Iraq war veteran says he needs his ducks

An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq war is worried that a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

Darin Welker said officials in the village of West Lafayette, Ohio, told him to get rid of the ducks in May and cited him for a misdemeanor on June 23 for not complying. Walker is set to appear in Coshocton Municipal Court for a hearing Wednesday and could face a $150 fine.

Welker, 36, said the ducks help him cope with his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

West Lafayette, about 80 miles east of Columbus, banned residents from keeping fowl and other farm animals in 2010.

Welker told the Coshocton Tribune that he has had the ducks, which are kept in his back yard, since March. He said they motivate him to get out of the house so he can feed and clean up after them.

“They’re quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations,” Welker recently told the Tribune as he held one duck like a baby and stroked its neck. Watching them “keeps you entertained for hours at a time.”

— Associated Press

Group gives free bus showers to homeless

A nonprofit group is taking a novel approach to helping the homeless in San Francisco with a new bus that allows them to take a shower.

The former public transit bus has been outfitted with two full private bathrooms and offers hot showers, clean toilets, shampoo, soap and towels free of charge. The founder of the nonprofit Lava Mae mobile shower bus said that she wanted to return a sense of dignity to those living on the streets.

“If you’re homeless, you’re living on the streets and you’re filthy; you’re trying to improve your circumstances, but you can’t interview for a job, you can’t apply for housing and you get disconnected from your sense of humanity,” Doniece Sandoval said. “So a shower, just in and of itself, is amazing for people.”

Lava Mae is mobile, allowing it to reach homeless people scattered throughout the city. And having a facility on wheels eliminates the potential for rent hikes and evictions in a city with high real estate prices.

A 2013 survey counted more than 6,400 homeless people in San Francisco.

— Associated Press

Fight against global warming endangered

California’s ongoing drought could complicate the state’s effort to combat global warming.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that a drought stretching for years could slash the amount of clean energy collected from the state’s dams and send emissions spewing from other sources.

State officials are pushing utility companies by 2020 to obtain 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources that include wind and solar power.

California is in its third dry year, and officials say many power-generating reservoirs are low. That forces power companies to buy energy from conventional plants that burn natural gas.

The newspaper reported that the drought causes farmers to pump more groundwater to irrigate their crops, putting higher demands on the power grid or spewing pollution from diesel-powered generators.

— Associated Press

Teenagers held in beating deaths: Albuquerque police say three teenagers ganged up on two homeless men, fatally beating them and leaving their bodies nearly unrecognizable. Police spokesman Simon Drobik said Sunday that Alex Rios, 18, a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy are being held in Bernalillo County detention facilities. According to a criminal complaint, Rios has been charged with multiple counts, including two for murder. Drobik said the younger boys are likely to be charged with murder as adults. The complaint says the teenagers admitted that they beat the victims using their hands, feet, bricks, sticks and a metal pole.

Pit bull kills boy: A 4-year-old Florida boy was mauled to death by two pit bulls at his uncle’s home in Tampa, authorities said Sunday. They suggested the child may have let the dogs out of their outdoor cage to play with them. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the boy, Logan Shepard, had been left alone on Saturday inside the home while his mother and adult relatives went into a bedroom to talk.

French man’s body found: Authorities say a body found in waters off the Jersey Shore has been identified as that of a French man who disappeared while trying to swim in the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey coast. Nicolas Guilhot of Lyon, France, was swimming with friends off Island Beach State Park on Friday when he slipped under the waves. On Saturday, a fisherman found a body not far from where Guilhot, 25, was last seen. That came several hours after the Coast Guard had suspended its extensive search.

— From news services