Shaq Attack in Cyberspace
So, how to really mess with a slimeball Internet kiddie porn guy?
Sure, jail is not a bad idea. Public humiliation might work.
But how about this one? There's a knock at Mr. Nasty Internet Guy's door. He peers out, and there before him is a guy who is 7-foot-1 and weighs something like 320 pounds. And the big dude isn't smiling.
Such could be the lot of the cybercreeps now that the world is about to meet Officer Shaq. And, yes, it's that Shaq -- Shaquille O'Neal of the Miami Heat, the one who slams basketballs with arena-shuddering force.
Shaq -- Deputy Shaq to you -- has a law enforcement bent and has gone on patrols and raids. He's so into cops and robbers stuff that he's worked with the Miami Beach Police Department prowling for Internet criminals. And this summer, he'll be doing some real cloak-and-dagger stuff, flying to an undisclosed location to track cybercriminals in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, known as Operation Blue Ridge Thunder.
"We are in the process of getting uniforms made," said Mike Brown, sheriff of Bedford County, Va., who will work with Shaq in the operation. "You can well imagine he doesn't just buy off the rack."
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia
Tulsa Zoo in Fight Over Creation
The fight over evolution has been waged in public schools for years, but now it's at the zoo.
Because there is an evolution exhibit at the Tulsa Zoo, local Christian activist Dan Hicks believes there should also be a biblical account of creation on display, complete with Scriptures.
"This is Tulsa, Oklahoma, where people overwhelmingly believe in creation," Hicks said.
The Tulsa Park and Recreation Board, supported by Mayor Bill LaFortune, voted 4 to 1 to go along, setting off an emotional reaction from opponents. The Tulsa World editorialized about the "unfortunate" move. The zoo's senior staff is adamantly opposed. By the end of last week, a petition promoted by local religious leaders was circulating, urging the board to reverse its decision.
"I'm a Christian and I believe in both creation and evolution," said Dale McNamara, the lone park board member to vote against the proposal. "But I also believe in separation of church and state."
Hicks said there are other religious symbols at the zoo, including an elephant statute symbolizing a Hindu god.
"They're trying to say that the other religious references are just cultural -- that's baloney," said Hicks, who presented a ready-made exhibit to the board based on the Book of Genesis. "I know how people who work at the zoo feel about evolution. It's their religion."
The park board is now working to develop a broader display with multiple cultural and religious views of creation, which the zoo staff says could work. Still, said zoo director Stephen Walker -- an opponent of Hicks's plan -- "when you're displaying 885 words of Scripture, it's beyond culture. You're proselytizing."
-- Lois Romano
Hilltoppers or Golden Eagles?
"Boring, weak and common" were some of the terms students and fans of Marquette University in Milwaukee used to describe their school nickname, the Golden Eagles, in an online survey last fall.
In 1994, the nickname had been changed from the Warriors, which the trustees considered potentially offensive and contrary to the Jesuit school's philosophy.
On May 4, responding to discontent with the Golden Eagles, the board decided to change the nickname to "the Gold."
But the public was still not pleased, so they went back to the drawing board.
Now more than 31,500 Marquette students, alumni, employees and ticket holders have voted online to choose a new nickname. A field of 10 possibilities has been narrowed to two finalists: the Hilltoppers and the Golden Eagles.
Apparently many still want to be called the Warriors, but Marquette spokesperson Brigid O'Brien said the board ruled that out. "That will always be part of our proud athletics tradition, but the perspective of time has shown us that our actions, intended or not, can offend others," she said.
On July 1 the school will join the Big East with its new -- or not so new -- moniker.
-- Kari Lydersen
Duck Bites at the Venetian
Las Vegas is a city that runs on illusion and fantasy -- a man-made desert oasis of sphinxes and showgirls where the buffets are always full. Anyone who dares shatter the illusion may pay a steep price -- or so a couple of the town's inhabitants learned this spring.
A family of mallards that had long made their home at the Mirage -- a duck-friendly kind of place, with an indoor "rainforest" and artificial lagoons outside -- made the unlikely decision to move to the chlorinated canal of the Venetian, just across the Strip.
For several weeks, the Venetian's singing gondoliers made them feel at home with meals of cold cuts and cereal. But this month, management handed down a strict no-feed order. A gondola service official said the ducks were marring the "fantasy experience."
The decision outraged some gondoliers, who fear the ducks will starve. But local wildlife officials said the ducklings will probably soon be old enough to fly elsewhere. "Any wild animal that can't find food will just move on," said biologist Jeri Krueger.
-- Amy Argetsinger
Hey, Kids, a 17-Ton Popsicle
What could be better than a warm summer day and a nice, little popsicle?
What could be worse? A warm summer day and a really big popsicle.
Last week, Snapple Beverage Corp. -- the maker of iced teas and sweet drinks -- hauled out a 25-foot, 17-ton strawberry-kiwi popsicle near New York University. The plan was to promote Snapple's new frozen treats and win a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The giant popsicle started melting before a crane could set it up. The goo sent pedestrians slipping and sliding; only the traffic was in the deep freeze.
Snapple, the official drink of New York City, issued an apology to New Yorkers who had to run from the red slime on a hot afternoon. Company officials said they would pay for the cleanup. The sticky popsicle remains were carted off to New Jersey.
-- Michelle Garcia