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February 7, 2013

Snoozing Judge Sent Home For Nap

Moscow (AP) A Russian judge has been fired after he caught 40 winks in court and then sentenced an outraged defendant to five years in prison.

Judge Yevgeny Makhno of Blagoveshchensk City Court in Russia’s Far East was forced to resign Friday for obviously falling asleep several times while trying a businessman on charges of fraud.

The case became a national scandal after the defendant’s lawyer posted several videos online of Makhno asleep in court. The videos were then shown on state television.

Makhno claimed that he was not sleeping, but listening with his eyes closed, the reports said.

But since a higher court decided not to punish him, Makhno only has to take an exam to be reinstated.

The defendant, however, will be given a new trial.

California Utility Pole Gnomes Become Community Mascots

Oakland, CA (AP) Small paintings of gnomes that have popped up on utility poles have become a community sensation in Oakland, prompting Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to say Tuesday that it will keep them in place for now.

The hand-painted portraits on 6-inch blocks of wood began going up last year in an apparent effort to brighten up the blue-collar California city. There are currently more than 2,000 of the images on utility poles, with many screwed to the bases.

The gnomes have red hats, white beards and brown shoes. Some of the images contain a mushroom.

Word that PG&E planned to remove the paintings sparked an outpouring of support from residents who said the gnomes add character to the city.

PG&E spokesman Jason King planned to meet Tuesday with the artist, who requested to remain anonymous, and a member of the City Council. The utility hopes to eventually relocate the gnome paintings from the poles to other spots in the same neighborhoods.

“We’ve received a lot of feedback from residents who love the gnomes,” King told The Associated Press. “We’re looking for solutions. We’ll keep them where people can enjoy them.”

King said PG&E did not want to encourage such installations, explaining a proliferation of such images could cause damage or make it difficult for crews to access the poles.

Sperm Whale Secretion May Spell Fortune For UK Man

London (AP) One very smelly sperm whale secretion may soon make one lucky British beachcomber a very happy man.

Ken Wilman told British broadcasters that he had been walking along Morecambe beach in northern England when his dog, Madge, discovered a hard, soccer ball-sized piece of smelly rock. “She wouldn’t leave it alone. I picked it up and it smelt horrible so I knocked it with my walking stick and a small lump came off,” he told Sky News television in comments broadcast Thursday. “I put both pieces back on the beach but something in the back of my mind told me it might be something unusual.”

One Google search later and Wilman realized that Madge had found ambergris, a waxy byproduct of sperm whale digestion that has traditionally been used in perfumes, spices, and medicines‚ and can fetch large sums of money. He said he immediately drove back to the beach to find the ambergris. He said he has been offered ‚Ǩ50,000 ($68,000) for the musky material. Wilman, 50, had a slightly different take on his find, telling BBC television that people should trust their dogs. “If your dog pays an interest in something, YOU pay an interest in something,” he said. “Because you never know. There’s gold out there on that beach‚ floating gold.”

Girl Gets To Go Back To Class After Bubble Gun Suspension

Mount Carmel, PA (AP) A 5-year-old kindergartner is headed back to class in central Pennsylvania after being suspended for comments she made to another girl about a pink toy gun that blows soapy bubbles.

Officials say the girl, whose name has not been released, told one of her classmates in the Mount Carmel Area School District she was going to shoot her with a Hello Kitty pink bubble gun machine earlier this month. She was later suspended 10 days, but the discipline was reduced to two.

The Patriot-News reports Robin Ficker, an attorney representing the family, says the girl will return to class at Mount Carmel Elementary School on Thursday.

Ficker has said the girl didn’t even have the bubble gun with her and has never fired a real gun.

Sheep Known For Butting Vehicles At Park Dies

Lander, WY (AP) A bighorn sheep named Bam Bam because of his habit of butting vehicles at a Wyoming park has died with his horns, likely of natural causes.

He was the last survivor of the bighorn sheep herd in Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander. Bam Bam became a local celebrity of sorts when he began showing up near the park’s main road in 2007 and allowed people to pet him. He earned the name Bam Bam because he liked to butt vehicles.

Fearing for the sheep’s and visitors’ safety, park managers moved Bam Bam to an enclosed state facility near Wheatland in 2009.

Sinks Canyon Superintendent Darrel Trembly says Bam Bam will be mounted by a taxidermist and put on display in the park’s visitor center.

Episode Number 6,279: Potheads Call Cops Again!

Lincoln, NE (AP) Authorities say they discovered a budding marijuana-growing operation after residents of a Lincoln house called police to report the theft of marijuana pipes.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that officers were called to the house Saturday morning. Residents had reported that two people, one of them armed with a handgun, forced their way inside the house and took two hookah pipes.

Officers questioning the residents noticed marijuana, paraphernalia and several bottles of fertilizer. They also saw light shining from under a door barred with a padlock and a power cord snaking into the room.

After getting a search warrant, police say they found three marijuana plants, grow lights and other equipment.

Police arrested a 19-year-old man on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana and ticketed his roommates for having marijuana paraphernalia.

Four Arrested For Defying San Francisco’s Nudity Ban

San Francisco (AP) Four protesters were arrested entirely in the buff as they took to the steps of San Francisco City Hall in a brazen challenge of the city’s ban on public nudity on Friday, the first day it went into effect.

One woman and three men‚ one wearing just a mesh thong‚ were taken into custody as about a dozen other protesters in various states of undress paraded around with painted slogans on their bodies, holding up signs with messages such as “The Human Body is Beautiful.”

Police gave them a 15-minute warning to disperse or put pants on before officers arrested those who failed to cover themselves.

The protesters said their arrest would advance the cause of “body freedom.”

“No matter what, we’re going to continue practicing body freedom,” said Gypsy Taub, a mother of two who hosts a local cable program devoted to the nudist cause. “In a society that’s repressed and crazy, that glorifies war and at the same time criminalizes the human body ... nudity is a political statement.”

In December, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance, which prohibits exposed genitals in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transit.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that nudity was not protected free speech and upheld San Francisco’s ban on most displays of public nudity.


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