THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
A Las Vegas nursing home administrator has been sentenced to probation for stealing $453,000 from an elderly Alzheimer's patient.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports police and prosecutors are outraged by the lenient sentence in a case in which Richard Allen Smith faced up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. District Judge Kathy Hardcastle sentenced Smith to five years' probation, restitution and a $1,000 fine.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Valerie Adair argued Smith should be sent to prison because of the large amount of money stolen from 86-year-old Joseph Forte -- the man's entire life savings. "This man took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a man in his 80s who suffers from dementia. End of story. You should go to prison for that," the article quoted Adair as saying.
Hardcastle refused to answer questions about the sentence, citing rules regarding judicial conduct. "I can say that I followed the recommendation of (the Nevada Division of) Parole and Probation," the judge told the newspaper.
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
Noises humans make in the ocean could be intruding on a courtship ritual of male whales whose long sequences of low-frequency sounds actually are love songs to woo females.
A report on Discovery.com said fin and blue whales attract females from hundreds of miles away, using the ocean's sound channel.
Christopher Clark, a bioacoustics specialist at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York, said the songs invite the females to "sumptuous krill feasts" before mating.
Acoustic pollution from shipping, military sonar and seismic surveys are just some of the noises that humans create in the ocean that could mess up this lovers serenade, making it more difficult for the whales to find each other in the vast oceans. That, in turn, could hamper reproduction and population recovery, the report said.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
A report from the British Broadcasting Corp. says Northern Ireland children as young as age 3 can identify symbols of both loyalist and nationalist cultures, reflecting the ongoing violent religious conflicts in the country.
A study by the University of Ulster finds 3-year-old Roman Catholic children were twice as likely to say they did not like the police or Orange Order marches, compared to Protestant children of the same age.
The report is entitled "Too Young to Notice? The Cultural and Political Awareness of Three to Six-Year-Olds," and looks at attitudes and prejudices of pre-school children.
The BBC said the report recommended children ages 3 and older experience different cultures and learn to understand the negative effects of sectarian stereotypes and prejudices.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
Kansas State University researchers have found the latest teen trend may be a pretty good one -- grocery shopping. Scripps Howard news service reports the researchers say teens are doing more and more of the family shopping.
Kansas State researcher Edgar Chambers says about 20 percent of the major grocery shopping today is done by teens and he expects that to grow to 37 percent in the next few years.
Chambers said teen shoppers are more savvy than their predecessors and more likely than their parents to be vegetarian. He said they tend to be loyal to obscure brands but still also influenced by fads.
The report said the Food Marketing Institute estimates teenagers spent a total of $141 billion in 2000, not just on groceries, up 1.3 percent from 1999.