeping it well, but it's expensive to keep a tortoise in the right condition, so we're very worried. To steal an animal you know you can't look after just for money is absolutely disgusting. He could have killed him. The sentence is way too low, he should have been sent to prison."

Semi-naked customers fled into the street after masked gang raided swingers club

Police are hunting a masked gang who raided a Birmingham swingers club, attacking a man and a woman and sending semi-naked customers fleeing into the street. Three men targeted Tudor Lounge, based at the 400-year-old Stratford House in Highgate, just after 9.30pm last Wednesday. One man, aged 53, was punched to the ground, while a woman was pushed during the raid at the timber-framed, Grade II listed property – built in 1601 in the reign of Elizabeth I.

The gang fled empty-handed but the raid added to local concerns about the business, which has temporary planning permission as a private members’ club from Birmingham City Council. One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Masked men ran into the club and we then saw lots of customers, half-naked or wrapped in towels and mostly men, pouring out into the street. Residents feel the club is potentially attracting a criminal element to the area. It’s not what people had in mind when they settled here.

“We feel the planning application for a private members’ club was a very clever one in that those who even knew about it did not realise it would be a swingers’ club. It seems to be busy most nights and Saturday night particularly so. Residents are now having problems parking their own cars , there have been some incidents of parking rows with visitors to the club. There’s been some lewd behaviour in the area around the club, people coming out kissing and all over one another. A lot of young girls live close by and parents are worried their children could be propositioned. There’s also concern about property values going down.”

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: “Police are investigating after masked raiders gained entry to a private function at the Tudor Lounge Club in Stratford Place, Highgate, at 9.35pm on March 18. Three men wearing ski masks were seen in the corridor. “One man, aged 53, was punched in the head, resulting in him falling to the floor. He was treated for a cut to his nose and bump to his head. Another woman was pushed, but not injured. No weapons were seen. The men then left the building. Nothing was reported stolen. Police enquiries are on-going into the incident. No arrests have been made at this stage.”

Man seen towing boat with moblity scooter says he was taking girlfriend out for a day’s fishing

A man spotted towing a boat with a moblity scooter through Hartlepool in County Durham on Thursday says he was taking his girlfriend out for a day’s fishing. 22-year-old butcher Luke Cartridge suffered a bad break to his left leg during a night out in Newcastle last November and bought the second hand scooter for £120 to help him get around.

He and girlfriend Natasha Day, 19, decided to go in a fishing trip in Luke’s rowing boat but with no car available, their transport options were limited. Luke said: “There’s a handle on the back of the scooter that I was able to chain the boat to. We set out with Natasha walking alongside me and knew it would take a while because it’s pretty slow anyway even when it’s not towing a rowing boat.

“The traffic started building up behind me and I suddenly realised the were traffic jams stretching way back. Most of the drivers were okay about it, most of them were laughing and quite a few got out to take pictures. On the way back the police pulled me over and asked for a word.

“They said I wasn’t doing anything wrong but that I was causing traffic hold ups. They asked me to park my boat somewhere nearby as it was getting dark so I left it at my mum’s. Me and Natasha only wanted a day fishing we didn’t think it would cause so much fuss. I wouldn’t care but we never caught a thing!”

Friday, March 27, 2015

King of the castle

Here's a monkey with his new puppies

This little monkey meets a litter of puppies for the first time.

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Couple arrested for theft of car, shrimp and underpants

Police in Arlington, Virginia, arrested two people for stealing a car and said that they had also stolen a significant quantity of shrimp and gentlemen’s underwear. Dustin Sternbeck, a police spokesman, said that Terry Walker, 53, and Alonda Hoe, 41, confessed to the thefts.

They said they had taken the merchandise, at least 10 packages of frozen shrimp, some fresh shrimp, and at least four packages each containing five pairs of men's underwear, from a Walmart in Fairfax County. They had stolen shrimp from Walmart before, the suspects claimed when interviewed by police, and then resold it to Chinese restaurants in the area, authorities said.

They said they planned to do so again, Sternbeck said. Instead, they were stopped by police at 4:36 p.m. on Tuesday. Police had noticed that their licence plate matched that of a car that had been reported stolen, Sternbeck said. That is when police saw the shrimp and underpants inside the 2006 Chrysler Pacifica.

Police said that Walker and Hoe were both under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol at the time they were arrested. Hoe, of Indian Head, Maryland, was charged with habitual petit larceny. Walker of Arlington was charged with crimes including grand auto larceny, possession of cocaine and driving while intoxicated.

Police officers that warn someone could be killed after plastic wrap stretched across road

Deputies are searching for those responsible for stretching plastic wrap across Interstate 90 near Wallace, Idaho.

Authorities say a group of people apparently thought it would be fun to take plastic wrap, attach it to overpass columns along the I-90 exit to Kingston, and then tightly stretch it across the road. Shoshone County Deputy Jeremy Ross said several cars were damaged, including one that had its windshield shattered.

Authorities say the plastic is actually comparable to water, because if it’s hit at close range, it won't do much damage, but the results could be disastrous if struck at a high speed. Deputies said the prank could have fatal results. The group of people ran away from the scene by the time deputies arrived.

No one was hurt, but if a sheet of plastic could do significant damage to a car, it could be fatal for a motorcyclist. "It's warming up, people are starting to ride their bikes again, and that could be a serious, serious issue,” said Ross. Should someone be killed by the pranksters’ actions, they could face manslaughter charges.

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New Zealanders gear up for teapot racing

They may be short and stout, with a handle and a spout, but a bunch of New Zealand teapots now also lay claim to wheels. Splendid Teapot Racing will feature at the CubaDupa festival on Saturday, the first racing of its kind to be held in Wellington.

Teapot racing originated in Dunedin and had its first public outing at the 2014 Steampunk NZ Festival in Oamaru. A new favourite sport for Steampunk enthusiasts, it consists of radio-controlled vehicles with teapots attached being timed while individually navigating an obstacle course.

Capital! Steampunk founder Leslie Craven (aka Colonel Julius Hawthorne) says teapot racing is harder than it sounds. "You really have to take it slowly and gently and it's quite tense because you're against the clock." Craven, a business analyst from Hataitai, describes Steampunk as Victorian-influenced science fiction.

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"It encompasses a lot of things, but is inspired by some of the first Steampunk authors who used Edwardian settings with technology they didn't have at the time." Ten converted teapots from various Steampunk groups around New Zealand will tackle the obstacle course at Thistle Hall on Saturday. Racing is from 10am to midday and is free for spectators.

Psychotic Samurai sword-wielding man dressed as Shaolin monk injured six police officers

Six police officers in Vienna, Austria, were injured by a psychotic man dressed as a Shaolin monk and wielding a Samurai sword on Monday.

Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said that the drama started when a woman in an apartment in Kudlichgasse, in the Favoriten district, heard a loud knocking on her door at 2:00am. She opened the door to find a bald-headed man she had never met before dressed in an orange monk’s robe, and armed with a large sword. He pushed his way into her home, and she ran out and called the police.

Three police officers arrived at the building shortly afterwards and found the 39-year-old man in the stairwell. They surprised him with pepper spray and managed to knock the sword out of his hand but all three officers were seriously injured in the scuffle. As the man seemed to be suffering from mental illness they took him to the Rufolfstiftung psychiatric hospital.

However, he managed to escape from the hospital just hours later and was spotted in Meidling cemetery wearing a white hospital gown. When three police officers arrived he karate kicked and punched them. Again, they had to use pepper spray to subdue him and then took him back to hospital.

Deaf man who called police officer ‘pig’ in sign language given conditional discharge

A man with a hearing disability from Kendal, Cumbria, was arrested after saying 'pig' in sign language to a police officer, a court heard.

South Cumbria Magistrates Court was told that police were called to McDonalds on Stricklandgate after reports of a man 'causing difficulties'. Linley Hassan, 25, of no fixed address, refused to leave the restaurant and became 'confrontational' with the police.

Peter Kelly, prosecuting, said: "He was making a sign that the officer, who understood sign language, knew to mean 'pig'." In mitigation, John Batty said Hassan had had a volatile existence of late and had been going to great lengths to reduce his alcohol intake.

Hassan pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly. He was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and a £30 contribution towards court costs.

Police called to school by residents concerned that work on its new football pitch could kill bats

Police were called to a school over fears that bats could be killed. Residents living near Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton, Sussex, called the police accusing the school of potentially destroying bat habitats as part of work to build a new artificial football pitch. Neighbours have been calling for environmental surveys into two species of endangered bat believed to live at the school.

But when diggers arrived on the school fields on Tuesday morning tempers flared. Council planners have told the school they are not allowed to start work until ecological surveys have been approved. But workers appeared to have starting work removing trees. David Alderton, chairman of the Preston Park and Fiveways Local Action Team, said: “Many people – including the parents of pupils at Stringer – are very upset by what is going on.

“There are at least two species of bat there, and birds’ nests are potentially being destroyed illegally as well, as a result of this unauthorised development work. I think this sets an appalling example for the pupils at this school – it sends a message that wildlife is completely expendable and you do not need to consider it seriously when undertaking large-scale development work. Bats are strictly protected in this country.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “At 11.50am on Tuesday we received a call from a local resident that bats were being endangered in woodland next to Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton. A PCSO attended, confirmed that the issue had nothing to do with the police and advised the caller to speak to the council planning department.” A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The school has actively approached us regarding their obligations about bats under the planning consent. As the planning authority, we’ll be making sure that all planning conditions for this project are met.”

Man who tried to hold up bookmakers while armed with tin of John West pilchards spared jail

A man has escaped jail after trying to hold up his local bookmakers with a tin of pilchards. Rory Seager, 18, owed a friend £1,800 and spent the day ploughing his last pennies into roulette machines hoping to win the money until he was down to his last pound. The 6ft 4in teenager then hit upon plan to rob the bookies - where he was a regular customer. He bought a 99p tin of John West pilchards and burst into William Hill in Ilford, nort heast London, last December, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard. Seager demanded cash and claimed the tin of fish in tomato sauce in his black bag was a lethal explosive device. "I've got a bomb," he told cashier Adeyemi Awomudu who simply walked off into a secure room at the back of the shop.

Realising he had not thought his plan through, Seager hurled the tin across the shop in frustration and left. Mr Awomudu had recognised him and Seager was arrested shortly afterwards, confessing to his bungled plan immediately at the police station. He admitted attempted robbery and one count of communicating false information about a bomb hoax. Edward Franklin, prosecuting, said: "This wasn't a classic bomb hoax in that the security services weren't alerted and there's no evidence that any action was taken by the authorities. This is beat dealt with as an attempted robbery - you can say you have a knife or a gun, in this case it was a tin of pilchards masquerading as a bomb."

Caroline Carberry, defending, said Seager had been suffering from depression at the time of the incident and has Tourette's Syndrome. These are serious offences and I accept that normally these types of offences would merit an immediate sentence of imprisonment," she said. "He's far from someone who fits the profile of a robber of a small business, it's a great irony that Rory Seager went into a bookmaker somewhere he was known - he knew the man behind the counter." She added that Seager's own mother also works at a bookmakers and choosing to rob a similar premises indicated he 'hadn't given it much thought.' "This was entirely out of character, this was an aberration in this young man's life," she went on.

Passing down a two-year suspended sentence, two year's supervision by the probation service and ordering him to undergo mental health treatment, Judge Karl King said: "There can be absolutely no doubt that what you did was to commit a very serious offence. You secreted this item in a black bag, no doubt to give it a more convincing air to what you were doing. I'm satisfied that the custody threshold has been passed but what I am about to do is exceptional and does not reduce the gravity of your offence you committed. I am persuaded that I can suspend the sentence." Judge King also barred him from any betting shop for the next 12 months and ordered him to pay a £100 surcharge. Seager, of Ilford, wiped away tears as his sentence was read out. One of his family shouted "You are a just and a fair man, your honour" as the judge left the bench.

Call for return of top inch of England's highest mountain that was 'stolen' by artist

Cumbrians are demanding the return of a crucial piece of England’s highest mountain, which an artist has admitted taking. Tourism bosses said they want Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan to give back the small stone taken from Scafell Pike. The rock features in an exhibition at the London gallery Copperfields, and is described by the exhibition organisers as the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England.

It forms part of Santillan’s The Intruder, which has the stone embedded in a pedestal. A description of the exhibition says: “The exhibition ultimately draws out the obscure. Unexpected events occur: the dance of a dead philosopher is unveiled, a piece of land is taken, nature and culture collide. Departing from the tradition of land art in making often major modifications to the natural landscape, The Intruder presents an inch of stone carefully removed from the English countryside.

“At a glance it is seemingly insignificant and yet the material is carefully presented. Scaling the 3,028ft Scafell Pike in the Lake District, the artist has taken the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England. An entire nation’s height is modified and its landscape redefined by means of a single precise action. The artist explores the way in which human categories are imposed on nature: the largest, the tallest, the most powerful.”

Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “We are all aware that Cumbria’s landscape has long inspired generations of artists. These include international greats like JMW Turner, Ruskin, Schwitters and Li Yyan-chia, considered to be one of the founding fathers of Chinese abstract painting. These individuals have all taken a piece of this landscape away in the figurative sense. This is taking the mickey and we want the top of our mountain back. At the very least we would like to see the piece returned to the county it has been removed from.”