The Price of Faith Can Be High

The U.S. government may fine a Maine man $10,000 for going to church.

Richard Albert, 52, lives in Township 15 Range 15, a tiny settlement just across the Canadian border from the larger town of St.-Pamphile, Quebec (search). For 40 years he's been crossing the border to go shopping, visit friends and family, see the doctor and go to church.

That all changed with post-Sept. 11 security regulations.

"It was never an issue to cross before May 1, 2003, when they put a gate on the boundary and locked it up," Albert told The Associated Press. "This situation, it's like having a nightmare, and you feel that Big Brother is really controlling you and you can do nothing about it."

For more on this, watch "The Big Story with John Gibson" on the Fox News Channel at 5 p.m. EST Thursday Feb. 12.

Under new rules, entering the U.S. is forbidden when the border station is closed. Township 15 Range 15's station is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays.

At all other times, the Department of Homeland Security (search) tells people to drive to the nearest open crossing station. That's in Fort Kent, Maine — 60 miles away as the crow flies, and much further along the dirt logging roads it would take to reach on the Canadian side.

Canada has no problem with Albert going back and forth. He's on a pre-approved list of border residents who are allowed to walk or drive across the border at will. But the U.S. equivalent, known as the Form 1 program, died last May.

Since then, Albert's simply been driving around the gate on Sundays. But recently, DHS installed a security camera, and Albert received notice three weeks ago that he faced fines of up to $5,000 for two illegal re-entries.

Senator Susan Collins' office has been seeking a solution and is concerned about Albert's fines, said spokeswoman Jen Burita.

"She was hoping the situation wouldn't come to this," Burita told the AP.

Albert is more blunt.

"We're supposed to stay here and not move? There's nothing here on the American side," he said. "We feel like we're being treated like animals here. At 9 p.m. we're locked in the barns, and at 6 a.m. we're let out to pasture."

Earthly Annoyances Don't Wait for Man in Space

It's not easy being an astronaut.

Research physicist Ed Lu came back from a stint on the International Space Station (search) to find dead credit cards, a disconnected phone and an expired car registration, reports the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

"I got a ticket right away, and my car was parked," he told a Honolulu lecture audience.

Lu spent six months aboard the ISS last year, his third space mission. Coupled with more than two months' preparation in Russia, and another month's debriefing, he was away from home for 10 months.

"You wouldn't believe how much mail and e-mail piled up," he said.

Asked whether he was thinking about yet another space flight, he replied he was too busy "trying to get all my bills caught up."

From Each According to His Ability....

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) — Police gave a record $216,900 speeding ticket to a millionaire under a system in which traffic fines are linked to an offender's income.

The Iltalehti tabloid reported that millionaire Jussi Salonoja zoomed through the city center last weekend in a 25 mph zone and police handed him a ticket of $216,900. It didn't say what his speed was.

The fine was based on information they got directly from the income-tax office, the Tuesday report said.

Salonoja, 27, could not be reached for comment, and police declined to discuss the alleged speeding incident until it reaches the Helsinki Regional Court at a later date.

Although it's the costliest ticket to date, it's not the first with a big price tag.

Two years ago, Anssi Vanjoki, then executive vice president of Nokia's mobile phones division, landed a $148,000 ticket after being caught doing 46 mph in a 31 mph zone on a motorcycle.

It was later lowered to about $7,500 after he showed a court that his income had dropped, but not before Finns flew into a rage over the high fine. But, after weeks of Parliament debates, discussions on TV shows and expressions of disgust in the media, Finns did nothing and the system remained.

Other hefty speeding tickets have included a $71,000 one for a professional hockey player and one for $190,000 given to one of Finland's wealthiest people.

Every Burglar's Worst Nightmare

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (AP) — A 53-year-old woman who fired nine shots with two handguns to ward off an intruder said she tried to avoid hitting her furniture.

"Priorities, right?" said Carolyn Lisle of Rancho Cordova. "It was one of those nights. I have a few holes in my glass out front."

The Sacramento County sheriff's department said William Kriske, a 47-year-old parolee, was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, then jailed on suspicion of burglary and resisting arrest after he crashed through Lisle's sliding glass door Thursday evening.

Lisle's three guests fled the home, but she took action, opening fire with a .357 caliber revolver.

"He was like a mosquito hitting the window. Every time he turned around, poweee," she told the Sacramento Bee.

She emptied her first handgun as the intruder crashed through another window to escape, then retrieved a second revolver as he broke into her garage.

"I like to be prepared," she said.

She opened fire again as the intruder fled the garage and approached the house, wounding him.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Lou Fatur said Lisle, a retired state worker who once worked as a correctional officer, won't be charged for defending herself with properly registered firearms.

The intruder tried to steal a motorcycle from a home across the street, but was chased off by neighbors who also had armed themselves to come to Lisle's aid.

As the burglar fled, one of the men yelled, "And that's just our womenfolk," Lisle said.

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped Kriske nearby, and he was arrested by sheriff's deputies.

"I don't think he'll be back," Lisle said.

Don't You Make That Yellow Snow

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — He should have taken care of it before he left home.

Elko police arrested Roger Gray, 25, on the basis of yellow snow he left after relieving himself on the rooftop of a restaurant that had been burglarized.

Investigators said the evidence produced enough DNA to link Gray to the scene.

He subsequently admitted a jewelry store burglary, police said. Investigators were comparing his DNA and other evidence to determine whether he also might be implicated in burglaries at a pizza place and Elko's J.C. Penney store.

He was booked Friday night for investigation of burglary. Bail was set at $5,000.

Someone Give Me a Ride Back to the Ocean?

LOS BANOS, Calif. (AP) — A sea lion that apparently swam upriver from the ocean into the inland canals of central California was captured Monday after motorists spotted it flopping along the roadway, 65 miles from the sea.

The 300-pound animal, first reported Monday morning, basked in the sun on the back of a highway patrol cruiser while officers waited for a marine rescue team to fetch him.

The adult male was expected to be held several days for observation before being released into the ocean, said Cynthia Schramm, a spokeswoman for the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center.

"We don't think anyone grabbed him. We just think he went all the way through the San Joaquin River, into some canals, and probably got out and started wandering around," Schramm said. "Maybe he was going after fish, and there are far fewer sea lions to compete with in the delta."

Sea lions have also been found in the Sacramento and Stockton areas, more than 50 miles inland, Schramm said.

"Sometimes they follow the prey until they are so far away and don't know how to get back," Schramm said.

The sea lion, found about a half-mile from the nearest canal, appeared to be in good condition.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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