Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
Thai leader tells reporters to quiz cardboard mock-up
BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister evaded journalists' questions on Monday by bringing out a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself and telling the reporters to quiz it instead of him.
Prayuth Chan-ocha then turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the mock-up behind, to bemused looks and awkward laughter from the Government House press pack.
The prime minister had briefly spoken to the media after attending an event promoting upcoming Children's Day, but deployed his dodging tactic before anyone could ask him about a number of pressing political issues.
"If you want to ask any questions on politics or conflict," he said, "ask this guy."
It isn't the first time Prayuth — a general who seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014 — has dumbfounded the media. In the past he has fondled the ear of a sound technician for several minutes during an impromptu news conference, flung a banana peel at cameramen, and threatened, with gruff humor, to execute any journalist who criticized his government.
When it took power, his government, packed with military leaders, enjoyed considerable public support for ending a prolonged period of often-violent street politics. But as the junta's rule has stretched on, criticism of its often-repressive policies and lack of transparency has grown markedly.
Prayuth has promised elections in November, though he has made similar promises several times previously and then delayed the balloting.
A lofty proposal: 'Marry Me' etched in snow, seen from above
NEVIS, Minn. — An aviation student in northern Minnesota pulled off a sky-high marriage proposal by writing "Marry Me" in the snow, then flying his long-time girlfriend over his handiwork.
Gavin Becker enlisted his family's help to pen the life-changing question using a snow blower on the frozen Eight Crow Wing Lake near Nevis.
Ed Becker, Gavin's father, tells KARE-TV that it took about 4½ hours to create the 25-foot-tall (7.5-meter-tall) letters and a huge heart.
Gavin Becker, a University of North Dakota aviation student, then rented a plane and took his high-school sweetheart, Olivia Toft, for a trip over the lake Sunday.
Toft, realizing it was snow joke, told him "yes."
Information from: KARE-TV, http://www.kare11.com
Outdoor center warns skiers of dive-bombing owl
NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Officials at a Maine outdoor center are warning skiers to watch out for an "aggressive dive-bombing" owl that recently struck a man.
Pineland Farms says in a Facebook post the owl cut the man's head when it attacked, and neither skiers nor trail groomers have seen the bird since.
Pineland says the owl is protecting a nest near a cross-country ski trail. They believe the bird is either a barred owl or a great horned owl.
The center has posted warning signs around the trail. They recommend people wave their arms overhead or wear a hat if they must pass by the area.
Pineland says "owls are silent when they strike, so you will not hear it coming."
Doughnut shops in Massachusetts, Tennessee, make playoff bet
BOSTON — Gourmet doughnut shops in Massachusetts and Tennessee have placed a sweet wager on this weekend's playoff game between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.
If the Patriots win, Five Daughters Bakery in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, will send a dozen doughnuts to Kane's Donuts in Saugus, Massachusetts, north of Boston.
Should the Titans win, Kane's will send a dozen treats south, but as Kane's co-owner Maria Delios said in a video on the shop's Facebook page, "We all know that's not happening."
The losing shop's workers also have to wear the winning team's jerseys at work.
Kane's made similar bets with doughnut shops in Houston, Pittsburgh and Atlanta last year — and won them all as the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Beach blades! Maine teen glides over frozen sand, surf
YORK, Maine — Beachgoers in Maine have caught an unusual sight — an ice skater's blades gliding over frozen sand and surf.
Grant Long celebrated his 18th birthday Saturday by skating on the newfound patch of ice after record-low temperatures caused Long Sands Beach to freeze over.
Long's mother says her son got his skates for Christmas and felt as if the ice was a "birthday bonus."
Onlookers at the beach captured a video of Long skating and posted it to Facebook Monday. The video has gathered more than 170,000 views, with commenters saying they have never witnessed such a sight.
Long's mother says the teen is an old soul, and he will definitely write about his experience in his journal
Tattoos lead Thai police to arrest Japanese gang member
BANGKOK — Thai police said they have arrested a 74-year-old fugitive Japanese gang member who was recognized when photos of his full-body tattoos were circulated online.
A police statement said Shigeharu Shirai was arrested Wednesday in a province north of Bangkok where he has been hiding for over 10 years to evade murder charges in Japan in connection with the death of a rival gang member.
His arrest apparently came after photos of him sitting around a checkers table were posted on Facebook in August last year by a Thai who was impressed by the man's tattoos. The post was shared over 10,000 times and some users identified the former gang member.
Police Gen. Wirachai Songmetta said Japanese associates paid visits to Shirai two to three times a year, each time bearing cash gifts. He is married to a Thai woman and kept a low profile over the past decade, police said.
Shirai will face illegal entry charges before he is handed over to Japanese authorities, the police statement said.
Police said Shirai was implicated, along with seven others, in the killing of Kazuhiko Otobe. Japan's Kyodo News service said police in Mie prefecture had obtained an arrest warrant in the 15-year-old case.
Shirai and Otobe were members of small rival factions affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza, or underworld, syndicate.
Tattoos on the back, upper arms and a missing tip of a little finger are trademarks of Japanese yakuza. Tattooed guests are often refused entry to public baths and swimming pools.
According to the National Police Agency, 22 organizations were designated as organized crime groups in 2017, with membership totaling more than 20,000. Almost three-quarters of the gangsters belong to the Yamaguchi-gumi and two other groups, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai, which together dominate Japan's underworld.
In addition to illegal drug sales and gambling, which are their traditional ways of earning money, gangsters also have entered construction, finance and security businesses.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show name of rival is Kazuhiko instead of Kashihiko, age of Shirai is 74 instead of 72.
Say Cheese! Young chefs spar in grilled cheese challenge
AUGUSTA, Maine — The youngest of three Maine chefs has taken first place in the inaugural Augusta Agricultural Trades Show gourmet grilled cheese sandwich contest.
The "get Real. get Maine." cooking contest took place Wednesday, with 10-year-old Jade Eastman taking the top prize with her grilled cheese. The Portland Press Herald reports the trio of competitors was given 30 minutes to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich, and they were given no advance warning on what they'd be cooking.
Jade received a gift bag from Hannaford Bros. supermarkets for her win. Runners-up Chase Daigle and Ethan Hobart, both 12, got to keep their official competition aprons and chef hats, as did Jade.
The 77th Agricultural Trades Show continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.
Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com
Guam's governor fooled by Russian comedians via phone call
HAGATNA, Guam — Guam's governor was duped by a pair of Russian comedians who pretended to be officials from Ukraine.
Pacific Daily News reports that Guam officials received an email in September 2017 requesting a phone call with Gov. Eddie Calvo. The senders claimed to be from the office of the Ukraine prime minister and wanted to talk about North Korea's threat to Guam.
Guam government spokeswoman Jenna Blas says the email included verifiable information, which led officials to proceed with the phone call.
Blas says Calvo caught wind of something not being right partway through the interview, but that he completed the call in a professional manner.
On Tuesday, comedians Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov posted a video with an audio recording of the phone call on their YouTube channel.
Holiday decor to park chalet? Capitol tree heads to Montana
HELENA, Mont. — The spruce tree destined to serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was carefully selected from a Montana forest and hauled across the country in a special truck to preserve its freshness.
The 79-foot-tall (24-meter-tall) tree, which was lit up last month during a ceremony with congressional members, had its own website and social media presence.
Now, some Montana companies hope to keep its fame alive by trucking it back home so it can be used to help rebuild a historic chalet in Glacier National Park that was destroyed in a wildfire last summer.
Some critics questioned the amount of fuel that would be burned to haul the tree back across the U.S. when Montana has plenty of trees, while others didn't mind as long as taxpayer money wasn't involved.
The effort is certainly more sentimental than practical, but no public money is being spent and no one can profit from the tree's use, said Bruce Ward with Choose Outdoors, the Denver-based nonprofit that organized the effort to bring the tree to Washington.
Ward got in on the idea after SmartLam, a Montana wood products company, contacted him about doing something more constructive than letting the celebrated tree end up as mulch for the Capitol lawn.
A few phone calls and goodwill gestures later, plans call for the tree to be cut into segments and trucked 2,300 miles (3,701 kilometers) back to Montana starting as early as next week. It was removed from the Capitol lawn Tuesday morning, officials said.
F.H. Stoltz Land & Lumber in Columbia Falls has agreed to process the wood, but vice president and general manager Chuck Roady noted that spruce is a softer wood and more suited for door or window frames or fireplace mantles than structural use in the new park chalet.
Glacier officials are waiting to see how the still-standing rock walls of the Sperry Chalet fare over the winter before deciding on any restoration plans, park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said.
Organizers asked Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for his support and he wrote to Capitol officials asking the tree to be released to Montana for use in the chalet.
"This wooden and stone landmark, built in Glacier's rugged backcountry more than a century ago, is irreplaceable," Tester wrote. "But efforts are underway to rebuild the Sperry Chalet, and I can think of no better use for some of the Montana lumber in our Capitol Christmas Tree to assist in that endeavor."
Ward had asked if the logs could hitch a ride back with a Montana-made copper star that topped the tree. Whitewood Transport Inc., which hauled the tree to Washington, said they could work that out, he said.
This isn't the first time the Capitol tree has been given a second life.
In early 2013, former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell arranged for the tree from a Colorado forest to be returned to the state. The Coors Brewing Co. trucked the tree back to Colorado in 6-foot (2-meter) pieces and the wood was used to make park benches, Ward said.
"For me, it's a great way to return a historic souvenir to the state to be used for worthwhile purposes," Ward said Monday.
Rome's mangy Christmas tree to be carved up into souvenirs
ROME — Rome's pathetic Christmas tree, so droopy and dried out that residents nicknamed it "The Mangy One," will be carved up and turned into souvenirs and a lactation hut for mothers and babies, city officials said Tuesday.
In giving the downtrodden tree a new life, Rome's cabinet moved to close an embarrassing chapter in which the holiday decoration came to symbolize the city's degradation and dysfunction under its 5-Star mayor, Virginia Raggi, and the years of neglect and corruption before her.
Raggi insisted Tuesday that the tree ended up capturing the hearts of Romans and visitors alike, and that its future life would show Rome as a model of recycling.
But not even its removal went as planned. Workers on cranes started taking down ornaments Tuesday, only to put them back after getting word that a formal farewell ceremony was planned for Thursday.
The 21-meter- (70-foot-) high tree, which was lit on Dec. 8, earned its moniker soon after it was hoisted up in the middle of Rome's main square, Piazza Venezia, and started dropping its needles at an unusually fast clip.
Raggi ordered an investigation into why the needles fell off so soon, given the tree was alive when it was selected and cost 48,000 euros ($57,000) to transport from South Tyrol, an Italian Alpine region, to the capital.
The "Spelacchio" saga was the latest headache for Raggi, who was recently indicted on charges she lied about a City Hall appointment. The trial is due to start in June. Raggi says she's innocent.
The case involves the appointment of Renato Marra as director of Rome's tourism department. Marra's brother, Raffaele Marra, headed City Hall's personnel office until his arrest in an unrelated corruption probe.
Raggi has said she alone decided on the tourism appointment, but text messages indicate Raffaele Marra had a hand in both it and the resulting salary increase for his brother.
On Tuesday, Raffaele Marra was indicted in the case for alleged abuse of office, Italy's ANSA news agency said.
Good Samaritans rescue moose calf trapped in snow
CROUSEVILLE, Maine — A group of concerned citizens in Maine saved a young moose trapped in the snow.
WLBT-TV reports that the group dug the calf out of 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) of snow in Crouseville on Monday.
Lauren Allen's husband was among the small crowd of helpers. Allen says Maine game wardens responded to help load the distressed animal onto a flat sled and move her to stable ground.
Allen says the moose got stranded last week too and needed help. Community members think the calf lost its mother.
But a Warden Service spokesman said there's no happy ending.
Cpl. John MacDonald said the baby moose's labored breathing pointed toward an illness called lungworm. In consultation with wildlife biologists, Wardens determined the moose had to be put down.
Information from: WLBZ-TV, http://www.wlbz2.com
Swiss police arrest 80-year-old man for masked bank robbery
BERLIN — Swiss authorities say they have apprehended an 80-year-old man on allegations he robbed a bank near the city of Lucerne.
Lucerne canton (state) prosecutors said Tuesday the man, who was arrested the previous day in the Lucerne area, had confessed to the December masked robbery of the bank in Meggen. The suspect's name wasn't released in line with privacy laws and further details weren't immediately available.
At the time of the robbery, police released a photo of the suspect showing him wearing a black mask, clutching a blue plastic bag of money as he robbed the bank before he fled on foot.
They said it wasn't clear if he was armed, and did not say how much money he got away with.
Maine whale biologist says whale protected her from shark
BRUNSWICK, Maine — A marine biologist believes a humpback whale shielded her from a 15-foot tiger shark in the South Pacific.
Nan Hauser said she didn't understand the actions of the 25-ton whale that she met face-to-face in the Cook Islands. Then she saw the shark.
She's heard on a video telling the massive mammal, "I love you!"
The encounter took place in October, but Hauser didn't upload the video until Monday. It quickly spread via social media.
Hauser, president of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, tells the Portland Press Herald that whales are "altruistic" and often hide seals from predators, but she has never experienced or read about anything about a whale protecting a human. "If someone told me the story, I wouldn't believe it," she said.
The Brunswick resident said she was oblivious to the shark during the tense, 10-minute encounter. The whale started to nudge her, and appeared to push her with its head. The animal also appeared to shield her with its pectoral fin.
Her research companions turned off an underwater video drone, fearing she was going to be mauled to death.
But Hauser kept her video rolling.
She suffered some bruises and scratches from the encounter, but was otherwise unscathed. She said that after she swam back to her boat, the whale surfaced nearby as if to check on her.
While Hauser credits the whale for protecting her, she acknowledges she can't know what the whale was thinking.
James Sulikowski, a marine biologist and professor at the University of New England who has studied tiger sharks, said he's not convinced that the whale saved her life. "The shark could have just been hanging around," he said. "There's really no way of knowing the whale's motivation."
Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com
Bank theft suspect nabbed applying for police dispatch job
PHOENIX — A former Bank of America worker suspected of theft chose the wrong employer when applying for a police dispatch job.
The Cottonwood Police Department in central Arizona's Yavapai County says the case involving 32-year-old Alberto Lopez of Phoenix popped up in law enforcement records when he applied to be a dispatcher.
Police spokeswoman Sgt. Monica Kuhlt said Monday Lopez was suspected of stealing $5,000 from a Bank of America branch in Yavapai County between July and September 2016. He quit and moved to Phoenix and refused to cooperate, missing appointments and refusing to answer phone calls.
After Lopez applied for the dispatch position in December, officers had him come in for an interview last week and arrested him on a felony theft warrant.
He didn't get the job.
Armed suspect steals money, cookies from Las Vegas Subway
LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas police are searching for a suspect who robbed a Subway restaurant of $69 and two macadamia nut cookies.
KSNV-TV reports that surveillance footage shows the suspect pull out a gun before pointing it at a Subway employee on Jan. 4.
The employee, Eric Rouse, said the man ordered the two cookies and then pulled out the gun and made demands.
Rouse says he feels luck that the situation didn't turn out worse.
Las Vegas police have a subject description they are looking for based on the restaurant's cameras.
Information from: KSNV-TV, http://www.mynews3.com/index.php
Arizona high school put on lockdown as 4 bobcats are rescued
ANTHEM, Ariz. — A high school north of Phoenix was put on lockdown for several hours as authorities rescued four bobcats from a drainage pipe.
Deer Valley Unified School District officials say a mother bobcat and her three babies apparently fell into the pipe on campus near the cafeteria.
Students at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem were kept in their classrooms Monday morning as Arizona Game and Fish tranquilized the mother bobcat and got the four safely out of the pipe.
School officials say the lockdown ended before noon.
Principal parodies Mariah Carey to announce school's out
FLORENCE, Ky. — Sometimes a snow day calls for a song.
That's what a Kentucky principal did, posting a musical message for parents to let them know classes were canceled due to icy roads.
Union Pointe Academy Principal Chad Caddell posted the video Monday on the school's Facebook page , singing "that school is canceled for today" to the tune of Mariah Carey's "Hero." Dressed in a long coat and fur trapper hat, he begins the parody by saying he's got something on his heart he has to share.
Caddell also posted the video to Twitter saying "this is how we do school closings in Kentucky."
He told The Associated Press that he created the video with his wife as a way to bring some joy and fun to a snow day.
Police: Arizona woman shot at husband while he sat on toilet
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — An Arizona woman is facing charges after police say she fired shots at her husband while he sat on the toilet to make him "listen."
KNXV-TV reports 69-year-old Linda Jean Fahn recently was arrested following a frantic call from her husband.
He told Goodyear police Fahn barged in while he was using the restroom and fired two shots above his head.
According to a police report, Fahn told officers, "I shot two bullets at the wall above his head to make him listen to me."
Police say the shots were fired about seven inches above the man's head as he was slouched on the toilet.
Fahn has been charged with aggravated assault. It was not known if she had an attorney.
Postal carriers say aggressive turkeys stopping mail service
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Postal carriers say a rafter of aggressive wild turkeys have prevented them from delivering mail to more than two dozen homes in a Cleveland suburb.
Cleveland.com reports residents on a number of streets in Rocky River have had to pick up their mail at the post office because the turkeys have created unsafe conditions for carriers to deliver to their homes.
Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst said the problem has persisted for the last three weeks. She said city ordinances don't allow for the turkeys to be eradicated.
The city has instead sent letters to people asking them to stop putting out bird feed in the hope the turkeys will go elsewhere.
A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says some carriers have been pecked but none have been injured.
Police: Snow thwarts shoplifter in North Dakota
MINOT, N.D. — Authorities say a North Dakota man who wheeled a shopping cart with stolen merchandise out of a Hobby Lobby craft store was stopped by snow.
Police say 22-year-old Dustin Johnson filled up a cart with about $4,000 in products at a Hobby Lobby store in Minot on Wednesday. After the cart got stuck in the snow in the parking lot and tipped over, Johnson allegedly ran off.
Police say that along with the merchandise, Johnson left behind his wallet — which contained identification with his address.
Johnson is charged in Ward County with theft of property. Court documents do not list a lawyer for him.
English boy is reunited with camera that drifted to Germany
BERLIN — An English boy has been reunited in Germany with a video camera he lost four months ago on the other side of the North Sea.
The German news agency dpa reported that the camera was handed back Saturday to the 10-year-old from Hull on Suederoog, a small island off Germany's western coast.
William Etherton's camera was carried off Sept. 1 by a wave in Thornwick Bay in Yorkshire, on England's east coast. It drifted for about two months before washing up in Germany.
Resident Roland Spreer found it on Nov. 2. It was still functional thanks to its waterproof casing, and Spreer's son posted footage from the day the camera was washed away on Facebook.
Reports on the video eventually attracted the attention of the boy's father.
Farm team: Minor league Yard Goats offering yoga with goats
HARTFORD, Conn. — What to do with a new $71 million minor league baseball stadium during the winter?
If you're the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, you turn to real goats. Time for goat yoga class.
Talk about a farm team.
The national phenomenon of goat yoga began in Oregon just over a year ago when students would assume poses such as downward dog while small goats would crawl around — and often on top of — the participants.
"You're really connecting with the animals," said Tracy Longoria, who partnered with the baseball team and also offers the classes on her Aussakita Acres farm in nearby Manchester, Connecticut. "The goats are just so therapeutic. It's such a great stress reliever. Many of the people who do it have never done yoga before. They are just there for the interaction with the animals."
Mike Abramson, the team's general manager, said the club was looking for marketing opportunities. Yard Goat Yoga seemed the perfect match.
"It was an easy yes," he said. "My expectation is that this is going to become a regular thing. Hey, if it's popular enough, maybe we'll just ditch the baseball and run a goat yoga park."
The 6,100-seat Dunkin' Donuts Park, which opened last spring, has a large indoor batting facility, which will be converted into a studio for the monthly classes. If things work out, Abramson said, and the team can persuade the groundskeepers to go along, classes will move to the outfield during the summer.
For now, four classes are scheduled to get an idea of what is involved in terms of commitment, interest and, yes, cleanup.
"Accidents happen," s Longoria said. "But we're as sanitary as possible. If someone has a little poopy accident, we're right there to clean it up. We have all the disinfectants and anti-bacterial sprays and soaps and all of that."
The classes have already sold out. The team is charging $40 per person.
There are 40 students in a class and the farm will bring about 15 goats for each session. The sessions will be led by certified instructor Danuta Wolk-Laniewski, who owns YogaPerk, a yoga studio in Manchester and also teaches the classes on Longoria's farm.
She said the classes are designed for children as young as 8 but will include serious, if basic, yoga. She hopes that some human Yard Goats might get involved as part of their health regimen.
"Yoga is definitely good for everybody's bodies, especially athletes," she said. "Hopefully some of the players take the class as well, take some yoga, have some fun with us and do some core training where we put the goats on the back. Because, it's always more fun to plank with a goat on your back."
Just shy of her 100th birthday, Mississippi woman bags deer
MORGANTOWN, Miss. — A 99-year-old hunter in Mississippi wants to know why people are making a big fuss about her recent kill. It was a doe after all, not a prized buck.
The Clarion Ledger reports that Bertha Vickers used a .243 Winchester rifle to kill a doe recently a few miles from her rural home. Relatives posted pictures of Vickers and her kill on Facebook, and people sent messages of congratulations.
Vickers says she doesn't know "why everybody is making such a big deal about it" because it was "just a doe" and not a buck.
Vickers lives near the farming community where she grew up in northern Mississippi, outside Starkville. She still mows her own yard and enjoys squirrel hunting.
She turns 100 on Tuesday.
Pennsylvania Farm Show returns with new attractions
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Farm Show is returning with a few new attractions this year.
Harrisburg is hosting the 102nd annual show from Friday through Jan. 13. The show boasts nearly 6,000 animals and 300 commercial exhibits.
Officials are debuting a collection of new displays that include a green farming area, a hemp exhibit and a cow birthing center.
Visitors will have a chance to talk to local farmers about green agriculture methods in the "Diversity on Display" section. Pennsylvania farmers are gravitating toward cover crops and no-till practices that produce healthier soil and cleaner water.
Patrons can view hemp mill stones and seed pressing demonstrations at a display sponsored by the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council. The plant was outlawed in the 1930s but is making a strong industrial return as a legal crop.
Four Lancaster County farms are bringing in a group of cows for live birth viewings in the "Calving Corner." Veterinarians will answer questions during the workshop and the births will be streamed at the "Calving Corner" website .
Fan favorites like the duckling slide and chick hatch display return. Patrons will also get a chance to sample an assortment of food including pulled pork sandwiches and cookies.
Visitors can take in the show's share of agricultural art and live entertainment. This year's butter sculpture was unveiled Thursday, highlighting the state's dairy industry.
More information can be found at the show website .
Man alleges bobcat attack; condo owner says it was housecat
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida contractor says he was attacked by a bobcat inside a woman's condo, but the animal's owner says her feline is no predator, just a 10-pound domestic longhair kitty named Calli.
The contractor, Marcos Hernandez, filed a lawsuit in Tampa on Dec. 19, alleging condo owner Christine Lee illegally kept a bobcat inside her unit. He said a bobcat scratched him on May 16, causing serious injuries after he entered the condo to conduct a fire safety inspection.
Hernandez was in the condo alone, Lee said, something that shouldn't have happened. She said an employee from the building was supposed to accompany him inside.
"This has gotten so blown out of proportion, it's ridiculous," Lee said.
According to the lawsuit, Hernandez said he was attacked by an unleashed bobcat and suffered permanent injuries. He's seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. Hernandez said Lee had a duty to provide a safe environment and failed to warn him about the bobcat.
Lee said that's nonsense. She only has a fluffy, tortoiseshell-colored housecat and a sleeker black cat named Max. She doesn't know which cat may have scratched Hernandez, but Max's color would likely rule him out.
She has not yet retained an attorney.
"I'm not denying he got scratched, what he was doing to get scratched, I don't know," she said, adding that when she arrived home that day, Calli was "cowering and scared." Max was underneath her bed.
Calli, who is 3 1/2, is friendly, Lee said. But "just like any animal, she is guarded. If they feel threatened, they may attack, scratch or bite."
Soon after the incident, she was informed by building management that Hernandez had been scratched, but she hadn't heard of the lawsuit until this week, when the Tampa Bay Times first wrote about the case and took a photo of Calli. Hernandez is also suing the condo building's owner.
Lee said she has never owned a bobcat.
"A bobcat does look much different than this. They're much bigger than this 10-pound little thing," she said. "It's a litigious society and here we are."
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wild bobcats in the state are about twice the size of a domestic cat, up to about 35 pounds. They are tan to yellowish brown, with dark spots. A wildlife official visited Lee's apartment on Thursday, the newspaper report.
Hernandez' attorney's office said they were not going to comment at this time.
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Rats! DC wages war against resurgent rodents with dry ice
WASHINGTON — Any mists spotted rising over the swamp may just be Washington wielding its newest weapon in its never-ending war on rats: dry ice.
The District of Columbia's rodent control division's program manager, Gerard Brown, tells The Washington Post the frozen form of carbon dioxide complements the poison the city uses, as reported rat complaints reach a four-year high.
Last month, Brown and Mayor Muriel Bowser oversaw a demonstration in which health department staffers stuffed dry ice into a northeast Washington alley rathole. As the ice smoked, the emanating carbon dioxide suffocated the rats, according to Brown's explanation.
Residents are encouraged to purchase their own dry ice. The city is working on usage guidelines.
Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells says dry ice is relatively humane, cheap and pet-friendly.
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com
Rare US coins sell for pretty penny at auction in Florida
TAMPA, Fla. — When is a penny worth $300,000?
When it's one of the first copper coins struck at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, in 1793.
The annual Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention was held in Tampa this week. It's considered one of the five largest coin and currency collectors' shows in the nation, experts say, and three historic coins, including the pricey penny, went up for auction Thursday evening. In all, the auction drew $24.9 million in sales.
Mark Borckardt, a senior numismatist with Heritage Auctions in Dallas, said the George Washington-era penny is one of about 500 in existence.
Other high-value U.S. coins sold at auction included a half-dollar minted in New Orleans in 1838. It was one of the first 20 produced there.
A $4 gold piece called a "Flowing Hair Stella," sold for $750,000.
"It was an experimental piece that the government produced, hoping to create an international coinage," Borckardt said. "It's literally the forerunner of today's Euro. The government finally decided no, that's not going to work."
There are only about 15 to 20 of those quarter-sized gold coins in existence.
The coins had high value due to their rarity and excellent condition.
"Collectors interested in these have a very strong sense of history, both American history and financial history," said Borckardt.
Valuable vodka bottle reported stolen found in Copenhagen
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish police say a valuable bottle of vodka that was reported stolen from a Copenhagen bar has been found.
Copenhagen police say the bottle — which is worth $1.3 million, according to its owner — was recovered intact. Police say the investigation is continuing.
The vessel is made of 3 kilograms (6.6. pounds) of gold and the equivalent amount of silver. It has a diamond-encrusted cap fashioned to resemble a vintage car front.
Cafe 33 owner Brian Ingberg told The Associated Press that he received a call on Friday from person who reported finding the vessel at a construction site in Copenhagen and handing it over to the police.
Ingberg says no arrests have been made. He refused to identify the caller.
Police: Man breaks into evidence undetected, takes back bike
PROVO, Utah — Provo police say a man broke into the department's evidence room undetected and took back his bike.
Deseret News reported Thursday that the burglary went unnoticed until the person who originally was found with the bike was arrested again and told officers David Elwin Snow was bragging that he "pulled off the crime of the century."
The 37-year-old Snow and his brother had gone to the department on Dec. 18 to retrieve the bike, but since they never reported it stolen they had a hard time verifying it was Snow's bike. Police accuse Snow of stealing it that same night after seeing where it was being stored.
The bike was found Wednesday at Snow's grandmother's house.
Police Sgt. Nisha King said such a heist has never happened at the department.
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com
Merchandise featuring Fiona the hippo brings in big bucks
CINCINNATI — Merchandise inspired by Ohio's famous baby hippo, Fiona, has returned nearly half a million dollars to the Cincinnati Zoo.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the zoo has collected about $480,000 in sales from businesses with merchandising agreements. Products include everything from clothing and ornaments to beer and ice cream.
The zoo says it isn't keeping track of cash the hippo-themed products are turning over. But zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley says more than $200,000 of the money was used for Fiona's neonatal care. Curley says the remainder is helping with the care, feeding and enrichment of all the zoo's hippos.
The beloved baby hippo will celebrate her first birthday Jan. 24. Local merchants expect the celebration to spur an economic boost as businesses roll out more Fiona-themed products.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com
Kid wit: Dad measures baby's growth with cheesesteaks
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia father put the city's signature sandwich to use in a whole new way: measuring his baby's size in cheesesteaks.
It started when he noticed his 2-week-old, Lucas Royce, was about the same size as a cheesesteak he'd brought home. So Williams snapped a picture of the sandwich next to his newborn and the tradition was born.
Every month for the next year Williams and his wife would buy a cheesesteak to track their growing boy .
He says babies and cheesesteaks are quite similar. He says they are warm and cuddly when wrapped up "but once you unwrap them, expect a huge mess."