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Weekly weird news: Feb. 8

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 7:17 am

Dispute splits band of real-life Michigan superheroes

PETOSKEY, Mich. — A dispute between two men over leadership of a costumed band of self-professed real-life Michigan superheroes has escalated into a battle of insults.

Mark Williams, who dresses up as Batman to patrol the northern Michigan community of Petoskey, and Adam Besso, who hails from the Detroit area and is nicknamed "Bee Sting," became friends after Williams got in trouble with police in 2011.

But now their dispute has split the dozen-member Michigan Protectors group, The Detroit News reported.

"He is an abusive, neglectful, thieving, boastful, cowardly crook," Williams said. "He belongs in jail, and I will see him there."

Williams, a part-time landscaper, has drawn attention for patrolling in Petoskey. He was arrested in 2011 after being spotted atop a building while wearing a Batman costume. He was arrested again in 2012 for interfering with police at an accident scene.

Besso was arrested in 2012 after his shotgun discharged as he patrolled near Flint while wearing a bulletproof vest, black leather jacket with a bee logo, shin guards and knee pads. When Besso got out of jail, he rejuvenated the dormant Michigan Protectors, but some wanted Williams to be co-leader.

"He has to tear others down to feel better about himself," Besso said. "He's like 'Lord of the Flies' with a slightly better version of dirt bags."

Mississippi K-9 dog fired from one job, may get another

GULFPORT, Miss. — Fred the K-9 didn't cut it with the Gulfport, Miss., Police Department but he may still find respectable employment elsewhere.

The Sun Herald reports that Fred did fine on patrols and sniffing out drugs, but sometimes got distracted, stopping to play with a soda can he spied on a floor while searching a building, for example.

US K-9 Unlimited in Kaplan, La., agreed to take Fred back, but the Harrison County Sheriff's Office in Mississippi has expressed interest in him.

K-9 Unlimited owner Roger Abshire says the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois he bought in the Netherlands was selected out of hundreds of dogs, so his talent is not an issue.

Abshire says Fred's first Gulfport handler took medical leave and Fred didn't bond the quite same with the second partner.

Bottle released by Massachusetts scientist in 1956 found

BOSTON — It was April 1956, and the No. 1 song was Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel." At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, scientist Dean Bumpus was busy releasing glass bottles in a large stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

Nearly 58 years later, a biologist studying grey seals off Nova Scotia found one of the bottles in a pile of debris on a beach, 300 miles from where it was released.

"It was almost like finding treasure in a way," Warren Joyce said Friday.

The drift bottle was among thousands dumped in the Atlantic Ocean between 1956 and 1972 as part of Bumpus' study of surface and bottom currents. About 10 percent of the 300,000 bottles have been found over the years.

Joyce found the bottle Jan. 20 on Sable Island, about 185 miles southeast of Halifax.

He contacted scientists at Woods Hole and dutifully gave them the time and place information Bumpus had asked for in a postcard inside the bottle. His reward will be exactly what Bumpus promised in 1956 to anyone who returned a bottle: a 50-cent piece.

Joyce said the bottle had been sand-blasted over about 75 percent of its surface. He could still read the words, "Break This Bottle," so he pried off the rubber stopper. Inside, there was a note from Bumpus explaining that the bottle was among many being released to study the ocean.

Using the number on the postcard, Woods Hole workers tracked the bottle found by Joyce to a group of 12 released not far off Nova Scotia on April 26, 1956.

Bumpus died in 2002.

Police: Thieves tried to sell items back to victim

DENVER — Denver police have arrested four suspects accused of unwittingly trying to sell items they stole back to the burglary victim.

KMGH-TV reports Lacinda Robinson discovered the items missing at her home on Friday and drove to the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant to report the theft. That's where she says she was approached by two people asking if she wanted to buy a video game set.

Robinson says she was startled when another person walked up wearing her jacket. She went next door to a gas station and found two off-duty police officers who made the arrests.

Robinson told police she is still missing an iPad, a flat-screen TV and some cash.

Hawaii student finds snail in school lunch

HONOLULU — Officials at a high school on Hawaii's Big Island say they're increasing the level of food inspection at its cafeteria after a student found a snail in his lunch.

The student found the snail Wednesday on a salad served at the Kealakehe High School cafeteria. Principal Wilfred Murakami said the salad ingredients were washed properly by cafeteria staff.

"We drain it, strain it in a colander and go ahead and turn it into a salad," he said. "And in this particular case, one of the snails was lodged in one of the leaves."

Murakami said the lettuce brought in by a local vendor in recent days had more snails than usual, KHON-TV reported. He added he is taking the matter very seriously.

Snails and slugs can contain parasites that can attack the nervous system, causing rat lungworm disease. Hawaii state epidemiologist Sarah Park said the illness can be debilitating, taking months or years of rehabilitation to recover.

Officials at the Kailua-Kona school said they've notified the vendor, a local farm.

Murakami also said cafeteria staff will be more diligent in inspecting and cleaning the school's produce and other food "to make sure that none of these critters or insects get into it."

PETA member wants roadside memorial for chickens

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — An animal rights advocate wants to place a roadside memorial in Georgia to remember several chickens killed in a highway wreck.

A member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed an application for the memorial Wednesday with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that, if approved, a memorial would be placed at the Hall County site where a truck hauling live chickens overturned Jan. 27.

Sarah Segal of Atlanta writes in her application that she wants to place a 10-foot tombstone memorial for one month on the right of way of U.S. 129 to mark the deaths of the chickens.

The driver of the chicken truck and the other vehicle involved were not seriously injured.

Would-be burglar apparently scared by singing fish

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Big Mouth Billy Bass apparently got the best of a would-be burglar in Minnesota.

Authorities in Rochester say the motion-activated singing fish apparently scared off an intruder who tried to break into the Hooked on Fishing bait and tackle shop.

The novelty bass had been hung near the door and would start singing "Take Me to the River" whenever someone entered the shop.

The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office says the fish was found on the floor after the intruder knocked it down while breaking the door to get in late Sunday or early Monday.

Sgt. Tom Claymon tells the Star Tribune the would-be burglar left without stealing anything, including cash that had been left in "a very visible spot."

Massachusetts college's man-in-undies sculpture causes stir

WELLESLEY, Mass. — A remarkably lifelike sculpture of a man sleepwalking in nothing but his underpants has made some Wellesley College students a bit uncomfortable, but the president of the prestigious women's school says that's all part of the intellectual process.

The sculpture entitled "Sleepwalker" of a man in an eyes-closed, zombie-like trance is part of an exhibit by sculptor Tony Matelli at the college's Davis Museum. It was placed at a busy area of campus on Monday, a few days before the official opening of the exhibit, and prompted an online student petition to have it removed.

The sculpture is a "source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault" for many, according to the petition, which had nearly 300 signees on Wednesday.

The petition started by junior Zoe Magid called on President H. Kim Bottomly to have the artwork removed.

That appeared unlikely, according to a joint statement issued Wednesday by Bottomly and museum Director Lisa Fischman.

"The very best works of art have the power to stimulate deeply personal emotions and to provoke unexpected new ideas, and this sculpture is no exception," the statement said. The sculpture "has started an impassioned conversation about art, gender, sexuality and individual experience, both on campus and on social media."

The sculpture was placed outdoors specifically to get a reaction and to connect the indoor exhibition with the world beyond, Fischman said.

"I love the idea of art escaping the museum and muddling the line between what we expect to be inside (art) and what we expect to be outside (life)," she wrote.

Reaction from the campus community was mixed.

Freshman Bridget Schreiner told The Boston Globe she was "freaked out" the first time she saw the sculpture, thinking for a moment that a real, nearly naked man was lingering on campus.

"This could be a trigger for students who have experienced sexual assault," she said.

Others were more understanding.

"I find it disturbing, but in a good way," English professor Sarah Wall-Randell said. "I think it's meant to be off-putting. It's a schlumpy guy in underpants in an all-women environment."

The exhibit opened Thursday and closes July 20.

Woman gives 3 Illinois waitresses $5,000 each

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Three waitresses at an Illinois restaurant say they could only stare in disbelief when a woman handed them each a $5,000 check.

The owner of the Boone County Family Restaurant in Caledonia, Matt Nebiu, said business was slow Feb. 1 when the customer handed checks to 25-year-old Amy Sabani, 23-year-old Sarah Seckinger and 28-year-old Amber Kariolich.

Sabani told the Rockford Register Star that she first thought her check was for $500. But on closer inspection she saw its actual value and refused to take it.

Sabani said the woman told the waitresses to use the money for school and "everything else in life."

Seckinger says a last semester to earn her associate degree in criminal justice was too expensive, but she will now return to school.

Maine police investigating screams find happy pig

CHINA, Maine — Police responding to reports of screaming coming from a home in Maine didn't find a victim of domestic violence as they feared. Instead, they found an amorous pig.

State police say a woman called last week after hearing what she believed to be a fight coming from a neighbor's home in the town of China. The caller said she heard screaming and thought there was a domestic assault.

The Morning Sentinel reports that four state troopers responded and talked to the neighbor.

The neighbor explained that she raises pigs and the screaming was coming from an overjoyed male pig that had been placed in a pen with five sows in heat.

Police say there was no assault and no disturbance "other than the screaming male pig."