Originally created 11/25/03

Odds and Ends



EL PASO, Texas -- Border agents last week landed a meaty bust, seizing 756 pounds of bologna arranged into the shape of a car seat and covered with blankets in a man's pickup.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 81 rolls of Mexican bologna Friday at the Paso Del Norte bridge as the pickup entered the United States.

"It puts the ultimate consumer at risk," said customs spokesman Roger Maier. "Who knows how long these products have gone without refrigeration or without proper handling?"

Children were sitting on top of the illegal load before it was discovered, Maier said. The rear seat had been removed from the extended-cab pickup and the bologna was put in its place.

He said the agency plans to pursue civil penalties against the Mexican man driving the truck. Maier said the agency won't release the man's name until the case goes to trial.

Maier said the bologna goes for about $1 a roll in Juarez. When it is sold to a customer in the United States, it can go for between $5 and $10 a roll , he said.

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- The hundreds of deer killed by cars and trucks as they wander onto roads could spur new life - along the roadside.

Under a new program in Lehigh County, deer carcasses would be taken to a compost facility and turned into raw material for fertilizer to nurture plants along the roads.

The carcasses are now hauled to private landfills or pits on state game lands, and the roadkill recycling plan could save the state money as well as provide fertilizer.

"It's a win-win situation," said Douglas Killough, regional director of the state Game Commission. "The carcasses could be utilized in a more ecological way than by wasting them."

The deer would decompose in three to nine months, creating compost that would be tested for safety before being used, county compost specialist Cary Oshins said.

The state Department of Transportation now hires a contractor for $26,000 a year to haul away 600 to 650 dead deer from state roads in the county. The disposal price per deer has jumped over the years because landfills are requiring more permits from contractors.

"You can compost anything," said environmental engineer Bill Prince of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "You can compost me and you."

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OLINDA, Hawaii -- Nearly a year after the first reports of a mysterious large cat lurking in the hills of Maui prompted an intense and expensive state search, the hunt has been called off - catless.

Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman Peter Young said the effort involved a "large investment of manpower" and would cease unless new, credible evidence of the animal emerges.

The state has tried everything from on-foot searches to infrared cameras. Three weeks ago, 19 traps were set up, costing about $3,000 a week to monitor. When they were installed, state wildlife biologist Fern Duvall estimated the cat hunt had already cost the state $15,000.

Last December, Maui officials began receiving reports of a dark brown or tan, catlike creature with a big head and a long tail. Since, authorities have tried everything to find the animal.

Velcro strips - some soaked in the ocelot-favorite "Obsession for Women" perfume, others in the urine of an African wildcat - failed to collar a fur sample. Technology using an infrared beam to snap a photograph produced no images.

Box traps and snares struck out, too. Even forest broadcasts of an injured animal in hopes of convincing the cat that dinner wasn't far away turned up nothing.

Young said the animal may have moved elsewhere, is being confined by its owner or is dead.

"I believe there was a cat out there," said Peter Baldwin, who said he heard what sounded like a wild cat screaming in the middle of the night about a month ago. "Maybe it will come back again."

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MODESTO, Calif. -- An alleged bank robber identified by witnesses because he forgot to cut eye holes in his disguise has been arrested - a few blocks from where he pulled off the flawed caper, police said.

Stephen David Walker was spotted Thursday afternoon walking down a Modesto street near the Oak Valley Community Bank branch police say he robbed on Monday.

Walker, 49, was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on a bank robbery charge, Modesto Police Detective Tom Blake said.

Police said Walker wore a square piece of flannel under a hat and draped over his head during the heist. But, without eyeholes, the bandit was forced to repeatedly lift the front corner of the cloth so he could see where he was walking, Blake said.

Before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect bumped into a door headfirst, knocking off his hat, Blake said, and giving witnesses a look at his face.