Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Smile for the theodolite

Sintha the dog likes to go skiing with her human

She particularly enjoys riding on his shoulders and taking in the view.

YouTube link.

27-year-old woman impersonating 65-year-old boyfriend thwarted by falling off fake moustache

A 27-year-old woman who posed as her senior citizen boyfriend to withdraw cash from his account was given away when her fake moustache started peeling off.

Police say Kayleigh Mendonca of Leominster, Massachusetts, was in disguise last Friday when she drove up to the window of the IC Federal Credit Union in Fitchburg and filled out a form to withdraw $500 from her boyfriend's account, using his driving licence as identification.

“At first glance the authorities and officials there at the bank saw the moustache falling off, which gave them the first clue that something may be not necessarily on the up and up,” Fitchburg Police Sgt. Glenn Fossa said. A credit union teller told Mendonca to come inside the bank. Bank officials then immediately noticed her huge coat and gloves. She's only 5 feet tall and her voice changed from low to high when they asked her questions.

Police said when it became clear the credit union wasn't going to allow her to make a withdrawal, she ran out and pushed a bank employee. She took off in her boyfriend's truck empty-handed. “Right now I think the most surprised folks are the folks that thought there was an attempt to make a very good disguise which turned out to be not such a great disguise,” Fossa said. Mendoca was charged with six counts, including identity fraud. Her bail was set at $5,000 cash and her next scheduled court appearance is March 10.

With news video.

Police found weed in tub labelled 'Not Weed'

A 21-year-old Nebraska motorist was arrested on Saturday night after a police officer discovered his marijuana stash inside a plastic tub labelled “Not Weed.”

Jordan Meier was travelling with three passengers at around 9pm when a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled over his 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo on a Lincoln street for a traffic violation.

Meier was subsequently “placed into custody for DUI,” investigators noted. During a post-arrest inventory search of Meier's vehicle, officers located a 16-ounce plastic container (which once held Land O’Lakes sour cream) under the front passenger seat.

Meier claimed ownership of the container, which had the words “Not Weed” written in marker on its lid. But when deputies opened the container, they found more than 11 grams of marijuana inside. As a result, Meier was also cited for possession of marijuana.

Penguins harassed by tourists with selfie sticks

A colony of little penguins in St Kilda, near Melbourne, Australia, is under threat from snap-happy tourists who are taking flash photos of the birds using selfie sticks. Guide Susie Parker told 3AW , (audio interview), that tourists are jamming the probes into burrows to capture the perfect shot, but the close-ups are upsetting the penguins and could potentially injure them.

"The selfie stick's not really the problem, it's the flash on the camera that's coming out," she said. "Penguins don't have eyelids, so they can't blink and their eyes are very sensitive." Although the flightless birds are not afraid of humans, they can be easily startled and stressed from visitors invading their space.

Earthcare president Terry Lobert, whose volunteer penguin guides show tourists around the colony at dusk, said selfie sticks worsened a long-standing problem. “I think this is the first year we’ve seen people using them,” Mr Lobert said. “They can get their phones really close to the penguins now; we have to tell them not to stick it right in the penguin’s face, to keep their distance. It’s just unpleasant for the penguins, to have people invading their space.”

Mr Lobert warned tourists the little birds might retaliate, and could even “peck the phone and break it - they are quite strong.” Volunteers use torches covered with red cellophane to illuminate penguins so visitors can take photos without the harsh light of a flash distressing the birds. Signs are posted around the colony warning tourists not to use flash photography, but Mr Lobert said many tourists “either don’t read them or pretend they haven’t read them”.

Out-of-control cats overrun Japanese island

A Japanese island which is home to just 22 people is being overrun by cats. The felines were originally brought to the island of Aoshima, off Ehime prefecture, to deal with mice that were damaging fishing boats.

But with no predators, their breeding got out of control - and so far the authorities have done little about it. There are now around 120 cats on the island, and only 10 of them have been neutered. The cats have survived by foraging on local crops and food left in rubbish.

The island village, which has no shops or hotels, has come to be known as Cat Island and it is drawing crowds from the mainland on twice-daily ferries. At its peak, the island had a population of 900, but this gradually dropped over the past 70 years as young people moved away.

YouTube link.

Now, with the sudden surge in its popularity, some of the island's inhabitants are worried that their quiet lives are going to be disrupted. One said: "I just hope that (tourism) doesn't become a burden on the people who live here and if so then I don't think it's a problem."

Students unhappy about ban on strawpedoing

Students banned from strawpedoing have accused their union leaders of running a “draconian nanny state”. Anyone caught strawpedoing, downing high-sugar alcopops while using a straw to avoid creating a vacuum, in the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) club on Potterrow now face being thrown out by staff.

But angry undergraduates have condemned the move. An online petition calling on EUSA to “Un-ban the Strawpedo” has been launched, and on Saturday night unrest broke out in the queue to get into The Big Cheese, a popular club night run by EUSA, as a group of students allegedly tried to storm the club to strawpedo their drinks in protest at the ban.

Tasha Boardman, EUSA’s vice-president services, said: “We have a responsibility to operate in a socially responsible manner in accordance with licensing law. We had been seeing an increase in strawpedoing which is not deemed as responsible consumption under licensing legislation, which we have a duty to uphold.

“We removed the straws so we could communicate to customers when requesting a straw that strawpedoing is not a practice we allow and if caught they may be removed.” Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser to alcohol education charity Drinkaware, says that strawpedoing could put students at risk of “drinking too much, too quickly”.

Mystery giant dead python found in Lancashire

One of the world’s biggest breeds of snakes has been found dead by the Leeds and Liverpool canal in Lancashire. The reticulated python, which measured around 16 feet, was found by horrified walkers near the High Street canal bridge in Rishton. Ribble Valley Wildlife Crime Officer PC Carl Chew said: “Experts believe that a python of this size could have been capable of attacking a person so it is fortunate that no one came to any serious harm.

“There are specific offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Animal Welfare Act in relation to releasing a python and we would urge anyone with any information as to where the python came from to contact us. It is a possibility that the python may have outgrown its home. We would urge anyone thinking about getting rid of their pets, particularly those which may pose a risk to the public, to contact an animal charity for advice so that they can be rehomed safely and responsibly.”

It is believed to have been around 12 to 15 years old and it may have been living in the wild for a number of days before it died. Following an autopsy, the reptile showed signs of respiratory disease which could have contributed to its death. Officers are now investigating the circumstances surrounding how the python came to be by the canal and are appealing for anyone with any information that could assist with their enquiries to come forward.

Rishton councillor Ken Moss said he suspected the snake had been dumped after growing too big for its owner, and described whoever left it as ‘heartless’. He said: “The general consensus is it has become too big for somebody and they have dumped it in the canal. If that’s the case it’s heartless because we have a reptile shop in Rishton and they would have taken it. People need to be aware of just how big these animals can get. Of course, there could be a completely innocent explanation but someone somewhere knows who that snake belongs to, and we are hoping to find out who. The snake could not have lasted long in this weather.”

Investigation after lizards dumped in the Dales

An investigation has been launched after three lizards were found dumped in freezing temperatures at a remote location in the Yorkshire Dales. Two of the reptiles were found dead by an RSPCA inspector, and a third is being cared for by the charity after being recovered ‘just in time’. The RSPCA has slammed the ‘totally abhorrent’ actions of the people responsible, and is appealing for witnesses to come forward.

RSPCA Inspector Chris Towler attended a rural spot at Burton-in-Lonsdale, North Yorkshire, after a report from a member of the public. Behind a wall he found a broken up vivarium with a dead bosc monitor lying underneath broken glass, where the doors of the tank had smashed. The lizard was around two-and-a-half foot long. Four days later Mr Towler found a second dumped vivarium, around a tenth of a mile north of the first one, behind two rocks.

It contained two bearded dragons, one measuring around 12-14 inches, and the other 8-10 inches. “The larger one was dead, and the smaller one was just barely alive,” Mr Towler said. “At first I thought it was dead, but I placed it on the dashboard in the sun, and it opened its eyes.” Mr Towler said the tank with the bearded dragons was found complete with heating bulbs, wood chippings and food bowls with mealworms left in them.

“This suggests to me that prior to being left they were well cared for - something has occurred and someone decided to get rid of them in this manner.” He added that they were looking into the possibility that the lizards had been stolen. “We have had unwanted lizards found in dustbins but to have them left with all the equipment, is very unusual. It would have taken a couple of people at least to dump tanks that size.” Any witnesses are asked to contact the RSPCA.

Poison pen letter left in kidnapped parrot's cage

A woman has made a desperate plea after her pet parrot was kidnapped and a poison pen letter threatening to kill it left in the cage. Cara Cosson, 45, from Oakley, Bedfordshire, was left devastated when she received a call from her mother to say she had been the victim of a break-in while at work. But she was plunged even further into despair when she found the heartless thief had stolen her African grey parrot Joe Joe.She says she then discovered a letter inside his cage, written using newspaper clippings, threatening to kill the bird if she called the police.

Cara says her beloved parrot has been with her since it was 14-weeks-old and loves reggae and Motown music. He will often dance along to music and his favourite songs are The Whisper’s hit Needle in a Haystack and Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas. She said Joe Joe also barks like a dog and loves nothing more than a good cup of tea. Cara said: “Joe Joe is not a pet, he is family. He is a real character and everyone who had met him loves him. The person who stole him has taken him because that is the only thing that would be able to hurt me.People are worried about retribution but that is not important to me.

“The only thing that is important is that he is unharmed. It feels to me that my child has been kidnapped, to want of a better word. People will think it is just a bird but he’s not. He is my family. I’m trying not to think of the worst but I suspect the worst may already have happened.” Cara claims she was told by a psychic on the day of the theft that something bad would happen to her. The psychic returned to her home on Saturday and told her that Joe Joe could be returned to her by May. Cara added: “I have seen a psychic and she says that he is safe with a couple who know the person who took him. That gives me some hope.

“She said that the bird is still alive and it would be four or five weeks until I got him back. Apparently he won’t be in a good way. She actually gave me a reading on the day he went missing that something might happen but I didn’t think Joe Joe would be targeted.” The burglary took place on the morning of Friday, February 20 and Cara believes she knows who is responsible for the theft as nothing else was touched in the robbery. She has told police the information and thinks Joe Joe could be being held in Rushden or Kettering. A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman confirmed they had arrested a man in his 40s and he had been released on bail. She added: “Unfortunately at this stage the parrot has not been recovered and the police investigation is continuing.”

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Another one will be along in a minute

Here are some baby opossums munching fruit

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Farmer's valiant attempt to save frozen newborn goat by baking it in oven was sadly unsuccessful

When farmer Dennis Albaugh from West Milton, Ohio, discovered a newborn goat nearly frozen to death on Thursday morning, he was willing to try just about anything to save it. Albaugh found the buckling, rejected by its mother after a rough delivery, clinging to life inside a barn. Following some advice from family members who also farmed goats, Albaugh tried a perhaps unconventional approach in hopes of saving the little goat’s life: he used an oven to warm him.

He placed the newborn in the oven at a very low temperature (170 degrees) with the door fully open to warm it up as quickly as possible. “I was hopeful, but I wasn’t really optimistic it would work,” he explained. It wasn’t long before he saw small signs of progress. “I looked and started to see him breathing better. I could see his heartbeat was getting stronger. He still wasn’t moving though,”Albaugh said. “You could see he was fighting for his life now.” For the next three hours, Albaugh continued to work to save the buckling.

He remained right there by the little goat’s side as he worked to raise its body temperature. The goat spent some time directly in the oven and then right outside the oven. Albaugh was able to feed him. The goat eventually was able to sit up and stand. Albaugh’s wife's 6-month old puppy Rueger took fondly to little Goliath and stayed by his side throughout the ordeal, even affectionately licking the goat as it laid there struggling to survive. “The goat kept moving and responding to the puppy,” he said. But in the end, Albaugh’s efforts weren’t enough.

YouTube link.

Despite Goliath’s progress throughout the day, the goat took a turn for the worse on Thursday evening. Albaugh called the vet, and followed the vet’s advice. Goliath passed away at around 9:45pm. “We’re heartbroken,” Dennis Albaugh said shortly after Goliath’s passing. “We had hoped for the best. He was doing so great this afternoon. He was getting so strong. But he just took a turn for the worse, and his condition deteriorated rapidly. The coldness and exposure time was just too much. Like all farmers, we care so much for our animals, and in the end it just didn’t work. I wish we had a much happier ending to this story.”

Man told police officers that all the items in his vehicle were his except for anything illegal

A Florida man pulled over for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs told deputies that all the belongings in the vehicle were his, except for any illegal items.

Robert Eugene Pursley was pulled over in Mary Esther at around 2:45am on Feb. 15. After the DUI arrest, 54-year-old Pursley’s vehicle was inventoried before being towed, according to the arrest report.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies found a small baggie of cocaine in the centre console. Pursley told deputies “all the items in his vehicle were his except for anything illegal,” the report said.

He refused to submit to a urine test for the DUI and, when asked if a urine test would show cocaine use, allegedly replied with “no comment.” He is charged with DUI, failing to drive within a single lane, knowingly driving while his licence was suspended or revoked and possession of cocaine. His next scheduled court date is March 10.

Man fined for throwing horse poo over politician

A veteran protester in New Zealand has been found guilty of throwing a bucket of watered-down horse manure over former ACT leader John Banks last year. Judge Anne Kiernan ordered Castislav "Sam" Bracanov to pay $400 plus court costs at the Auckland District Court on Monday. Judge Kiernan said Bracanov did not dispute what happened last year. The issue was that Bracanov believed he was not guilty of the assault because he thought Banks deserved to have manure thrown over him, she said. While Bracanov believed he had done the right thing, he did not produce any legal defence to the charge, the judge said. Bracanov said he would do it again and said the judge was "not human" for finding him guilty. The judge reminded Bracanov he could appeal the decision.

During the trial the judge watched a recording of a police interview with Bracanov where he explained how he hid behind a car, waiting to throw the manure over Banks outside the High Court in Auckland on May 19 last year. The 79-year-old said he got the manure from a paddock at Mangere Bridge in South Auckland, and watered it down. Bracanov said he believed Banks owed him $8,000 because he was fined $10,000 in 1992 for throwing manure on a visiting royal Rolls Royce but should have only been fined $2,000. Banks was police minister at the time. Banks said he did not harbour any animosity towards Bracanov. The incident happened on the first day of the former MP's High Court trial on charges of knowingly filing a false electoral return relating to his failed 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty.

Banks was later found guilty but the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal late last year and a retrial ordered.​ Speaking outside the court on Monday, Banks said he would prefer not to be at the trial and that he did not make a complaint about the manure incident. Banks, who was summoned to give evidence, said Bracanov was an old man who was not well. The trial was repeatedly delayed while Bracanov, who defended himself, prepared for the judge-alone trial and technology issues were resolved. Bracanov arrived at the court wearing his slippers and before the trial began, clearly restated his not guilty plea on the charge of common assault. Speaking before the trial, Bracanov said he and Banks were now "square", and he now had respect for Banks.

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At a previous court appearance on the charge Bracanov said the muck throwing was an act of revenge. Banks, who was the first witness, said an "old man" who seemed "very angry" and "very agitated" tipped a bucket of horse manure over him. Banks said the muck ruined his suit and did not help with his day at court. "The last thing I needed on that morning was an altercation with anyone," he said. Banks was then given leave by the High Court to go home and change his clothes before his trial began. When asked by police prosecutor Joon Yi how he knew it was horse manure Banks said: "It certainly smelled like horse manure and it looked like horse manure, so it must have been horse manure." Banks said the manure was "very sloppy" and he feared there would be a further altercation or more manure coming his way after the first incident, so he went into the court building with his friends to get away from "the old man" whom he now knew to be Bracanov.

Stick and axe wielded in dispute between men over not sharing Doritos

An argument over Doritos escalated to the point where a man threatened another with a stick before his companion then threatened him with an axe, police in Australia's Northern Territory say.

Duty Superintendent Louise Jorgensen said police were called to a disturbance near the Darwin Post Office at around 2:00pm on Sunday. "Two males began arguing about a packet of Doritos. Apparently one was not sharing," Superintendent Jorgensen said.

Superintendent Jorgensen said one of the men picked up a stick and threatened the other. "The other male then casually got up, strolled over to a witch's hat, lifted it up and grabbed an axe which had been hidden underneath," she said. "He then walked straight towards the other male threatening to hit him."

She said Transit Safety Officers then asked the man to drop the weapon. "When he refused they approached and tackled him to the ground. They held him until police arrived and executed the arrest," she said. Superintendent Jorgensen said the man was charged with threatening behaviour and going armed in public.

Street brought to a standstill when man dressed as Superman attacked his car with a pole

A man wearing a Superman costume stopped traffic on Chapel Street in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday afternoon.

Dressed to fight crime but showing little regard for the law, he brought the street to a standstill at about 2.40pm, bashing his own car with a pole and smashing its windows in.

A witness said six trams were halted, while bystanders were unwilling to approach the costumed hero, who looked “a bit freaky”. Traders say the man had been seen driving up and down Chapel Street in the past few days.

After he finished taking out his superhuman anger on his vehicle, the man took his keys and threw them up on a nearby roof – leaving the car immovable. Police were called and man was taken to hospital for assessment. His car was towed away.

With news video.

Swearing workshops help boost awareness of sign language at Australian festival

Barry Priori, a profoundly deaf sign language instructor for Deaf Can: Do, a service provider for Adelaide's deaf and hearing impaired community, wants to get more people interested in sign language.

Mr Priori will be running a series of 'swearing workshops' at this year's Adelaide Fringe festival.

For a small donation, Fringe goers will be able to pull a naughty word out of a "swear jar" and learn how to sign it.

"Hearing people have their swear words, but they don't know what our visual signs are for those swear words," Mr Priori said. "I think it's fair that everyone knows what they look like."

With short video.

Bus passengers get wet after fronts of shelters are removed so motorists can see adverts better

A Birmingham city councillor says bus passengers are being soaked, splashed and left windswept just so transport chiefs can make money from advertising. Front windows on bus shelters, which protect passengers from wind and rain are being gradually removed by transport authority Centro so drivers passing by can see the giant poster adverts more clearly.

Councillor Jerry Evans is now calling for the screens to be replaced after residents in his Springfield ward complained about the issue. Councillor Evans said: “Centro has removed the fronts of many of their shelters so passengers can be splashed in rain by passing traffic and benefit more from the breeze - just so advertisers’ posters can be seen better. The comfort of passengers ought to take priority over advertising revenue.”

Regional transport authority Centro, which is responsible for the majority of bus shelters in the region, said that it is looking to raise money to offset the impact of public sector cuts. A spokesman said: “In the current financial climate we have to look at ways of raising money from non-public sector sources and a very important stream of revenue comes from the advertising on Centro’s 5,000 bus shelters to provide essential services.” He said that money raised pays for cleaning and maintenance of shelters and new shelters.

“It is possible to increase advertising revenue by modifying the shelters so adverts are more prominent, which is similar to London where no shelters are enclosed. This has involved removing the front panels from 273 of those shelters across the West Midlands. However we recognise customers may have concerns and we monitor their feedback but since the scheme began there have been only a limited number of cases where this has had any adverse effect on people using the shelters and we have taken remedial action.”

Lonely 50-year-old monkey has successful first date following the death of her partner

Daisy, a lonely 50-year-old monkey, has gone on a successful first date following the death of her partner. When her companion died Daisy's owners asked the Wild Futures monkey sanctuary in Looe, Cornwall, to take her on and introduce her to new friends.

Keepers at the sanctuary were encouraged when they saw Daisy and her date Pepe "ganging up" on keepers. Daisy was first rescued from a pet shop in 1980 and was found to have cigarette burns and broken fingers. Claire Turnbull from Wild Futures said: "She did have a companion but he sadly died and the owners have luckily realised she shouldn't be on her own."

Daisy spent six weeks in quarantine at the sanctuary before she was introduced to Pepe, described as "a very friendly chap". Ms Turnbull said: "What they're actually doing there is what we call ganging up behaviour so it's the two of them threatening the camera, the keepers and by doing that they form a bond with one another."

The sanctuary said capuchins were a particularly intelligent, social species that naturally lived in the rainforests of South and Central America. All of the keepers at the sanctuary live on site to provide 24-hour care for the animals. Ms Turnbull said: "The really nice thing is to see the way they come in and how they recover and develop and end up with monkey friends."