This week in odd news: Snake in pants and a cow in a pool
BY RICHARD A. SOMMA
Nov. 10, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect's excessive flatulence.
A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. "leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering."
The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes "continued to be flatulent" and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.
Sykes appeared in court Monday, charged with being a felon in possession of three firearms and possession with intent to sell cocaine. The charges stem from police traffic stops this month and in September in Kansas City, Missouri.
The federal public defender's office hasn't responded to an Associated Press email seeking comment Friday.
READING, Pa. (AP) — Police say they captured a big African cat, resembling a cheetah, running loose through the streets of a Pennsylvania city.
Reports about the spotted feline started coming in on Nov. 3. When Reading (REH'-ding) officers tracked it down, they initially thought they'd found a cheetah.
The Animal Rescue League of Berks County says they got a call from the police department about the feline on Saturday.
When staff responded, they found a cat called an African serval in Reading, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The cats are illegal to own in Pennsylvania without a license. The animal was declawed and very friendly, leading animal workers to presume it had been a pet.
It's been transported to a big cat rescue group.
EAGLE, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was in court for violating his bond on a drug charge is in even more trouble after a wad of cocaine fell from his hat while he was in front of the judge.
The Vail Daily reported Wednesday that 43-year-old Juan Jose Vidrio Bibriesca was standing next to two other defendants at an Eagle County District Court podium when he took his hat off and a square of folded paper fell out. A police officer watched the paper filled with cocaine fall to the floor, and after reviewing surveillance footage, authorities determined it fell from Bibriesca's hat.
Bibriesca was then walked to the county jail. He was charged with narcotics possession and another bond violation.
Booking documents don't indicate if he has hired an attorney.
LONDON (AP) — A new study shows that sheep have the ability to recognize human faces from photographs on computer screens.
The Cambridge University study published Wednesday also shows that sheep can recognize the faces of their human handlers without any prior training.
It had been known that sheep can recognize familiar faces of other sheep and of humans.
The researchers say this study of the ability of sheep to recognize faces may be useful in research into Huntington's disease and other human brain disorders that affect mental processing.
Lead scientist Professor Jenny Morton says sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities comparable to those of humans and monkeys.
Among the faces they were trained to recognize were Barack Obama and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson.
The research was published in Royal Society: Open Science.
BERLIN (AP) — A young man detained by police during a drunken argument in Germany was found to be carrying a baby python in his pants, and may be in trouble under animal welfare laws.
Police in the southwestern city of Darmstadt said the 19-year-old was detained on Tuesday night after a loud argument with another man disturbed residents. They said he was searched and officers noticed "a significant bulge in his trousers."
The man told officers that he had a snake in his pants, and pulled out a 35-centimeter (14-inch) baby king python.
He was taken to a police cell to sober up, and the snake put in a box. Police said Wednesday they were looking for the reptile's owner and examining whether "the non-species-appropriate transport" violated animal protection laws.
CLACKAMAS, Ore. (AP) — A deliveryman in Oregon who heard a woman's screams for help had his wife call 911, but when a deputy showed up it turned out the screamer was a parrot, not a woman.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that when Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputy Hayden Sanders showed up, all he found was Diego the Parrot.
The green-and-yellow bird was in good health and no humans were involved.
BERLIN (AP) — German bureaucrats — notorious for their ability to create lengthy tongue twisters consisting of one single word — are celebrating the doubling of Twitter's character limit.
Twitter announced Tuesday it's increasing the limit for almost all users of the messaging service from 140 to 280 characters, prompting a mix of delighted and despairing reactions.
Waking up to the news Wednesday, Germany's justice ministry wrote that it can now tweet about legislation concerning the transfer of oversight responsibilities for beef labeling.
The law is known in German as the Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz.
Munich police, meanwhile, said that "at last" they won't need abbreviations to tweet about accidents involving forklift drivers, or Niederflurfoerderfahrzeugfuehrer.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert made clear he'll keep it short, quoting Anton Chekhov: "Brevity is the sister of talent."
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man is feeling pretty ... pretty ... pretty ... pretty miffed over a recent traffic ticket.
In an instance of life imitating art — in this case a recent episode of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" — computer programmer Scott Smith says he was ticketed for honking his horn at a police officer.
Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he repeatedly honked at the officer in an unmarked car Friday because the light had turned green and the officer wasn't moving.
He was pulled over and used his cellphone to record the heated exchange with the plainclothes officer, who asked, "Is your horn stuck?" Smith replied: "Is your brake stuck?"
Smith was ticketed for excessive noise from a vehicle. He plans to file a formal complaint.
In the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode, Larry David's character was ticketed for honking at a police car at a stoplight.
VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a woman tried to sneak more than $1,800 worth of electronics through a Florida Walmart's self-checkout by switching the items' price tags with those from clearance items.
Treasure Coast Newspapers reports that 25-year-old Cheyenne Amber West was arrested Monday and charged with felony grand theft and felony shoplifting.
An arrest report says a loss-prevention officer at the Vero Beach Walmart told a deputy he saw West and another woman select a computer, video game controllers and other merchandise from the electronics department. The report says West covered the bar codes with stickers removed from less expensive items that rang up to just $3.70.
West was free on $3,000 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney.
The woman who was with West wasn't arrested.
NEWTON, N.C. (AP) — An 800-pound heifer made a big splash when it was found in a North Carolina family's swimming pool.
Catawba County Chief Animal Control Officer Jenna Arsenault told news outlets the agency received a 911 call Wednesday morning and arrived to find the young female bovine defiantly staring from the pool in Newton.
The pool's owner, Burt Thornburg, says he looked out the door and thought something fell into the pool. He says he started ripping off the cover and uncovered the cow.
Authorities say a team managed to lasso the horns and pull the cow from the pool. The cow was believed to be in the pool for two hours or more.
Authorities believe the cow was grazing and walked across the pool cover, thinking it was solid.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Police in Pennsylvania say they've arrested a man who showed up to an elementary school intoxicated and hoping to vote — on the wrong day.
Authorities charged 34-year-old Douglas Shuttlesworth with a DUI after they found him at a school in Harrisburg on Monday.
Police say Shuttlesworth appeared intoxicated and they later found out he drove to the school thinking it was Election Day.
A woman who identified herself over the phone as Shuttlesworth's mother says her son mistakenly thought it was Tuesday. He was not available to comment on the charge.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A city clerk in Maine is looking for the owner of a set of dentures left behind in a polling booth.
The Portland Press Herald reports the false teeth were discovered during Tuesday's election. An election clerk found the teeth in an auditorium that serves as a polling place in Portland.
The dentures are now in a plastic bag in the city clerk's office in Portland City Hall, just a few steps away from the polling place.
Residents voted on City Council races, a school rebuilding project, a state Medicaid expansion drive and other issues on Tuesday.
HOUSTON (AP) — A suspect robbing a Houston doughnut shop handed out doughnuts to customers whose cellphones he stole.
The Star-Telegram reports that the robbery happened at 3 p.m. on Oct. 16 at a Shipley's Do-Nuts. Police released surveillance video this week that shows three men wearing hoodies and bandannas robbing the store.
While two of the men were behind the counter demanding the cash from the registers, the third took the cellphones of the two customers in the store. He then jumped over the counter, exchanged words with the customers and picked out two crullers, which he handed to them in wax paper.
The suspects then left the store. Police are searching for them.
DELTONA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida couple staged a home invasion and shooting as part of an elaborate scheme to collect insurance money.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood tells news outlets that 36-year-old Lindsey Pelton and 35-year-old Doug Teixeira told authorities two men entered their home Oct. 26 and shot Teixeira in the leg and Pelton in the arm. They were taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.
Chitwood says deputies suspected something wasn't right when they smelled bleach and found dried blood in the home and garage.
Both are charged with providing false information. They were released on bond.
Jail records don't say whether they've hired a lawyer.
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) — A cat missing for more than a year has been reunited with his owner 120 miles from their Maine home. Kennebunkport resident George Lichte says he believed his cat, Romeo, was dead after he never came home one day last fall.
The Bangor Daily News reports Lichte received a phone call two weeks ago from a Skowhegan veterinarian, saying Romeo was found alive.
Solon resident Kevin Taft says he found the friendly feline while he was sitting at a picnic table, and assumed he was a stray. He planned to adopt Romeo, before learning the cat already had an owner.
Lichte says he wonders how Romeo got so far away.
RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A Canadian brewery and a Vermont brewpub are locking horns in a trademark dispute over their moose-themed names and logos.
The Rutland Herald reports that Saint John, New Brunswick-based Moosehead Breweries has filed an infringement lawsuit against Hop'n Moose Brewing Co.
Hop'n Moose opened in 2014 in Rutland and recently began canning its beer, which is sold in about 15 nearby stores. Moosehead was founded in 1867 and adopted its current name in 1947. It sells beer in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.
Moosehead argues that similarity in names and logos could create confusion.
Hop'n Moose owner Dale Patterson says he hasn't seen the lawsuit, but doesn't want to change his logo.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Polish government is encouraging citizens to go forth and multiply like rabbits.
The health ministry of Poland, which has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, has put out a short video praising rabbits for producing many offspring.
The YouTube video shows rabbits munching on lettuce and carrots while a rabbit "narrator" reveals the secret of their big families — exercise, a healthy diet and little stress. The brief appearance of a human couple enjoying a romantic picnic hints that a little romance might help, and a wine glass turned upside down suggested an anti-alcohol message.
Viewers are told: "If you ever want to be a parent, follow the example of rabbits."
It is the latest step by the conservative government in this mostly Catholic country of 38 million to reverse a shrinking population. European Union figures show that Poland's birth rate was 1.32 children per woman in 2015. Only Portugal had a lower fertility rate, though the figures in Spain and Greece were almost as low as Poland.
The Health Ministry said in a statement to The Associated Press that it was trying to encourage Poles in their reproductive years — between the ages of 18 and 45 — to adopt a healthy lifestyle that would improve their reproductive health.
It also said it was seeking to raise public awareness of the issue in a way that "did not offend anyone and was not vulgar."
MORROW, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of stealing a Maserati and driving it to a movie theater in Georgia has been arrested.
The Clayton County Sheriff's Office told news outlets Friday that 41-year-old Keithrick Williams is accused of driving the vehicle to an AMC theater in Morrow and parking it while he watched a movie.
A Facebook post from the sheriff's office says a deputy spotted the vehicle and radioed in for more deputies to join him.
Authorities say Williams emerged from the theater and got into the car.
He was arrested Thursday. Jail records show he was charged with theft by receiving stolen property and possessing a weapon during a crime. It's unclear if Williams has a lawyer.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A man accused of stealing a motorized shopping cart from an Alaska grocery store didn't get very far or go very fast before his low-speed getaway attempt was foiled by police.
The battery-operated cart with a basket mounted behind the handlebars has a top speed of 1.9 mph.
Authorities say Rondell Tony Chinuhuk of Anchorage is charged with felony theft for attempting to take the cart early Tuesday from a Safeway store in Fairbanks.
Police say they stopped Chinuhuk while he was crossing a thoroughfare following a 10-minute joyride that consisted mostly of trying to leave the expansive store parking lot.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Chinuhuk was charged with felony theft of the $2,500 cart. Assistant public defender Jennifer Hite says in an email the office doesn't comment on cases.
MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Authorities say a heated argument over a turned-up thermostat in a mobile home took a violent turn when a Minot man punched his fiancée's brother in the face and threatened him with a knife.
Police say the man tried to defend himself by hitting 33-year-old Cornelius Young with a children's toy in the attack Friday.
Police say Young eventually left the home after his fiancée jumped on his back and bit his ear to distract him. Two children were present during the fight, but neither was injured.
The Minot Daily News reports that Young is charged with felony terrorizing. Court documents don't list an attorney who can speak on his behalf, and a home telephone listing couldn't be found.
He could enter a plea during a Dec. 7 hearing.
DENVER, Pa. (AP) — Police say a Pennsylvania Dunkin' Donuts worker sold methamphetamine and heroin on the job, in some cases while wearing his drive-thru window headset.
Pennlive.com reports that 35-year-old Nathan Pizzardi, of Denver, Lancaster County, faces felony drug counts.
Police say Pizzardi would leave the store and make sales in the parking lot or at a nearby convenience store. They say he sold the drugs while wearing his Dunkin' Donuts uniform and headset.
Pizzardi is jailed on $80,000 bail. Court documents don't list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Death definitely becomes this star.
Astronomers reported Wednesday on a massive, distant star that exploded in 2014 — and also, apparently back in 1954. This is one supernova that refuses to bite the cosmic dust, confounding scientists who thought they knew how dying stars ticked.
The oft-erupting star is 500 million light-years away — one light-year is equal to 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers) — in the direction of the Big Bear constellation. It was discovered in 2014 and, at the time, resembled your basic supernova that was getting fainter.
But a few months later, astronomers at the California-based Las Cumbres Observatory saw it getting brighter. They've seen it grow faint, then bright, then faint again five times. They've even found past evidence of an explosion 60 years earlier at the same spot.
Supernovas typically fade over 100 days. This one is still going strong after 1,000 days, although it's gradually fading.
The finding was published Wednesday in the journal Nature .
"It's very surprising and very exciting," said astrophysicist Iair Arcavi of the University of California, Santa Barbara who led the study. "We thought we've seen everything there is to see in supernovae after seeing so many of them, but you always get surprised by the universe. This one just really blew away everything we thought we understood about them."
The supernova — officially known as iPTF14hls — is believed to have once been a star up to 100 times more massive than our sun. It could well be the biggest stellar explosion ever observed, which might explain its death-defying peculiarity.
It could be multiple explosions occurring so frequently that they run into one another or perhaps a single explosion that repeatedly gets brighter and fainter, though scientists don't know exactly how this happens.
One possibility is that this star was so massive, and its core so hot, that an explosion blew away the outer layers and left the center intact enough to repeat the entire process. But this pulsating star theory still doesn't explain everything about this supernova, Arcavi said.
Harvard University's astronomy chairman, Avi Loeb, who was not involved in the study, speculates a black hole or magnetar — a neutron star with a strong magnetic field — might be at the center of this never-before-seen behavior. Further monitoring may better explain what's going on, he said.
Las Cumbres , a global network of robotic telescopes, continues to keep watch.
Scientists do not know whether this particular supernova is unique; it appears rare since no others have been detected.
"We could actually have missed plenty of them because it kind of masquerades as a normal supernova if you only look at it once," Arcavi said.
Nothing lasts forever — not even this super supernova.
"Eventually, this star will go out at some point," Arcavi said. "I mean, energy has to run out eventually."
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Heads up, armchair travelers.
NASA is seeking a nickname for a tiny, icy world on the edge of the solar system that's the next destination for New Horizons, the spacecraft that surveyed Pluto.
New Horizons whipped past Pluto two years ago. Now it's headed for 2014 MU69 — gobbledygook to even the most die-hard scientists.
To lighten the mood as New Horizons aims for a 2019 flyby, the research team is holding a naming contest . The deadline is Dec. 1.
MU69 is 4 billion miles away and may actually be two objects, either stuck together or orbiting one another. If so, two nicknames would be needed. The nicknames will be temporary. NASA said Monday that a formal name will come after the flyby.
ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Police say a man threatened to blow up a bank in South Carolina when he wasn't able to open an account with a declined check.
The Herald reports Rock Hill police arrested 28-year-old Brian Ritter at a BB&T Bank on Tuesday shortly after 2:30 p.m.
According to a police report, a bank employee said Ritter got angry and yelled, "Maybe I should blow up this place." He was applying to open an account with a check the bank had declined. Patrons and employees became alarmed and called police.
Ritter also has a drug court warrant in Ocean County, New Jersey. He was cited for disorderly conduct and placed on hold for Ocean County officials, who told police they would move to extradite him.
It's unclear if Ritter has a lawyer.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Home sweet home is more than just a warm and fuzzy saying for one Omaha couple.
Becky Reilly told Omaha television station KETV that thousands of honeybees had invaded her and her husband's home attic and produced so much honey that it dripped down the side of the house.
They called in roofers to clean up the mess, repair the damage and install a new roof.
Takoda Green Roofing owner Jason Starkey estimated Thursday that he recovered 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of honey Oct. 26 as he removed the bees and their hive before making repairs.
A beekeeper acquaintance of the Reillys, John Gebuhr, has the bees in his garage but is pessimistic about their survival over the winter. He hopes some can be returned to pollinate the Reillys' garden.
NEW YORK (AP) — A British inventor billed as a real-life version of the superhero Iron Man has hit the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine power suit at 32 mph, a Guinness world record.
The record keeper announced Tuesday's feat on Thursday as part of its annual Guinness World Records day.
Other marks announced included a Swedish baker's record for the world's largest vegan cake, which weighs in at more than 1,000 pounds. Harlem Globetrotter Thunder Law successfully made a basket Sunday on a 50-foot high hoop for a new mark. It's the 17th mark accomplished by the Globetrotters, and Law's fourth individual record.
Guinness says more than 600,000 people are attempting to set records as part of the event.