Search

Saturday
Jul062013

The World's Craziest Spitting Competitions

iStockphoto(EAU CLAIRE, Mich.) -- Watch your step: A saliva-coated cherry pit might be underfoot. That's because contestants are lining up once again for the annual International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship, held Saturday at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Mich.

Cherries not your projectile of choice? Not to worry, because ammunition comes in various forms. Here are some of the wildest spitting contests out there.

Crickets
Cricket-spitting is part of the annual Bug Bowl at Purdue University in Indiana. The record is 32 feet-1.25 inches, which has stood since 1998, according to the Purdue Exponent. Well, at least they're dead, although slightly thawed after frozen.

Olive Pits
Israel last year staged its first olive-pit spitting contest, with hopes of breaking the world record of nearly 100 feet. The pit fell considerably short, at about 36 feet. But at least one resident was happy to see the pits put to good use.

Kudu Dung
Kudu dung, preferably dry, is not easy to come by, given the antelope's limited habitat but these adventurers jumped at the chance to demonstrate a sport found in some parts of Africa. "There are many ways to spit the pellet, although all of them, of course, involve putting a piece of dung in your mouth," according to the World Kudu Dung Spitting Championships website.

Cherry Pits
"It's Spit-tacular!!" organizers for the annual International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship trumpet on their website. It's also impressive, with last year's men's division winner, Ron Matt of Chicago, spitting 69 inches. The women's division winner, Lisa Lynch of Cascade, Colo., reached 40 feet.

Champagne Corks
Ashrita Furman of Queens, N.Y., has held many Guinness World Records over the years, including juggling on a pogo stick for the longest distance. He added this one in January 2010: spitting a Champagne cork 22 feet on Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul062013

Playboy Bunny Sign Stirs Controversy Along West Texas Road

Amina Munster/Getty Images(MARFA, Texas) -- A 40-foot tall neon Playboy bunny erected just outside  the high desert town of  Marfa, Texas, has stirred controversy among West Texas residents, with some calling the sign a work of art and others declaring  it an eyesore and a marketing ploy.

The Texas Department of Transportation has ordered that Playboy’s roadside artwork, called “Playboy Marfa,” be removed on the grounds that Playboy did not have a Texas license for outdoor advertising, never submitted a specific permit application for the sign, and that, furthermore,  the location did not qualify for a permit,  according to a statement the agency released to ABC News.

Marfa Mayor Dan Dunlap said it was not surprising that Playboy would try to promote its brand in a town long known as an art mecca, adding that perhaps Playboy’s was trying to create a new image for itself. Playboy’s website does refer to the company trying to “reimagine the iconic brand.”

“The exploitation of Playboy to try to tag on to Marfa seems to irritate a lot of people,” said Dunlap. “The Texas Department of Transportation is treading a thin line here. They decided it’s advertising, versus artwork, therefore, it falls into the category of signage.”

Playboy could not be reached for comment over the July 4 holiday weekend, but company representatives told the El Paso Times that Playboy had not violated any laws and would try to work with the Texas Department of Transportation to resolve its concerns. PR Consulting, which represents Playboy Enterprises, told the paper its legal counsel “was looking into the matter and hoped to resolve the issue satisfactorily and as quickly as possible.”

“Playboy Marfa” doesn’t stand alone in the pasture along Highway 90. Designed by New York artist Richard Phillips and Playboy’s creative director of special projects Neville Wakefield, it is part of a roadside installation that also includes a 1972 Dodge Charger, another American icon.

Dunlap said he suspected Playboy would fight against removing the sign.

“This is not the first time something like this happened,” Dunlap said. “Prada Marfa,” erected in 2005 on the same stretch of highway as “Playboy Marfa,” spoofed the luxury fashion house.

“Other artists come into town to set up shop. There is other artwork that’s outside city limits that is not permitted either. Personally, I don’t find the sign to be offensive.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Missile Intercept Test Fails

Ralph Scott/MDA Public Affairs(WASHINGTON) -- The Missile Defense Agency says a test of one of its ground-based interceptor missiles against a incoming Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, as part of a test, failed on Friday.

The incerceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The target was a test ICBM launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

The interceptor that was tested is the same as a dozen currently on watch in Alaska and at Vandenberg to protect the U.S. from a potential missile attack.

Two previous failed tests involved new versions of the missiles, whereas Friday's failure involved the same systems that are currently used by U.S. interceptors.

Officials say that they will review the test carefully to determine the cause or causes of the failure to successfully intercept the test ICBM.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss Case Against George Zimmerman

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The prosecution rested their second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman on Friday and his legal team immediately asked the judge throw out all charges, arguing that the state had failed to present evidence proving that he murdered Trayvon Martin.

The judge swiftly rejected the argument, but not before both sides made emotional legal arguments that are usually reserved for summations at the end of a trial.

In an impassioned plea, Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O'Mara stated that the state did not produce direct or circumstantial evidence that Zimmerman acted with "ill-will or spite," the Florida requirements for second degree murder.

"There is not a scintilla of evidence to support that," O'Mara said referring to the implication that Zimmerman acted out of "ill-will and spite."

"He has the undeniable injuries that reference nothing other than an attack by Trayvon Martin," O'Mara said.

"You cannot look at that picture of my client's nose and say he wasn't beaten in the face," he said. O'Mara said the court would draw a similar conclusion by looking at the photos showing the back of Zimmerman's bloody head.

Zimmerman "did not land one blow… all he did was scream for help," O'Mara said.

Prosecutor Rich Mantei told the judge that Zimmerman "had enough in his heart to stop his trip to the grocery store…to get out of his car in the rain, follow him, and then as the witnesses make clear, pursue him and grab him."

"There are two people involved here. One of them is dead and one of them is a liar," the prosecutor said.

Mantei hammered at what he said are inconsistencies in Zimmerman's story, saying he "flat out lied" about being unaware of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Mantei asked how could a jury be expected "to take his word about anything."

The request to end the controversial trial followed the testimony of the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Trayvon Martin's body and the teens mother and brother who said they could hear him screaming for help on 911 calls made before he died.

Dr. Shiping Bao testified after Martin's mother and brother took the stand as the prosecution neared completion of its case against Zimmerman.

Bao told the court that Martin, 17, was shot in the heart and said, "There was no chance he could survive."

The medical examiner said that Martin would have lived anywhere from one minute to 10 minutes after being shot as his beating heart ran out of blood to pump.

"His brain is still alive?" prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked.

"Yes," Bao replied.

"He can still feel pain in other words?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," he replied.

De la Rionda asked whether Martin would have been able to move after he was wounded.

"From my experience and another autopsy we did three weeks ago, I don't believe he could move," Bao said.

Bao's claim that Martin would have been unable to move could cast doubt on Zimmerman's version of what happened during their violent confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012.

Zimmerman, who is being tried on charges of second degree murder, has maintained that he shot Martin after he was knocked down and beaten by Martin and the teenager went for Zimmerman's gun. After the shot was fired, Martin sat up and said, "You got me," Zimmerman told police and media.

Bao's claim that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Martin is the latest example of what the prosecution says are discrepancies in Zimmerman's version of what happened that night

But Zimmerman's lawyer, Don West, got Bao to say during cross examination that it may have been possible for Martin to move a little after he was shot. "But only one person in this world knows," Bao added.

Bao's credibility took a hit when he admitted that he had changed his opinion on several elements. He originally estimated that Martin may have lived for as long as three minutes, but that was lengthened to as long as 10 minutes. He also said he changed his opinion about the effect of THC from marijuana in Martin's body.

Bao's testimony followed the mother and brother of Martin who both took the stand and told jurors that they could hear him scream for help on 911 calls made just before he died.

"That scream, do you recognize that?" de la Rionda asked Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.

"Yes, it's Trayvon Benjamin Martin," she answered.

Prosecutors hoped that the testimony of Martin's mother and brother may have an emotional and convincing impact on the jury and that the jurors would tie their words to the opinion of FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone who testified earlier in the trial that it was not possible to definitively identify the voice using available acceptable technology.

Nakasone said the best person to identify the voice would be someone who is intimately familiar with the voice.

During cross examination defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Fulton if she hoped it would be her son, because if it wasn't her that could mean he was responsible for his death, O'Mara said.

"I heard my son screaming," Fulton replied. "I didn't hope for anything. I simply listened to the tape."

It's not clear what impact it could have the jury, which consists of six women.

A major point of contention in the trial is who was heard screaming for help in the background of 911 tapes the night Martin was killed. Fulton claims it was her son, while Zimmerman's father insists that it is his son's voice that is heard.

Moments before she began her testimony, Fulton tweeted, "I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my Angel Trayvon. He may not be perfect but he's mine. I plead the blood of Jesus for healing."

Trayvon Martin's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, also told the jury that the voice on the tape was that of his brother.

But under cross examination, O'Mara played a tape of an interview with Jahvaris Fulton in which Fulton is heard saying "I'm not sure" when asked if that was his brother screaming. The jury was out of the courtroom at the time the tape was played. It's not clear whether they will be allowed to hear it at some point.

O'Mara had asked Jahvaris Fulton whether or not he had ever doubted that the screams were from his brother.

"When we heard it in the mayor's office I didn't want to believe it was him. It was clouded by shock and denial and sadness. I didn't want to believe it was him," the brother said.

Before the day's testimony was over, O'Mara put Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman on the stand, replayed the 911 tapes and asked her if she recognized the voice that was screaming.

"My son, George," she replied. When asked how she could be sure, she answered, "Because he is my son."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

9/11 Remains Identified as FDNY Firefighter

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The remains of a New York City firefighter were positively identified nearly 12 years after he was killed in the World Trade Center,  the city medical examiner’s office said Friday.

The identification of Jeffrey Walz, a 37-year-old lieutenant with Ladder 9, was made by retesting remains that were recovered during the initial recovery phase before May 2002, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Nearly a dozen years after the attacks, the identification process has continued. Of the 2,753 victims, 1,116 have not had remains identified, according to a report from the medical examiner’s office.

Walz, of Tuckahoe, N.Y., worked as a U.S. Navy engineer, but decided to follow in his father’s footsteps in 1992 when he became a New York City firefighter, according to the Staten Island Advance.

“The only way to describe Jeff is to say he was the most caring, gentle, kind and patient person ever to enter my life,” his wife,  Rani Walz, told the newspaper on Oct. 2, 2001. “I’ve never known anyone like him.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Bodies of Missing Jet-Skiers Recovered in New York's Coney Island Creek

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York police recovered the bodies of a man and woman on Friday who disappeared during the evening of July 4 after they fell off a jet ski.

The pair was identified by the New York City Police Department as an Asian woman, 29, and an Asian man, 44. ABC Affiliate WABC has identified them as Willie Tom of Manhattan and Celine Fu of Brooklyn.

A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department said the NYPD received a call at 8:15 p.m. on July 4 from witnesses near the Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn claiming that the pair had fallen off a jet ski.

Lt. Alfred Betts, the command duty officer for the New York City Coast Guard, told ABC News that the male was driving the jet ski when the female fell off. The male circled around to pick her up, jumped out to help her, and they went underwater and did not resurface.

Betts said the pair were not wearing life-jackets, but could not comment on their swimming capabilities.

Betts said the creek ranges from 3 to 16 feet deep.

According to the website of the New York City Parks and Recreation, Coney Island Creek is the only remaining creek in that area.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Trayvon Martin Lived as Long as 10 Painful Minutes After Shot Fired

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Trayvon Martin's body testified on Friday that the Florida teenager lived from one to 10 painful minutes after he was shot in the heart by George Zimmerman, and that the wound was impossible to survive.

Dr. Shiping Bao testified after Martin's mother and brother took the stand as the prosecution nears completion of its case against Zimmerman.

Bao told the court that Martin, 17, was shot in the heart and said, "There was no chance he could survive."

The medical examiner said that Martin would have lived anywhere from one minute to 10 minutes after being shot as his beating heart ran out of blood to pump.

"His brain is still alive?" prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked.

"Yes," Bao replied.

"He can still feel pain in other words?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," he replied.

De la Rioda asked whether Martin would have been able to move after he was wounded.

"From my experience and another autopsy we did three weeks ago, I don't believe he could move," Bao said.

Bao's claim that Martin would have been unable to move could cast doubt on Zimmerman's version of what happened during their violent confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012.

Zimmerman, who is being tried on charges of second degree murder, has maintained that he shot Martin after he was knocked down and beaten by Martin and the teenager went for Zimmerman's gun. After the shot was fired, Martin sat up and said, "You got me," Zimmerman told police and media.

Bao's claim that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Martin is the latest example of what the prosecution says are discrepancies in Zimmerman's version of what happened that night.

Bao's testimony followed the mother and brother of Martin who both took the stand and told jurors that they could hear him scream for help on 911 calls made just before he died.

"That scream, do you recognize that?" de la Rionda asked Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.

"Yes, it's Trayvon Benjamin Martin," she answered.

Prosecutors hoped that the testimony of Martin's mother and brother may have an emotional and convincing impact on the jury and that the jurors would tie their words to the opinion of FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone who testified earlier in the trial that it was not possible to definitively identify the voice using available acceptable technology.

Nakasone said the best person to identify the voice would be someone who is intimately familiar with the voice.

During cross examination defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Fulton if she hoped it would be her son, because if it wasn't her that could mean he was responsible for his death, O'Mara said.

"I heard my son screaming," Fulton replied. "I didn't hope for anything. I simply listened to the tape."

It's not clear what impact it could have with the jury, which consists of six women.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Weapons and Explosive Devices Found in Stolen Truck During Traffic Stop

KOMO/ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Authorities are trying to figure out Friday what a Nevada man was doing near the University of Washington campus with a cache of weapons in a stolen truck.

On Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., University of Washington Police saw the blue pickup truck, which had been reported stolen in Montana, and conducted a traffic stop check, according to the Seattle Police Department.

A search of the vehicle yielded a stolen scoped rifle, stolen shotgun, suspected molotov cocktails and body armor, according to police.

"Any time you have someone who has body armor, long guns and incendiary devices, that's a significant concern," interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said during a Thursday news conference.

The suspect, who was identified as Justin Miles Jasper, 21, by ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO, was taken into custody without incident and booked into the King County Jail, according to police.

Jasper is being held on a charge stemming from the incendiary devices found in the vehicle, according to jail records, and is being held without bail.

Seattle Police said the FBI had joined the investigation, but it is not believed there is an active threat to the University of Washington community.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Seattle Fireworks Show Marred by Fire

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- An annual fireworks show in Seattle was the ruined by a fire at a boat storage facility on Lake Union Thursday.

According to ABC affiliate KOMO-TV, at least six boats were damaged in the fire. Witnesses said that the fire spread quickly.

"It started out as a small ember in a small boat," one witness told KOMO-TV, "and they didn't remove it quick enough and the whole thing caught fire."

Firefighters responded to the report at about 10 p.m. on Thursday and the flames were extinguished in under one hour.

According to the Seattle Fire Department, up to 14 boats may have suffered as much as $1.5 million in damage in the fire.

The fire was apparently caused by a stray firework. There were no reported injuries in the fire. The fireworks show went ahead as scheduled after the fire was extinguished.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Florida Man Mocks Town Officials, Paints Home with Cartoon Murals

United States District Court - Southern District of Florida(GULF STREAM, Fla.) -- Talk about taking revenge.

When Gulf Stream, Fla., officials dismissed longtime resident Martin O'Boyle's plans to remodel his house on the waterway, he didn't take it lightly.

"The house [design] was beautiful, and the mayor said, 'I don't like the entry feature. It's too large. It's out of scale,'" O'Boyle told ABC News. "That would be like having 10 cancer doctors telling you, 'You need surgery,' and your janitor saying, 'Everything will be all right, you don't need surgery.' That's the way I took it."

So O'Boyle, 61, commissioned an artist to paint murals depicting the town mayor, vice mayor and town manager as cartoon characters "to knock politicians down a couple of notches," he said.

But Gulf Stream town officials took issue with that too and issued citations to O'Boyle saying the paintings violated Gulf Stream's sign ordinance.

O'Boyle, however, was not going to budge when it came to his home and filed a lawsuit against the town of Gulf Stream, alleging its code was unconstitutional and violated his First Amendment rights.

In one of the murals that so riled town officials, a green "Shrek"-like character labeled "Vice Mayor" holds a leash attached to a donkey labeled "Mayor," with a bucktoothed, blond woman sitting atop the donkey, court documents show.

"I'm leading this ass to Town Hall," reads a speech bubble from the "Shrek" character.

In another, "Alice in Wonderland" characters Tweedledee and Tweedledum are labeled Gulf Stream Mayor Joan Orthwein and Town Manager William Thrasher, court documents show.

On the front of O'Boyle's home, a Ku Klux Klan hood is painted with the words "Commissioner Thug" across it. Next to the hood are the words, "This is a satire" and "Stop the oppression," according to court documents.

In addition, O'Boyle's three-car garage is painted with a horizontal rainbow across it, which he said was inspired by the Equality House across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters in Topeka, Kan.

A judge from the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled on June 19 that O'Boyle failed to show the town's ordinance regulating the wall colors of homes was unconstitutional. Since the ruling, O'Boyle said the town sent him a letter stating that it would cease to require any more permits or approvals for signs.

For its part, the town has postponed O'Boyle's municipal hearing and has not reached a decision to apply zoning ordinances to O'Boyle's house, his attorney and son, Jonathan O'Boyle, said.

"This isn't about paint, and they know it," Jonathan O'Boyle said.

Since the federal ruling, O'Boyle has added four posters outside his home, deriding the same officials, he said.

One sign shows Town Manager Thrasher as a juggling clown. Another reads "Attention Taxpayers! Mayor Orthwein and Town Manager (he is in her posse) are squandering 'your' money!" according to photos O'Boyle sent to ABC News.

O'Boyle's next move is to put signs inside the windows of his home to protest the town's actions.

"Then they can't complain at all, unless they can tell you what color lamp you can have," O'Boyle said.

John Randolph, an attorney for the town of Gulf Stream, told ABC News in a statement that "the town does not see this as a First Amendment issue or an abridgement of one's freedom of expression or speech. ... It is about the right of government to impose reasonable, content-neutral regulations on the location of signs and ... to regular aesthetics."

O'Boyle is scheduled to appear in municipal court on July 16 to settle the dispute, his attorney said.

In addition, a two-week trial is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2014, in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida to decide if Gulf Stream's code is unconstitutional, said Jonathan O'Boyle.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio