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Off the Wire
John McCartney and Herald staff
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February 9  |  Orlando Sentinel
Racy Beyonce song gives Red Lobster a bump ORLANDO, Fla. — Red Lobster’s surprise mention in a new Beyonce song is showing the Orlando-based restaurant chain the power of pop music, and the fickle nature of social media.

Red Lobster spokeswoman Erica Ettori said a mention in the song "Formation" released over the weekend resulted in a 33 percent increase in Sunday business compared to Super Bowl Sunday 2015.

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February 4  |  
$63 million lottery ticket about to expire LOS ANGELES — With hours to go and $63 million on the line, the mystery remains: Where's the winning California Lottery ticket and why hasn't somebody cashed it?

Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said Wednesday that even he wants to know why the SuperLotto Plus winner let six months pass without claiming the prize.

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January 30  |  Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Have a beer? Ogle nudity? Toss a dwarf?Those choices are featured at a strip club in Detroit called the Toy Chest.It’s all in fun, with a dwarf who’s a paid professional, wears a helmet and gets harmlessly pitched by participants onto air mattresses, the topless bar’s spokeswoman Alissa Katzman said. A $10 cover charge gets patrons inside and $5 enters them in the dwarf-tossing contest, Katzman said.

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January 20  |  By Robin Givhan The Washington Post
What was going on with Sarah Palin’s sweater?
Sarah Palin returned to center stage of a presidential campaign Tuesday -- a few years older but still wearing her signature rimless eyeglasses. Her auburn hair is bouncier. And her keen ability to capture the spotlight is not at all diminished.

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January 10  |  By Verena Dobnik Associated Press
New Yorkers, others on public transit strip to underwear
NEW YORK — Thousands of New Yorkers thought it was a hot thing Sunday to strip to their underwear during winter and ride on public transportation, along with pantless crowds in about 60 countries.“I’m a no-pant virgin,” declared a grinning Miguel Ramos amid New York’s No Pants Subway Ride. It was the Mexican-born restaurant worker’s first foray into the “international celebration of silliness,” as organizers billed it.

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January 8  |  Associated Press
No buyers for Trump deli special
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Workers at a Vermont deli near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared say they didn’t sell any of the bologna sandwich specials concocted in his honor.The sandwich was on sale for $20.16 at the Kountry Kart Deli, next door to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Trump appeared there Thursday.The Trump sandwich is bologna on white bread with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, deli mustard and bacon slices, abbreviated B.S.

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December 30  |  Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York company said it will soon offer the first certified kosher medical pot.Vireo Health said its non-smokable medical cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union.Vireo said it’s the first time a medical cannabis product has been deemed kosher.

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December 13  |  By William Mathis Associated Press
Head-scratching over gifts? How about part of a human skull? NEW YORK — What to get the loved one who has everything? Steven Rabinowitz wracked his brain before settling on (spoiler alert, relatives!) a raccoon skull.

"We'll see how it goes," Rabinowitz, 31, said as he revealed his purchase near a crowded display of animal skulls, antique medical instruments — and a bowl full of human teeth.

The bizarre bazaar that drew Rabinowitz and other curious clientele Sunday was the Morbid Anatomy Museum...

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December 8  |  Associated Press
PALM BAY, Fla. — Authorities say a man who may have hidden as officers investigated reports of two suspicious men in a Florida community targeted by recent burglaries was killed by an 11-foot alligator.

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December 4  |  Associated Press
Bud Weisser cited in trespassing at Budweiser ST. LOUIS — St. Louis police said the Budweiser brewery got an unwelcome visit from a man with a memorable name.

Nineteen-year-old Bud Weisser was cited for trespassing and resisting arrest. Police said he was found in a secured area of the brewery Thursday evening.

Police said officers were called after security officers told Weisser to leave and he resisted arrest.

Weisser was taken into police custody, then issued summonses for trespassing...

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December 1  |  Associated Press
Serbs to Steven Seagal: Don’t bash us, train us
BELGRADE, Serbia — Steven Seagal used to overwhelm Russian and Serbian bad guys in Hollywood movies with his martial arts techniques. Now Serbia wants him to share his secrets.Serbian officials offered the veteran American actor and producer a job Tuesday training Serbian special police forces in Aikido, a Japanese martial art that Seagal is famous for in his blockbuster movies.

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November 18  |  Associated Press
'Isis' bookstore in Colorado vandalized ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A Denver-area store called Isis Books & Gifts wants the world to know its name comes from the Egyptian goddess of healing and motherhood, and it isn't a retail store run by terrorists.

Co-owner Jeff Harrison said the suburban Denver store has been vandalized five times in the past year or so, probably by people who mistake the name for ISIS, one of the acronyms for the Islamic State terrorist group.

The latest vandalism came last...

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November 13  |  Associated Press
Pastafarian gets to wear strainer on head in license photo
BOSTON — A Massachusetts agency is letting a woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo after she cited her religious beliefs.Lowell resident Lindsay Miller said Friday that she “absolutely loves the history and the story” of Pastafarians, whose website says has existed in secrecy for hundreds of years and entered the mainstream in 2005.

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November 12  |  The Washington Post
How do you smuggle Heineken into Saudi Arabia? Legally, alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia. In reality, however, there are people in the country who drink.

If you're wondering how exactly they actually get that alcohol, consider the multiple reports in the Saudi press Thursday that describe how the Saudi authorities at the border with United Arab Emirates caught a man with 48,000 cans of Heineken — all disguised as Pepsi cola.

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November 3  |  The Washington Post
Human poop could yield up to $9.5 billion A group of researchers just put a price-tag on poop: extracting biogas from the world's annual human waste output could be worth the equivalent of up to $9.5 billion in natural gas, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Which means we could all be sitting on gold mines.

"We recycle the nutrients in human waste effectively via agriculture in many places, yet the potential energy...

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November 1  |  By Rod McGuirk Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia is dumping the titles “knights” and “dames” — again.The government had scratched the honorary titles, granted for public service, in 1986 as anachronisms.

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October 28  |  Associated Press
Creepy Halloween doll in I-5 carpool lane doesn’t fool officer
TACOMA — Washington state troopers have seen drivers use all kinds of tricks to get access to carpool lanes.During Tuesday’s morning commute, a trooper pulled over a man who tried to use a creepy Halloween doll to gain access to the carpool lane of I-5 in Tacoma.The trooper found the male driver and the doll buckled up in the passenger seat in the car, violating the rule that requires two or more people in carpool lanes.

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October 27  |  By Collin Binkley Associated Press
Salem ‘witch’ takes self-proclaimed warlock to court over alleged harassment
BOSTON — A Salem, Massachusetts, woman who calls herself a witch priestess is taking a self-proclaimed warlock to court over accusations of harassment.Lori Sforza, who runs a Salem witchcraft shop and leads a pagan church, filed for court-ordered protection against harassment from Christian Day, whose website calls him the “world’s best-known warlock.” Sforza accused Day of harassing her online and over the phone for three years. The two will meet in court on Wednesday.

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October 18  |  Associated Press
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Police in Idaho Falls say an Oregon man accidentally dialed 911 while making an alleged drug deal that was overheard by dispatchers.The Post-Register reports that Lawan Sanders, of Portland, is accused of several drug-related charges stemming from the Sept. 27 incident. He has a preliminary hearing Oct. 23.

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October 15  |  Associated Press
Bees swarm on 767 in Texas GRAPEVINE, Texas — Some unusual travelers caused a delay for one American Airlines flight.

The travelers were hundreds of bees, found by a cargo crew under the right wing of a Boeing 767 that landed at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Wednesday. The plane had arrived from Las Vegas and was headed to Frankfurt, Germany.

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October 13  |  Associated Press
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A Connecticut jury on Tuesday rejected a woman’s bid to sue her 12-year-old nephew for injuries she says she suffered from his exuberant greeting at his birthday party four years ago.New York City resident Jennifer Connell claimed the Westport boy acted unreasonably when he jumped into her arms at his 8th-birthday party, causing her to fall and break her wrist. She sued in Bridgeport Superior Court for $127,000.

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October 4  |  Associated Press
1,806-pound pumpkin dubbed ‘Flying Saucer’
ELK GROVE, Calif. — A Napa farmer won a Northern California contest with a record-setting 1,806-pound pumpkin that judges nicknamed “The Flying Saucer” because of its wide and flat shape.Grower Tim Mathison was one of about 50 big pumpkin farmers to haul their heaviest crops to the annual weigh-in at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin & Harvest Festival, The Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

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October 1  |  Associated Press
TNT wedding gag doesn’t amuse TSA DENVER — A wedding gift was no joke to TSA agents checking bags in a screening room at Denver International Airport.

An agent watching an X-ray monitor spotted wax and fuses inside a checked bag at the airport.

TSA said the bride and groom's names both start with a "T," so their wedding souvenirs were labeled TNT.

The incident happened Sept. 22.

TSA wrote issued a statement on Instagram that there was a 20-minute...

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September 20  |  Associated Press
MCINTIRE, Iowa — An Iowa farmer who was running unopposed for his local school board failed to earn any votes — not even his own — but he’ll probably still get the job.Randy Richardson, 42, didn’t find time to vote for himself between his full-time maintenance job at a bean processing plant in Riceville and his chores on his farm near McIntire, The Des Moines Register reported.

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September 17  |  Associated Press
Inmates complain about noisy guards
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California corrections officials said Thursday that they are handing out earplugs and telling guards to walk softly around some of the state’s most dangerous prisoners after the inmates complained about noise.The inmates say new welfare checks at Pelican Bay State Prison’s notorious security housing unit are keeping them up nights because noise caused by guards rouses them every half-hour around the clock.

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September 15  |  Associated Press
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A man is charged with burglary after police say he returned to a Twin Falls, Idaho, home for his forgotten car keys and cellphone.The Times-News reported that a woman called police when she found her home ransacked Saturday, with a stranger’s cellphone on the bed and a strange car parked behind the property.

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August 21  |  By Debra Klein Special To The Washington Post
Muppet personal ads found on Ashley Madison Now that hackers have released data on Ashley Madison's customers, the news of Kermit and Miss Piggy's breakup is less surprising. They and other Muppets have had profiles on the popular dating site for months. A sampling:

I've had it with the "dreaming" and all the other rainbow-contemplating B.S. Not my tempo. I need a doer with four feet on the ground for public appearances and some shopping. Prefer bottom-wearer. Paws, fine. Constricting snakes okay. No...

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August 19  |  Associated Press
Mayor seeks ban on personal flamethrowers DETROIT — A suburban Detroit official is trying to extinguish the use of personal flamethrowers, which are being sold online by two Midwest companies, in his city.

The companies, located in the Detroit area and Cleveland, claim their devices can be used for recreation or to control weeds and insect hives, clear snow and ice, clear brush and start a bonfire.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts calls the proposed uses "pretty specious" and...

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August 18  |  By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press
Idaho replaces mile marker 420 with 419.9 to thwart stoners BOISE, Idaho — If you’re looking for milepost 420, you won’t find it in Idaho.

Idaho transportation officials say the mile marker has been replaced with 419.9 signs to curb thieves eager to own a number associated with marijuana enthusiasts.

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August 18  |  
SISTERS, Ore. — A 26-year-old cat in Oregon has been named the oldest living cat by Guinness World Records.The cat named Corduroy is owned by a family in the central Oregon city of Sisters. His owner, Ashley Reed Okura, has had him since he was a kitten and she was 7.

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