Sunday, November 23, 2014

Who goes there?

Birds in flight emulate firework display

A flock of birds filmed flying from a tree in Zaandam in the Netherlands.

YouTube link. LiveLeak link.

Pregnant man arrested for stalking estranged wife

Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who gave birth after beginning to change from a woman to a man, is accused of stalking his estranged wife. Beatie, 40, who lives in Anthem, was arrested on Thursday and booked into the Maricopa County Jail on one count of stalking.

Beatie is accused of putting a GPS tracking device on his wife’s car in October of 2012, about six months after he served his wife with an order of protection that required her to leave the couple’s home. The device was found by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer when he stopped to help the victim change a flat tyre, according to an officer’s probable cause statement.

Phoenix police said the victim, who was identified in the statement as Beatie’s spouse, Nancy Beatie, said she believed it was Thomas Beatie who put the GPS device on her car. She claimed Beatie would randomly show up wherever she was at the time, would mention places she had been and questioned her about times that she returned home. Investigators said Thomas Beatie admitted to installing the device, monitoring it online and recharging the battery whenever it was low on power.

Thomas Beatie was denied a divorce in March 2013 by Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach because at the time Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages prevented the union from being recognized as valid. Thomas Beatie was born a woman and underwent a double-mastectomy but retained female reproductive organs and gave birth to three children. Gerlach said he had no jurisdiction to approve a divorce because there was insufficient evidence that Thomas Beatie was male when he married Nancy Beatie in 2003 in Hawaii.

Missing kitten found in duffle bag 2,300 miles from home

A New Mexico woman’s missing kitten has been located in Maine, although exactly how the feline made the 2,300-mile trip remains a mystery. The female kitten, named Spice, was turned in to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook earlier this month by a man who found her inside a duffle bag outside a Portland thrift store.

“If only Spice could talk, imagine the story she would tell us,” said Jeana Roth, community relations manager of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. “We called the microchip company and traced that microchip back to Albuquerque, New Mexico to a woman whose grey and white kitten went missing on Halloween night,” said Roth.

Jennifer Brown of the Animal Refuge League says she talked to the owner, who said Spice bolted on Halloween when she opened her door for trick-or-treaters. “The owner’s reaction was our reaction. She couldn’t believe it. She’s never been to Maine. She doesn’t know anybody who lives in Maine, so how her cat who got out of her home on Halloween night, made it to Portland, Maine, is a mystery to her as well as to us,” Roth said.

YouTube link.

“Perhaps somebody who was crossing the country picked Spice up as a travel companion,” Roth said. “She’s lovely. She seems like she’s had a great adventure if only she could tell us what happened,” Roth added. A Maine businessman has now agreed to pay for Spice’s commercial airline flight back to New Mexico.

Raccoon with head stuck in storm drain rescued

Members of Framingham Department of Public Works in Massachusetts recently rescued a raccoon with its head stuck in a storm drain.

Stormwater Supervisor Brooks McCarty said he and Animal Control Officer Kathy MacKenzie used soap to successfully get the critter unstuck from the cover.

"We soaped his head up and pulled and pulled and twisted,"
McCarty said.

"All of a sudden he just popped out and she let him go and he stood there confused and then just ran up into a tree."

Woman riding jet ski on motorway called stupid

A woman caught sitting on a jet ski as it was towed by a truck along a motorway in Auckland, New Zealand, has been labelled careless and stupid. The over-enthusiastic jet skier was seen by a passing motorist on the North-Western motorway in the area of the inner-city suburb of Newton - where other vehicles passing her could reach speeds of 100 kmh (60mph).

Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty rebuked the woman for her life-threatening stunt. ''Stupidity on the roads causes heartbreaks in homes," she said. She said the woman and the driver were committing a traffic offence. If police track them down, they risk penalties for dangerous driving and having an unrestrained passenger in tow.

She said police were asking people to come forward and identify the woman. AA motoring affairs boss Mike Noon said the woman posed a risk to herself and other motorists who would be distracted. ''It's very, very silly behaviour. It's in the same category as people standing on the back of cars, people sitting on the roof of the car, things like that.

''I'm sure if they thought it through they wouldn't do it.'' Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said the woman flirted with her own life. "Quite clearly, the process of natural selection is at work here: if the car that's towing her stops suddenly, she gets removed from the gene pool."

Man fearing attack by Russia who hoarded guns and explosives in nuclear-proof bunker arrested

Police in Kelheim, Germany, said on Friday they had arrested a man who hoarded guns, ammunition and bomb-making material in a nuclear-proof family bunker he built fearing an attack by Russia.

The 59-year-old electrician had constructed the emergency shelter by expanding and reinforcing the basement of his family home in the small town near Regensburg in Bavaria. Police said they had confiscated two submachine guns, 80 rifles, 60 handguns, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and 40 kilogrammes of materials to make explosives.

"He was afraid of the threat posed by a large eastern European power. He was afraid of Russia," a police spokesman said. ”We don't know when he started construction. He did it all by himself." The man had also stored food supplies and built underground air filtration and water treatment systems.

There is no evidence he is mentally ill or has extremist political views, police said, adding that the man was arrested on illegal weapons and explosives charges. Police said they took three days to enter and explore the extensive survival shelter and weapons arsenal, using power tools to crack through the walls.

Plan to close school with no pupils

Plans to close a school with no pupils have been consulted on. Ravenstonedale Endowed School in Cumbria has had no children since September.

A head teacher and five part-time staff are still employed. The proposals will be voted on in March and, if approved, the school will close in April.

Pupil numbers have dropped from 65 in 2000 to 26 in September last year, falling to zero by the beginning of the current academic year.

Cumbria County Council said there was "little prospect" of the school recovering in the "foreseeable future". The nearest alternative school is just under five miles (8km) away in Kirkby Stephen.

Man who claims curse from temple worshippers caused blindness in eye angry with faith healers

A man from Woolwich in south east London has claimed he was scammed out of more than £600 by two Indian faith healers he visited after worshippers of a Sikh temple put a “black magic curse” on him. Balbir Bakhshi works for various charities across the borough and claims he has gained media attention for his fundraising work since arriving in the UK from India in 1985.

But the 69-year-old says Sikh acquaintances at the Gurdwara Sahib temple became angry at Mr Bakhshi’s attention and subsequently put a hex on him blinding him in his left eye in 2007. Mr Bakhshi said: “I realised they were putting a hex on me because he was reading some magical words and was gazing at me from across the temple. Then I started to see smoke in my eyes and it hasn’t gone away since this. You can put a hex on someone – by a telephone call or a letter. It doesn’t matter how.”

After his eyesight failed to improve, Mr Bakhshi decided to seek the help of a local faith healer last month, but after paying £400 for one session he claims the male healer demanded a further £1,200 for ‘treatment’. He said: “He gave me a small bottle of water and told me to go and throw the water outside and then take a bath and I would be cured. But nothing has happened. I still cannot see properly. The situation has gone from bad to worse.” After he got a refund, unimpressed with the service offered, Mr Bakhshi paid £230 to see another faith healer in Woolwich.

Again Mr Bakhshi requested a refund after his sight was still not restored – only to be told by the healer, another Indian man – that he had given it to charity and would not give it back. He said: “This man treated me like a child – a baby sucking milk from the breast of its mother! He kept telling me he was taking good care of me but he wasn’t. I’m very angry because I am a good man who doesn’t deserve to be treated in this way.” Mr Bakhshi has not reported either incident to the police. A spokesman from the Gurdwara Sahib temple said: “We do not believe in black magic.”

Angry man turned up at store in dressing gown holding soap and loofah after faulty shower row

An irate customer arrived at the Wickes branch in Chippenham, Wiltshire, earlier this week wearing only his boxer shorts, dressing gown and slippers after being left disappointed by the store’s actions to fix his broken shower. John O’Malley, 62, of Rodbourne, took the drastic action after the new bathroom he bought from Wickes in September developed a fault on Monday, leaving him without the use of a shower. When John complained to the store, he claims the manager told him no one could fix it until Friday at the earliest but he could come down to the store for a shower.

So, on Tuesday, taking them at their word, he headed down to the store in his dressing gown, with loofah and soap in hand. However, on arrival John was told there was no shower available and was asked to leave. When he tried to argue his case, the police were called. “When I spoke with the store manager over the phone he said to come down and we could use the shower there so that’s what I did,” said John. “I came down in my dressing gown but the manager then told me he was only joking. He then called the police and threatened to have me thrown out of the store. I was not causing or looking to cause any trouble.

“I'm 62 and have heart problems so don’t need any of this but we should be able to have a shower. They suggested that we go to family or friends but that’s not an option for us. Not being able to shower for a week is not fair on me or anyone I work with. I travel to work by train every day and it isn’t fair on the other people if I haven’t been able to shower for days. No one at work wants to sit next to a guy who hasn’t showered for a week.” John says he had been having problems with the shower since it was first fitted by a qualified plumber and believes Wickes has a duty to repair the shower straight away. Although a refund for the £280 shower has been offered, John is angry at the situation he has been left in.

Gordon Mackenzie, head of customer service at Wickes said: “As soon as this case was brought to our attention, the team worked with Mr O’Malley to resolve the matter and he was offered a repair slot during the same week that he first contacted customer services. Mr O’Malley was unable to commit to this due to his work commitments, so it was re-scheduled for the following week. When he expressed his disappointment, a member of our team went to visit Mr O’Malley within a couple of days of him lodging his complaint. They discussed how Wickes could help alleviate the situation and he was offered generous compensation to cover the costs of showering. We do everything we can to ensure customer matters are resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner and while we appreciate the inconvenience of a broken shower, we feel we went to every effort to help Mr O’Malley to resolve this situation.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's the weekend

Knock knock

YouTube link.

Gorilla doesn't take kindly to being filmed

This apparently camera-shy gorilla at Berlin zoo expressed its displeasure to these visitors from Ireland.

Contains NSFW language.

YouTube link.

Would-be shoplifter fled store wearing only his boxer shorts after fight with owners

A 21-year-old man who allegedly tried to steal two bottles of beer from a convenience store in Beaverton, Oregon, ended up wearing just his boxer shorts after the store owners wrestled with him.

The co-owners of Best Mart grabbed hold of Solomon Yemane-Berhane soon after one prevented him from walking out the front door late on Nov. 9. The three tussled for about three minutes as the store owners attempted to detain him, while at least two customers stood and watched.

Yemane-Berhane eventually managed to slip out of the grip of the husband and wife owners, after losing his jacket, hat, shirt and shorts in the process, and sprinted out of the door. He came back moments later to pick up his jacket and again left. The owners had followed Yemane-Berhane out the door after he managed to elude them. The two other people in the store left soon after, as well.

YouTube link.

Broken beer bottles, overturned displays and merchandise were strewn throughout the store after the scuffle. Police arrested Yemane-Berhane nearby. Yemane-Berhane was indicted last Friday by a Washington County grand jury on charges of resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, third-degree robbery, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree theft and fourth-degree assault.

Crucifix and Virgin Mary Statue unscathed in fire that destroyed 100-year-old church

Parishioners of a San Jose Catholic church destroyed by a huge fire last Sunday are calling it a miracle that both the church’s crucifix and Virgin Mary statue both somehow survived the inferno relatively unscathed.

The ornate crucifix of Holy Cross Catholic Church appeared to not even have any soot or singe marks, even as the rest of the church’s interior was in ruins.

The beloved Mary statue, the Virgin of Guadalupe, was also intact.

Devastated parishioners were elated after the discovery, saying it was a sign from above. “It’s like a miracle to give us hope that it’s still there and we can rebuild,” said Cecilia Rodriguez.

Plumber zapped on private parts before being impaled on pipe says he now believes in God

An Argentinian plumber who fell 5 metres and was impaled on a water pipe after being zapped on the private parts by a high voltage cable says he now believes in God. And to make matters worse, Juan Ramon Monzon, 26, found his boss had been employing him without any medical insurance which meant he almost did not get the hospital treatment he needed to keep him alive.

He had been forced to rely on colleagues to take him to hospital with the pipe still attached, and after being discharged after 24 hours was only given aspirin for the pain. He said: "I didn't know I didn't have medical insurance or indeed any work insurance, and as a married man with the young son, I don't know how I'm going to get by because of the moment I just can't work. But I believe in God - who couldn't believe in God after experiencing what I have and still be alive."

Amazingly the pipe missed all of the vital organs of Ramon, who added: "I was working from the top of the tower installing the plumbing system, which meant putting a huge water tank into place. But I got too close to a provisional connection for the mains electricity coming into the building." In fact he had lent over the electricity supply and been zapped on the private parts burning a hole in his clothing and leaving him with severe burns.

He had also been thrown backwards, and out through an open doorway leading onto a balcony that had not yet been completed where he fell 5 metres onto the ground in the city of Obera, in the northern Argentine province of Misiones. A medic said: "As well as the fact that his body was pierced by metal pipe he also had severe burns mainly to his private parts, a broken nose and a fractured forehead." His sister Roxana Monzon, 28, said: "We couldn't believe it when we realised he didn't have any medical insurance, and we had to put a lot of pressure on the hospital to get him treatment. And even after that they discharged him after a day which is incredible, and gave him aspirin for the pain."

Police in toasted sandwich mercy dash to elderly lady

Police in New Zealand rushed to the rescue of an elderly woman who had not eaten in three days. The 90-year-old from Wanganui was trying to get a toasted sandwich delivered to her home last week and, in desperation, called the police. Her call went out over the police radio and was picked up by an enthusiastic patrol, who ordered a toastie from a fish-and-chip shop and delivered it.

Sergeant Colin Wright said the call came in about 9.30pm after the woman, who lived alone and had been unwell, became "distressed and desperate" when she could not order a toastie to be delivered. "She hadn't eaten, the previous three days," Mr Wright said. "I don't know how many places or who she'd phoned.

"She had obviously tried a couple of fish and chip shops and probably there was nobody else to call." He said police "absolutely" enjoyed doing those types of jobs when a person needed their help. "We're forever going to victims of burglaries, assaults and car crashes. This is someone who's vulnerable who we can help.

"One of our roles is to look after vulnerable people, be that mentally, physically or age-wise. That's why officers jumped to it. We could even have gone back to the police station and cooked one up ourselves." Mr Wright felt the tale epitomised what police stood for "in terms of serving the community". He called the hospital and they were arranging for social services to help the woman. "It's an opportunity for people to see we're human, believe it or not."

Employment tribunal rules that performing the chicken dance isn't grounds for dismissal

A operator for Sydney Ferries in Australia was ordered to rehire an "alpha male" employee who was fired for allegedly performing the chicken dance in a mocking move to his colleague.

The workplace tribunal ordered Sydney Ferries operator Harbour City Ferries to reinstate Timothy Redden, 51, after finding that performing the chicken dance was not a valid reason for dismissal. Harbour City Ferries terminated Mr Redden's employment when it discovered he called his colleague a "dog" and, when his colleague ignored him, performed the chicken dance at him to imply he was a chicken for not retaliating. One of the two dances was captured on a CCTV.

Fair Work Commissioner Ian Cambridge found the employee, who he described as an "alpha male", was unfairly dismissed and should have been given a final warning instead. "In particular, one major aspect of the reasons for dismissal which involved a finding that the applicant performed the "chicken dance" as an intentional act to intimidate, harass or otherwise harm another employee, was simply fanciful and did not represent valid reason for dismissal," he said.

The commissioner also said the workplace investigation was flawed in that the employer readily accepted the words of others and rejected Mr Redden's, perhaps due to the sacked employee's "somewhat disagreeable demeanour". "Even unpleasant people are entitled to justice," he said.

Tourists in Venice risk €500 fine for loud luggage

Tourists to Venice in Italy, could face a €500 (£400, $630) fine if they wheel noisy suitcases around the watery city, under new proposals outlined on Thursday.

Venetians are tired of being kept awake at night by throngs of tourists, wheeling their luggage through the city’s narrow streets and over its famous bridges.

Now the city’s special commissioner, Vittorio Zappalorto, has come up with a plan to let his citizens get their 40 winks, by banning the suitcases. Under new anti-noise pollution proposals, tourists will be barred from bringing luggage with plastic or full rubber wheels to Venice.

But bicycle-style tyres, made from rubber and filled with air, will be allowed. If Zapalorto’s plan gets the go ahead, tourists will be fined between €100 and €500 if they break the suitcase rule. Venetians, however, will be free to continue to use whichever luggage they please.

Police called to help escort pod of whales away from shoreline

Police officers from Essex were called in to help escort a pod of whales away from the shoreline to prevent them from being stranded on beaches or sandbanks. Officers from the marine unit and the helicopter were called in after the pod of forty 16ft long pilot whales was seen entering the River Blackwater on Tuesday. Members of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity called police and Coastguard when the whales were close to shallow water at St Lawrence Bay. The Special Branch Marine Unit used a high-speed RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) to reach the scene and, with local boats, managed to turn the pod back towards the open sea. The mammals, which were believed to be following and eating shoals of herring, were later seen heading towards the shore between St Osyth and Jaywick.

Marine officers then called in a helicopter from the National Police Air Service. Also on board the aircraft was a technician from a mapping contractor who had previously served In the Royal New Zealand Air Force and had experience in marine surveillance and monitoring whales in Antarctica who was able to provide valuable information. PC Kevin Flinn, observer on the helicopter, said: "Our passenger was certainly an expert on using aircraft to shepherd the pod of whales. We hovered between the beach and the pod and were able to move closer to them until they turned and went back to deeper water. The whales were about five metres long and in very shallow water and with the tide receding.

"There certainly was a risk of them beaching on the sandbanks, but we moved them away from danger. The marine unit boat and other vessels then took over and escorted the pod further offshore.” At one point the helicopter descended to about 200ft to ‘flag down’ a fishing boat that was heading straight for the whales. The officers used their Sky Shout broadcasting system to alert the crew. The vessel stopped and the skipper was asked by the marine unit to steer clear of the whales. PC Simon Lofting from the Special Branch Marine Unit said: "We've had small numbers of dolphins and porpoises off Essex but this is the first time so many whales have been seen. We'd been out the previous day on the Thames when there were sightings off Southend and Kent, but we didn't find them.

YouTube link.

"But on Tuesday, following sightings in the River Blackwater, we were contacted by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and asked to assist. We had an expert from BDMLR on board our boat and he had real concerns that the whole pod could strand themselves. The helicopter did an amazing piece of work, not only moving the whales from shallow water but counting them accurately when the pod had split. We were told the previous day that there were 29 whales so the helicopter was a great resource in giving us accurate information. I would also like to thank the assistance of Inshore Fisheries and the river bailiff. Between the three vessels we managed to bring the whales together when the pod split and we moved to deeper water. It was certainly one of our more usual operations and we all worked closely to ensure that the whales were not stranded in shallow water while chasing shoals of herrings.”