Meanwhile in Oregon, a judge has ordered a 15-year-old teenager to pay back the $36 Million in damages he caused after admitting to starting a fire that swept through the Columbia River Gorge. Of course the boy can't possibly pay the sum in full and Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson acknowledges that. But, he wants to make a point and asked the local juvenile department to come up with a payment schedule for the restitution that will stop after ten years if the boy successfully completes probation, doesn't commit other offenses and complies with payment plans. However, Jack Morris, the lawyer for the teen, called the $36 million-dollar figure "absurd" and challenged the constitutionality of juvenile restitution on state, federal and policy grounds. However, the judge says he was obligated under state law to order that the teen, who admitted in February to throwing fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2, pay the full amount of restitution. The judge was able to use a "safety valve" in the law to potentially allow the payments to stop after a decade. The teen was sentenced to five years of probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service. He also was ordered to write apology letters to 152 people trapped on the Eagle Creek trail because of the spreading flames, the city of Cascade Locks, the Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and many others. By the way, 1,920 hours of community service works out to the equivalent of working 40-hour weeks for 11 months. (Oregon Live)
Scratch and Sniff... Stamps! Why Not?
This summer, letter writers will be able to express their thoughts and stories using both words and smells! The US Postal Service has announced that it will soon issue the country's first scratch-and-sniff stamps - featuring illustrations of ice pops no less! The agency says the stamps will "add the sweet scent of summer" to letters and the 20 different stamps depict watercolor illustrations by California artist Margaret Berg. There are actually 10 different stamp designs, each with two different scents. The words "FOREVER" and "USA" appear along the bottom of each stamp. The stamps will be issued on June 20 at a children's museum in Austin, Texas. (Newser)
Talk About Wrong Place, Wrong Time
We don't know what the odds are of being bitten by a falling rattlesnake while kayaking, but it's got to be astronomical. Nevertheless, it was the unfortunate fate of a 28-year-old South Carolina kayaker when a rattlesnake fell out of a tree on the Edisto River and twice bit the man on the hand. Fire and rescue officials said after they reached a boat landing, the man - who "was in bad shape, and greatly deteriorated" during an ambulance ride - was rushed to a local hospital. The Colleton Medical Center had anti-venom ready in the emergency room to treat the man, but in what the fire chief describes as a worrying sign, the man was flown by helicopter to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. So far this year the area has experienced a few nonfatal copperhead attacks but this is the first reported rattlesnake bite. Rattlesnake bites can lead to more serious health problems than a typical copperhead bite, but deaths are rare. (WCSC)
You Can't Give Birth Here! No - Really!
Fernando de Noronha is an island that lies 230 miles off the coast of Brazil, making if fairly isolated. So much so that women who become pregnant there are told to go to the mainland to have their babies as giving birth on the island has in effect been banned! So it's apparently a real big deal that a baby was actually born on the island for the first time in 12 years. The unnamed mother had previously given birth on the mainland, but told reporters that she was unaware of this pregnancy, as she "didn't feel anything." She added, "Then, on Friday night I had pains and when I went to the bathroom I saw something coming down between my legs. That's when the child's father came and picked it up. It was a baby, a girl. I was dumbstruck." The BBC reports the baby was taken to the hospital - which by the way has no maternity ward. (BBC)
Turns Out It's Easier Than You Thought to Graduate From College
Even though he's never been enrolled at Missouri State University, local comedian Jaron Myers walked across the stage during MSU's recent graduation ceremony and basically got the same treatment as all the other graduating seniors. Myers heard all you had to do to walk across the stage at graduation was hand a piece of paper with your name on it to the person announcing the graduates to the crowd. So he decided he was going to give it the old college try. Myers, who had flunked out of Evangel College, bought a cap and gown before Friday's graduation and walked across the JQH Arena stage. A Twitter post on Friday by the comedian read "I dropped out of college 4 years ago but today I bought a cap and gown for $38 and snuck into the line of a college I have never been enrolled in Hope my mom is proud." The tweet since has over 37,000 retweets and over 126,000 likes. Suzanne Shaw, vice president of marketing and communications for the university, said while MSU wants to celebrate its graduates, they can appreciate Myers' joke. She added, "He had to sit there for two hours for graduation, so I don't know who the real winner was here. We were happy we were his college of choice to 'graduate' from." (Springfield News-Leader)
Man Drives Car into His Family at Restaurant!
In Gaston, North Carolina, Roger Self sat down with his family at the Surf and Turf Lodge restaurant for lunch. He then excused himself as the family ate appetizers; they assumed he had gone to the men's room. They were wrong. Police say Self went outside, got into his Jeep and purposely drove it right into the area of the restaurant where his family was seated. His daughter, Katelyn Self, a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office, and his daughter-in-law, Amanda Self, a nurse, were both killed. Roger Self was immediately arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Amanda was the wife of Roger Self's son, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self, who also was seriously injured, along with Roger's wife, Diane, and the 13-year-old daughter of Josh and Amanda. They are all expected to survive their injuries. Austin Rammell, the pastor at the church the family attends, told reporters that Roger had been suffering from mental illness adding, "the family has been loving him through this. He's been taking precautions. He had all the guns removed from his house, so he was taking steps that were rational steps." (WSOC)
Party at Our House Tonight...and Every Night It Seems!
From the outside, the home at 155 North Laurel Street in Hazleton, Pennsylvania seemed like just any ordinary house, but police said it was operating as an illegal after-hours nightclub and hookah lounge. The complaints started coming in last summer and authorities armed with a search warrant finally raided the home last Sunday morning. Officers and agents removed more than 200 people and arrested homeowners, Fernando Pinales and Myra Gonzalez, as well as Alfredo Pinales. Five children were found sleeping on mattresses on the second floor at the time of the raid. Investigators say the illegal nightclub would open around 2:30am and close several hours later. The house would hold between 100 and 300 people with armed security at the entrances. During the investigation, undercover agents discovered bartenders, waitresses, DJ's, and a hookah lounge. Windows were also sound-proofed with plywood and foam, which officers said created a fire hazard. Investigators removed 100 hookah pipes, a commercial sound system, 90 bottles of alcohol, and nearly $900 in cash. (WNEP News)
What the What?
Authorities in Hejiang county, in China's Sichuan province, have come up with a controversial method of convincing borrowers to pay up on their debts - showing their faces and names during the previews at local movie theaters right before the featured attraction. Called the "Reel of Shame", the clip features an animated character who tells the audience "Come look at these laolai" (lay-OH-lie) before showing the borrowers' faces, names and other details on the big screen. The derogatory term "laolai" refers to borrowers who fail to pay their debts on time. A video of the Reel of Shame recently went viral on China's microblogging platform Weibo. It showed the faces and names of 26 business executives who had defaulted on their loans despite local court orders demanding they pay up. Public shaming has also been used by a public utilities company in Russia, which recently installed a heavy Pyramid of Debt in front of the houses of its biggest debtors. (Oddity Central)