Five million dollar man
A 1946 depiction of infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly in his iconic armor sold for $4.96 million during a March 25 auction-and then was given away less than a week later. The work of art by Sidney Nolan, titled "First-Class Marksman," depicts Kelly aiming a rifle at a field, and its selling price was an Australian record. The buyer, the Gleeson O'Keefe Foundation, promptly donated the painting to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Clare Martin, the gallery's media manager, told the Reuters news service that gallery officials "are absolutely thrilled" about the donation. "It looks fantastic on our wall."
If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency has its way, it will expand and modernize a border crossing between Canada and the United States used mainly by locals of Forest City, Maine-all five of them. With a price tag of $8 million provided by federal stimulus dollars, at least some are wondering whether the tiny village needs an updated border crossing. The measure would, among other things, expand the two-lane border crossing to four lanes-almost a lane per resident.
When one Italian snack bar re-opened in March after being closed down nearly two millennia ago, it's fair to say it was under new management. Buried by volcanic ash and rubble when Mount Vesuvius erupted in a.d. 79, a thermopolium, or Roman snack shop, has been excavated and renovated and now will be opened to tourists visiting the site of Pompeii. Sightseers can try authentic Roman treats like baked cheese and honey at the L-shaped snack bar in front of a painting of Mercury, the god of commerce, and Bacchus, the god of wine.
Gunning for votes
Single GOP gun enthusiasts living in North Carolina could have considered it their dream event. Republican congressional candidate Tim D'Annunzio invited potential voters out for a "machine gun social" at an indoor gun range near Charlotte for a chance to celebrate the Second Amendment with the GOP hopeful. The March 23 event was D'Annunzio's second gun social after his first garnered him welcome attention from across the country ahead of his May 4 primary. For $25 per ammunition magazine, participants could shoot MP-5s and M-16s with the candidate.
Breaking into jail
One Cleveland-area suspect made a strenuous effort to flee from the police-and in the process captured himself. Garfield Heights, Ohio, officers stopped 20-year-old Ricky Flowers for a traffic violation on March 29 and were about to cite him for driving with a suspended license when Flowers put his car in drive and attempted to flee the scene. The high-speed chase that ensued ended only when Flowers hopped out of the car, fled on foot, and scaled a fence to evade officers. The problem for Flowers: By jumping the fence, he had unwittingly escaped into the yard of a women's prison.
A knife-wielding criminal in a south central Indiana supermarket didn't mean anyone any bodily harm. But he did want to disrupt the lives of as many carnivores as possible. Police in Edinburgh, Ind., say 28-year-old Anthony Coffman let his vegetarianism go too far when he entered the Jay C Food Store and began ripping open packages of raw beef with his hunting knife and throwing them on the floor. According to a police report, before being arrested, Coffman told a shocked store employee he was trying to save little girls from getting "chubby" off of hamburgers.
Cure for the summertime blues
Some university experiments could rightly be described as boring yet important. On the other hand, there's the University of Regensburg in Germany, which plans on experimenting to see if it can turn a number of its athletically inclined students into modern-day Roman gladiators. In a program funded with a $268,000 donation from a wealthy hobbyist, a group of 20 university students will spend the upcoming summer attempting to live an authentic first-century Roman life and train using real gladiator training methods. The participants will practice fighting skills while wearing bronze helmets and will live on a diet of beans and berries. Athletic archaeology student Martin Schreiner told The Local that he's on board: "For me it's a welcome change from sitting in front of the computer."
Houston, we have a problem
Carly A. Houston may want her one phone call back. The 29-year-old Chicago woman was arrested in nearby Naperville, Ill., after getting into a heated dispute with a cab driver over a $6.60 fare. Police placed Houston in a squad car after they discovered her screaming at the driver and refusing to pay her fare. Once detained at the nearby police station, Houston was offered her one phone call. She dialed 911. The call was routed back to the Naperville Police Station where a hysterical Houston told a dispatcher she was being held against her will. For reporting her arrest to emergency dispatchers, police tacked on a single charge of making a false 911 report to a theft of services and disorderly conduct charge pending.
Residents of Jafr, Jordan, took an April Fool's Day joke very seriously. The Al Ghad newspaper on April 1 reported that UFOs carrying 10-foot-tall aliens had landed near the town. "Students didn't go to school, their parents were frightened, and I almost evacuated the town's 13,000 residents," Jafr Mayor Mohammed Mleihan told the Associated Press. "People were scared that aliens would attack them." Mleihan, who reportedly sent security personnel out to search for the aliens, now says he may sue the paper. Moussa Barhoumeh, the paper's managing editor, said the joke was never intended to go so far: "We meant to entertain, not scare people."