Monday, July 28, 2014

Grace and agility

Lillian the Bearded Dragon likes to ride shotgun

YouTube link.

Little Gerald is The Square Root Boy

Chelsea Mae S. Luzanta from Antipolo in the Philippines is a student at the University of Santo Tomas. Recently she met young Gerald, who lives on the streets of Dapitan.

For reasons that will become obvious she has nicknamed him Boy Square Root.

YouTube link. Original Facebook video.

Parents who locked five-year-old son in boot of car to cure his fear of the dark given probation

A western Pennsylvania couple, accused of luring their five-year-old son into the trunk of their car with candy to resolve his fear of the dark, were granted probation this week.

Jeffrey and Danielle Lenhart were charged with felony child endangerment and reckless endangerment for locking their son in the car during three trips to the Idlewild amusement park in Lingonier, Pennsylvania, in July 2013. They gave him a flashlight and told him to look for sweets before locking the trunk at the park, about 9.5-miles (15 km) from their home in Latrobe, court officials said.

They were accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition programme on Thursday in a deal approved by Westmoreland County Judge Richard McCormick Jr., according to Danielle Lenhart's lawyer, Deborah Jackson. "She recognizes the serious nature of what has happened and I don't think we will see her in court again," Jackson said of her client. The incidents came to light when one of the couple's children was interviewed by child welfare officials for undisclosed reasons.

The boy and another sibling, who is 4, have been staying with relatives following the charges, but will be returned to the home, court officials said. A younger sibling, 1, has already been reunited with the parents. Upon completion of two years probation, charges against the Lenharts will be dismissed and records expunged, Jackson said. A previous judge in the case did not want to allow the Lenharts to enter the rehabilitative program, but Jackson said she was pleased with McCormick's decision.

There's a news video from an earlier court hearing here. In this report the child is wrongly identified as being aged three.

Man accused of bar hopping on lawnmower charged with drunk driving

A Northern Colorado man has been arrested on suspicion on DUI while was driving a lawnmower. Police said Kenneth Welton was driving drunk from bar to bar along a very busy road in Garden City on a riding lawnmower.

“He couldn’t stand on his own. He was showing signs of impairment,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Standridge. Welton’s driver’s licence had been revoked when he was arrested.

From jail, Welton, 53, said he was not using the lawnmower to get around, but instead to take care of overgrown weeds. “It was just surprising, it was just a total shock. What are you kidding me?

YouTube link.

“I haven’t been, I’ve been working, I have been mowing, I haven’t been bar hopping,” said Welton. Standridge said deputies arrested Welton on Tuesday night after getting 911 calls from concerned drivers. “He’s lucky he didn’t hurt somebody or get himself hurt from somebody hitting him,” added Standridge.

Police investigate hugging incident at hospital

Police are investigating a non-aggravated assault that involved a recently discharged patient hugging a staff member unprovoked on Friday morning outside the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

An employee told police that a man approached her at around 10:18am near the loading dock, grabbed her coffee and hugged her.

The man left when another staff member "interrupted the confrontation," according to the U-M police log. Responding police officers were unable to find the man, but he was identified as a recently discharged patient.

The suspect was described as a white male, very dark tan, 40s, 6 feet tall, shoulder-length greasy dark brown hair, wearing blue jeans, a white shirt with “Staff” written on the back, red hospital socks and no shoes.

Cat with head stuck in bird feeder continues to elude residents desperately trying to free it

Residents of a neighbourhood in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, are worried about the well-being of a ginger-and-white feline nicknamed Butterscotch that has been spotted numerous times with a small bird feeder stuck on its head. Witnesses say the cat can see out of one eye and runs away when approached. They say there’s no way it can eat or drink, and are worried about how long it can survive. “He was meowing a little bit as if he wanted somebody to help him, but he’s a stray and he’s obviously afraid of people, so I wasn’t able to get near him,” said Colleen Gareau, who first spotted the distressed cat on Wednesday morning.

Staff with the city’s pound have tried to catch Butterscotch. So have volunteers from a local animal group, who have been baiting traps with tuna, sardines and cat food. The traps are ones used for larger animals because the cat wouldn’t fit into a regular cat trap because of the feeder. So far, Butterscotch has given everyone the slip. “It spooks whenever it hears anything because it doesn’t know what’s really approaching, so any noise, the cat runs,” said Toni Gramiak of the Brandon and Area Lost Animals group. “We’re surprised it’s not running into things, but somehow it’s figured out how to get around.”

Witnesses say the cat can even jump onto fences with the feeder on its head. Gareau said the cat had been a regular visitor to her yard for some time and gets along well with her own cat, Emmie, which she lets out into her yard on a leash. “He probably just put his head in — I don’t think he was interested in food - but snooping around and it just got caught on his neck. And he was shaking his head. He just cannot get it off.”

Gareau assumed the cat belonged to someone in her neighbourhood. But despite all the attention the fettered feline has generated in Brandon, no one has stepped forward to claim the animal. Gramiak said when the cat is captured, it will be checked for an ear tattoo or microchip identification. As it is right now, it’s hard to identify the animal when no one can properly see its face. Gramiak has even been putting tuna juice on trees to try to lure Butterscotch back to Gareau’s yard. The last time Gareau saw the cat free of the feeder was a week ago. “At the very most, the cat has not had food or water for about a week,” Gramiak said.

Spanish city cracks down on noisy domino players

Authorities in the southern Spanish city of Seville have taken the unusual decision to ban dominoes and dice games in outdoor cafe areas, as part of a wider plan to crack down on noise in the city.

The new measures will also look to clamp down on unnecessary car engine revving and loud TVs in restaurant terraces. Rolling beer barrels in the street or eating and driking while standing up next to café terraces has also been banned.

Neighbourhood associations have suggested most of the new regulations, 40 percent of which were ultimately voted in by the City Council. Opposition groups see the bizarre new measures as regressive and doubt the police will manage to control their implementation.

‏Spain is the noisiest country in Europe according to the World Health Organization.‏ Most Spaniards have to put up with noise levels of at least 70 decibels while the WHO recommends limits of 55db during the day and 45db at night.

New £6.5 million railway station delayed by newts

Newts have set back the start of building work on a new railway station in Derbyshire by four months. Work was due to start on Ilkeston station in June but the discovery of the great-crested newts means work cannot start until October. The £6.5m station will now open in spring 2015, rather than December, as was originally planned, the county council said.

Councillor Andy Botham said he was 'disappointed'. "Building a station is a complex civil engineering project and we've needed to work with many organisations. We've had a number of set-backs which were beyond our control and couldn't be foreseen," said Mr Botham.

"We know that this will be frustrating for local people, as it is for us, but we are doing all we can to get the station built as quickly as possible," he said. The newts - a species protected by law - were found during a routine ecological site survey, the council said, and an application to Natural England for a licence to work on the site has been submitted.

The licence sets out what work can be carried out while the amphibians are trapped and relocated. Mr Botham said that, once work starts it is likely to take place six days a week, with some work taking place overnight, in a bid to speed up progress. Ilkeston is thought to be the largest town on the rail network without a station.

Missing one-eyed snake could be hiding in coat sleeve

A one-eyed snake called Popeye is missing, presumed hiding, in Torpoint, Cornwall. Popeye is a three-foot-long python, but at just three-years-old it is still considered a "baby" by her 22-year-old owner, Charly Honey. Charly said: “I’ve looked everywhere for her. I’ve got a puppy and my boyfriend has a two-year-old step-daughter who comes around occasionally and we’ve looked everywhere.

“They turn up in the strangest of places, like the arm of a coat. But I can’t find her anywhere.” Charly said she fed Popeye – named because of her one eye – on Tuesday but when she returned she found the snake had lost her appetite and had not eaten her mouse meal. Returning again a little later to check on Popeye, Charly found the snake tank empty.

She said: “We’ve had the doors open because of the heat and the puppy. The neighbours are not happy, and that’s understandable, but she’s of no risk to anyone. She’s only small, she’s still a baby really. When she’s fully grown she’ll be around six foot long. We are starting to panic a bit. She’s been handled from birth and she’s a very good python.

“In the winter they go for heat, but it’s so warm she could have gone anywhere. I put another mouse in her tank in the hope that she would come back, but she didn’t. It’s the longest she’s gone missing. She won’t cause any harm, but if she’s found I’d ask people not to touch her. Or if they’re brave they can put her into a pillow case.” A spokesman for the RSPCA added: “We would advise anyone who finds a stray captive snake to contact our Cruelty and Advice line.”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Are we nearly there yet?

Goat stuck in a hole gets a little help from friend

YouTube link. Eventual rescue.

Police seek store thief who wore clear plastic bag on his head as a disguise

Police in Belleville, Illinois, are asking the public to help them catch a man who robbed a convenience store on Friday morning.

The man, wearing a clear plastic bag on his head and blue plastic wrapped around his right hand took an undisclosed amount of money.

He pointed his covered hand at the clerk in Circle-K and demanded money. It's not clear whether he had a weapon.

Anyone with information is asked to call Belleville Police.

Man who smashed window to break into shop had trouble breaking out

A man who broke into a shop in Canada ran head first into a glass door on his way out.

The incident took place in the early hours of Thursday morning at Al Points Electric store in Brandon, Manitoba. The culprit smashed his way in to the business just before 3am using a metal hoop from a barrel to stave in a glass door.

But he was left briefly stunned when he tried to flee — through a still-solid pane of glass that completely resisted his head-butting.

YouTube link. Original Facebook video.

The shop's security cameras captured the break-in on tape, and owner Darren Wright says anyone who recognizes the crook should call police. Although nothing was taken, three truck windows and two garage windows were also smashed, along with the door.

Man stole 30,000 bottles of iced tea and emptied them all down drain to claim £11 for recycling

A Chinese man is facing jail after he stole 30,000 bottles of iced tea worth the equivalent of £20,000 - and emptied all of them down the drain so he could claim £11 for recycling the plastic bottles. Police were alerted to the fact that the iced tea stored in a warehouse in the city of Wenzhou in China's Zhejiang Province had been stolen when Liang Feng, 38, who owns a drinks wholesale firm arrived to collect a palette of iced tea that he wanted to take to a customer.

Realising that the entire warehouse had been emptied, he called police, who were initially baffled at finding no trace of the stolen drinks on the local black market. But scene of the crime officers noticed a very strong and sweet smell outside the door of the warehouse, and on closer investigation found several bottle tops. Police spokesman Lin Jianxue said: "After making further enquiries we discovered that a large number of iced tea bottles had been recycled with a local collector – and from there they were able to track down the man that it sold them.

"The collector remembered because usually the bottles are mixed when they come from private people, and these were all of the same type and not dirty as if they had never been in the bin." When they arrested Zhang Hao, 43, he confirmed that he had discovered the warehouse was unlocked when looking in the area for recyclable bottles. He had then called three friends, and together they had spent 12 hours unscrewing the bottles, and tipping the iced tea down a drain outside the warehouse.

They had then called a local plastic bottle collection firm to take the bottles away, for which they were paid the equivalent of £11. The firm that collected the bottles then sold them on for £90 to a recycling plant. Police said no action would be taken against the recycling firms or the man's three friends who had no idea that what they were doing was illegal. Zhang on the other hand faces up to 10 years in jail for the theft.

Gas leak ruled out as the cause of manhole explosion in Dublin

A natural gas leak has been ruled as the cause of a manhole explosion in Dublin city centre on Friday morning. No one was hurt in the explosion, which occurred at the corner of Merrion and Baggot Streets, near Government buildings.

John Morrin, who was working at nearby café Lolly and Cooks, said before the explosion the manhole cover emitted thick green smoke that was “toxic-smelling”. The café windows had to be closed because of the fumes. He said the smoke thickened and turned black before the manhole cover flew off.

Crews from the ESB, Bord Gais, Eircom and Dublin Fire Brigade worked all day to determine the cause of the blast. A section of road was closed to facilitate the investigation. A spokeswoman for Bord Gais Networks confirmed the incident was not gas related.

Contains NSFW language.

YouTube link.

She said: “Our crew is no longer present at the incident site. However, a fitter remains at the location assisting the ESB with their ongoing work.” Dublin Fire Brigade district officer David Kavanagh said the explosion was not believed to be heat related.

Mouldy rolls ruined family barbecue

A barbecue host ended up in tears after unwittingly serving up burgers and hot dogs in bread rolls affected by mildew. Claire Clarke was so devastated by the discovery that she went straight back to the store where she bought the rolls to complain. But she says she was far from happy with the response from the store in question.

Miss Clarke, of Mayhill, Swansea, bought just over £50-worth of items from Iceland in Cwmdu, on Wednesday morning, including two packets of eight fresh rolls. "I bought them for a barbecue that afternoon," she said. "There were about 30 people there, family and friends, including children. I opened the buns for burgers and hot dogs and put them out. Then a little boy gave one of the rolls to his mother to hold and she noticed it has mildew.

"I immediately gathered all the burgers that were left over. They were mildewed. But there were only six or seven left as the others had been eaten. I had had one and I felt physically sick. I broke down in tears. People had come along to my barbecue and I had served up rolls with mildew on them." Miss Clarke said she was so upset that she got a cousin to drive her to the Cwmdu store. "I had no apology and they offered me a refund," she said. "I wasn't happy and took the bread home."

An Iceland spokeswoman said: "When Claire Clarke called the Cwmdu store to let us know about the bread rolls, we apologised and let her know we would refund her if she returned them to the store. When Claire arrived, we again apologised, offered her a refund and a £5 goodwill gesture for her inconvenience. Claire refused this, instead opting to take the bread rolls home with her and pursue the matter via the press."

Man cleared of trying to film female workmates on toilet due to his phobia of diarrhoea and vomit

A man who hid his phone in a toilet with the intention of filming his colleagues has been cleared of three charges of voyeurism – after magistrates accepted he has an extreme phobia of diarrhoea and vomit. A psychologist was called in to explain how Thomas Clark's actions were not as perverse as was being claimed by prosecutors. The 28-year-old, from Tilgate, West Sussex, told a court he was petrified someone using the unisex toilet at his workplace before him might have suffered a bout of diarrhoea or been sick. Between November 1, 2012, and June 5, 2013, Mr Clark's phone was found on three occasions hidden in the toilet, by women he worked with at an office in Southgate. On one occasion it was found in a bin, on another in a newspaper and on the third occasion in an Argos catalogue.

However, Mr Clark denied he was trying to film female colleagues for a sexual thrill. Horsham Magistrates' Court heard his phobia of vomit and diarrhoea was so severe that he becomes paranoid if he thinks anyone around him is ill and he could catch a bug from them. Giving evidence, Mr Clark, who previously worked in the porn industry and applied to be a male escort, said: "I try and keep the phobia to myself. It got to such a severe stage where I felt completely trapped, with panic attacks, and could only get reassurance by putting my phone in the toilet. I have to have that true confirmation of whether there is someone sick around me. It is a life or death situation for me. It causes me to listen out in case someone says they are not well, if anyone is looking discoloured or pale or saying they are not hungry."

Mr Clark added that he didn't want his colleagues to know what he was going through. He continued: "I thought it could jeopardise my job because I have lost previous jobs because of it. I have a little boy to look after. My intention was to see if anybody was having bouts of illness, vomiting or diarrhoea. It was a spur of the moment thing. I, regrettably, wasn't thinking normally and didn't think at the time it could be viewed as an invasion of privacy. I know it wasn't acceptable. I don't perceive myself as a deviant and it is upsetting." The court heard Mr Clark's phobia started at the age of eight. "I was violently sick," he said. "It was all over me. The power was gone in the house and I was left in complete darkness with vomit covering me." On each of the three occasions that Mr Clark's phone was found the women saw it before they went to the toilet.

Giving evidence, Mr Clark admitted he lied to both his manager at work and the police over the reason why his phone was hidden. He had initially claimed it was put there because he was worried his job was at risk for taking too many cigarette breaks. Mr Clark explained at the time that he wanted to see if people were talking negatively about him. Psychologist Roy Shuttleworth was called as an expert witness by the defence to explain Mr Clark's condition. Mr Shuttleworth explained that he had met Mr Clark and looked at his medical history, which showed he had sought help for the condition. He said: "It is understandable why he would not want to share his phobia with other people. It is something he has been ashamed of and doesn't want to admit it." Magistrates cleared Mr Clark, with chairman of the bench Alan Jones adding that they could not find evidence the acts were carried out for sexual gratification.

Cat given ‘animal ASBO’ after allegedly terrorising entire neighbourhood

A cat called Rocky has been handed an ‘animal ASBO’ after allegedly terrorising an entire South Yorkshire neighbourhood. Rocky is alleged to have bitten people, damaged property, intimidated other residents by entering their homes and refusing to leave – and injured other neighbourhood cats in scuffles. His owner Samantha Davies, 35, received a letter from Rotherham Council with the heading “Anti-Social Behaviour Complaint” stating they had received “several complaints” about the four-year-old cat causing “alarm distress and annoyance” to other neighbours. As a result, she was told that her pet must not leave her house in Rotherham – and if he dies she will be made to pay for any damage he causes.

Photo from SWNS.

The letter read: “I am in receipt of several complaints regarding your cat Rocky causing alarm, distress and annoyance to other residents in the area of your property. Although I appreciate that cats do roam, I would prefer if you could take steps to keep your cat Rocky from leaving the perimeter of your garden in the future. Should further complaints be received about damage done to neighbours’ property by your pet you will be charged for the repairs.” Ms Davies said: “It’s just like an animal ASBO, and it is completely ridiculous. How can a cat behave antisocially? It’s an animal, it’s a pet – he’s not going to bite your leg off, drink alcohol in the street or try and rob your phone.” When Samantha phoned Rotherham Council to ask about the specific complaints she was told that Rocky had allegedly bitten two people, scratched an outside fence, and had intimidated residents by entering their homes and refusing to leave. “Even if Rocky did do these things, it’s hardly what you’d deem to be anti-social behaviour,” said Samantha.

Photo from SWNS.

“But where’s the proof? I haven’t seen a shred of proof that any of this even happened. I think the council needs to concentrate on doing their job properly instead of following up rubbish like this. The council told me to lock him indoors, but in this weather I think that’s extremely cruel. He’s a cat and wants to be outside.” Samantha added: “I’ve heard of people being told to keep their dog under control, but never a cat. It’s ridiculous.” Council officials said they had received one formal complaint and two verbal complaints from residents on The Lanes estate over the behaviour of Rocky. But despite this, no neighbours would admit to making a complaint. Paul Walsh, Housing and Communities Service Manager for Rotherham Borough Council, denied the authority was being heavy-handed saying that it had a “duty of care” to neighbouring tenants, who have made one formal complaint and numerous verbal complaints about Rocky.

YouTube link.

He added: “We do appreciate it is very difficult to control a cat once they are let out but Rocky has been causing problems around the area for quite a while now and is actually terrifying some local residents who are very vulnerable. Last year he allegedly bit two people and his bad behaviour has continued because he causes both internal and external damage when he visits neighbouring properties. He certainly does not like being challenged and lives up to his boxing namesake. We have asked his owner to take reasonable steps to try and cut down his wandering and have advised the neighbours to use a variety of cat deterrents, which certainly includes not feeding him. The warning letter is very much a last resort and if the owner takes reasonable steps to control him and we get no further reports from neighbouring residents then obviously this will go no further. As part of their tenancy agreements all pet-owning council tenants must keep any animal at their property under proper control so that they do not cause a danger, nuisance or annoyance to their neighbours or anyone visiting the property or the locality. This often refers to dogs but cats can also cause problems, as this case has illustrated.”

Optimistic voyager and his dog rescued from leaking boat with no mast

A man who was trying to sail from Devon to Scotland without a mast, charts or radio has been winched to safety after the boat's motor failed. Just before midnight on Thursday, the Swansea Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre was contacted by the police who had received a call from a mariner, accompanied only by his dog, whose 17ft sailing boat had become stranded in the Bristol Channel, just south of Lundy Island, after the outboard motor failed.

Upon further investigation it was discovered that the vessel was one of the least seaworthy that Swansea Coastguards had encountered for some time: its hull was leaking, the mast was missing, with an old windsurfing rig serving as a poor substitute; the boat had no lights, no VHF radio – the sailor contacted the emergency services on a mobile phone – and his GPS device wasn’t working, so he was unable to give his position. The optimistic voyager, who had also neglected to carry any charts, informed Coastguards that he was en route to the Hebrides, having set out from Instow, North Devon.

Coastguards had to use onshore telecommunications beacons to estimate his position to within 30km. This enabled them to task the search and rescue helicopter from Chivenor who spent two hours searching for a boat in the dark with no lights on, and just after 4am on Friday the sailor and his canine companion were winched from the boat. RNLI’s Appledore lifeboat was tasked to recover the vessel from a position 2.5 miles SSW of Lundy so that it was no longer a danger to shipping in the busy Bristol Channel. The volunteer lifeboat crew returned to station at 9.15am, ready for a full day’s work.

Bernie Kemble, Swansea Coastguard Watch Officer, said: “So many things were wrong with this gentleman’s boat and lack of preparation that the situation was almost comical. He had taken to sea in what was effectively a leaky fibreglass hull, without even the most basic communications and safety equipment. Thankfully, weather conditions were calm, he was avoided by other vessels in the area and he was able to use the only piece of communications equipment he had to hand – his mobile phone – to raise the alarm. However, the situation could have been far more serious and he and his dog were lucky that they were rescued promptly.” The sailor and his dog were both reported to be unharmed by their ordeal.