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March 15, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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'Corpse plant' ready to bloom at Cornell

ITHACA, N.Y., March 15 (UPI) -- A professor at Cornell University in New York state said the school's "corpse plant" is expected to bloom and release its signature stench later this week.

Karl Niklas, professor of plant biology at the Ithaca school, said the Amorphophallus titanum, commonly referred to as a "corpse plant" or a "corpse flower," will bloom for only a few days and will release a stench many compare to the smell of a rotting corpse during those days, The Ithaca Journal reported Wednesday.

Niklas said the plant, native to the rainforests of Sumatra, was planted in 2002 by Melissa Luckow, associate professor of plant biology, and is on the verge of its first-ever blooming. He said it could be another 30 years before the 57-inch-long plant flowers again.

"This is important because this plant is considered vulnerable in the environment," Luckow said. "I hope this raises awareness of how remarkable these plants are and how important it is to protect our forests."

2-year-old picks $1 million winner

NEW YORK, March 15 (UPI) -- A New York woman said she would not have purchased a winning scratch-off lottery card worth $1 million if it hadn't been for her 2-year-old daughter.

Afsheen Ahsan, 34, who claimed her winnings Tuesday, said she decided to buy the New York Poker ticket from the Top Convenience store in Brooklyn Jan. 30 when her daughter, Anaya Hussain, 2, touched the ticket, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

"If she didn't touch it, I wouldn't have taken it. She's lucky," Ahsan said.

Ahsan, a Pakistani immigrant, said she and her boyfriend, Sayed Hussain, already have some plans for the winnings.

"I'm going on vacation, but I have no idea where. I want to start a business too, a grocery store," she said.

N.J. city dodges toilet paper crisis

TRENTON, N.J., March 15 (UPI) -- Officials in Trenton, N.J., said a toilet paper crisis at city buildings has been staved off with a $16,000 emergency order of paper products.

Supplies of toilet paper and paper towels at City Hall and other city-run facilities including police headquarters and senior centers are nearly depleted due to Mayor Tony Mack's administration being unable to get City Council approval for a $46,000 contract to keep the facilities supplied for the next year, The Times of Trenton reported Wednesday.

Acting city purchasing agent Marchelle Marshall said relief is now on the way in the form of $16,000 worth of toilet paper and paper towels.

"Some of the supplies were supposed to be delivered at 5 o'clock today, and some of the rest will be delivered tomorrow," Marshall said Tuesday.

The City Council initially rejected the $46,000 bid from Pennsauken-based firm Amsan in September due to the company wanting $4,000 for a supply of hot drink cups. Marshall asked the council Tuesday night to reject a contract with Amsan so the city can solicit bids from other companies. The council voted as Marshall recommended.

Police seek pizza costume thief

LAKELAND, Fla., March 15 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said they are searching for a man who walked into a Papa John's and left wearing the eatery's pizza costume.

Polk County sheriff's deputies said the suspect, described as a white man around 18-years-old, was wearing a white button-up shirt, dark pants and a dark tie when he walked into the Lakeland restaurant with six other people and put on the 6-foot-tall pizza slice costume, WFTS-TV, Tampa Bay, Fla., reported Wednesday.

Deputies said the man was still wearing the costume when he left the store with his companions.

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