Say What?

Janitor spends weekend in courthouse

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Think you had a boring weekend? Talk to Harold Jones. The 32-year-old janitor spent two and a half days without food, water or access to a bathroom after he was accidentally locked in a secure room at an upstate courthouse.

Jones was mopping the floor in a meeting room at the Dutchess County Courthouse in Poughkeepsie the night of Feb. 23 when the door swung shut, locking him in.

To make matters worse, he had left his cell phone in his coat, which was in another room.

Jones banged on the door, but no one heard him until the morning of Feb. 26, when a county employee found him in the room.

Even though he was stuck for nearly 60 hours, Jones said he was so upset by his ordeal that he couldn’t eat.

Relatives drove around looking for him but didn’t realize he was stuck inside the building.

County officials plan to meet with the janitorial services company Jones works for to find out why no one checked the area where Jones was trapped.

Declaration of Independence for $2.48

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A rare, 184-year-old copy of the Declaration of Independence found by a bargain hunter at a Nashville thrift shop is being valued by experts at about 100,000 times the $2.48 purchase price.

Michael Sparks, a music equipment technician, is selling the document in an auction March 22 at Raynors’ Historical Collectible Auctions in Burlington, North Carolina. The opening bid is $125,000, and appraisers have estimated it could sell for nearly twice that.

Sparks found his bargain last March while browsing at Music City Thrift Shop in Nashville. When he asked the price on a yellowed, shellacked, rolled-up document, the clerk marked it at $2.48.

It turned out to be an “official copy” of the Declaration of Independence – one of 200 commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820.

Sparks didn’t know he had such a valuable piece until he did some online research and then had appraisers at Raynors’ offer an opinion.

Child finds $1,300 in thrift store book

MCDONOUGH, Ga. – Rhiannon Barnes may be the luckiest 15-month-old ever. Or maybe her baby sitter is the fortunate one. While playing with a thrift store book bought earlier in the day for 25 cents, Rhiannon uncovered $1,300 in cash stuck between the pages. Her baby sitter Sheila Laughridge said she only bought the book at Rhiannon’s insistence and was surprised when the toddler found a brown paper bag full of $100s, $50s, $20s and $10s.

Laughridge took the money, which dated as far back as the 1960s, to a local bank, where she received only $300 in exchange because most of the bills were in pieces. The rest of the tattered money was sent to the U.S. treasury department.

Chinese scientists control bird’s flight

BEIJING – Chinese scientists have succeeded in implanting electrodes in the brain of a pigeon to remotely control the bird’s flight, state media said.

Xinhua News Agency said the scientists at the Robot Engineering Technology Research Center at Shandong University of Science and Technology in eastern China used the microelectrodes to command the bird to fly right or left, and up or down.

The implants stimulated different areas of the pigeon’s brain according to electronic signals sent by the scientists via computer, mirroring natural signals generated by the brain, Xinhua quoted chief scientist Su Xuecheng as saying.

It was the first such successful experiment on a pigeon in the world, said Su, who conducted a similar successful experiment on mice in 2005.

Man saves nun; badge saves officer

NEW YORK – An emotionally disturbed man driving his car on a sidewalk nearly ran over a nun on Feb. 28 before trying to stab a rookie policeman in the chest and breaking his knife on the officer’s shield, authorities said.

The unusual string of events started in Queens about 5 p.m., when the man left the scene of an accident and started barreling down a sidewalk where the nun was walking, police said.

Another man pushed the nun out of the way of the oncoming car, which struck a tree and a wall before coming to a stop, the New York Police Department said. When the driver tried to run away, two people tried to stop him, but they backed off when he threatened them with a kitchen knife, police said.

Two responding officers confronted the driver, who then tried to stab one of them, Stuart Ingram, in the chest, police said.

Ingram said later he told the man repeatedly to drop the knife but the man lunged at him with it. He said the knife hit his badge and shattered.

Ingram said he struck the man with an expandable baton and, with the help of a civilian, subdued him.

“That’s when we apprehended him,” Ingram said coolly at a news conference.

The 50-year-old man was in custody Feb. 28, and charges against him were pending, police said.