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Feb. 17, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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Researchers identify hottest chile pepper

LAS CRUCES, N.M., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Researchers at New Mexico State University said they have identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper as the hottest pepper in the world.

The school's Chile Pepper Institute said researchers grew several breeds of chile peppers reputed to be among the hottest in a plant science research field and the mature peppers were then harvested, dried and ground to powder.

The capsaicinoids, the compounds that produce the heat sensation, were removed from the peppers and examined. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was measured at more than 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units, while the second-hottest pepper, Chocolate 7-pot, was found to have nearly 1.17 million.

"Part of the reason we conducted this research is that rigorous scientific testing is required to ensure accurate determination of super hot heat levels," researcher Danise Coon said. "The Chile Pepper Institute, as the leading authority on chile peppers, was a logical place for this research to be conducted."

Happy ending for Elvis the elk

FRENCH CREEK, W.Va., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- An elk that fled from a Pennsylvania farm and across the state line into West Virginia has been given a permanent home at a wildlife center.

Hoy Murphy, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, said Elvis the elk was spared the usual fate of a runaway -- being euthanized -- when he received an outpouring of support from the public, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.

"There was a strong public request that we try to keep it alive, so we did," Murphy said.

The elk, which fled its Aleppo, Pa., farm last year and was captured about 17 miles away in West Virginia several months later in November, was taken to the West Virginia wildlife center in French Creek.

Murphy said Elvis is being isolated and kept out of the public view to allow him to acclimate to his new surroundings.

"It may be the rest of his life. We just don't know yet," he said.

Mickey Mouse spurs school lockdown

CANFIELD, Ohio, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Administrators at an Ohio elementary school said the facility was put on lockdown when a mysterious Mickey Mouse was spotted at the school.

Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the mother who dressed as Mickey Mouse to surprise her daughter's class at C.H. Campbell Elementary School in Canfield during a Tuesday Valentine's Day party followed procedure when she signed in at the office, but she did not tell officials of her plans to change into the Disney character costume in a restroom and change back after making her party appearance, The Youngstown Vindicator reported Thursday.

"It was a case of, Mickey Mouse was here, and then he was missing," Zambrini said. "Our building principal called our school resource officer and the building went into lockdown as a precaution."

Zambrini said the lockdown was executed perfectly and ended when officials and police spoke to the mother and determined she had no ill intent.

Suspect bummed a smoke from alleged victim

LEOMINSTER, Mass., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Police in Massachusetts said an accused purse snatcher was arrested after he bummed a cigarette from his alleged victim two days later.

Leominster police said the woman, whose purse was taken at knifepoint Saturday at the Heritage Gardens apartment complex, recognized Malek Matos, 25, of Fitchburg, when he asked her for a cigarette Monday outside the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Worcester Telegram reported Thursday.

The woman told RMV employees and they called police.

Matos was arrested and charged with armed robbery. He was ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

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