Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Police free hostages from McDonald's; no gunman found

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) -- A nearly 4-hour standoff at a McDonald's restaurant that included a SWAT team rescue of 14 hostages from a freezer was apparently a hoax that spun out of control because of a sudden police presence outside, police said.

When it was over Monday, police could not find a gunman anywhere, all none of the 14 people that had hidden in fear in the freezer said they has seen an armed man.

It happened like this, Hampton police spokeswoman Allison Good said:

Police responded to a cell phone call at 1:54 p.m. by a caller who claimed to have a gun inside the restaurant, and police officers quickly headed to the scene

When management saw police swarming outside, the managers apparently ordered 12 employees and two customers into the freezer, which locks from the inside.

The first officers on the scene saw a man standing at the restaurant doorway, and he quickly bolted into the restaurant and disappeared from sight, Good said.

Attempts by negotiators to reach the supposed gunman were unsuccessful.

About 3 hours later, a SWAT team freed the people from inside the freezer using a key that opened it from the outside, police said. And less than an hour later, officers went into the restaurant, searched and announced that there was no gunman.

strict no refund policy

Many of us swap CompUSA service horror stories, but here’s an especially horrifying one. My AR&D partner Terry Heaton purchased a digital camera for $269 at a CompUSA liquidation sale. Terry bought the camera for his step-daughter amid a $3,500 purchase. One problem: they sold him an empty box. There was no camera inside. When Terry went to a nearby CompUSA, the manager there told him that, since a liquidation company technically sold him the camera, CompUSA wouldn’t give him a refund. So, Terry wrote a note to Roman Ross, CompUSA president and CEO. Ross passed it along to a staffer who had the nerve to blame Terry: “The return policy for all merchandise, as printed on your receipt and posted throughout the store, clearly stated ALL SALES FINAL…. if the camera you purchased was a clearance item, you should have inspected its content prior to purchase.” And there you have it. Terry is to blame for not inspecting the box to make sure he wasn’t being defrauded. All sales of empty boxes are, apparently, final. It doesn’t matter the technicality - in CompUSA’s name, on a CompUSA receipt, $269 was stolen from Terry and CompUSA won’t give it back. It’s not just “buyer beware,” it’s “don’t be a buyer.”

Man Eating Fish caught by Boy

CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio -- Kyle Owens has a fish tale straight from the waters of the Ohio River.

The 10-year-old Chilo boy went fishing for catfish this past weekend but caught something he was not expecting.

"I thought it was like a 10-pound catfish, reeling it in," said Owens. "I thought, 'It's a big blue gill,' and I was about to stick my thumb into its mouth and then I saw its teeth."

In fact, the fish Owens caught had two rows of teeth, top and bottom.

"I didn't know what the heck it was," said Owen. His neighbors were at a loss as well.

"I didn't know what to think," said Brian Thornberry. "I thought I was in a scene from Jaws."

Owens and his father had another idea.

"It was my first piranha I ever caught in my life," said Owens.

But local exotic fish store employees told Owens that he had probably caught a cousin of the piranha called a Pacu, a native to the Amazon. Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said someone likely dumped the fish when it got too big.

Wherever the fish came from, Owens said he has big plans for his big catch.

"We're going to stuff it," he said.

Owens' parents tried to get the Cincinnati Zoo or Newport Aquarium to take the fish, but neither would accept it.

Jaws for PETA

Shark catch reels in media

But the wife of the man who helped catch the bull shark isn't happy about it.

Published June 5, 2007

An eight-foot-eight-inch bull shark, estimated at around 600 pounds, rests dead on the sea wall with fishermen (from left) Chuck Moyer, Ed Maloney, and his cousin Frank Maloney

[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
An eight foot eight inch bull shark, estimated at around 600 pounds, rests dead on the sea wall with fishermen (from left) Chuck Moyer, Frank Maloney, and his cousin Ed Maloney

Breaking News Video

ST. PETERSBURG - Frank Maloney loves to fish. But his wife, Denise, is so devoted to protecting animals, she belongs to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"A card-carrying member," Frank Maloney says.

Little surprise, then, that she's less than pleased with his weekend catch and kill of a mammoth bull shark behind their Venetian Isles home.

Maloney, his cousin Ed and friend Chuck "Tuna" Meyer caught the 9-foot bull shark, which they estimate at more than 600 pounds, after a three-hour struggle that ended at about 1 a.m. Sunday.

"She gave me a hard time," Maloney, 45, said Monday. "She's pretty vocal when it comes to animals."

Vocal, but not vocal enough to speak to reporters.

Instead, Frank Maloney did the interviews Monday, a day after the St. Petersburg Times initially reported on the catch. And there were plenty of them. He said radio stations from as far away as Iowa started calling him at 8 a.m. TV crews showed up at the house. Newspaper reporters called him.

Times readers posted online reactions ranging from "Awesome catch" to "What senseless destruction of life."

And Maloney's Venetian Isles neighbors, whose homes back up to the water, re-evaluated all their kayak trips and weekend swims.

"If I wanted to go swimming before, I wouldn't now," said Gary Lukoski, 54. He moved to Venetian Isles in 1999 with wife Joy Boulenger, 51. "That's a little scary."

University of Florida professor George H. Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack file, said large sharks of all sorts are not unusual for Tampa Bay.

While most varieties are not so aggressive as to attack humans, "I'm more concerned about the bull shark in Florida than any other species," Burgess said.

"If it does decide to attack, the bull sharks in general are fairly aggressive," Burgess said. "And once they start an attack, they are likely to continue an attack."

In 2000, a bull shark killed 69-year-old Thadeus Kubinski after he jumped from a dock into Boca Ciega Bay.

Still, Burgess said large sharks like the bull are overfished "badly" and should not be killed.

"Catch and release is the way we want to go," he said. "Their populations are on decline."

Maloney, a real estate developer, said he has been shark fishing just about every weekend since last summer. He and his friends have caught 14 sharks, most of them no bigger than 300 pounds. Always, they posed for a picture with the sharks and released them back into the water.

But this time, he said, the shark died after the three-hour struggle. It wasn't intentional, he insists.

"This is the first casualty we had," he said. "We're not fishing to kill sharks. We're fishing because it's good entertainment."

But his wife of 14 years doesn't think fishing is entertaining, Maloney said.

"She doesn't come out and enjoy the fishing. She thinks we're hurting them."

Saturday night, she woke to the sound of her husband, cousin and Meyer struggling to reel in the shark.

Maloney recalls that before his wife went back to bed, she urged him: "Make sure you release it! Make sure you release it!"

Sunday, he released the shark's carcass back to the ocean. He plans to keep the jaws.

Monday, June 4, 2007

50 states Mean...?

You know the names of all 50 states…but do you know where any of them come from? Here’s the best information we could find on the origin of each.

ALABAMA. Possibly from the Creek Indian word alibamo, meaning "we stay here."

ALASKA. From the Aleutian word alakshak, which means "great lands," or "land that is not an island."

ARIZONA. Taken either from the pima Indian words ali shonak, meaning "little spring," or from the Aztec word arizuma, meaning "silver-bearing."

ARKANSAS. The French somehow coined it from the name of the Siouan Quapaw tribe.

CALIFORNIA. According to one theory, Spanish settlers names it after a utopian society described in a popular 16th-century novel called Serged de Esplandian.

COLORADO. Means "red" in Spanish. The name was originally applied to the Colorado River, whose waters are reddish with canyon clay.

CONNECTICUT. Taken from the Mohican word kuenihtekot, which means "long river place."

DELAWARE. Named after Lord De La Warr, a governor of Virginia. Originally used only to name the Delaware River.

FLORIDA. Explorer Ponce de Leon named the state Pascua Florida - "flowery Easter"—on Easter Sunday in 1513.

GEORGIA. Named after King George II of England, who charted the colony in 1732.

HAWAII. An English adaptation of the native word owhyhee, which means "homeland."

IDAHO. Possibly taken from the Kiowa Apache word for the Comanche Indians.

ILLINOIS. The French bastardization of the Algonquin word illini, which means "men."

INDIANA. Named by English-speaking settlers because the territory was full of Indians.

IOWA. The Sioux word for "beautiful land," or "one who puts to sleep."

KANSAS. Taken from the Sioux word for "south wind people," their name for anyone who lived south of Sioux territory.

KENTUCKY. Possibly derived from the Indian word kan-tuk-kee, meaning "dark and bloody ground." Or kan-tuc-kec, "land of green reeds", or ken-take, meaning "meadowland."

LOUISIANA. Named after French King Louis XIV.

MAINE. The Old French word for "province."

MARYLAND. Named after Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of English King George I.

MASSACHUSETTS. Named after the Massachusetts Indian tribe. Means "large hill place."

MICHIGAN. Most likely from the Chippewa word for "great water." micigama.

MINNESOTA. From the Sioux word for "sky tinted" or "muddy water."

MISSISSIPPI. Most likely taken from the Chippewa words mici ("great") and zibi ("river").

MISSOURI. From the Algonquin word for "muddy water."

MONTANA. Taken from the Latin word for "mountainous."

NEBRASKA. From the Otos Indian word for "broad water."

NEVADA. Means "snow-clad" in Spanish.

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Capt. John Mason, one of the original colonists, named it after his English home county of Hampshire.

NEW JERSEY. Named after the English Isle of Jersey.

NEW MEXICO. The Spanish name for the territory north of the Rio Grande.

NEW YORK. Named after the Duke of York and Albany.

NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA. From the Latin name Carolus; named in honor of King Charles I of England.

NORTH AND SOUTH DAKOTA. Taken from the Sioux word for "friend," or "ally."

OHIO. Means "great," "fine," or "good river" in Iriquois.

OKLAHOMA. The Choctaw word for "red man."

OREGON. Possibly derived from Ouaricon-sint, the French name for the Wisconsin River.

PENNSYLVANIA. Named after William Penn, Sr., the father of the colony’s founder, William Penn. Means "Penn’s woods."

RHODE ISLAND. Named "Roode Eylandt" (Red Island) because of its red clay.

TENNESSEE. Named after the Cherokee tanasi villages along the banks of the Little Tennessee River.

TEXAS. Derived from the Caddo Indian word for "friend," or "ally."

UTAH. Means "upper," or "higher," and was originally the name that Navajos called the Shoshone tribe.

VERMONT. A combination of the French words vert ("green") and mont ("mountain").

VIRGINIA AND WEST VIRGINIA. Named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, the "virgin" queen, by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584.

WASHINGTON. Named after George Washington.

WISCONSIN. Taken from the Chippewa word for "grassy place."

WYOMING. Derived from the Algonquin word for "large prairie place."


MP's fury over Stonehenge funding
Visitor at Stonehenge
The MP claims funds are being diverted to the Olympics
A former Transport and Heritage minister is calling for Stonehenge to be removed from the list of World Heritage sites.

Salisbury's Conservative MP Robert Key says a failure to deliver long overdue improvements means Stonehenge no longer deserves the listing.

He claims money for improvements is being diverted to the Olympics.

He is writing to the UNESCO committee asking for the British government to be called to account.

Unique archaeology

"A plan is there which has been discussed endlessly but they've failed to make a decision," he said.

A £600m plan to drill a tunnel for the nearby A303 trunk road and build a major new visitor centre has been on review for more than a year after Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said costs had risen too far.

But those campaigning to preserve the unique archaeology of the region say the plan is the only compromise that could work for the area.

TV archaeologist and Labour Party activist Tony Robinson said he was very worried about the future of Stonehenge.

Cultural legacy

In an interview with the BBC's Politics Show he accused the government of "leeching" on the iconic image of the monument to win the bid for the Olympics.

"As a nation we're in danger of letting Stonehenge down badly. Most politicians don't get heritage, they think they can just leech on it, exploit it, that it doesn't need tending," he said.

English Heritage, the government agency that runs Stonehenge, do not dispute visitor facilities and access are inadequate, but still hope improvements will be made in time for the Olympics.

"It is a stated aim of Visit Britain and the government to maximise the benefits of hosting the Olympics," a spokesman said.

He added that the Stonehenge project would be a major contribution to the cultural legacy of the games.
100 Words That All High School Graduates — And Their Parents — Should Know
BOSTON, MA — The editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know.

"The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."

The following is the entire list of 100 words:

laissez faire


The ones in blue are the ones I know.

Let it Be, Theif

A judge sentencing a Beatles-loving beer thief quoted 42 of the band’s song titles in his verdict.

Andrew McCormack, 20, was asked to recommend to a US court what his sentence should be for stealing beer.


McCormack: Got more than he bargained for after his beer theft

He wrote: “Like the Beetles say, Let It Be”. But his cheeky quip did not impress Gregory Todd, a 56-year-old district court judge in Montana.

In a sentencing memorandum Judge Todd first corrected McCormack's misspelling and then gave the defendant a lesson in The Beatles discography.

He replied: “Mr McCormack, you pled guilty to the charge of Burglary. To aid me in sentencing I review the pre-sentence investigation report.

“I read with interest the section containing Defendant’s statement. To the question of ‘Give your recommendation as to what you think the Court should do in this case’, you said, ‘Like the Beetles say Let It Be'.

“While I will not explore the epistemological or ontological overtones of your response, or even the syntactic of symbolic keys of your allusion, I will say Hey Jude, Do You Want to Know a Secret?

"The greatest band in rock history spelled their name B-e-a-t-l-e-s.

"I interpret the meaning of your response to suggest that there should be no consequences for your actions and I should Let it Be so you can live in Strawberry Fields Forever.

"Such reasoning is Here, There and Everywhere. It does not require a Magical Mystery Tour of interpretation to know The Word means leave it alone.

Sentencing: The Beatles verdict in full

Enlarge the image

"I trust we can all Come Together on that meaning.

"If I were to overlook your actions and Let It Be, I would ignore that Day in the Life on April 21, 2006.

“Evidently, earlier that night you said to yourself I Feel Fine while drinking beer.

“Later, whether you wanted Money or were just trying to Act Naturally you became the Fool on the Hill on North 27th Street.

"As Mr Moonlight at 1.30am, you did not Think for Yourself but just focused on I, Me, Mine.

"Because you didn't ask for Help, Wait for Something else or listen to your conscience saying Honey Don't, the victim later that day was Fixing a Hole in the glass door you broke."

Judge Todd went on: "After you stole the 18 pack of Old Milwaukee you decided it was time to Run For Your Life and Carry That Weight.

“But when the witness said Baby it's You, the police responded I'll Get You and you had to admit that You Really Got a Hold on Me.

"You were not able to Get Back home because of the Chains they put on you.

“Although you hoped the police would say I Don't Want to Spoil the Party and We Can Work it Out, you were in Misery when they said you were a Bad Boy.

"When the police took you to jail, you experienced Something New as they said Hello Goodbye and you became a Nowhere Man.

"Later when you thought about what you did you may have said I'll Cry Instead. Now you’re saying Let it Be instead of I'm a Loser.

“As a result of your Hard Day's Night you are looking at a Ticket to Ride that Long and Winding Road to Deer Lodge.

"Hopefully you can say both now and When I'm 64 that I Should Have Known Better."

In McCormack’s sentencing he received probation, a community service order and a fine.

Hazardous Computer

No longer a luxury, computers have become an essential component of everyday life for most of us. But, just as we can hurt ourselves by abusing drugs and alcohol, we can injure our health by overusing or misusing our computers.

Increasingly, patients are coming to their doctors complaining of musculoskeletal symptoms of repetitive strain (or stress) injuries (RSIs). RSIs occur when certain muscles are kept tense for long periods due to repetitive motions or poor posture.

And just as has been documented in assembly-line workers, the varied symptoms of computer-associated RSIs result from overuse of certain muscles for long periods of time.

While computer users rarely suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, they may develop other RSI symptoms, including these:

  • Recurring pain or soreness in the wrists, hands, upper back, shoulders, and neck.
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in the fingers and hands. This pain or numbness may interfere with sleeping.
  • "Trigger finger," in which a tendon in the hand becomes restricted so that a finger or thumb catches in a bent position.
  • Poor grip strength, weakness, and fatigue of muscles in the arms.

You can prevent RSI in its early stages by following these suggestions:

  • Stop using the computer whenever you start to notice pain or fatigue.
  • Watch your posture. Don't hunch your head and neck forward. Keep your back straight, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Take regular breaks. One option is to install software that reminds you to take breaks.
  • Hold your wrists straight, neither resting on a pad, nor bent upwards, downwards, or sideways. Installing a keyboard platform that can be adjusted up or down, as well as tilted forward or back, will help you keep you wrists straight.
  • Get plenty of sleep and regular aerobic exercises to keep in shape.
  • Learn a technique such as progressive muscle relaxation to keep neck and shoulder muscles relaxed.

Another health hazard of computer overuse is computer vision syndrome (CVS). Studies show that this type of eyestrain that comes from long periods of staring is far more common than RSI. Here are some symptoms to watch for:

  • Burning, aching, tired eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Try these tips to avoid or reduce CVS:

  • Use proper lighting to reduce eyestrain and avoid glare. When using a computer for long periods, you should reduce room lighting to about half that used in most offices. Close blinds or curtains to lessen glare from external light.
  • Place the monitor directly in front of you, not off to one side, about 20 to 26 inches away from you.
  • Adjust brightness of the computer screen to obtain optimal contrast between background and characters on the screen.
  • When transcribing printed or written pages, put the document on a lighted copy stand next to the monitor.
  • Take 10 to 15 minute breaks every hour. In addition, every five to 10 minutes, look away from the computer screen and focus on a distant object for five to 10 seconds.
  • If your eyes tend to dry out in the frequently bone-dry environment of the modern office building, use artificial tears or eye drops. Dry eyes may also be exacerbated by the decreased blinking that accompanies staring at a computer.
If eye symptoms persist or worsen despite these measures, consider making an appointment with your eye doctor. Some people may need special prescription glasses that are designed to be worn when working on a computer.