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Moose, reindeer to take taste tests
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Moose and reindeer at a Stockholm wildlife park have been invited to an unusual taste-test that will help decide which type of salt should be used to de-ice the country’s roads in wintertime.

The less they like it, the better.

The National Road Administration plans to introduce a new, sweeter blend of road salt, but wants to make sure it doesn’t attract wildlife to Sweden’s highways, project organizer Frida Hedin said.

She said the 14 members of the hoofed jury at Stockholm’s Skansen open-air museum will be presented with two salt blocks – one with the new sugary flavor and another tasting like the road salt being used today.

The project is expected to last around two months, Hedin said.

Traffic accidents involving wildlife are fairly common on the Scandinavian country’s highways.


Poor pitch leads to Cincinnati sandwich

CINCINNATI – The mayor’s errant ceremonial first pitch on baseball’s opening day has inspired a sandwich with a fitting name: The Mark Mallory Screwball.

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The ingredients for the sandwich at Izzy’s deli will be “any two meats tossed in the general direction of a bun or two pieces of bread.” The Screwball will be served with a potato pancake and pickles for $7.75.

“This is wonderful,” Mallory said April 9. “Who wouldn’t want a sandwich named for them?”

Mallory’s pitch in front of a sold-out crowd April 2 at Great American Ball Park didn’t go great. It was several feet to the first-base side of home plate, making him the butt of jokes among some late-night comedians. Video of the pitch has been played repeatedly on Web sites.

“There’s so much negativity that you hear about the city of Cincinnati all the time,” said John Geisen, president of Izzy’s, which is a block from City Hall. “But the mayor has brought some fun to it. So we wanted to, too.”

Guard allegedly smacks inmate with Bible
MANKATO, Minn. – A jail guard has been suspended after allegedly thumping an inmate with a Bible.

James Lee Sheppard, 56, has been charged with two gross misdemeanors for allegedly swatting a Blue Earth County Jail inmate with the book, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him against steel bars Feb. 8, according to the criminal complaint.

A video shows a guard entering the cell of inmate Jeremy Hansen, 26. The guard then takes Hansen’s Bible and strikes him in the side of the face with the book. The two exchange words as the guard walks away, said Mankato Police Officer Allen Schmidt, who watched the video.

The rest of the confrontation was not captured on video because of an object obstructing the camera. But the complaint states that Sheppard walked back toward Hansen, grabbed him and pushed him into the cell bars.

Dennis McCoy, Blue Earth County administrator, said Sheppard was the first to report the confrontation. “He knew he violated policy and, to his credit, he turned himself in,” McCoy said.

Sheppard, who was not jailed, is on leave pending further investigation.

He is scheduled to appear in Brown County Court April 26 on charges of mistreatment of an inmate and misconduct by a public officer.

Man sentenced for printing lewd stickers
MANTORVILLE, Minn. – A Byron man, who distributed sexually vulgar stickers featuring his ex-girlfriend’s name, phone number and address, has been sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to a felony harassment charge.

Thomas Carl Tiedeman, 62, who appeared in Dodge County District Court on March 21, was also ordered to serve five years on probation, perform 32 hours of community service and pay a $100 fine.

The stickers included a photo of a woman, along with the phrase “call me now for the best,” according to the criminal complaint.

The Kasson Police Department received reports in September that someone was placing the stickers on vehicles and buildings in Kasson.

On Sept. 28, Kasson police searched Tiedeman’s home and found the photo used on the stickers. Tiedeman admitted to police that he had printed about 20 stickers and placed them on vehicles.

Rogue seal menacing man, beast in Calif.
JENNER, Calif. – Nibbles, the elephant seal, is defying his tame nickname by killing smaller seals, menacing a kayaker and chomping on a surfer and a dog on the northern California coast.

The 2,000-pound lone male is seen frequently at the Russian River outlet to the Pacific, and local marine recreational outlets are warning the public about the seal’s aggression.

On Easter Sunday, the seal grabbed an 80-pound pit bull and only let her go after he was attacked by the dog’s owner.

“I was throwing a stick in the water for the dog,” Angel Garcia said. The dog “started to shake when this torpedo thing launched itself out of the water and grabbed her.”

On April 10, Nibbles growled at a kayaker, scaring him out of the water, said Suki Waters of Water Treks, a kayaking tour company.

Surf shop worker Craig Henderson said the seal and local surfers share the same turf. “It is scary when he jumps in the water with you. He is huge, like a VW Bug or something,” he said.

Brit Horn, a California State Parks lifeguard, said the seal has been seen killing smaller harbor seals. They’ve now moved to other areas along the Sonoma County coast.

The elephant seal is an adolescent who likely hangs out alone at the river mouth because he is too small to compete for females at elephant seal colonies, Horn said. Adults can grow to 14 feet long and 4,500 pounds.