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Weird National Briefs (02/02/2022)

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A real mashup

BERLIN (AP) — Two female inmates at a German prison have been served a hefty fine for a brawl that began with a food fight.

German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that the cellmates at a prison in Augsburg began throwing potato mash at each other following a disagreement. Then one woman threw her entire plate at the other, who responded in kind.

The situation then escalated into a brawl in which both inmates were injured, dpa reported.

A court in the southern town of Augsburg sentenced one defendant to pay a fine of 2,700 euros ($3,045) while the other received a fine of 1,800 euros ($2,030). If they fail to pay, the women can spend another 180 or 120 days behind bars, respectively.

TME – Ich bin ein Kartoffel.

Doodoo fools who?

Settling into a new home can be tough for anyone. So scientists have come up with some tricks to make transplanted burrowing owls feel like they are not alone in their new digs, playing owl sounds and scattering fake poop.

The owls’ grassland homes are often prime real estate, and they’ve been losing ground to development in fast-growing regions like Silicon Valley and Southern California. Biologists have tried moving the owls to protected grasslands but the challenge has been getting the owls to accept their new homes.

Just dropping off the owls in prime habitat wasn’t enough, prior attempts showed. In a pilot program, scientists took pains to create the impression that owls already lived there so they’d stick around. And it worked.

“They like to be in a neighborhood, to live near other owls,” said Colleen Wisinski, a conservation biologist at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, which launched the experiment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The scientists played recordings of owl calls before and after the new arrivals were released at four locations in Southern California. Wisinski used a syringe to squirt around fake owl poop — in reality, white paint. Their results were published Thursday in the journal Animal Conservation.

Burrowing owls are the rare extroverts of the raptor world. These long-legged owls with slightly cross expressions actually love company. They nest in underground burrows with many owls nearby.

Such colonies provide protection from predators, such as coyotes or hawks, that may try to snack on the robin-sized, yellow-eyed birds. When one owl sounds an alarm, the others fly away.

Federal law prohibits the killing of the birds but their habitat is not protected. Typically, they are flushed from their burrows before properties are built.

“If after eviction there’s nowhere for these guys to go, it’s basically a death sentence,” said Lynne Trulio, an ecologist at San Jose State University who has studied burrowing owls for three decades. She was not part of the study.

The population of western burrowing owls — the subspecies that lives in California — has declined by one-third since 1965. It is considered a “species of special concern” in the state.

TME – What a crappy story. So fowl.

Chalk balk

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers who argued that a Michigan city violated the U.S. Constitution by chalking tires have successfully turned the case into a class action potentially affecting thousands of parking tickets.

A judge twice dismissed the unusual lawsuit against Saginaw, but it was overturned both times by an appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington will give Saginaw yet another opportunity to claim that tire chalking was a legal way to enforce parking limits, though he said the city’s arguments after two losses don’t seem “immediately compelling.”

In the same order, Ludington last week approved a request to make the case a class action. It means vehicle owners who were ticketed since 2014 could be compensated unless Saginaw turns things around and wins the litigation. A trial was set for Aug. 30.

The lawsuit began in 2017 when Alison Taylor sued to challenge 14 parking tickets.

Her lawyers, Philip Ellison and Matthew Gronda, argued that Saginaw was violating the Fourth Amendment by marking tires with chalk without a search warrant and then returning to write a ticket if the vehicle was parked too long.

Saginaw said marking a tire was a “minimal intrusion” when weighed against the city’s interest in managing parking.

Ludington ruled in the city’s favor and dismissed the case. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice has reversed his decisions.

“Tire chalking is not necessary to meet the ordinary needs of law enforcement, let alone the extraordinary,” Judge Richard Griffin said in a 3-0 opinion last August.

TME – So many lawsuits – they must be tired out.


MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — Dozens of prospective Central Michigan University students who were mistakenly told they had won full-ride scholarships that include room and board have received an apology from the school — and offers of the equivalent of full-tuition scholarships “to make it right.”

School officials said 58 youths received messages last weekend while accessing the university portal telling them they had won a Centralis Scholars Award, which includes full tuition, room and board, money toward books and supplies, and a $5,000 “study away award.”

But the university said Wednesday that those contacted hadn’t won the prestigious award and the message had gone out “inadvertently” as school staffers were testing new messaging technology.

Parker Christensen, a 17-year-old senior at Newaygo High School, said he was so excited to have won the scholarship he told his friends and family, and his mother posted about it on social media.

But his joy evaporated when he learned the message was a mistake.

“Colleges are supposed to make your dreams come true not destroy them or make you second guess if they are achievable,” Christensen told Central Michigan Life, CMU’s student newspaper.

University officials apologized for the error Wednesday night and offered all 58 prospective students the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship.

TME – Someone probably should have studied how computers work.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 February 2022 06:13


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