Wayward Whooping Cranes Find Summer Home in Michigan

If only they'd stopped to ask for directions.

Eight rare whooping cranes who made a wrong turn in their Florida-to-Wisconsin migration are now stranded in Michigan for the summer, separated from their intended destination by the vast waters of Lake Michigan.

The cranes are part of a group of 36 birds in a four-year-old project spearheaded by the group Operation Migration to reestablish whooping crane communities east of the Mississippi River. There are only 433 of the birds left in the world, according to Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff. This group was hatched in incubators, raised by humans in crane outfits and guided through parts of their migration by light aircraft.

But they were grounded and delayed by a storm in North Carolina, where crowds of curious humans frightened them into flying at night, which they don't normally do. They ended up going off course and flying as far north as Manistee, Mich., then doubling back to a marsh farther south where they have stayed for about a month. They don't normally fly over large bodies of water, so chances are they'll stay in Michigan for the summer then go to Florida for the winter and back to Wisconsin next year.

"With that big finger of water [Lake Michigan] sticking down, you know some birds will get stuck on the wrong side of it at some point," Duff said.

-- Kari Lydersen

Texas Church Captures Attention Of Adult Movie Devotees

Visitors to XXX Super Store, Fantasy Foxx and about 10 other adult entertainment venues around the corner from the Oakcrest Family Church in Kennedale, Tex., now get a proposition of an unexpected type, thanks to pastor Jim Norwood and his congregation.

In December Norwood and his congregation members started taking photos of the cars of adult entertainment patrons in the Fort Worth suburb of 6,100 people and then tracking down their addresses and sending them a postcard in the mail, with a picture of their car on the front and a notice on the back inviting them to church.

The postcards say, "Observed you in the neighborhood. Didn't know if you're aware there's a church in the area. . . . We'd love to have you visit." The postcard also includes information on counseling about sex, drugs and gambling.

Norwood and his flock started the program because they were tired of finding condom wrappers in the parking lot and encountering patrons of the businesses who would hurl insults or expose themselves.

Norwood says about 14 people have called the church in response to the cards, looking for help with addictions.

"I know firsthand that you can become addicted to pornography just like you can become addicted to drugs or alcohol," said Norwood, who was elected mayor of Kennedale on May 15. "For me, it was alcohol to weed to speed to coke. With porn, it can be Playboy to Penthouse to things that just get raunchier and raunchier."

-- Kari Lydersen

New Jersey Finds Ladies' Nights Give Unfair Access to Cheap Drinks

It turns out that ladies' nights discriminate against men who are in search solely of cheap drinks.

New Jersey's top civil rights chief, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, ruled last week that the Coastline Restaurant had discriminated against the coarser gender by offering women cut-rate booze one night each week. On ladies' night, women could enter the Cherry Hill, N.J., tavern without paying a $5 cover charge.

This, Vespa-Papaleo found, constitutes "unlawful discrimination" based on gender. And no attempt to soften this discrimination -- by offering, say, a men's night discount on another evening -- could make amends for this "cancer of discrimination." The decision drew disapproval from local newspapers. The Star-Ledger of Newark opined that the division's director deserved a lifetime membership in the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Nor did Gov. James E. McGreevey offer much of a toast to the decision. "This is bureaucratic nonsense," he said in a statement released almost immediately. "It is an overreaction that reflects a complete lack of common sense and good judgment."

-- Michael Powell