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March 24, 2010 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Squatters targeted occupied house

NORTHAMPTON, England, March 24 (UPI) -- A Romanian family living in Britain was cleared of burglary after they attempted to move into a house they thought was abandoned while the owner was merely out.

Northampton Crown Court Judge Richard Bray heard the homeowner returned home shortly after leaving because he had forgotten his wallet and discovered Mihai Dediu, 30, and his wife Laura, 24, moving his belongings out of the house while their young child looked on, The Sun reported.

Dediu told the court his family had heard the house was empty and was planning to squat to save money.

"The house was a mess. We were tidying it up. It did not look as if anybody was living there," he said. "I met a man in a shop and he said this house was empty. I just wanted to save on rent. I don't earn much."

The couple were cleared of burglary but were sentenced to 12 months of probation for pleading guilty to criminal damage of the home's locks and windows.


Study: Last Supper portions grew

LOS ANGELES, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said their analysis of 52 artistic renditions of the New Testament's Last Supper found the portions depicted have grown over the years.

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and his brother, Craig Wansink, a biblical scholar at Virginia Wesleyan College, said their study of 52 depictions of Jesus' final Passover supper, created between 1000 and 2000, found entree portions increased by 70 percent during the millennium while bread portions increased by 23 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The brothers said they used a computer program to compare the size of the depicted food to the sizes of the apostle's heads in the paintings.

"I think people assume that increased serving sizes, or 'portion distortion,' is a recent phenomenon," Brian Wansink said. "But this research indicates that it's a general trend for at least the last millennium.

"The contemporary discovery of increasing food portions and availability may be little more than 1,000-year-old wine in a new bottle," the Wansinks wrote in their study.


Sister sues for lottery share

NEW BRITAIN, Conn., March 24 (UPI) -- A Connecticut woman's lawsuit against her sister claims an agreement between the two women entitles her to a share of a $500,000 lottery jackpot.

Theresa Sokaitis, 84, of Middletown said she and her sister, Rose Bakaysa, 87, were longtime gambling partners and drew up a contract outlining their plans to share in any winnings, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported.

However, Sokaitis said she never saw any cash from Bakaysa's $500,000 Powerball jackpot in 2005.

"I'm just going after my own money. Do I feel I deserve it? Not for me, but my children deserve it," Sokaitis said.

However, lawyers for her sister said the siblings had a falling out more than a year before the jackpot, making the agreement void.

"The contract was rescinded," attorney William Sweeney said. "Evidence will show that an argument they had in 2004 broke up their partnership. That will be a factual question for the court to decide."

Sweeney said the Powerball ticket was purchased by his client's brother, Joseph Troy Sr., and they held the ticket jointly as partners.


Survey: Workers skipping vacation days

BELLEVUE, Wash., March 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. Web site said its survey of U.S. workers indicates one third of the country's workforce did not use all of their vacation days last year.

Expedia.com said its 2009 Vacation Deprivation survey indicated 34 percent of participants did not use all of their vacation time, an average three days, and nearly 20 percent said they had canceled or delayed vacations due to their workloads, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Web site said employees taking two-week vacations fell from 14 percent in its 2008 survey to 10 percent in 2009.

The survey suggests 37 percent of U.S. adults in the workforce reported "regularly" putting in more than 40 hours a week at their jobs.

© 2010 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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