April 17, 2014
Squirrel Blamed For $300K
In Damage To Building
Fort Wayne, IN (AP) Officials say a wayward squirrel caused about $300,000 in damage to an eastern Indiana community center set to open in June.
Fort Wayne Parks Department officials say the squirrel got into the electrical equipment of the building in McMillen Park last week, causing a power surge that damaged the heating and air conditioning systems and some parts of the boiler system. The squirrel didn’t survive.
Parks director Al Moll said the repairs will be covered by insurance, minus the department’s $50,000 deductible.
The Journal Gazette reports crews are working to make repairs so the center can open as planned on June 7. A nearly $2 million project is transforming the former McMillen Ice Arena into a community center with basketball courts, an indoor track and other activities.
Sometimes Bad Luck Is
All the Luck There Is
Sonora, CA (AP) Police say a man was arrested after using a stolen car to get to a court appearance in California.
James Manning was taken into custody after police say they received a call from an auto dealership in Redding on Friday reporting the vehicle was stolen. The 2001 Mitsubishi’s GPS indicated it was parked in front of the Tuolumne County courthouse. Officers found the car, which already had a different set of license plates on it.
Manning’s wife, 45-year-old Teresa Castillo, told officers her husband had bought the car earlier in the day for $200 so they could drive to his court appearance. The 49-year-old Manning and his wife were arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance. They remained jailed on Monday. It could not immediately be determined if the couple had lawyers.
Ireland’s Wedding-Singer Priest An Internet Hit
Dublin (AP) Father’s got talent.
An Irish priest has become a social-media sensation after he surprised a bride and groom by singing a custom-made cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at their wedding.
Video of the Rev. Ray Kelly’s altar-side performance has shot to the top of YouTube in Ireland with more than 240,000 viewings since it was posted Monday following the weekend nuptials of Chris and Leah O’Kane.
The parish priest in the town of Oldcastle, northwest of Dublin, started his version with the words:
“We join together here today, to help two people on their way, as Leah and Chris start their life together.”
Kelly wins laughter midway as he raises his eyebrows at the stunned couple, and offers a playful wink at the end.
German Store Embarrassed By Hitler Portrait Cups
Berlin (AP) A small German furniture store chain says it inadvertently ordered 5,000 coffee cups bearing a faint portrait of Adolf Hitler from China.
Christian Zurbrueggen, co-owner of the Zurbrueggen chain, told German news agency dpa on Thursday that 175 of the offending cups were sold before customers reported the problem.
Zurbrueggen said he wants to take the cups ``out of circulation.’’
The 4,825 unsold cups have been destroyed and Zurbrueggen says he’s offering a 20-euro ($28) voucher for the return of the others, which were sold for 1.99 euros each.
The cups have a faint feature of a Nazi-era stamp bearing Hitler’s portrait and a postmark with a swastika in the background overlaid with another layer of decoration. They were ordered from a trade fair in China and delivered last month.
Commuter’s Video Shows Rat Terrifying NYC Subway
New York (AP) Turns out, New Yorkers are just as wimpy as anyone else.
A subway train was leaving the Fulton Street station in lower Manhattan on Monday when someone shouted, “Rat on the train!”
Jinais Ponnampadikkal Kader (jih-NYE’-ees poh-nahm-PAH’-dihk-kahl KAH’-dur) started recording the ensuing panic on his cellphone.
His video shows people screaming as a large rat runs from side to side.
It ends when the train reaches the High Street station in Brooklyn.
The 28-year-old Kader is a software developer who lives in Harrison, N.J.
More than 700,000 people had clicked on the YouTube video by Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Rules Flashing Headlights To Warn Others Is Free Speech
Grants Pass, OR (AP) Hauling a truckload of logs to a Southern Oregon mill last fall, Chris Hill noticed a sheriff’s deputy behind him and flashed his lights to warn a UPS driver coming the other way.
The deputy pulled over Hill on U.S. Highway 140 in White City and handed him a $260 ticket for improperly using his headlights, saying another deputy had seen the flashing lights from behind the UPS truck and alerted him to stop the log truck because of the signaling.
Outraged, Hill decided to fight the ticket, and on Wednesday, a Jackson County Justice Court judge dismissed the citation, finding that motorists flashing their headlights amounts to speech protected by the Oregon Constitution.
Judge Joseph Carter determined the law covering the use of high beams was valid, but was unconstitutional as it was applied by the deputy.
``The citation was clearly given to punish the Defendant for that expression,’’ the judge wrote. ``The government certainly can and should enforce the traffic laws for the safety of all drivers on the road. However, the government cannot enforce the traffic laws, or any other laws, to punish drivers for their expressive conduct.’’
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office did not return a telephone call for comment.
Hill, 38, of Klamath Falls, has been driving truck for 10 years, and was not interested in seeing his insurance rates go up for getting a ticket. He initially told the deputy that the UPS driver was his neighbor, and he was just saying hello.
``My point to the cop was his partner didn’t know why I was flashing my lights,’’ Hill said. ``He couldn’t tell for sure what I was doing.’’
By the time his case went to court last month, Hill had researched the law and found nothing that expressly prohibited the use of headlights to signal other drivers. He also recalled a TV news story about a federal judge in the Midwest barring police from handing out tickets to drivers who flashed their lights to warn others of a speed trap ahead.
``I thought, `Well, I’ll throw that in there, too,’’’ he said.
Acting as his own attorney in a hearing conducted by telephone, Hill said he acknowledged the UPS driver wasn’t his neighbor, and he raised the free speech argument.
``What I did wasn’t illegal, whether it’s freedom of speech or not,’’ he told The Associated Press.
Dave Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, noted the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned a traffic law prohibiting horn honking for non-traffic purposes on similar grounds in the 1990s after a number of people got tickets for honking in support of U.S. troops during the first Gulf War.
``If the motive of the sheriff’s deputies was in fact not to make the roads safer, but to raise more revenue from traffic enforcement, that would be even more reason why it should be unconstitutional,’’ Fidanque said. ``If this is part of a pattern, then it probably would be worth us looking into it in more detail.’’