Dateline: New Zealand—Organizers of a vintage car rally came up with a novel solution to an age-old problem--by hiring karate experts to protect vehicles from marauding parrots. According to the New Zealand Press Association, around 40 members of a local karate club were enlisted last Sunday to protect 140 classic cars set to pass through an alpine village near Mt. Cook on New Zealand's South Island. The martial arts experts were there to protect the cars from Keas, sharp-beaked native parrots that have been known to damage vehicles in their search for shiny objects. Organizers assured bird lovers that the karate fighters would not hurt the parrots, which are a protected species, but would simply scare the birds away. Local wildlife ranger Ray Bellringer said the karate fighters were unlikely to deter the Keas. “They will fly around and laugh,” he told the NZPA.
Dateline: Germany—A group of railway workers were suckered into dismantling three miles of railway track by two fast-talking con men. The two men, claiming to be from German rail company Deutsche Bahn, ordered the workers to remove the track in Lohra, Hessen, and load it onto a waiting truck. The con came to light only after the workers asked Deutsche Bahn for their money and were told the job had never been ordered. Police believe the con men were thieves who carted off the steel track and sold it for scrap metal.
Dateline: Hungary—An elderly chicken farmer is an instant millionaire after finding a valuable Stradivarius violin hidden above his chicken coop. Until now, Imre Horvath, 68, has made his living selling eggs and poultry from his home near Debrecen. Horvath believes the violin was hidden in the roof space by his father, Zoltan, a musician who left home to fight in World War II. Zoltan was killed in combat and never had the chance to tell his family where the instrument was hidden. Imre said he had no use for the violin and had taken it to an expert in Debrecen to be valued. “They were very excited, but sent me to the capital to have their findings checked,” Horvath told the Debreceni Napelo newspaper. “They confirmed the violin was made by the famous 17th-century Italian instrument maker Antonio Stradivari. Only about 650 genuine Stradivarius violins are believed to exist today. One recently sold at auction sold in the United States for $1.75 million.
Dateline: Texas—Gusty winds were blamed for a bizarre accident that killed the son of a local TV weatherman in Waco last Sunday. At the time, 24-year-old James Greene was strapped to a parasail and was being towed behind a tractor. Don Greene, a meteorologist for local television station KXXV, was driving the tractor. His son was in back, hooked up to a parachute-like canopy and anchored to the tractor by a rope. According to The Waco Tribune-Herald, the wind proved so strong that it picked up not only James Greene, but the tractor that was towing him. This caused the rope anchoring him to the vehicle to snap. Greene fell to the ground, but another wind gust picked up his parasail and threw him over a fence and into a tree some 500 feet away. A family member called 911 immediately, but Greene died on his way to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center. According to the National Weather Service, gusts of up to 37 miles an hour were reported on Sunday.
Dateline: New York—The parents of a Staten Island teen killed by a drunk driver were reportedly “horrified” after friends of the girl organized a booze-fueled fundraiser for the family at a local bar. The parents of Mariana Edkins, 18, discovered that their daughter's friends had been circulating flyers advertising a memorial party intended to take place last Friday night at ZLounge, a Manhattan-style bar in Midland Beach. The flyer featured a smiling photo of Edkins superimposed with drink specials such as “$2 Soco Lime Shots till 12.” Jose Velez, one of the head party promoters, told the Staten Island Advance the idea for the special tribute came about three weeks ago when he was approached by a group of Adkins' friends. Velez said the plan was to donate 30 percent of the night's proceeds from the door charge to a charity of the family's choice. “The family is not interested in this money,” Edkins' uncle, Manhattan attorney Edward W. Armstrong told the Advance.
Dateline: Massachusetts—Robert S. Peatie, 37, of Martha's Vineyard was arrested last week after a nurse at Cape Cod Hospital caught him stealing his dead mother's intravenous morphine. Peatie's 62-year-old mother, Linda Peatie, had just died from an undisclosed illness. The nurse, Maureen Beckler, told the Cape Cod Times she left Peatie alone in the room while she sought a doctor to pronounce Peatie dead. Beckler returned to find the son “standing next to the IV stand holding the morphine bag. He was trying to pour it into a water bottle. He looked at me and said, ’I just need a minute more.'” Peatie fled the scene but was arrested a short time later.