Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
San Francisco firefighters rescue 2 dogs from cliff
SAN FRANCISCO — It's usually cats in trees that need a firefighter's help but not Friday, when two dogs were rescued by San Francisco firefighters after sliding halfway down a cliff.
San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jonathan Baxter says the dogs got stuck on a cliff at Fort Funston. A 14-member crew helped in their rescue.
But Baxter says it was firefighter paramedic Art Julaton who was lowered down to strap the dogs in a harness and carry them back up to firm land, where they wagged their tales in gratitude.
Baxter says the dogs were not hurt but reminds dog owners to keep an eye on their furry friends.
He says Fort Funston is a popular area for dog walking and hiking.
German police rescue men tangled up with mannequin, toy car
BERLIN — Police in western Germany have freed two men who became entangled with a mannequin and a large, remote controlled car.
Officers were called after cries were heard from an apartment in the city of Mainz in the early hours of Saturday.
Police found the 58-year-old tenant and a 61-year-old visitor "hopelessly locked together" with the toy car and the mannequin — which was dressed in a knight's costume.
Officers were able to free the men, who were too drunk to explain how their unfortunate predicament had come about.
According to a police statement, "the whole thing would have remained a funny episode" but the younger man was "more than impolite" and now faces a charge of insulting officers.
Pacific cruise liner brawl sends guests fleeing to cabins
MELBOURNE, Australia — A South Pacific cruise was interrupted by brawls apparently caused by a 23-member family who threw punches at other passengers, some of whom said they locked themselves in cabins to escape three days of violence.
The Carnival Legend arrived in its home port of Melbourne on Saturday, a day after a family was offloaded in an unscheduled stop in Eden, New South Wales in Australia. Police said they were investigating the incident and the operator apologized for the "disruptive behavior" by the group that was removed from the cruise liner.
The "big Italian family" spent days attacking Australians aboard the ship, with people "getting strangled and punched up," passenger Lisa Bolitho told reporters.
"Very violent, they were full-on attacks," she said.
She also questioned the ship's management, quoting the captain as saying, "'What do you want me to do about it — throw them overboard?'"
Cellphone video footage purportedly of the brawl on Friday shows security guards fighting and trying to separate passengers amid shouting and kicking.
Bolitho's son Jarrah said he was among those targeted and fled and locked himself in the cabin with his mother.
"I was watching the fight and one guy came up to me and said 'Do you want to go too bro?'" he said, adding the offenders were in their late teens and early 20s. "My mum had to drag me away from it all. They were trying to pick on any Aussie they could find."
Carnival Cruise Line said it was offering guests a 25 percent future cruise credit as a "goodwill gesture" but some passengers criticized the offer.
"I won't be travelling Carnival ever again so a 25 percent off a future cruise in my eyes is unacceptable," Mark Morrison said.
The cruise liner with more than 2,000 passengers was on a 10-day trip from Melbourne to New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.
Washington snipped here? College says it found prez's hair
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Tucked in the pages of a grimy, leather-bound almanac in the archives at New York's Union College was a tiny envelope with the hand-scrawled words "Washington's hair."
A librarian who had been cataloging old books gingerly opened the yellowed envelope to find a lock of silvery hair tied with a thread.
"It was one of those mind-blowing moments that happen every once in a while in a librarian's life," said John Myers, a catalog and metadata librarian at the college. "I thought, that doesn't mean George Washington, does it?"
It apparently does.
While college officials can't say for sure it's the real deal, the historical evidence is there. The hair was discovered in a pocket-sized almanac for the year 1793 that belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, son of General Philip Schuyler, who served under Washington during the Revolutionary War and founded Union College in 1795.
Susan Holloway Scott, an independent scholar and author, said locks of hair were frequently given as gifts during Washington's day and it's likely Martha Washington gave the snip of her husband's hair to Eliza Schuyler, daughter of the general and wife of Alexander Hamilton.
Eliza passed it on to her son, James A. Hamilton, as noted by the handwriting on the envelope: "from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871."
A prominent collector of celebrity hair believes it's truly a relic of the nation's first president.
"There's no doubt in my mind it's genuine," said John Reznikoff, founder of University Archives in Westport, Connecticut. And Reznikoff knows hair. His personal collection of 150 locks includes a brain-speckled strand plucked from Abraham Lincoln's fatal wound, a voodoo charm made from Jimi Hendrix's hair and sartorial samples from Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe and, of course, George Washington.
India Spartz, head of special collections and archives at Union, called the hair "a very significant treasure" that will eventually be displayed at the liberal arts college.
Union has no plans to put the hair through DNA testing, in part because it could destroy part of the lock.
Reznikoff said hair locks are typically authenticated through examination of associated artifacts and historical connections rather than by DNA testing because genetic tests aren't always reliable without the hair's root attached and the possible contamination of DNA from multiple people who likely handled the hair.
"Most hair locks stand or fail on the basis of written provenance," Reznikoff said. "So one needs really to consult with document experts rather than scientists."
For librarian Myers, he's still coming to grips with what he found during an otherwise mundane December day.
"It's not nearly as significant as finding some obscure medieval manuscript from some important author," he said. "But in the context of a small upstate college, this is, like wow! Kind of exciting!"
Feathers fly as chicken shortage shuts KFCs across Britain
LONDON — Fast-food fans were in a flutter Monday after most of the 900 KFC outlets in the U.K. and Ireland were forced to close because of a shortage of chicken.
The company apologized to customers, blaming "teething problems" with its new delivery partner, DHL.
KFC first apologized for the problems on Saturday. In an update Monday, it listed almost 300 stores as open, but did not say when the rest might join them.
It said those branches that remained open were operating a limited menu or shortened hours.
"We know that this might have inconvenienced some of you over the last few days, and disappointed you when you wanted your fried chicken fix — we're really sorry about that," the company said in a statement.
DHL, which recently took over the KFC contract from Bidvest Logistics, said that "due to operational issues a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed."
When DHL announced in October that it had won the KFC contract alongside logistics firm QSL, it promised to "re-write the rule book and set a new benchmark for delivering fresh products to KFC in a sustainable way."