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Jan. 31, 2008 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Montana musher wins Beargrease

DULUTH, Minn., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A Montana musher Wednesday won the 400-mile John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon across northeastern Minnesota in wind chills plunging to 40 degrees below zero.

Jason Barron, 36, of Lincoln, Mont., and his 11 dogs finished the course from Duluth, up the North Shore of Lake Superior to near the Canadian border and back in 34 hours, 43 minutes and 26 seconds, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Their effort won Barron $8,000.

Barron, his beard covered in ice, told the newspaper the trail "was tough." It was his first time in the Beargrease sled dog race. Last year, he finished eighth in Alaska's grueling Iditarod, an event once won by his father.

"My team is so tired. The hills finally took their toll on the last run," he said.

Second place went to John Stetson of Duluth in a time of 35:18:04. Twenty-seven teams started this year's event and 12 finished.


Autistic boy grabs wheel when mom faints

PLYMOUTH, England, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- British emergency workers said a 9-year-old autistic boy took the steering wheel of his mother's car after she blacked out, and steered the car to safety.

Jonathan Anderson, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, grabbed the wheel of his mother's Toyota Avensis after she blacked out while driving at about 70 mph in rush hour traffic, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Authorities said the car weaved through three lanes of traffic before the boy was able to stop, using the handbrake.

"The last thing I remember is driving over the flyover at Marsh Mills to take Jonathan to school in Plympton," said the boy's mother, Marion Anderson. "I must have passed out, because the next thing I saw was a paramedic fitting a brace around my neck."

Authorities said Jonathan will be presented with a certificate of bravery for his quick-thinking, which they said likely saved not only his and his mother's lives, but potentially the lives of others as well.

"He's my little superhero," Marion Anderson said.


Circus may snub Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- If Minneapolis doesn't want elephant rides, then maybe the circus doesn't want Minneapolis, a circus official said.

The Minneapolis City Council was expected to take up a proposed ordinance that would allow circuses to include elephants but put an end to the practice of children riding or touching them, the Star Tribune reported Wednesday.

"We'll seriously consider leaving the city if we can't do elephant rides," Tim Davison, the Minneapolis Shriners' assistant circus chairman, told the Minneapolis newspaper. "That's the effect of having a ban without actually having a ban."

The annual fall circus is a fundraising enterprise for the Shriners and the elephant rides have been a key moneymaker, Davison said.

Council Member Ralph Remington sought a ban of all wild animal circuses nearly a year ago in response to complaints from animal rights activists. Albuquerque already has such a ban.

Council Members Paul Ostrow and Betsy Hodges countered with the proposed ride ban as a compromise.


Woman votes absentee after death

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- An official in St. Louis said an absentee ballot in the name of a dead woman was cast in the city as part of Missouri's presidential primary.

Scott Leiendecker, the Republican director for the St. Louis Election Board, said officials believe the ballot was filled out by the woman's son, who apparently signed the ballot with an "X" and signed his own name as a witness, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday. The woman has been dead since October.

Leiendecker said the case has been turned over to the Department of Justice. He said the alleged fraudulent ballot was one about 2,000 absentee ballots cast in the city, the newspaper reported.

The official said the incident illustrates the success of the city's voter fraud prevention system.

"I think the message is out there that this is not something to joke about," Leiendecker said. "We have really good people watching and have good checks and balances in place."

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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