'Bird' Man, Ice Storm, Doo-Doo Politics

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Musings on odd developments in the news: a new "Bird" man, of sorts, goes to prison; folks make the most of an ice storm; Mr. Floatie attempts to run for mayor; and Buster proves a reluctant police dog.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

A few notes on crime and punishment, birds and bees and cops and robbers from the week's news.

Attorneys for Eric James Torpy in Oklahoma City reached a plea agreement for him to serve 30 years for shooting a man in a robbery, but their client balked. He said he wanted his jail sentence to match the number Larry Bird wore on his basketball jersey, 33. He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey. Says district Judge Ray Elliott, `We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.' And I thought I was a crazy sports fan.

Officials in Muncie, Indiana, couldn't fathom why 40 more babies were born there by mid-October 2005 than October of last year. Then someone remembered. An ice storm struck the area late last January, leaving homes without heat or light for several days. February, March, April--you do the math. Jay County Hospital's nurse manager Lisa Craiger told the Muncie Star Press, `I guess you have to stay warm somehow.' Don't they get the L.L. Bean catalogue in Muncie?

James Skwarok has been told that he cannot be on the ballot for mayor of Victoria, British Columbia, under his professional name, Mr. Floatie. Mr. Floatie is the name he uses when he puts on a costume that makes him look like a six-foot-tall piece of human waste, which he does to protest the dumping of raw sewage into the Juan de Fuca Straits. Provincial officials say that Mr. Floatie cannot run for mayor, only real persons. Mr. Skwarok told the Victoria Times columnist, `Of course, I'm not a real person. I'm a big piece of poop.' Since when has that discouraged anyone in politics?

Finally, the South Yorkshire police in England have given early retirement to a two-year-old police dog named Buster. Police Constable David Stephenson told the Reuters news agency he just showed no interest in doing the job. He had no fire in the belly. Constable Stephenson once brought Buster to the scene of a robbery in which the thief was hiding in the garden. Buster went off to play among some flowers. `He walked right past the bloke,' says the constable. `I had to search the garden myself. Buster has no nose for crime.' Other times Constable Stephenson brought Buster to pubs that reported problems with truculent customers. And instead of barking and growling to deter drunken revelers from making trouble, Buster would wag his tail, beg to be petted and eat snacks from customers hands. Oh, yes, Constable Stephenson is taking Buster home to live with his family. `He has a lack of drive and motivation for operational work,' he explains, `but he's a lovely friend.'

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Singer: I ain't going to be bothered around no house at night. I ain't going to be bothered around no house at night. Got a police dog just waiting for a fight.

SIMON: Cephas and Wiggins, "Police Dog Blues."

Eighteen minutes past the hour.

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