Odd News Roundup
September 20, 2013 02:00 PM | 505 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
4 new species of legless lizards found in California

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Scientists in California have discovered four new and separate species of legless lizards — snakelike animals that burrow into sand or soil.

The University of California, Berkeley says the discovery was made by its reptile and amphibian expert Theodore Papenfuss, along with James Parham of California State University, Fullerton.

Until the discovery, scientists believed there was only one species of legless lizard in the American West.

They spent years scouring the state for the reclusive legless lizards. They found the new species at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport, in a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, on the edge of the Mojave Desert and among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley.

The biologists are trying to determine whether the lizards need protected status.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Pennsylvania man charged with DUI on riding lawn mower

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with driving drunk while carrying an open can of beer — on a riding lawn mower.

Murrysville police say they found 55-year-old Thomas Marrone driving the mower along a road just before 1:30 a.m. Aug. 30.

Police say Marrone smelled of alcohol and had an open can of Coors Light beer in the mower's storage compartment. They say he told them he was driving to his Murrysville home — some 6.4 miles away.

Marrone didn't immediately return a phone message left at his home Thursday, and online court records don't list an attorney for him. He faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges including driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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British drivers can pay for parking with chestnuts

LONDON (AP) — It's the next best thing to parking that costs peanuts: parking that costs chestnuts.

A company that runs parking lots in the English cities of Leeds and Manchester is temporarily letting drivers pay with the dark brown seeds that fall from horse chestnut trees each autumn.

Town Centre Car Parks is accepting horse chestnuts for parking time at a rate of 20 pence (32 cents) apiece. So far it has collected about 1,500 of the nuts, known as conkers after the traditional schoolyard game in which children try to smash them.

The weeklong "Bonkers for Conkers" campaign was due to end Sunday, but company spokesman Matthew Williamson said Thursday it may be extended.

The chestnuts are only being accepted at staffed parking lots, not automated ticket machines. "You can't put conkers into coin slots," he noted.

The company said the project aimed to raise awareness about carbon emissions from automobiles and it plans to sponsor a forest to help offset carbon emissions.

It hasn't decided yet what to do with the conkers.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Wisconsin college student helps pay tuition by eating

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A University of Wisconsin student with a nickname of "Silo" is eating his way through school — competitively.

Computer engineering student Eric Dahl now ranks third in the world of competitive eating as determined by All Pro Eating rankings, though he once held the top spot. Dahl has earned more than $18,000 in prize money or merchandise to help pay for his education.

"I'm eating for my education," he said. "It helps me get through."

Dahl was drawn to competitive eating in 2011, at the former Big Red's Steakhouse in Madison. Dahl didn't want to pay for his meal so he signed up for a challenge: eat a three-pound cheesesteak sandwich in less than 10 minutes and skip the bill. He finished in 5 minutes, 50 seconds.

"It just started rolling from there," he said.

Dahl's first paycheck came from Dickey's Barbecue Pit in suburban Minneapolis, where he earned $250 for inhaling nine pulled-pork sandwiches in six minutes. The former high school athlete found the competition and its over-the-top atmosphere reminiscent of professional wrestling.

"I really get pumped when the crowd starts cheering," he said. "I'm friends with other competitive eaters, but once I'm on stage I don't have any friends."

The 6-foot-3 Dahl said he walks a few miles a day, lifts weights twice a week and plays intramural soccer and hockey to maintain his 220-pound weight. The State Journal reports that he eats no more than 3,100 calories a day, mostly vegetables to avoid increasing his waistline, and stretches his stomach by eating 10 pounds of cabbage or broccoli in a single sitting followed by a lot of water.

His next bout is scheduled for Saturday. "Silo" will try to win $1,000 at a national pizza-eating contest on Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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2 accused of elaborate calculator theft scheme 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Police in Utah say they've arrested two people accused of an elaborate scheme to steal expensive graphing calculators.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports police caught on to the operation when the manager of a Salt Lake City Rodeway Inn hotel called them Aug. 13 and reported finding boxes full of calculators in a room.

Court documents say the duo stole the devices from Wal-Mart stores in Tooele, Harrisville, Ogden and Carson City, Nev., by hiding them in the boxes of larger but cheaper items they bought.

Authorities say police found at least 108 stolen calculators, which sell for about $130, in the hotel room. Officials estimate the pair stole about $15,000 in merchandise.

Salt Lake City Detective Veronica Montoya says it appears the pair was selling the devices out of state.

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Burglary suspect falls through ceiling in California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A burglar who tried to break into an ATM at a bank in San Francisco was arrested Friday after he hopped onto the roof of a nearby building to escape and fell into an apartment, police said.

"There was a hole in the roof where he fell through just as we were ordering him to put his hands up," police Sgt. Wilfred Williams told reporters. "I've responded to several different silent alarm calls at banks, but this is the first time when someone fell through a roof."

The suspect, whose name was not released, was not seriously injured.

Police said he had tried to use a crowbar to break into the ATM inside a Bank of America branch in the Portola neighborhood around 3:45 a.m.

The man apparently got into the bank through a ventilation shaft, which triggered a silent alarm. He was spotted by officers as he fled, police Chief Greg Suhr told KPIX-TV.

Officers notified the K9 unit after realizing the burglar had fled onto the roof. A Fire Department ladder truck was called in as part of the search.

The suspect was spotted on the roof. As he was trying to surrender, he fell into the apartment. Police said no money had been taken.

Information from: KPIX-TV.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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