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Update December 2016

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Odds & Ends

Update December 24, 2016

Costume theft can’t stop ‘The Nutcracker’ in Rhode Island

Providence, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island ballet company says its annual production of “The Nutcracker” will go on as scheduled despite the theft of the title character’s mask and costume, the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu and other costumes. The Festival Ballet Providence’s costumes were discovered missing from a Pawtucket warehouse last week. Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric says while “a significant blow,” the theft has made the dancers determined to make this year’s performance extra special. He has contacted ballet companies across the nation to see what is available to borrow, and several have stepped up. The value of the stolen costumes hasn’t been determined, but is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars. Police are investigating. The company has been performing “The Nutcracker” for nearly 40 years. The show opens Dec. 16.

Fire probe prompts Toys ‘R’ Us to pull
ride-on toy truck

Wayne, N.J. (AP) - Toys ‘R’ Us has pulled a ride-on toy truck from shelves days after a couple says it burst into flames while they were bringing it home from the store. The couple said the Tonka 12V Ride-On Dump Truck was a present for their grandson. They were taking it to their Bellingham, Washington, home in the back of their pickup truck Friday night when they say it caught fire. Video shows flames shooting high into the air. Toys ‘R’ Us spokeswoman Nicole Hayes says in a statement that the incident appears to be isolated, but the New Jersey-based company is pulling the item from stores and its website “pending further investigation.” Hayes says Toys ‘R’ Us is working with the truck’s manufacturer, Dynacraft, to determine a cause.

Police: ‘Postal Grinch’ caught
opening post office packages

Boynton Beach, Fla. (AP) - A Florida man is being accused of being a Christmas Grinch after authorities say he broke into a post office and tried to steal packages. Francis Keller, 56, was arrested by the Boynton Beach Police Department and charged with burglary. Police say they found him inside a post office work room using scissors to open packages. Police said Keller, a former postal employee for 30 years, gained entry using an old security code for the door. Authorities also said Keller was extremely intoxicated when he was found beside a cart full of open packages. According to police, he told officers he was planning to steal valuable items to buy crack. Records show Keller was being held in the Palm Beach County jail. It wasn’t known if Keller has a lawyer.

Ohio man’s controversial
‘Zombie Nativity’ vandalized

Cincinnati (AP) - A suburban Cincinnati man says someone vandalized the “Zombie Nativity” scene he puts up annually, beheading the ghoulish-looking Mary figure and flipping the greenish baby Jesus into the yard. Jasen Dixon says someone damaged the handmade scene early Tuesday at his home in Sycamore Township, northeast of Cincinnati. He has since repaired the scene and says he’ll keep rebuilding it if necessary. Dixon tells WCPO-TV it’s the first time someone has intentionally damaged the structure since he started the holiday display in 2014. But it’s been a topic of controversy previously. The township took Dixon to court last year for alleged zoning violations because of the structure over the nontraditional nativity scene, but it eventually dropped the case. Dixon’s attorney argued the township was trying to suppress his freedoms.

Deck the ... Look out! Woman
tries to run over decorating ex

Connellsville, Pa. (AP) - State police say holiday music was blaring from a Pennsylvania woman’s car as she tore up the yard of her ex-boyfriend’s home, nearly running the man and his family over. Forty-seven-year-old Mary Jo Smith was charged Tuesday with multiple offenses stemming from Monday’s incident. Alan McCutcheon says he was setting up a Christmas light display outside of his Fayette County home when Smith yelled “Merry Christmas” and made several passes through his yard. State police say Smith attempted to hit the 64-year-old along with his wife and adult daughter. No one was injured. The joyride caused more than $500 in damage, leaving behind tire tracks and a trail of broken lights and decorations. It’s unclear if Smith has an attorney to could comment.

Update December 17, 2016

Cheers greet British veteran, 89, as he starts his new job

London (AP) - An 89-year-old army veteran who made national headlines in Britain with a newspaper ad seeking work has started his new job. The Cantina Kitchen & Bar in the seaside town of Paignton in southwestern England announced on its Facebook page that Joe Bartley was starting work Sunday. The widower, whose wife died two years ago, placed the ad because he was “dying of boredom.” He says his building has a community area but “not a soul comes in,” and when he returns home, there’s “nobody to talk to.” The local cafe made him an offer and the Herald Express newspaper posted a video of Bartley walking in to applause. Bartley told the BBC he was “overwhelmed by all the attention” and was looking forward to “getting down to the job.”

New York-made beer to be sold in China starting next year

Albany, N.Y. (AP) - Beer brewed in New York and bearing the iconic “I Love NY” logo will be distributed in China starting next year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that Two Dragons beer brewed by the Syracuse-based Empire Brewing Co. will arrive in China in February. He says the first officially licensed “I Love NY” beer will introduce the Empire State’s thriving craft beverage industry to a global audience. The ale-style beer is brewed with hops grown in New York state and Chinese black tea. The bottle caps and labels bear the official state tourism campaign’s “I Love NY” logo with a red heart between the “I’’ and “NY”. Empire Brewing owner David Katleski says he was inspired to create Two Dragons during a state-sponsored trade mission to China last year.

Wyoming police to dole out donated money for good deeds

Jackson, Wyo. (AP) - A good deed could turn into a $50 tip from Jackson law enforcement officials who will dole out donated money ahead of the holidays. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen says anonymous donors have contributed enough for deputies, officers and troopers to give $50 to $100 gifts. Whalen said the money could be given out for almost anything, including good drivers or people who are simply down on their luck. He said the cash gifts are about spreading goodwill. Donations last year helped officials run a similar effort. Whalen said all of this year’s donors were Jackson Hole residents. The area has a number of wealthy residents who own large estates.

Part-time school administrator in New Jersey paid $850 a day

Paterson, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey school district is paying a part-time administrator $850 a day. Paterson hired Juanita Petty to work two days a week as interim assistant business administrator. She retired as business administrator for the Wayne school district last July and receives a state pension of more than $54,000 per year. Paterson teachers union president John McEntee Jr. tells The Record the district would be better off spending the money earmarked for the position to hire enough nurses for every school. School board President Chris Irving says the district needs someone in that position who can do the job. The district’s previous assistant business administrator left the payroll after less than a year and was paid an annual salary of $114,240.

Massachusetts man sues neighbor over seagull mess

Webster, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts man sick of the mess seagulls leave at his dock and boat wants the neighbor he says is responsible for attracting the birds to pay up. The Telegram & Gazette reports that Frank Yacino has sued Lisa Pezzella in small claims court. Yacino lives on Webster Lake in Webster. He says Pezzella feeds the seagulls that hang around his neighborhood, leaving droppings all over his property and making it impossible to enjoy the water. He’s asking for $1,500 to replace his boat’s seat covers and $500 for the time he’s spent pressure-washing his dock. The town has issued a cease-and-desist order to Pezzella, based on video officials say shows her feeding gulls. Her lawyer calls the case silly and denies his client feeds the birds.

Update December 10, 2016

Hunt on for spelling-challenged bank robber in Massachusetts

Boston (AP) - A bank robber dubbed the “spelling bee bandit” because the notes he’s passed to tellers contain the same misspelling is being sought for four robberies in Massachusetts. The FBI says the man’s notes have just one word: “robery” with one “B.” His latest target was a TD Bank in Peabody on Sunday. He’s also suspected of hitting banks in Arlington, Reading and Burlington since Oct. 31. In all the robberies, he’s worn sunglasses and either a baseball hat or hood. He’s described as white, in his late 30s or early 40s, between 5-feet, 11 inches, and 6-feet-2. The FBI says it’s concerned because the man’s becoming increasingly aggressive toward the tellers. The reward is up to $1,000.

Robbery goes awry in Austria after suspect finds bank closed

Vienna (AP) - This robbery failed before it began. The bank was closed. Austrian police have arrested a man who they say tried to rob a bank in Vienna - but arrived too early. Police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer says the 45-year old suspect entered the bank foyer Tuesday armed with a gas pistol and with a hood drawn over his head but 15 minutes before opening time. He says that passers-by alerted police after the man hid his weapon under newspapers and paced nervously as he waited for the main doors to open. The man wasn’t identified in line with Austrian privacy laws. Police say his planned getaway vehicle was a stolen scooter.

Police: Gambler’s bid to double down at bank turns into bust

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) - Authorities say a man stood up from a blackjack table in West Virginia, drove to rob a bank and then returned to continue gambling. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports a Kanawha County grand jury last week indicted 52-year-old Kerry Johnson of Charleston on a bank robbery charge. Investigators say Johnson had been at the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro for hours on Aug. 2 when he put down a $25 chip to hold his spot. That’s when police say Johnson drove 13 miles to a Charleston bank, gave tellers a note saying he had a bomb and a weapon and robbed it. Police say Johnson then returned to the blackjack table and kept gambling. Johnson could face 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Ninja sword taken from card shop returned by buyer

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - A katana sword that was missing from an Anchorage card shop has been returned. KTVA-TV reports surveillance video shows a person dressed as a ninja leaving BOSCO’S Comic, Cards & Games with what looked to be the Japanese-style sword. Employee Eric Helmick said in an email that a man bought the sword from the thief and brought it back to the shop Thursday after hearing on the news that it was stolen. Helmick said the man waited at the shop for Anchorage police officers to arrive and told them what happened. The sword was slightly damaged. He said the shop’s staffers are thankful this odd situation wasn’t worse and that they all got a chuckle out of it.

‘James Bond Gang’ burglary ring members accept plea deals

Hackensack, N.J. (AP) - An original member of a now-defunct New Jersey burglary ring known as the “James Bond Gang” has accepted a plea deal. The Record reports 49-year-old Bruce Anderson pleaded guilty on Thursday to theft, trafficking stolen property and money laundering charges. The newspaper says four of Anderson’s associates also accepted plea deals Thursday in connection with 30 break-ins in 2014. Prosecutors will ask that Anderson serve seven years behind bars. His attorney will ask for a three-year term at his January 2017 sentencing. Authorities say the group broke into luxurious homes in Bergen, Somerset and Morris counties and stole cash, jewelry and other valuable items. The group got its nickname by equipping a BMW getaway car with secret compartments, a retractable license plate and mounted halogen lights meant to blind pursuers.

Update December 3, 2016

Thai fish with national flag colors sold for more than $1.5K

Bangkok (AP) - A Siamese fighting fish with the colors of the Thai national flag has been bought for 53,500 baht ($1,530) at an online auction, possibly making it the most expensive Betta fish ever sold. Pictures of the fish, with its blue, red and white horizontal stripes mimicking the Thai flag, went viral after its breeder Kachen Worachai posted them on a private Betta fish auction group on Facebook. Kachen said Thursday he had expected someone to buy the fish for a few thousand baht but was shocked when the bid hit 10,000 baht ($285) on the second day. “I never expected my fish to go for this price,” said Kachen, a 40-year-old convenience store owner who breeds Betta fish as a hobby. He posted the pictures on Nov. 6 with a starting bid of 99 baht ($2.82) and closed the auction on Nov. 8. Betta fish have been bred previously to reproduce the colors of the Thai flag but Kachen said none have come close. He said the highest previous price for a Betta was for a half-moon Betta fish that sold for 23,500 baht ($671). “The chance of getting a fish with the flag’s exact color is like one in 100,000,” said Kachen. “So many people have tried to breed the Thai flag colors. Luck was really on my side.”

(Chuchat Lekdeangyu/Shutter Prince via AP)

Ohio cops: Woman offered to sell sex for $60 and some nachos

Youngstown, Ohio (AP) -- Police in Ohio are accusing a woman of selling sex for $60 and some nachos. Officers near Youngstown say they arrested 36-year-old Crystal Hotlosz during an undercover operation Monday. Beaver Township police say an officer texted the woman after seeing an online advertisement for sex services. Officers say she first wanted $50 and some nachos and later upped her price to $60. Police say that when the undercover officer later met the woman in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant, she asked if he had the extra money and her nachos. WKBN-TV in reports Hotlosz has been charged with solicitation and possession of criminal tools. A message seeking comment was left with her attorney on Friday.

Sweden stop sale of New Zealand beer out of explosion fear

Copenhagen, Denmark (AP) - Sales of a New Zealand-produced beer have started with a bang in Sweden. And ended. Sales of Aro Noir were halted Friday, the same day they began, because authorities reported that some cans exploded. Systembolaget said customers who bought of Aro Noir by the Wellington-based brewery Garage Project should return the cans and get their money back. It was not immediately clear whether any cans had been sold, but Systembolaget said cans had exploded in two stores. On its Website, Systembolaget described Aro Noir as have a “malty, roasted aroma with hints of pumpernickel bread, coffee, prunes, cocoa, tobacco and licorice.” It was sold at 33.90 kronor ($3.67) for a 33-centiliter (11.16 fluid oz) can. In Sweden, alcohol is sold only through Systembolaget’s nationwide network of more than 430 stores.

Speedy shovels shine in Slovakia’s grave-digging contest

Trencin, Slovakia (AP) - Ten teams from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary on Thursday turned mounds of ground in a competition to crown the fastest gravediggers in central Europe. The Grave Digging Championships held in the Slovakian city of Trencin was meant to promote the funeral industry and bring some levity to a serious profession. “This whole exhibition is about getting groups of funeral companies together,” event spokesman Christian Striz, who dressed as the Grim Reaper for the occasion, said. “It’s all about showing people how hard” the gravedigger’s job is. The contest graded the teams on speed and accuracy, as graves had to be dug to exact specifications: 1.5-meters (5-feet) deep, 2-meters (6.5-feet) long and 0.9-meters (3-feet) wide. No modern tools were allowed, only shovels and picks, which made for demanding digging for less fortunate teams. “Gravel and stones - about 20-30 centimeters” of it,” Gabriel Draffy, from the Krematorium Molnar in Nove Zamky, Slovakia, said. “The others didn’t have that!” A team representing Peter Pastorok’s funeral services from the Slovakian village of Kalna nad Hronom emerged as the winner. The contest took place as part of the third International Exhibition of Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services.

(AP Photo/Ronald Zak)




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Update December 24, 2016

Update December 17, 2016

Update December 10, 2016

Update December 3, 2016


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