Watercooler Stories

By United Press International   |   Jan. 23, 2007 at 6:30 AM
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Shotgun billboard 'isn't funny'

HAYWARD, Calif., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A Hayward, Calif., billboard has sparked controversy for depicting the self-proclaimed King of Car Loans with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The billboard on Mission Boulevard features the image of Mike Fraga with the weapon and promises he will "blow away" the competition, the Tri Valley (Calif.) Herald reported Monday.

Many residents complained about the advertisement's violent theme.

"I looked at it and I was so shocked," Diana Schaufler, a South Hayward resident, said the to Herald. "I've never seen a billboard like that, and it made me really angry. I just thought, 'What kind of message is this?' It isn't funny."

"It is not my intention to offend anybody," Fraga told the newspaper. "If you want to make an article about it, it's just going to help me because advertising is so expensive ... It's going to make me more popular."

Schaufler said the advertisement was particularly troublesome given the area's history with gang violence.

Fraga, who said he pays $2,100 a month to maintain the billboard, said he it would cost $1,600 to change.

Getting driver's license takes 23 years

LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A British woman has successfully completed her 23-year quest to obtain a driver's license.

Maria McCarthy said she began learning the rules of the road at the age of 17, but she was not able to obtain the skill level necessary to navigate traffic until her 40th birthday, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

McCarthy said she received 250 lessons from 10 instructors to attempt to overcome her "driving dyslexia." She said she only took two road tests during her near quarter century of instruction.

"I was so bad, I could never get to test level. It was down to a mixture of nerves and lack of ability," said told The Daily Telegraph.

However, McCarthy said she had now overcome her difficulty negotiating roundabouts and corners and has purchased a blue Vauxhall Astra.

Alleged robber delivered to police station

MILWAUKEE, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A Milwaukee robbery victim delivered one of his alleged assailants to a police station after he demanded to be given more money.

The victim, a man who was rear-ended while driving in the early hours Sunday, was forced to cart three men from the offending vehicle around town to visit automated teller machines so he could give them money, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday.

The man said two of the robbers vanished after taking a total $400 from two ATM visits but the third demanded more money, so the victim told him of "another machine on North Avenue," the newspaper said.

Police said the victim pulled up to 2333 N. 49th St., better known as the District 3 Police Station and informed the assailant to remain in the car. The victim went inside and five minutes later police arrested the alleged robber, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Police were seeking two other suspects Monday.

Rare animals keeping Israeli army safe

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Several of the Israel Defense Force's northern military bases have taken to using endangered animals to keep their guarded posts safe from bush fires.

The Times of London reported that with bush fires threatening the sites' stores of ammunition and explosives, Israel Defense Force Major Ofer Cohen proposed using the rare animals to keep down area vegetation.

Now the bases use eland, Africa's largest species of antelope, to eat the vegetation that once threatened the military unit's bases and their presence has had an added bonus as well.

"It's like Noah's Ark, everyone wins here," Cohen explained. "The soldiers are much happier; they like it so much they even want to stay here on their days off. It has improved morale and made everyone much more aware of the environment, so it's become an educational tool as well."

Since adding the antelope to the base, the military unit has expanded its Noah's Ark-based endeavor to include Atlas mountain goats and rare desert oryx, another form of antelope.

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