Unusual news nuggets from around the globe:
GENEVA — Forget mice. A Swiss cat named Speedy has an eye for finer things. Speedy has stolen so much loot that its owner had to post leaflets throughout a northern Swiss town saying “Help, our cat steals!” and inviting people to recover their missing things. Margrit Geiger of Wiesendangen said her kleptomaniac cat switched three years ago from bringing home mice to stealing badminton shuttlecocks, all to impress her teenage son. Then the cat began specializing in gloves, scarves and T-shirts. The latest obsession: underwear and black socks. Geiger told the Swiss daily Blick the cat has nabbed more than 100 items, and the paper said some neighbors have already claimed items back. Veterinarian Brigitte Buetikofer says animals steal to gain attention, so ignoring them is the best cure.
California cat thief ‘purr-loins’ hundreds of treasures
SAN MATEO, Calif. — A prolific cat burglar has stolen hundreds of precious possessions from homes near San Francisco. But police are staying off the case — the burglar really is a cat. Dusty, a 5-year-old feline from San Mateo, has taken hundreds of items during his nearly nightly heists. Owner Jean Chu tells the San Francisco Chronicle he has pilfered gloves, towels, shoes and more since she adopted him from the Humane Society. Dusty has a special love for swimsuits. Neighbor Kelly McLellan says he stole her bikini — on two separate trips. She said he appeared focused on keeping the ensemble. Experts say Dusty’s predatory instincts have gone astray, leaving him hunting for people’s stuff. The cat’s thieving has made him a minor celebrity.
Hacked road sign warns of zombies in northern Kentucky
FLORENCE, Ky. — The zombie menace has once again found its way onto a highway sign. After pranksters switched the message on an electronic road sign, motorists in northern Kentucky were warned this week to watch for zombies along the Interstate 71-75 corridor. The usual message about upcoming roadwork was changed to: “Nightly lane closures, zombies ahead.” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Nancy Wood said the Transportation Cabinet learned about the new message Thursday and turned it off until it can be fixed. Wood said officials are not amused by the prank. The gag was hardly original. There was a spate of such pranks in 2009 in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois and Texas. Last March, someone posted a zombie warning on a highway sign in South Carolina.
Man fined $100 for touching Hawaiian monk seal
HONOLULU — Touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal will cost a 19-year-old man $100. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday that Cameron Cayaban pleaded guilty in federal court to harassing, harming or pursuing an endangered species. A federal magistrate judged imposed $100 in fines and fees. Cayaban was charged with slapping a Hawaiian monk seal at Kalaeloa’s White Plains Beach in March. His lawyer says Cayaban was overcome when he saw the seal, ran up to the endangered animal and touched it. Witnesses reported it to military police.
Colorado police nab man accused of hiding in toilet
BOULDER, Colo. — Police in Colorado have arrested a 30-year-old man accused of hiding in the tank of a portable toilet at a yoga festival last week. Kim Kobel of Boulder police says Luke Ivan Chrisco was arrested during an unrelated panhandling investigation Thursday. Police say an officer noticed his resemblance to the toilet suspect, and Chrisco was taken into custody after he was interviewed by a Boulder detective. Police believe he was the man discovered in the toilet at the festival in Boulder by a woman who lifted the lid. A man who checked said he saw someone covered in a tarp inside. A festival security officer says he chased a man who eventually emerged, but the suspect slipped away. The man was covered in human waste. Chrisco faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful sexual contact and criminal invasion of privacy.
NYC jails ask scantily clad visitors to cover up
NEW YORK — New York City jail officials are asking scantily clad visitors to cover up with bright green T-shirts. The city Department of Correction spent $5,000 on 800 extra-extra-large neon shirts. They’re washed daily. The jail dress code prohibits gang symbols, swimwear, and short skirts, among other attire. The policy requires visitors to wear clothing appropriate for a family gathering, including underwear. The T-shirts aren’t just for women. Men with ripped clothes or T-shirts bearing expletives could also be asked to wear them. Jewelry — besides wedding rings — also is discouraged. Department spokeswoman Sharman Stein says the policy will also help catch visitors trying to sneak in contraband. The T-shirts have no pockets.
Maine town leaders vote: Alcohol Mary Road to stay
GREENWOOD, Maine — Selectmen in a western Maine town say a small hidden-away road named for a Prohibition bootlegger will keep its name. Greenwood selectmen voted unanimously against changing the name of Alcohol Mary Road after hearing from an attorney who said the name defames the family name of her client. The client, Arthur Hertell, lives in nearby Bethel and had a grandmother named Mary. She once lived on the road, although she’s not the road’s namesake. Hertell thinks the name is a “desecration” of her memory. The Sun Journal reported that several residents who live on the colorfully named road said Alcohol Mary is a historical figure and a source of local pride.
Grads’ diplomas with errors get replaced
PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Graduates of a Massachusetts high school who received diplomas this month containing spelling errors are getting corrected versions — plus an apology. The diplomas handed out to 263 Plymouth North graduates on June 4 had the word “for” spelled “fro” while the word “and” was spelled “ans.” Schools officials signed all of them without noticing. Principal Kathleen McSweeney tells The Enterprise of Brockton that Jostens, the Minnesota company that printed the diplomas, sent new ones to the school. School officials planned to sign them and mail them this week. Jostens also sent a letter of apology, saying the mistake was human error made as the company transferred artwork to a new computer system.
Fake scholarship prank draws laughs, scolding
BANGOR, Pa. — It turns out a Pennsylvania high school graduate’s scholarship was just a load of bull. Bangor Area High School grad Ethan Rosenberry says he invented an award when the guidance office passed around forms to seniors to report any awards they had received. His made-up award was named for Jack Hitte (middle initial: S). Rosenberry tells The Express-Times of Easton that he wanted acknowledgment that he’d won jack, er, squat. Rosenberry says the school’s administration wasn’t too pleased when the award’s name was read aloud by the principal. But he still got his diploma after a stern talking-to. The district says it’s looking into the prank but declined further comment. Rosenberry is headed to Slippery Rock University in the fall to study political science.
Slot machine pays $25,000, or $24,988 too much
PITTSBURGH — State regulators say a gambler won a $25,000 jackpot on a Pittsburgh casino slot machine that should have paid out only $12. The Gaming Control Board tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the false jackpot happened on May 29, 2010. The generous payout happened in one of five instances involving Rivers Casino machines that weren’t properly tested or certified. The board was to have levied an unspecified fine against the casino. But it nixed a consent agreement with the casino after some board members felt a stronger message needed to be sent. Casino officials say the player was allowed to keep the jackpot and that it paid all taxes on it. Rivers spokesman Jack Horner says the casino takes the matter seriously and has retrained all of its technicians.
Pennsylvania capital’s mayor vows 3-day fast for unity
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The mayor of Pennsylvania’s capital is on a three-day fast she hopes will unite citizens and leaders in the face of a financial crisis. Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson began fasting Wednesday with city religious leaders and is inviting residents to join. The city was admitted into a state-run program for distressed municipalities in December as it struggles with nearly $300 million in debts related to a problem-plagued incinerator project. A state panel has warned the city could run out of money for payroll and other obligations if it doesn’t reduce personnel costs and sell assets. Thompson says she relies on spiritual guidance from God for things that are beyond her control.
Rural Maine couple lives in 2 shipping containers
ELLSWORTH, Maine — A rural Maine couple calls home a pair of former shipping containers bought online for $1,500. Trevor Seip and Jennifer Sansosti have spent a year modifying the containers on their 63-acre property in Ellsworth, where they hope to eventually build a conventional home. Each container measures 20 feet long, 8 feet high and 8 feet wide. One is insulated, plumbed and wired. It boasts a bed and table that fold against the wall, a sink, a camp stove, a propane heater, a shower and a composting toilet. The other has a closet and a folding futon. Sansosti told the Bangor Daily News every inch of the 160 square feet of floor space was used. Seip lived in Stroudsburg, Pa. Sansosti is from New York City. They say Maine is more tolerant of their unconventional housing choice.
Library of Congress to get rare map of flat world
FARGO, N.D. — An Oregon man has given the Library of Congress a rare and unusual gift: a 120-year-old map supporting the theory that the Earth is flat. Don Homuth, of Salem, Ore., says the map was given to him by his eighth-grade teacher. It was created by Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, S.D. Homuth used to live in Fargo and was a North Dakota state senator. Library of Congress spokesman Robert Morris told The Forum newspaper that officials checked more than 75 maps before confirming the design was one-of-a-kind. He says the only other known copy of the map is in the Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs.
Woman photographs eagle and prey on power line
EAST MISSOULA, Mont. — A Montana woman photographing a bald eagle in a spruce tree near her house also made a picture of what was left of its prey — a fawn carcass dangling from a power line. Lee Bridges, of East Missoula, says she photographed the eagle because she had never seen one so close to her house along the Clark Fork River. At about the same time, a NorthWestern Energy employee responding to a power outage drove up. Bridges asked what caused the outage and he pointed at the line and said, “it looks like you’ve got a deer with wings.” The lineman told Bridges the fawn’s carcass hit the first line and swung into another line, sparking the 30-minute outage. The lineman said he’d never seen anything like it.