Rowdy Sea Lions Turn Harbor
In California Upside Down
A band of rambunctious sea lions has found a home in a busy Southern Californian harbor, scuttling boats, barking nonstop and testing the patience of city authorities who have few tools to deal with the seaborne invasion.
The barking was bad enough, but then 18 sea lions piled onto a 37-foot sailboat and sank it over Labor Day weekend at Newport Harbor. Earlier one sea lion was believed to have upturned a kayak with a woman and her son on board.
The problem has been going on since May, when a group of sea lions found a salubrious sunbathing spot near an anglers club in the harbor. Next they figured out how to board boats using swim stairs. And, to the chagrin of sleepless local residents, they barked all night.
Newport Beach authorities can do little to do deal with the invasion. The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act outlaws killing, injuring or harassing the beasts. Harassing often does little good. When sea lions raided Seattle's Puget Sound nine years ago to dine on endangered steelhead trout, authorities floated a fake killer whale, but the sea lions were not spooked.
Local residents say the best method is to spray the aquatic creatures with water. Ironically, they say, a sunbathing sea lion hates getting wet.
-- John Pomfret
Dot Your i's and Cross Your t's
When in This Tennessee Burg
Where do you live? Getting the right answer in Thompson's Station, Tenn., gets a little tricky.
Folks in the borough, population 1,283, have come up with every variation under the sun: Thompson Station or Thompsons Station. Even state officials got it wrong, all wrong and all across a 2.3-mile road where they put up signs with the town's name misspelled.
"Never mind that we worked with TDOT a year ago and gave them the correct spelling," Mayor Cherry Jackson told the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
The wrong spelling amounted to a missing apostrophe in Thompson's.
"Some people here are steeped in local tradition; it's a big deal how it's spelled," said town administrator Greg Langeliers. "We're looking for identity. We're a little town, and identity is a big deal is how some people look at it."
Jackson asked state officials to correct the error, who in turn asked that she submit a statement on letterhead, just to make sure they got the spelling right.
-- Michelle Garcia
Pennsylvania Man Gets Bum Rap
After Using Jay-Z's Name in Arrest
James Johnson thought he was oh-so-clever when he gave a phony name to police officers in Pennsylvania. Johnson, who was arrested on theft charges, smugly said he was Shawn Carter, the real name of well-known rapper Jay-Z.
The prank caught up with him five years later. Johnson had returned to court to resolve the theft charges when police in Delaware County arrested him in a string of crimes committed by a Shawn Carter.
Officials turned him over to a private correctional facility that kept Johnson locked up for six weeks as he pleaded for his release, swearing the police had cuffed the wrong man. No one believed him. Officials did not check the fingerprints and failed to notice that 5-foot-11 Johnson is three inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter than their suspect.
Johnson told the Philadelphia Inquirer he plans to sue the privately run George W. Hill Correctional Facility. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Web site notes that at least seven men in jail have used Shawn Carter as an alias.
-- Michelle Garcia
Wanted: 6,000 Escapees
From Oklahoma Gun Museum
As Oklahoma tourist destinations go, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum is a popular spot. Each year, about 40,000 people drive up Route 66 and stop in to view the museum's collection of rare guns, which includes a Chinese weapon dating to the 1340s and Jesse James's .45-caliber Smith & Wesson.
Davis protects its collection with video cameras and motion detectors. So the museum's management is at a loss to explain why Davis museum guns are turning up at crime scenes near and far.
In November, two Davis guns -- one an automatic -- were found in York, Maine. Police found another gun from the Davis collection at a crime scene in Muskogee, Okla. And there have been more over the years, Mickey Perry, chief of police in Claremore, Okla., said.
Last week, the museum's troubles deepened when State Auditor Jeff McMahan announced he had done his own inventory and found that of 20,000 weapons in the museum's collection when it was founded in the 1960s, 6,000 appear to be missing.
Duane Kyler, the museum's director, wouldn't comment on the charges that more than a quarter of the collection has disappeared.
Perry said the number seemed high, but he wouldn't discount it. "There's just so many guns that over the years, could thousands have been taken? I don't know," he said.
-- Sonya Geis