Watercooler Stories

Oct. 16, 2007 at 6:30 AM
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Aussie motorists flaunt phone laws

MELBOURNE, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Motorists in Melbourne are still ignoring safety campaigns and the possibility of stiff penalties for talking on their mobile phones while driving.

A new survey of 20,000 motorists indicates the number Australians seen chatting on their cell phones while behind the wheel of their moving vehicle has stayed about the same over the past five years.

The study by researchers from Austin Health, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found 1.6 percent of drivers surveyed were on handheld phones compared with 1.8 percent in 2002.

However the head of the study group, Professor David Taylor, says the fact more people now owned a cell phone should be taken into account.

The survey in 2002 was among 17,000 drivers compared to the 20,207 motorists observed in 2006, he said.

"There were a whole stack more of mobile phones actually in the cars that we observed," Taylor said. "So drivers had more of an opportunity to use their mobiles, yet the rate decreased slightly, which is encouraging."

Robbery for Dummies: Take the cash

GREENSBORO, N.C., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Someone may want to tell three seemingly hapless robbers in North Carolina that the point of a robbery is to take the cash, not leave it behind.

The three men walked into a convenience store, pointed a shotgun at the clerk and took the money from the cash register and stowed it in a bag, the Greensboro News & Record reported Monday.

But wanting to make a quick getaway, they left the bag containing $400 sitting on the counter, police said.

Police said they believe the men used the bag to carry any money they could take from the store.

Balloonists cover 1,063 miles

KIPLING, Saskatchewan, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Two Americans navigated their hot-air balloon from New Mexico to Canada, winning the distance competition of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Co-pilots Andy Cayton and Stuart Enloe, both of Georgia, covered 1,063 miles during their 61-hour aerial adventure, winding up at a farm near Kipling, Saskatchewan, about 94 miles southeast of Regina, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday. Their nearest competitor managed just 471 miles, putting down in Kansas.

Cayton told CBC News they hadn't aimed to reach Canada when they set out last week but when they reached North Dakota the winds picked up.

"It worked out well," Cayton said. "We were the only balloon to go due north."

Record-setting shark caught in Florida

DESTIN , Fla., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A fisherman competing in Florida's annual Destin Fishing Rodeo set a record for the tournament by landing an 844.4-pound mako shark.

Adlee Bruner reeled in the gargantuan shark after he and his friends noticed something was eating the fish they hooked before they could reel them in, the Panama City (Fla.) News-Herald reported Monday.

Capt. Robert Hill of the 52-foot charter boat “Twilight” told the anglers to pull their rigs out of the water and it was then that the shark came out into the open.

“A huge shark,” Bruner told the News-Herald. “That was an incredible sight."

Bruner lured the shark to his rig with a 2-foot amberine as bait and the fight was on.

“He went crazy,” Bruner said of the shark. “It was a fight.”

After an hours-long battle, the fishermen roped the shark and towed it back to shore. The shark weighed in at 844.4 pounds and retained 638 pounds after it was gutted, a record for the tournament's shark division, the newspaper said.

“I’ve caught an 85-lb Warsaw (grouper) before,” Bruner said. “This is a totally different fish here.”

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