Originally created 02/25/02

Odds and ends



DES MOINES, Iowa -- A group of state senators want to see a fight, but not on the Senate floor.

Legislators in both houses are considering a bill that would ban violent fights in bars for entertainment. Before passing such a proposal, though, members of the Senate Business and Labor Committee would like to do some homework.

"I just want to see what it is we're dealing with," said Sen. Mary Lou Freeman, who chairs the committee. "In Iowa, we have a ban on cockfighting. If we have a ban on cockfighting, perhaps we should have a ban on 'extreme fighting."'

In extreme fighting, people challenge each other to fight with no holds barred. Legislators are concerned that people will duke it out to the death.

They also worry that spectators at the bars are betting on the matches.

Hammond and the other 10 members of the Senate committee admitted they had never seen a live fight, but Sen. Neal Schuerer said he had seen it on MTV.

Committee members agreed that they needed to see a fight before making regulations for the contests. They're planning to take a trip to a fight club sometime this week.

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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- Jim Rasmussen should be considered the front-runner for employee of the month at the Minnesota Zoo. After all, he didn't hesitate to stick his hand down a dragon's throat.

The veterinarian was forced into drastic measures after one of the zoo's two Komodo dragons, Doni, ingested a stuffed animal dropped by a visitor last month.

"I ended up putting my arm down his esophagus," Rasmussen said.

Zoo officials were immediately alerted when the dragon swallowed the toy Jan. 19. It occurred about 15 minutes after one of the dragon's two weekly feedings.

A little girl watching the feeding accidentally dropped a sweater and stuffed animals into the enclosure. Doni ended up swallowing a small stuffed cat.

Six days later, Rasmussen rolled up his sleeves and reached in to help the suffering dragon.

A 4-inch-wide pipe was put down the anesthetized dragon's throat so he couldn't bite the vet if he woke up. The toy had not been digested by the 130-pound dragon, Rasmussen learned immediately.

"It was pretty slimy," Rasmussen said.

But then the job does have its advantages.

"How many other people can say they've been in the stomach of a Komodo dragon and lived to tell about it?"

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- A man accused of stealing 92 ponytails has found himself in a hairy position.

Melvin G. Hanks, 54, has been charged with theft by deception and is being held in St. Clair County Jail on $10,000 bail.

He was arrested Thursday at the 17th Street Designer's Club hair salon in Belleville, where he allegedly was on his 13th trip to collect hair.

The 92 ponytails are worth $21,300, said Jennifer Cox, the executive director of Palm Springs, Fla.-based charity Locks of Love, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of medical reasons.

Hanks first contacted the store last year, saying he was a courier for Locks of Love and offered to pick up the donated hair to save a shipping and handling fee, said salon owner Gerry Dahm.

"We thought this was wonderful," she said.

About a month ago, Hanks was rude to a salon employee and Dahm contacted Locks of Love to complain, only to find out that the group had no such courier collecting hair.

When Hanks returned to her store last week, Dahm called the police.

Authorities did not know what Hanks intended to do with the hair.

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WHITEFISH, Mont. -- The City Council has decided to begin its meetings 10 minutes later than usual in honor of a former member who was chronically late for meetings.

Dr. Chet Hope served on the council for nine years. He and his schoolteacher wife, Carol, were killed in their house Feb. 10 by their son Jared, who then committed suicide, city police said.

"Chet Hope was rarely on time, and typically arrived at the council meeting approximately 10 minutes after it had begun," said Mayor Andy Feury.

The ordinance declaring the 10 minute delay passed unanimously.

Council member Sarah Fitzgerald said the time change is a fitting tribute.

"Twenty years from now, when people ask why the meetings start at 7:10, the council can tell them about Chester and what he did for the city," Fitzgerald said.