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How bizarre
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-12-19 10:22:11
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Sell ads on city stickers

The flip-side of Chicago’s 1.25 million city stickers would carry advertising to generate $15 million-a-year — enough to hire 100 new police officers and give motorists a modest break — under a plan proposed by the frontrunner for city clerk. State Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago) wants to turn city stickers into money makers, much the way Mayor Daley has talked about letting private companies put holiday decorations and their corporate logos on bridge houses along the Chicago River.

The front-side of Chicago city stickers bears the bizarre01_400_05winning entry of a design competition among student artists. The flip-side that motorists stare at on the inside of the windshield includes a grey scale of the city seal and signatures of the mayor and city clerk. “It really advertises me, if I’m elected. It’s a complete waste of real estate. We have an opportunity to open it up to corporate advertisers to raise $15 million,” said Mendoza, who’s running for city clerk with the backing of powerful City Council Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th). “Nobody is talking about how they’re gonna bring that type of revenue to the city and it’s such a no-brainer. As clerk, I should not be the beneficiary of that very valuable real estate. Taxpayers should be the beneficiaries.”

A request-for-proposals (RFP) from advertisers would determine the precise amount of new revenue. But, Mendoza conservatively estimates that advertisers would pay $1-a-month per sticker for the right to plaster their ads on 1.25 million windshields. “That’s really cheap if you think about being in someone’s vehicle for 365 days. It’s a great deal and great opportunity for an advertiser,” she said. Mayor Daley’s final budget includes enough money to hire just 200 police officers. That’s nowhere near enough to keep pace with normal retirements, let alone solve a severe manpower shortage. Mendoza said she would use $9 million of the new ad revenues to hire 100 additional officers. The remaining $6 million would be used to cut city sticker fees by $5. “It’s not gonna change anybody’s life. But, if people allow a corporate sponsor to come into their vehicle, we should at least make an effort to give something back at a time when everybody seems to be taking from city taxpayers,” Mendoza said.


Woman held for trial in domestic standoff

bizarre02_400_08A Chester County woman accused of holding police at bay for 61/2 hours this month after pistol-whipping her husband reacted to being held for trial Friday with a courtroom outburst. "That's not right," Brazzilia Rutherford, 35, of West Caln Township, yelled as she was led away in shackles. The tirade, which lasted several minutes, occurred after District Judge Michael J. Cabry 3d ruled that the preliminary hearing evidence on charges including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children was sufficient to advance the case to trial.

He also denied a request to reduce Rutherford's $100,000 cash bail. Rodney Rutherford, the defendant's husband, testified Friday that he was in the basement of the family's Sandy Way home about 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 when his wife came looking for a fight. He said he tried to avoid her by going to the kitchen, when she pushed him. He said he then retreated to their bedroom and locked the door. "The next thing I know, the door got kicked off the hinges and went flying across the room," he said.

He said his wife then pulled a pistol out of her pocket. "She hauled off and hit me," he testified. "She kept swinging at me. . . . I was afraid she might shoot me." He testified that while he was calling 911, his wife grabbed a rifle out of a closet. He said he left the house and collapsed in the front yard, where awaiting police found him. Brazzilia Rutherford stayed in the house with two of the couple's three children and did not surrender until police forced their way in.  Brazzilia Rutherford shook her head as her husband testified, her ponytail bobbing from side to side.

Under cross-examination, Rodney Rutherford said he could not recall what his wife said during the altercation or what provoked her. He said the dispute was "not our first time." Court records show that West Caln Township police officers, who had been to the Rutherford home on previous occasions, removed the same pistol from the house this year after Rodney Rutherford hid the .380-caliber Bersa from his wife, prompting her to call 911. In February, she wrote to the court, explaining that she wanted the weapon returned for "the protection of my family and me," a request her husband did not oppose. Because police had contacted the District Attorney's Office and outlined the household's instability, a hearing was held before Senior Judge Charles B. Smith, who ordered the weapon returned in May. Asked about that decision after the standoff, Smith said he had followed the law. "I can only act on the record I have in front of me," the judge said. "Certainly, if I'd been clairvoyant, things might have happened differently."


Police pull guns on, arrest boy, 12

bizarre03_400_13Police pulled their guns on a 12-year-old boy playing in a yard in the Northern Territory because they thought he was hiding behind a fence with a rifle. The "weapon" was a broken 1m-long curtain pole with black duct tape, the Northern Territory News reports. Tom had to be treated for shock at hospital as a result of the incident. His mother Terry Mahoney said she was devastated. "He was just a normal kid playing with a fake rifle," she said.

She said Tom had been playing with the toy weapon outside a house in Palmerston last week, when he was cornered by police. At least five officers sped to the scene in two paddy wagons and a blue patrol car. They jumped out of their vehicles, two of them drawing their guns, and urged the boy to drop his weapon. He was told to sit down on the footpath and then a police officer put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him down," Ms Mahoney said.

"I believe he ended up with handcuffs on one wrist." Police confirmed yesterday they had responded to a call saying a person was "hiding behind a fence" with a weapon. They said police guns were drawn but dropped instantly when it was clear there was no threat. Reports of the boy having been handcuffed were not confirmed. The incident happened only days after the small family were made homeless. "It just means another trauma that Tom has to deal with," Ms Mahoney said.


Newly discovered tree looks like Darth Vader

"Star Wars" conventions are usually held in major cities, but from now on, devoted fans may want to gather smack dab in the middle of a forest -- at Redwood National Park, to be precise. Several weeks ago, the national park, located just north bizarre04_400_03of Eureka, Calif., opened its first new hiking trail in 10 years, and it appears the Force is strong with the brand-new path. Redwood enthusiast Richard Stenger, of the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau, told AOL News that a major surprise awaits imaginative visitors on the trail: a giant redwood tree that resembles Darth Vader's iconic mask from "Star Wars."

"When you look at the tree from a certain angle, it looks just like Darth Vader. It's a very big, dark redwood, too, so that adds to the visual. We think the tree is likely a survivor of fires and lightning strikes, which would explain its scars and dark appearance," Stenger said. Stenger said the Darth Vader Tree, as it's being called, can be found roughly halfway through the three-mile Berry Glen Trail -- not too long a trek for die-hard "Star Wars" fans. However, since the path hasn't been open for long, not many people know about the tree yet.

"Maybe by next year, we'll have 'Star Wars' fans lining up to take pictures with it," Stenger said with delight. "If George Lucas wants to take a look at it, I'm sure our park rangers would be more than happy to take him to it." Though the Darth Vader Tree is certainly the latest lord of the redwoods, Stenger assured there are plenty of other odd and strange trees worth checking out in Northern California redwood country. Stenger said that if you head 30 minutes south of Eureka to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, you'll come across a bizarre breed of trees known as albino redwoods, or "forest ghosts."

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