Archive for the ‘Odd News’ Category

79 Years Ago Today

February 14, 2008

On the morning of February 14th 1929 — while Al Capone was vacationing in Florida — five members of George ‘Bugs’ Moran’s gang, a gang “follower”, and a mechanic who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time were lined up against the rear inside wall of the garage of the SMC Cartage Company in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago’s North Side. Then, four members of Capone’s gang — two of which were even dressed as police officers — shot and killed the six men lined up against the wall. One of the victims, Frank Gusenberg, was questioned about who had shot him before succumbing to his mortal wounds, His reply, “I’m not gonna talk — nobody shot me.”

That event in history became to be known as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Hugs and kisses to everyone.

Everything Is Bigger In Texas — Even The UFOs

January 15, 2008

Why, oh why, can’t the extra-terrestrials that visit our little mud-ball drop in over Times Square or the Super Bowl in two weeks? No one loves a good UFO story more than I do, but this really sounds anything but. You’d think that a couple dozen eyewitnesses would add a little credibility, but the report seems to be lacking just that.

Dozens in Texas town report seeing UFO

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (Associated Press) – In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

“People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it’s the end of times,” said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. “It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.”

While federal officials insist there’s a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said the object’s lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar descriptions of the object.

Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

“You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal,” Sorrells said. “It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I’m not crazy.”

Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle’s telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.

Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting.

Lewis said the object may have been an illusion caused by two commercial airplanes. Lights from the aircraft would seem unusually bright and may appear orange from the setting sun.

“I’m 90 percent sure this was an airliner,” Lewis said. “With the sun’s angle, it can play tricks on you.”

Officials at the region’s two Air Force bases — Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.

One man has offered a reward for a photograph or videotape of the mysterious object.

About 200 UFO sightings are reported each month, mostly in California, Colorado and Texas, according to the Mutual UFO Network, which plans to go to the 17,000-resident town of Stephenville to investigate.

Fourteen percent of Americans polled last year by The Associated Press and Ipsos say they have seen a UFO.

Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but that even with binoculars could not see the object to which the lights were attached.

“I didn’t see a flying saucer and I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t an airplane, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gaitan said. “I think it must be some kind of military craft — at least I hope it was.”

Rat Island

October 5, 2007

While the subject may not be directly related to the current project that I’m working on — Pirat Tales: The Legend Of The Cat ‘O Nine Tails — this particular news item did catch my attention.

Biologists aim to wipe out “Rat Island”

(Reuters) — Two centuries after rats first landed on a remote Aleutian island from a shipwreck, wildlife managers in Alaska are plotting how to evict the non-native rodent from the island that bears their name.

Rat Island, like many other treeless, volcanic islands in the 1,000-mile (1,609-km) long Aleutian chain, is infested with rats that have proved devastating to wild birds that build nests in the earth or in rocky cliffs.

“They pretty much made the island worthless for a lot of wildlife,” said Art Sowls, a biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which sprawls across the Aleutians and other Alaska islands.

Rodents have reigned at Rat Island at the western end of the Aleutians since the 1780 shipwreck of a Japanese sailing ship, wreaking havoc on millions of seabirds with no natural defenses against land predators.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Maritime refuge, is drawing up plans to wipe out Rat Island’s rats. A formal proposal is expected in about a month, according to Sowls.

The agency is trying to find an effective way to wipe out rat populations without harming other wildlife. Rat Island is a good starting point, according to biologists, for a removal program because it is small without much other wildlife.

Rats are a problem shared by remote islands all around the world. Biologists said successful rat removal programs have taken place in more than 250 islands including Campbell Island south of New Zealand and Langara Island in British Columbia.

“A lot of people go, ‘Oh they’re just rats, what’s the big deal?’,” said Ron Clarke, assistant wildlife conservation director at the Department of Fish and Game.

Once informed about the environmental destruction wrought by rats, citizens are generally determined to avoid them. Rats are blamed for causing about half the extinctions of various species worldwide since the 1600s and are persistent nuisances once established, said Clarke.

“They’re very good swimmers. They’ll eat anything. They’re just very good at surviving,” Clarke said.

Upon further reading I learned that the only parts of the birds that the rats eat are the eyeballs and the brains. I think I’ll leave that element out of my stories.

Bye Polar

September 8, 2007

polar-bear.jpg For some reason, as far back as when I first started blogging (and stopped blogging, and started blogging again, and stopped blogging again, and started yet again, etc…) I’ve posted about bear news for some reason. Not sure why, but I have. Usually it’s about some moron tempting fate by wandering into a bear enclosure at a zoo. Unfortunately, this bit of bear news doesn’t forecast too keen of a future for the king of the Arctic.

Most polar bears could be gone by 2050

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Two-thirds of the world’s current polar bear population could be gone by mid-century if predictions of melting sea ice hold true, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on Friday.

The fate of polar bears might be even more imperiled than that estimate, because sea ice in the Arctic might be vanishing faster than the available computer models predict, the geological survey said in a report aimed at determining whether the arctic bear should be classified as a threatened species.

“Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately two-thirds of the world’s current polar bear population by the mid 21st century,” the report’s executive summary said.

“Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative.”

In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, noting polar bears depended on sea ice as a platform to hunt seals. Projected sea ice loss due to global climate change was believed to jeopardize the bears’ range.

Spontaneous Marriage Retardant

August 24, 2006

I love Las Vegas as much as the next guy — if not more. I mean I love Vegas — gambling, cocktails, dining, strip clubs… What’s not to love? Sure, a weekend of innocent debauchery in “Sin City” can lead to some fuzzy decision making — I know I shouldn’t have plunked another C-note on the blackjack table at four in the a.m. after enough beer drinking to make me a charter member in just about any frat. But the reality of Vegas is that not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

While the town might unencumber me of my extra greenbacks and brain cell, it’s good to know that they’ve got my back in one area and help me from making at least one hasty decision in the heat of the moment…

Vegas closing 24-hour marriage office

(Associated Press) Spontaneous lovebirds and celebrities take note: there won’t be any more early morning quickie marriages in Vegas. After years of sanctioning hastily made matches, the Las Vegas marriage bureau plans to close its all-night counter. County officials approved a new 8 a.m.-to-midnight schedule that will take effect next Wednesday, eliminating 24-hour marriage license service on Fridays, Saturday and holidays.

The counter did not offer after-midnight service Monday through Thursday.

Officials said the move would affect less than 4 percent of the licenses issued by the bureau and save $200,000 a year.

But the cost-cutting move could jeopardize Las Vegas’ self-proclaimed standing as the marriage capital of the world, although it could also save the rich and spontaneous from some high-profile grief.

Britney Spears, Nicky Hilton and Demi Moore and Bruce Willis all wed in the late-night hours in Las Vegas.

All three unions ended in divorce, with Spears’ January 2004 nuptial to childhood pal Jason Alexander being annulled just 55 hours later. Moore’s marriage to Willis, however, lasted 13 years.

Charlotte Richards, whose 24-hour Little White Wedding Chapel married Spears, said she was saddened by the change.

“Let’s face it, man, this is Las Vegas. This is the marriage capital of the world,” she said. “People just automatically think, `Let’s go to Las Vegas! They’re open all night!'”

Richards said she marries 10 to 20 couples after midnight on a typical weekend. She provides a stretch limo to shuttle the betrothed back and forth to the courthouse to obtain a license for the ceremony. She said pre-dawn weddings are popular among members of the military, lovers driving in from Southern California and celebrities.

“All the stars come out at night,” Richards said. “People that are high profile, when they come down to Las Vegas to get married, they don’t want to come in the middle of the day when people are around. They like the privacy.”

County officials, who issued 122,259 licenses last year, said the new schedule won’t prevent holy matrimony after midnight, but will just force a little planning to obtain a license in advance.

“They just can’t run down to the bureau at 3:05 and be married by 3:10. They have to give just a little thought to the process,” said County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre.

So sure, honey. Let’s go to Vegas.

Perhaps It Was All On A Soundstage Afterall…

August 15, 2006

This ought to provide some fuel for the conspiracy theorists — which I dig. And not only that, it brings to mind a mediocre movie from the seventies — Capricorn One.

NASA can’t find original tape of moon landing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” a NASA spokesman said on Monday.

Armstrong’s famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma said.

“We haven’t seen them for quite a while. We’ve been looking for over a year and they haven’t turned up,” Hautaloma said.

The tapes also contain data about the health of the astronauts and the condition of the spacecraft. In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are missing, he said.

“I wouldn’t say we’re worried — we’ve got all the data. Everything on the tapes we have in one form or another,” Hautaloma said.

NASA has retained copies of the television broadcasts and offers several clips on its Web site.

But those images are of lower quality than the originals stored on the missing magnetic tapes.

Because NASA’s equipment was not compatible with TV technology of the day, the original transmissions had to be displayed on a monitor and re-shot by a TV camera for broadcast.

Hautaloma said it is possible the tapes will be unplayable even if they are found, because they have degraded significantly over the years — a problem common to magnetic tape and other types of recordable media.

The material was held by the National Archives but returned to NASA sometime in the late 1970s, he said.

“We’re looking for paperwork to see where they last were,” he said.

Well as long as they’re not worried. All they need to do is a look up on some paperwork as to where they were last. That wold probably be a yellow post-it that was stuck to the side of a NASA administrator’s computer monitor that has since been disposed of after it shorted out due to a spilled Venti Mocha.

So let the conspiracy theorists… um, theorize about the moon landing conspiracy.

Hey! That’s “Nacho” Cheese!

August 14, 2006

Unbeknownst to border police–a mule managed to smuggle forty-two gallons of salsa in hallowed ceramic surfing monkeys across the California/Mexico border.

PHOENIX, Arizona (Reuters) – Puzzled U.S. border police arrested a Mexican smuggler with 88 pounds (40-kg) of cheese hidden in a special compartment in his truck, police said on Friday.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier said officers at the port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico, referred a Chevrolet pickup for a routine secondary examination on Wednesday.

Officers using an X-ray machine saw the outline of 16 bulky packages stashed in a secret compartment behind the seat, which they initially believed were packets containing illicit drugs.

“Generally if you see something (with the X-ray machine) you expect it to be narcotics, but this turned out to be cheese,” Maier told Reuters by telephone.

Officers regularly impound drugs including marijuana, heroin and cocaine at border crossings from Mexico, although Maier said the smuggled cheese haul was unusual.

“It looks like it was destined for people who wanted a taste of the old country,” he added.

Police arrested the 38-year-old driver, seized the cheese and confiscated the truck because he failed to declare his cargo.

In 2003, border police in the area impounded nearly 800 pounds (360 kg) of bologna as it was being smuggled across the border from Mexico.

Mmmmm… bolongna smuggled across a sweltering desert. Now that’s good eats.