Originally created 07/14/01

Odds and ends



DALLAS -- At the Dallas Zoo, cages aren't just for keeping the animals inside - they're for keeping one animal out.

Ever since a bobcat has been entering the zoo and feeding on the zoo's dwarf antelope population, officials have been watching for the predator to prevent further carnage.

Two of the zoo's dwarf antelopes, known as dik-diks, were attacked and killed by the bobcat on May 23.

Since then, officials there have been working with the city of Dallas Animal Control Division to capture the predator, which has been sighted on zoo grounds several times since the attack.

"It's something that concerns us greatly," said Rick Buickerood, director of the zoo. "Everyone's antenna is up, but so far we haven't had much luck."

Officials said the bobcat poses no danger to humans, but cautioned that cats and small dogs in the neighborhoods surrounding the zoo could be vulnerable.

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SINGAPORE -- Who says sex always sells?

Many television viewers in Singapore don't like commercials that use sex to sell products, a survey showed Thursday.

Market research company NFO WorldGroup, with the help of Internet portal Catcha.com and consultancy Recipio, asked over 700 people in Singapore their opinions about television commercials.

One out of four people indicated they do not buy products just because the TV commercials have sexy content that is irrelevant to the product or brand.

"Respondents also do not like 'sexist' ads where either the man or the woman was portrayed as silly or inferior to the other sex," the survey results said.

Singaporeans prefer ads that have clear and concise messages which they can relate back to the advertised brand or product. They also "indicated strong liking for witty and original ideas and they would not mind if these were a little shocking or controversial."

The people surveyed in the wealthy city-state do not like commercials that "look cheap or those that are obviously hard-sell."

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BELFAST, Maine -- The usual tranquility at the Belfast Free Library was interrupted by a fistfight.

Assistant librarian Mark Burns faces an assault charge for allegedly punching out a patron Tuesday during a dispute over the use of library computer equipment.

Burns was issued a summons for assault after the fight with David Geoffrion, Police Chief Allen Weaver said.

The confrontation began as an argument, apparently triggered by Geoffrion's attempt to use a floppy disk in a library computer. Use of floppy disks is not allowed, police said.

The altercation turned violent, and "Mr. Burns struck Mr. Geoffrion in the face twice with his fist," Weaver said Wednesday.

The two men then began to grapple on the floor and Burns "apparently struck Mr. Geoffrion several more times" before the two were pulled apart, Weaver said.

Burns was a part-time employee who was scheduled to be elevated to a full-time position by the City Council on Tuesday night. The City Council did not act on the planned promotion.

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BRISTOL, Conn. -- The principal of Bristol Eastern High School has come up with a strategy to tackle failure among students - abolish failing grades.

The plan isn't as popular among students as it might seem, because Principal V. Everett Lyons has proposed replacing D's and F's with mandatory after-school sessions.

Under the plan, no grade below a C would officially count. Students would instead receive a grade of "incomplete," and would attend the extra classes until the work is completed satisfactorily.

"We're saying F's and D's are unacceptable," Lyons said. "We're not giving them the option of failing or barely getting by. That just encourages some of them to stop trying."

Critics, including several teachers, say the plan is an attempt by administrators to raise student grade point averages while requiring more of teachers.

Lyons told school board members, who must approve the plan, that his proposal will teach lower-level students a stronger work ethic and improve their self-esteem.