NJ camel predicts Giants will win the Super Bowl

Updated 06:38 p.m., Thursday, January 26, 2012

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — People use all sorts of ways to try to predict the winner of the Super Bowl: comparing regular season records, judging who looked stronger in the post-season run-up to the big game, or watching the betting lines from Las Vegas oddsmakers.

But the closest thing to a sure thing may come from a camel in New Jersey.

Princess, the star of New Jersey's Popcorn Park Zoo, has correctly picked the winner of five of the last six Super Bowls. She went 14 and 6 predicting regular season and playoff games this year, and has a lifetime record of 88-51.

Her pick this year: The New York Giants.

The Bactrian camel's prognostication skills flow from her love of graham crackers. Zoo general manager John Bergmann places a cracker and writes the name of the competing teams on each hand. Whichever hand Princess nibbles from is her pick. On Wednesday, she made her pick with no hesitation at all, predicting bad news for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, even though the Las Vegas oddsmakers have New England favored by about 3 points.

Her only miscue in the big game was picking the Indianapolis Colts over the New Orleans Saints two years ago, indicating that even camels know it's generally risky to go against Peyton Manning.

"It started out when a local radio station was looking to have some fun, so they asked Princess who was going to win a particular game each week, and it just took off from there," Bergmann said. "Now we have guys calling up on Sunday morning wanting to know who Princess has picked that week. One guy even asked if she does lottery numbers."

Her best season was 2008, when she got 17 out of 22 games right, including correctly picking the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl.

Princess doesn't do point spreads. But she has nearly mastered the art of picking straight-up winners.

The cunning camel was once the personal pet of heiress Doris Duke, the only child of tobacco and electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke.

Doris Duke raised Princess and her sister Babe from youngsters, Bergmann said.

The pair of camels had their own barn, and spent summers at Duke's Rhode Island estate. During bad weather, they were put up in the solarium.

After Duke's death in 1993, the camels stayed on her estate in Hillsborough. Babe died several years ago, leaving just Princess.

When Princess' caretaker was about to retire, the estate offered Princess to Popcorn Park Zoo, which took her in. The zoo cares for abandoned and abused animals.

Museum: Rare coin may be Roman brothel token

Updated 08:13 a.m., Thursday, January 26, 2012

LONDON (AP) — The Museum of London is displaying a coin found by the River Thames that may have been used nearly 2,000 years ago as a "brothel token" in Roman London.

The bronze coin shows a man and woman in an intimate embrace.

Senior curator Caroline McDonald said Thursday it is impossible to determine precisely what the coin was used for.

She says it is probable brothels existed in London when the coin was in circulation after the Roman invasion of Britain in the 1st Century A.D.

Experts believe the coin was concealed by mud along the river banks for some 2,000 years before it was discovered recently by a man with a metal detector looking for objects near Putney Bridge.

Hearse used after JFK slain in Dallas sells

Updated 06:04 a.m., Wednesday, January 25, 2012


DALLAS (AP) — The man who paid $176,000 for the white hearse used to transport President John F. Kennedy's body following his assassination in Dallas plans to include it in his collection of about 400 cars in Colorado.

Stephen Tebo, a collector and real estate developer from Boulder, bought the hearse Saturday that was being offered by Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz. It sold for a bid of $160,000, plus a $16,000 buyer's premium.

The 1964 Cadillac hearse carried Kennedy's body as well as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy from Parkland Memorial Hospital to Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field for the flight back to Washington on Nov. 22, 1963, according to the auction company.

"It was a solemn duty that it had taking him from the hospital where he was pronounced dead to Air Force One," said Craig Jackson, CEO and chairman of the auction company. "I think everybody in the world remembers watching the hearse leave the hospital, heading toward Air Force One. It just sort of sunk into everybody that he's gone."

The hearse had been on display at a funeral home directors' convention in Dallas in October 1963, the auction company said. After the convention, O'Neal Funeral Home of Dallas bought the hearse. It was that funeral home that was called upon to transport the president's body.

In the late 1960s, the hearse was bought by Arrdeen Vaughan, a Texas man who owns funeral homes and a funeral vehicle business. He kept it in a private collection for more than four decades before selling it to the person who eventually put it up for auction.

Tebo said he plans to turn his car collection into a museum, hopefully in five to 10 years. The collection in Longmont, just outside of Boulder, is not currently open to the public, but Tebo does open it up four times a year to different nonprofit groups to help them raise money.

Other cars in his collection include a 1965 Rolls Royce custom made for John Lennon, a taxi used in the TV show "Seinfeld" and a jeep Frank Sinatra used on his ranch.

Tebo said he had expected the hearse would sell for anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, so he wasn't planning on bidding. But he jumped it when he saw the bids weren't likely to go that high. As a collector, he said he tries to buy significant vehicles when possible.

Tebo said he wanted the hearse because of its historical significance.

"We remember specifically seeing the hearse leaving the hospital and driving very, very slowing to Air Force One and loading the casket on Air Force One. It was just an incredibly dramatic time in our lives," Tebo said.

Alaska woman, 85, uses shovel to fend off moose

Updated 05:57 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2012


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An 85-year-old Alaska woman used a grain shovel to fend off an agitated moose that was stomping her husband.

George Murphy says his wife saved his life.

The Anchorage Daily News  says the 82-year-old pilot, who flew for three decades for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, was hiking with his golden retrievers near the Willow airport Friday. He saw the moose and dove in the snow, but the moose started stomping him.

His wife, Dorothea, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 97 pounds, grabbed a big shovel and hit the moose in the body and head.

She ran for help, and Murphy was rushed by medical helicopter to an Anchorage hospital. He was in good condition Monday with a gash to his head.

No joke: 3-inch nail removed from Ill. man's brain

Published 02:11 a.m., Saturday, January 21, 2012


OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) — Dante Autullo was sure he'd merely cut himself with a nail gun while building a shed, and thought doctors were joking when they told him what an X-ray revealed: A 3 1/4-inch nail was lodged in the middle of his brain.

Autullo was recovering Friday after undergoing surgery at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where doctors removed the nail that came within millimeters of the part of the brain controlling motor function.

"When they brought in the picture, I said to the doctor 'Is this a joke? Did you get that out of the doctors joke file?'" the 32-year-old recalled. "The doctor said 'No man, that's in your head.'"

As he was rushed by ambulance to another hospital for surgery, he posted a picture of the X-ray on Facebook.

Autullo, who lives in Orland Park, said he was building a shed Tuesday and using the nail gun above his head when he fired it. With nothing to indicate that a nail hadn't simply whizzed by his head, his long-time companion, Gail Glaenzer, cleaned the wound with peroxide.

"It really felt like I got punched on the side of the head," he said, adding that he continued working. "I thought it went past my ear."

While there are pain-sensitive nerves on a person's skull, there aren't any within the brain itself. That's why he would have felt the nail strike the skull, but he wouldn't have felt it penetrate the brain.

Neither he nor Glaenzer thought much about it, and Autullo went on with his day, even plowing a bit of snow. But the next day when he awoke from a nap, feeling nauseated, Glaenzer sensed something was wrong and suggested they go to the hospital.

At first Autullo refused, but he relented after the two picked up their son at school Wednesday evening.

An X-ray was taken a couple hours later. And there, seeming to float in the middle of his head, was a nail.

Doctors told Autullo and Glaenzer that the nail came within millimeters from the part of the brain that controls motor function, and he was rushed by ambulance to the other hospital for more specialized care.

"He feels good. He moved all his limbs, he's talking normal, he remembers everything," Glaenzer said earlier Friday. "It's amazing, a miracle."

Neurosurgeon Leslie Schaffer acknowledged that Autullo's case was unusual, but not extremely rare. Schaffer said having a nail penetrate the skull is not like being shot in the head, noting that a bullet would break into multiple pieces.

"This (the nail) is thinner, with a small trajectory, and pointed at the end," he said. "The bone doesn't fracture much because the nail has a small tip."

Schaffer said the man's skull stopped the nail from going farther into his brain. He said he removed the nail by putting two holes in Autullo's skull, on either side of the nail, then pulled the nail out along with a piece of the skull.

The surgery took two hours, and the part of the skull that was removed for surgery was replaced with a titanium mesh, Hospital spokesman Mike Maggio said.

Glaenzer said Autullo hasn't really talked about how scared he was about what might have happened, but he did express a recognition about coming close to death.

"He was joking with me (after surgery), 'We need to get the Discovery Channel up here to tape this,'" she recalled him saying. "'I'm one of those medical miracles.'"

TV station covers Ohio bribery trial with puppets

Updated 06:05 p.m., Friday, January 20, 2012

CLEVELAND (AP) — It's "Sesame Street" meets the unseemly side of politics.

With cameras barred from a high-profile corruption trial, a television station has puppets acting out the sometimes-steamy testimony about hookers, gambling and sexually transmitted diseases. In one scene, a furry hand stuffs cash down the shirt of a puppet prostitute.

"I'm horrified," a laughing anchorwoman said after a segment shown this week on WOIO, a CBS affiliate in Cleveland, where the trial of longtime Democratic power broker Jimmy Dimora is the talk of the town.

The station's news director brought up the idea of using the puppets to lampoon the trial and give a glimpse of what's happening in the federal courtroom. Because cameras aren't allowed, other stations have relied on artist sketches of the proceedings and videos of Dimora walking into court with his wife and defense team.

"It's a satirical look at the trial and, again, I think we have it appropriately placed at the end of the newscast," WOIO news director Dan Salamone said Thursday.

The puppets are in addition to the station's regular coverage of the trial of Dimora, a former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and county Democratic chairman who has pleaded not guilty to bribery and racketeering.

"It's not intended in any way to replace any of the serious coverage," Salamone said.

The station has enlisted a local puppet company to put on the skit. It calls the tongue-in-cheek segment "The Puppet's Court."

It began airing Tuesday at the end of the late newscasts on WOIO and its sister station, WUAB. The stations make it clear that the segments aren't to be taken seriously.

"The testimony is real. The puppets are not," says smirking anchor Danielle Serino.

A talking, buck-toothed squirrel "reporter" provides the play-by-play in an exaggerated, "you won't believe this" tone. A black-robed puppet sits at the judge's bench. And in the jury box, the puppets yawn during the trial.

In one segment, a puppet portrays a witness in the trial who said he paid for a prostitute to visit Dimora during a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

The response to the puppets has been mostly positive.

"Seeing as how both our politicians and justice system seem like clowns or puppets most of the time, this is wholly appropriate!" Mari Upthegrove, of Tavernier, Fla., wrote on the station's Facebook page after seeing one of the segments online.

A few people have criticized the station for blurring the lines between news and entertainment.

Salamone defended the segments, saying it's no different than when newscasts end with a lighter, humorous story.

Karl Idsvoog, a professor at Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wasn't impressed. "Why would anyone approve that to go on the air because it was dull and boring?" he said.

That's no rat! Opossum takes ride on NYC subway

Updated 10:22 p.m., Thursday, January 19, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — A suspicious passenger of the four-legged variety led to the evacuation of a New York City subway car.

Startled riders aboard a Manhattan-bound train spotted an opossum curled up underneath a seat near the train's heating duct around 4:30 a.m. on Friday.

The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/xpHJ9f) reports the animal apparently boarded the train at Coney Island in Brooklyn, where the platform is above ground. The subway car was evacuated several stops later in Manhattan as officers wearing heavy gloves tried to remove it. When the marsupial bared its teeth at them, animal control experts were called in.

Rats and pigeons are often seen in the city's subways, but NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton says it's the first time anybody could remember a wild animal in the system.

NJ mom gives birth to child on train to NYC

Updated 01:51 p.m., Tuesday, January 17, 2012


NEW YORK (AP) — A New Jersey woman got the morning commute of her life when she gave birth to her first child on a PATH commuter train to New York.

The 31-year-old woman, Rabita Sarkar, of Harrison, N.J., said she had started feeling contraction-like pains but didn't think they were real because her baby wasn't due yet. She and her 30-year-old husband decided to travel into the city to have her checked out Monday.

They didn't want to drive and decided to take the train from Harrison into the city instead, thinking they could then take a taxi to Manhattan's Roosevelt Hospital, where her doctors are.

"It's just that this guy had other plans, and he came out earlier," Sarkar said as she held her infant son in her arms in the hospital. The couple declined to reveal the boy's name or due date.

It was on the train ride that Sarkar started feeling her pains come more quickly, and she told her husband to check what was happening to her. He looked and saw that his son's head had already started to come out.

With guidance from another woman on the train, her husband, identified in published reports as Aditya Saurabh, was able to deliver the baby around 10 a.m. Fellow riders offered encouragement, and the couple said one little girl offered her jacket to keep the baby warm.

PATH officials turned the train into an express, bypassing most stops so that it would get to its final stop, 33rd Street in midtown Manhattan, as soon as possible. Emergency services personnel met the train and took the family to the hospital.

The responding police officers said it wasn't unusual for women to give birth in facilities run by the Port Authority.

The biggest issue was the winter temperature, around 30 degrees outside, and making sure the baby was warm, Sgt. Mike Barry said.

"That's our biggest concern," he said. "We know that baby's body temperature is going to drop like a rock."

For one of the responding officers, delivering a baby in these circumstances was something familiar — because it happened to him.

Officer Atiba Joseph-Cumberbatch said his son didn't want to wait, either, and came out early — so Dad had to deliver him.