Today’s collection of odd news headlines from the Associated Press includes our favorite understatement of the day: After a fishing tournament in which 400 people participated and only one fish was caught, one of the organizers said the event is “more fun when you do catch fish.” We would imagine so! Read the whole funny story below, along with other chuckle-inducing news briefs – including the tale of the New Jersey camel that picks Super Bowl winners!
• Participants in a Michigan charity ice fishing tournament brought home a different kind of fish tale. The Daily Press of Escanaba reports only one fish was caught by the more than 400 kids and adults participating in this weekend’s Jig It Ice Fishing Extravaganza at Escanaba Yacht Harbor in the Upper Peninsula. Big Brother Big Sisters of Delta County sponsored the fundraiser and Jason M. Pepin of Escanaba had the lone fishing success during the competition. The perch he caught weighed 4.5 ounces and netted a $3,000 first place prize. The group’s executive director Tanya Schuster says some people reported seeing fish swimming in the water, but they weren’t biting. Schuster says the event to help fund area mentoring programs is “more fun when you do catch fish.”
• A jury has convicted a New York prison inmate of falsely filing tax returns seeking $890 million in refunds. Prosecutors say the man filed the bogus returns from 2006 to 2010 while at various state prisons. They say he even was issued a refund for $327,000 — but prison officials intercepted the check and returned it to the Internal Revenue Service, which led the investigation. The man was convicted Thursday of 11 counts of filing false claims and one count of helping another inmate file bogus returns. He was serving two to four years for possession of stolen property when he was charged last February. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count when he’s sentenced in May.
• Members of a Madison book club have quite a story to discuss. And, it doesn’t have anything to do with a book. One of the book club members decided to take a pet python out of its terrarium during a recent meeting at a host’s home. The 31-year-old woman says she had experience handling snakes and just wanted to hold it. The normally docile snake named Annie latched on to the woman’s cheek and wouldn’t let go. Police and paramedics were summoned. But, Annie wouldn’t let go until her owner arrived home and detached her. The woman’s bite was disinfected. Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain says the book club members could write their own non-fiction piece involving a protagonist named Annie.
• Everyone forgets their keys, now and then, but police say one western Pennsylvania man managed to do so at a most inopportune time: while he was burglarizing a hair salon. Johnstown police tell the Tribune-Democrat newspaper that 27-year-old Charles Nash Gray Jr. left the keys to his public housing apartment behind during the burglary at Cuts and Stuff, a hair and beauty salon, on Jan. 18. Police say Gray stole more than $600 in cash and checks during the break-in. An employee found the keys and police took them to Gray’s apartment, where he was arrested. He’s still in the Cambria County Jail and will stand trial on burglary, theft and other charges after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
• The Amherst Fire Department was called to the local middle school for an unusual rescue. A student got her arm stuck in a vending machine. Assistant Chief Donald McKay says firefighters were called to Amherst-Pelham Regional Middle School on Thursday to free the girl, who was reaching up and into the vending slot in an attempt to retrieve a bottle of water that she had paid for, but got stuck. McKay tells The Republican newspaper she was stuck to her shoulder for about 20 minutes. She was not seriously hurt but complained that her hand was cold from being stuck in the refrigerated section. She refused medical treatment at the scene but her mother brought her to the family pediatrician. He did not release the girl’s name.
• A New Jersey camel with an appetite for picking winning NFL teams has signaled the New York Giants will win the Super Bowl. Princess, the star of Popcorn Park Zoo, has correctly picked the winner of five of the last six Super Bowls. She went 14 and 6 predicting regular season games this year. The Bactrian camel’s prognostication skills flow from her love of graham crackers. Zoo general manager John Bergmann places a cracker and writes the name of the competing teams on each hand. Whichever hand Princess nibbles from is her pick. Her only miscue in the big game was picking the Indianapolis Colts over the New Orleans Saints two years ago. Princess, who once belonged to heiress Doris Duke, doesn’t do point spreads.