Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Are we nearly there yet?

Pug has a nice relaxing bath on a hot day

While having a snooze with one eye open.

YouTube link.

Truck hit wall as mural dedicated to victims of fatal traffic accidents was being installed

In a case of life imitating art, a truck crashed into a wall in Brooklyn as safe-streets activists were putting up a mural on it dedicated to people killed in traffic accidents in New York last year.

The eerily timed accident took place on Saturday as about a dozen traffic safety advocates worked to install the memorial to the 264 people killed on city roads in 2014. The truck hit the same wall the activists were working on, but about a half a block away.

“We all observed the irony of the situation,” said Ed Ravin, 53, who was helping to put up the mural abutting a vacant lot in Williamsburg. “People were working on the wall down the street and definitely could feel when the truck hit. But no one was hurt.”

The truck eventually pulled away, allowing the volunteers to finish putting up the 500-foot mural. The powerful work of art, organized by pro-pedestrian group Right of Way, features black silhouettes representing each pedestrian, cyclist and driver killed on New York streets last year. Posted alongside the silhouettes are the victims’ names and the dates they were killed.

There's more information about the memorial mural, including videos, here.

Reward offered in dirty diaper dumping case

The Maine Warden Service is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the person tossing 5-gallon buckets filled with dirty diapers in Franklin County streams. Twenty four of the bright orange buckets have been recovered from streams in Wilton and Farmington within the past couple of months, wardens said. The buckets have been found near Temple Stream in Farmington and Wilson Stream, off the Pond Road in Wilton.

“I think it’s somebody local. Nobody’s travelling across the state to get rid of this, I don’t believe,” Warden Daniel Christianson said. “Somebody local, not sure why. There’s no rhyme or reason why somebody would be dumping stuff like that in the water. Not only is this just litter, it’s (human) waste and there is water contamination that’s going to happen because those lids won't stay on those buckets forever,” Christianson added.

“Oh, that’s horrible,” Temple resident Kathy Shepard said when she heard the news. “That’s horrible because people fish in here and I think they eat the fish. This is gross.” The $500 reward is for information leading to a summons and conviction in the littering case. Wardens are confident they’ll be able to trace the buckets. They’re already analyzing the evidence. “The contents themselves, Warden McCabe found that they’re adult diapers, stuffed in 5 gallon Home Depot buckets, with the lid closed,” Christianson said.

YouTube link.

Investigators have some theories, but no suspects yet. “Maybe somebody is getting paid to remove these, (and) instead of paying to get rid of them, they’re just dumping them,” Christianson said. If the culprit is eventually caught, Wardens said the person could be charged with littering, which carries a $200 fine per bucket, totalling around $5,000. “They have to put those people in jail so other people won’t do it,” Kathy Shepard added. Wardens are asking that anyone with information contact them.

Investigation launched after pigeon found with glued-on hat and bell

A man from says he was shocked to see a pigeon with a paper hat glued on its head and a large bell on its neck near his home in Penticton in British Columbia, Canada.

Gary McDougall says he spotted the pigeon on his neighbour's roof on Saturday morning and took some photos of the lone bird before it flew off. "It's cruelty to animals regardless of what kind of joke people think it is," McDougall said.

McDougall says the bird was missing its tail feathers and appeared to have been painted red. But it still appeared to be capable of flying. The pigeon had a piece of paper glued to its head and a large bell that could've also been glued, he said.

McDougall says he first saw the bird about 10 days ago with the paper stuck to its head but he thought it was a tea bag or some other piece of garbage until he saw it later with the bell on its neck. "It could very well be like having a bowling ball around your neck and having to manoeuvre. It makes it pretty difficult," McDougall said. The SPCA is now investigating.

Mud crabs left strewn over road after being launched from boat in road crash

Mud crabs were left strewn across a road in Wanguri in Australia's Northern Territory after a road crash launched them out of a boat. Superintendent Del Jones said there was “a fair bit of chortling” after the crash, which left several parked vehicles damaged as the crabs made desperate dashes for freedom.

She said the crash happened after the driver, who would later return a mid-range breath alcohol reading, underestimated the width of the boat trailer which crashed into a parked car on Wanguri Tce at about 7.30pm on Sunday. “He struck the right wheel of the first car and damaged running gear, which caused the boat to come off the trailer,” Supt Jones said.

“The car then dragged the boat down the road by the winch rope, before the boat struck the second car.” The boat then struck a third car, which dislodged it completely from the trailer, and launched the crabs out onto the road. “There were initial reports of screaming ... turns out it was people laughing,” Supt Jones said.

Some of the crabs were flattened, while others were rescued. The 44-year-old driver blew .092 per cent. Supt Jones said the crash was another example of the dangers of drink-driving. The driver was given a Notice to Appear in Darwin Magistrates Court for Medium-Range drink-driving and driving without due care.

Police unimpressed with man found sleeping in the middle of road

Police found a man at 4.45am on Saturday, sound asleep in the middle of a road in Napier, New Zealand. He was not injured and had not been run over, but was extremely drunk.

The man, in his mid-20s, lived a short distance from where he was found, and told police he had spent all night drinking in town. Police officers returned him home with a stern warning, Sergeant Andrew Graham from Hawke's Bay police said. "He was so drunk he had no idea what he was doing. He was very lucky that one of our patrol cars just happened to come across him.

"This is a classic example of what can happen when you drink too much and lose control of your faculties. This man could easily have been run over, and luckily there was not a lot of traffic in the area at the time." Drunk people were often victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults, Graham said.

Many drunk people could not defend themselves or recognise a potentially dangerous situation. "We say this time and time again, and we will keep on saying it: if you drink to excess, you will end up putting yourself or others in danger. It's all about personal responsibility and keeping yourself safe."

Specialist parrot trainer brought in to search for missing African grey

A specialist parrot trainer has been brought in to help search for Albert the African grey, missing in St Mary Cray, south east London. Albert escaped from owner Michelle Andrews on Wednesday night.

Despite tirelessly searching, the red tailed bird has not yet turned up. Ms Andrews, 46, has now enlisted the help of parrot trainer Ryan Wyatt, who has his own specially trained parrots. It is hoped the birds will be able to lure Albert out from his hiding place.

Ms Andrews said: “He has been missing for days and there’s been no sign of him. He will probably be very vocal as he’s hungry.” Eight-month-old Albert has not yet mastered a wide range of vocabulary, but can say ‘hello’ and ‘alright’.

But the feathered friend can wolf whistle, says Ms Andrews, which is very loud. She added: “I’m pretty sure I heard him by the church, but it was so dark I couldn’t see properly. I’m confident it’s Albert I can hear whistling. He’s probably flying about looking for food.”

Fire crews called to blaze started by Womble

Fire crews were called to a blaze which was found to have been started by Orinoco Womble.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue were called to a property in Harrogate on Sunday evening after receiving reports of the smell of burning in a loft of a maisonette.

Crews from Harrogate and Knaresborough Fire Service arrived at the scene and found Orinoco Womble on fire. It is believed the toy Womble had been sat under a down-lighter in the loft, which set him alight.

Smoke alarms in the property had not activated due to his location, but fire fighters used a dry powder extinguisher on him. The Wombles lived on Wimbledon Common, where they make good use of rubbish left behind by humans and were known for having a poor opinion of human beings, with the exception of the Queen.

Boy rescued after getting stuck in claw machine

Four-year-old Henry Howes got stuck inside an arcade claw machine after climbing in when he failed to win a Minion teddy.

Determined Henry asked his mother Emma for £1 to have a go on the arcade game at his local swimming pool. The claw picked up a Despicable Me toy but then agonisingly dropped it just short of the delivery chute.

Henry refused to give up and put his hand inside the hatch in a bid to grab the Minion teddy, but reached too far. His bottom slipped under the trap door on the front of the machine, trapping him inside.

YouTube link.

The drama was witnessed by older brother Harvey, nine, who ran to get Emma. She saw the funny side and called staff at the Snowdome in Tamworth, Staffs, who then spent half an hour looking for the keys to free Henry.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Where's my dinner?

Elephants block busy road so baby can cross

A family of elephants in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, block traffic then stand guard on the road in order for their baby to cross safely.

YouTube link.

Parrots rescued from burning house shouted 'help' and 'fire'

Emergency crews responded to a house fire in Canyon County, Idaho, on Friday night that caused some confusion.

Canyon County Dispatch says the fire was reported just outside Middleton. When firefighters arrived, they heard noises inside the house which lead them to believe there were people inside.

Once they got the flames contained, though, they discovered that the noises were actually coming from two shouting parrots. Firefighters say the birds were saying "Help!" and "Fire!"

Video disappointingly has no sound,

YouTube link.

Crews removed the birds from the home and gave them oxygen. They are expected to be all right. No people were found inside the house. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

There's a short news video here.

Baby sea lion abducted from Los Angeles beach

A sea lion pup was taken from its mother by four suspects at Dockweiler State Beach early on Sunday morning. A witness at the scene told authorities that at around 3am, two women and two men were at the beach harassing a mother sea lion and her two pups. The group, who are all said to be between the ages of 20 and 25, were throwing cinder blocks and trash at the animals.

None of the animals was hit, but a female suspect went to a car nearby, grabbed a blanket and handed it to a male suspect. The man grabbed one of the sea lion pups, wrapped it up in the blanket and placed it in the trunk of the car. The four then entered the vehicle and left with the baby sea lion.

The car is described as a black two-door Honda Civic with the last two digits of the California licence plate containing the numbers 5 and 6. The witness called police, who arrived at the scene by 3:15am. Police called Peter Wallerstein, president of Marine Animal Rescue. Wallerstein headed to the scene and was able to find the second baby sea lion hiding in the bushes of a nearby bike path.

The pup was unharmed and taken to safety. Sea lions do not make good pets, Wallerstein said. They bite with 10 times the strength of dogs, and their mouths are dirtier and more bacteria-ridden than any other mammal, he said. Keeping a sea lion as a pet is also a federal offence that carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in prison, Wallerstein added.

There's a short news video, where the sea lion is described as a baby seal, here.

Teenager arrested after cyclists targeted in misguided revenge for friends’ fatal car crash

A 16-year-old from Travelers Rest in South Carolina is facing multiple charges, including six counts of attempted murder, after he repeatedly targeted cyclists as revenge for the deaths of two friends, even though authorities say cyclists had no role in the accident. Investigators say the teenager thought his friends, Josey Macala Cox, 17, and Timothy Michael Arrowood, 19, crashed last December because they were trying to drive around cyclists in the road. Cox and Arrowood both died at the scene. At that time several people said cyclists caused the crash.

But investigators said the crash happened when Arrowood lost control of the vehicle, left the road and hit trees, and cyclists were not to blame. The teen apparently continued to believe the wreck was caused by cyclists, and he began to target road riders, deputies say. The teen shot fireworks at cyclists and on several occasions, he even tried to run them off the road with his car, according to Jonathan Smith with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. The teen was caught after members of the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club started posted warnings on their Facebook page about a driver harassing cyclists.

A GCSO investigator rides with the Spinners, and he started an investigation into the incidents. The investigator said he determined the lengthy pattern of assaults involved the same motorist with cyclists in the same part of the county. All the incidents involved the same driver in a black Hyundai Tiburon. Several victims reported the driver verbally assaulted, and in some cases physically assaulted both male and female cyclists who were riding their bikes on the road. The physical assaults included spitting, throwing drinks and lit fireworks at the cyclists, and even attempting to cause the cyclists to crash or to crash the vehicle into them.

The incidents known to investigators happened between December 2014 and April 2015. Eleven victims have been identified. The teen, whose name is not being released because of his age, was arrested on Friday. He is charged with six counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and battery, two counts of third-degree assault and battery, two counts of shooting fireworks from a vehicle and eleven counts of taunting cyclists. Investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not yet come forward. Anyone who believes they have been victimised by the teen is asked to call police.

With news video.

Parents charged after both overdosed on heroin while bathing their 3-year-old son

The parents of a 3-year-old boy have been arrested after police in Manchester, New Hampshire, said they overdosed on heroin while the youngster was in the bathtub.

Police said the incident happened late last year at a residence on Bethel Court. Investigators said that on Dec. 4, 2014, police were called to an apartment by the child's grandmother after she found the parents unconscious in the bathroom with the child in the tub.

Police said the boy was unhurt in the incident. Authorities said the grandmother became suspicious when the bathroom grew quiet and went to see what was happening. That's when she found the couple passed out, police said.

YouTube link.

Eric Carter, 21, and Stephanie McCassin, 24, were charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The parents were arrested on Thursday and released on bail. They are scheduled to appear in court on May 22. Police said the child was turned over to the custody of his grandmother.

Young birds now back down to earth following suspected magic mushroom trip

A group of inquisitive birds were left out of their tree after eating what is believed to be magic mushrooms at a wildlife sanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand. Five rare little hihi, mostly juveniles, were found "sort of paralysed or spasming" on the ground in the Zealandia Sanctuary in Karori after a ranger noticed them pecking at an unidentified fungus. Zealandia lead ranger conservation Matu Booth said the age of the birds that ate the mushrooms may go some way towards explaining their strange behaviour. "Maybe it was a bit of a teenage 'let's try it' mentality. Perhaps one bird was down there trying it and others were encouraged to do it, too," he said.

All the birds recovered after being placed in cardboard boxes and left to come down for a few hours. Booth said the birds were always looking for new food sources. "But for a species to suddenly go from nectar and insect eating to apparently eating fungi, that's a bit of a strange one. One explanation may be that there were some insects on the fungi." The hihi, or stitchbird, is one of New Zealand's rarest birds because of its carefree, friendly nature and propensity to nest in tree holes, making it an easy target for rats and other predators. Zealandia conservation manager Raewyn Empson said hihi usually ate nectar, fruit and insects and consuming mushrooms was unheard of.

It could not be confirmed that the birds' condition had been caused by the fungi, nor what sort of mushrooms they were. "We've never heard of hihi eating mushrooms before, but that's not to say that they don't," she said. "We do know that tui get drunk on the nectar of flax flowers and have been affected by rhododendron flowers, so it's not unusual for animals to have effects from eating something." There was no way to know whether they deliberately consumed mind-altering substances. "We can't get into their heads so we don't really know what's going on," she said.

The hihi was wiped out from New Zealand's mainland by 1885 and at one time the only surviving population was located on Little Barrier Island. After extensive conservation efforts, the birds have been reintroduced to the Karori reserve, Tiritiri Matangi and Kapiti Island. Even if their penchant for hallucinogenic substances cannot be proved, hihi are undoubtedly quirky characters famous for being the only bird known to sometimes mate face to face. Their Maori name translates to "rays of sun", the story being that the demigod Maui threw the bird into a fire after it refused to fetch him water, resulting in the male's yellow breast plumage. "They're a delightful little bird," Booth said. "They are special on lots of levels - they're special because they're endangered but also because they're quite unusual."

Man and his baboon arrested after theft of cash from man leaving bank

A pair of criminals with two baboons waylaid a man as he was leaving a bank in Lagos, Nigeria, recently. The unsuspecting victim who had withdrawn the sum of 230,000 naira (£775, $1,150) from a bank was shocked when he stepped out only to see some roughly dressed young men with two giant-sized baboons starring at him menacingly. The man took to his heels, abandoning his bag of money. The bandits used their baboons to scare the victim after driving close to the banking premises with an unregistered Nissan Primera. It was learnt that two of the suspects alighted from the vehicle with two baboons and ambushed the man as he was coming out of the banking hall after withdrawing the money from his account. The victim reportedly was frightened and dropped the bag containing the cash on the ground and ran for dear life. While running, the victim discovered that the suspects who took the bag containing his cash was also running with the baboon towards the opposite direction and he went after him.

On realising that the victim was coming after him, the suspect took some of the money from the bag and threw it at the victim who immediately bent down to pick the naira notes which littered the floor, a move the suspect capitalised on to escape into a waiting vehicle with his baboon. It was learnt that as soon as the suspect and his baboon got into the waiting vehicle, the driver zoomed off abandoning the baboon and his colleague identified as Mohamed Nafiu and at the crime scene. An angry mob that was attracted to the scene nearly lynched both Mohammed and the baboon but the fierce-looking baboon stood stoutly in defence of his master and succeeded in warding off intending attacks, until police arrived the scene and apprehended the suspect. Confessing to the crime, Mohamed Nafiu said: "I am from Gdala Local Government Area in Kano state. I am married with two children. I am a farmer but later, I began to sell herbal medicines for Malaria, typhoid, hypertension and body pains.

"After a while, I decided to relocate to Lagos to enable me have more patronage. But before I came to Lagos, I bought a baby baboon as a pet that was a year and eighteen months and started training him. I came to Lagos almost ten years ago with the baboon and used it for entertainment and for showmanship while selling my herbal medicine. It was during that period that I met Nura, the leader of the gang, who also has a baboon. He was the person that brought the idea of using the baboon to frighten and rob victims. After the first operation, I quit selling my herbal medicine because it was not as lucrative as robbing. I have participated in over ten robbery operations using baboons within Lagos. We use the two baboons each time we want to rob victims. Nura and I would alight from the vehicle with the baboons while a hired driver will be on the alert to drive off. We purposely hire different vehicles for the operation so that we would not be traced.

"We pay the driver in advance before each operation and also pay him after each operation. Usually, we operate in areas where we assume victims will be in possession of cash and where it will be easy to escape after the operation, like: banks and shopping malls. The baboons have been trained to scare victims and snatch their valuables and they do whatsoever we tell them to do. We pay each hired driver based on the time contracted because of the risk involved, once the time is up, he zooms off with or without us. Also before the operation, we agree on the amount, we give the driver advance payment for fuel then pay up after the job. I met Nura in Lagos several years back and my fortunes changed as I was constantly having cash with me. Immediately I saw the police officers, I surrendered myself to them and also assisted the officers in handcuffing the baboon." Lagos police com­mand spokesman, DSP Kenneth Nwosu said that police are still on the trail of Nura, while Mohamed Nafiu and the baboon will be charged in court at the end of investigation.

Man surprised by unexpected cockerel named Humphrey living in his back garden

Being a postman, Chris Kitchen is used to delivering packages of all shapes and sizes. But he had a surprise delivery of his own last week when he got home from work to discover a cockerel named Humphrey had set up home in his back garden in Driffield, Yorkshire. "I had gone to let the dog out in the back garden when I noticed the cockerel," Mr Kitchen said.

"I went to investigate and noticed straw bales and a big chicken shed. Then I found a cereal container with food in it labelled Humphrey. I was just scratching my head, I didn't know what to do." Mr Kitchen phoned his fiancé Sam and his other friends to see if he had fallen foul of a prank, but none of them knew anything about Humphrey. He then discovered a note in the rooster's pen from his "owners", named Andy and Sarah, thanking him for looking after the cockerel.

The note reads: 'Thanks again for looking after Humphrey. We have left him in the garden as discussed. He will need one cup of feed per day and water. I think we covered everything else last week. We arrive home on the 24th, so we will come and pick up Humphrey that afternoon. Any problems, just call us. Thanks again. Andy and Sarah.' "I am just baffled by it all," Mr Kitchen said.

"In the letter, they tell me they will be back off their holidays next Friday to pick Humphrey up, so we will just have to see what happens." Humphrey is now being cared for by a friend of Mr Kitchen's, Annette Guy. Mrs Guy used to keep bantam chickens and is making sure Humphrey is cared for until his owners return. "He was up at 5.30am waking everyone up," she said. "He is a right character and you can tell that he has been looked after by whoever does own him."

Woman threatened ex-partner after learning he'd slept with prostitute who was her son's girlfriend

A woman sent a text to her ex-partner threatening to smash his windows after being told he had sex with her son’s prostitute girlfriend. Carol Bulut, 56, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where she admitted sending a message that was offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.

The court heard that Bulut and her partner had been together for 23 years and had four children together. Defence agent Alex Burn explained the circumstances of the case. He said: “Her son received a phone call from his partner, who is a prostitute. The girlfriend says ‘I have just got £100 from a punter’ and that she is having a Chinese.”

Mr Burn said at that point her son realised the phone being used belonged to his stepfather – and deduced that punter in question was his relative. The solicitor said the son then phoned Bulut and told her: “He (the stepfather) is having sex with my bird.” The solicitor went on to say that his client was furious and engaged in the mobile phone text message.

Mr Burn described it as a case of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Sheriff Alison Stirling admonished Bulut of Balmedie, for the offence. Speaking after her court appearance, an emotional Bulut said she was glad it was over and said what happened had a “detrimental effect on the family”.