So who was that mystery man wearing the cowboy hat and American flag shirt?
A man who called himself Boraq Sagdiyev from Kazakhstan (search) persuaded producers to let him sing the national anthem before the beginning of a rodeo in Salem, Va., Friday night. He said he was touring America making a documentary, and would have a film crew with him.
Instead, the crowd of nearly 4,000 at the Salem Civic Center was treated to a mangled version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," as well as a bizarre political rant, reports the Roanoke (Va.) Times.
"I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards," the man told the audience. His butchered rendition of the national anthem ended with the words "your home in the grave."
Boos and hisses filled the air, and the singer and his film crew had to be escorted out of the arena for their own safety.
"Had we not gotten them out of there, there would have been a riot," rodeo producer Bobby Rowe told the newspaper.
By the middle of the day Saturday, locals noticed that the controversial stranger looked a lot like Ali G (search), aka Borat from Kazakhstan, aka Sacha Baron Cohen (search), a British comedian whose "Da Ali G Show" has had two seasons on HBO.
"If he isn't the guy, he has an uncanny resemblance to him," civic center director Carey Harveycutter told the Times.
Cohen specializes in playing dim-witted characters who ask experts and public figures inane and embarrassing questions during interviews. He has asked Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (search) what it was like to walk on the sun, and has had former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman (search) admit that whale droppings "have got to be massive."
Borat, one of Cohen's more recent creations, is a clueless reporter from Kazakhstan who has trouble understanding American ways, and has a few unsavory opinions of his own. On one episode of "Da Ali G Show," Borat leads unsuspecting patrons of an Arizona country-and-western bar in an anti-Semitic sing-along.
Rowe said he was approached by a California production company five months ago on behalf of Sagdiyev, and a tape of the man singing convinced Rowe the purported Kazakh was good enough to do justice to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
An HBO official, responding to a query by the Roanoke Times, said "Da Ali G Show" was not currently in production and that he had no further comment.
Friday night's singer began by telling rodeo fans that he supported the American War on Terror, but then added, "May George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq."
He then took his cowboy hat off, sang what he said was the Kazakh national anthem, put his hat back on and launched into a butchered "Star-Spangled Banner."
"If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him," said Robynn Jaymes, co-host of the morning radio show on Star Country WSLC-FM. "People were booing him, flipping him off."
"It's a wonder one of these cowboys didn't go out there and rope him up," said Lenore Rowe, the producer's wife.
Bobby Rowe caught on to what was happening pretty quickly and made sure it ended peaceably.
"I learned a lesson, that's for sure," he told the newspaper, but added that he had some words of advice for "Boraq": "You done the wrong thing at the wrong place."
SALEM, Va. (AP) — The question "Where's the beef?" has been answered, at least as far as a Salem farmer whose prized steer disappeared on Christmas is concerned.
Doug Nolan has about 45 head of cattle, but noticed his 500-pound steer wasn't among them when he called them in on Dec. 25.
A day later, when the steer was still nowhere to be seen, Nolan began looking for him and notified animal control.
"I walked these hills and drove and drove and looked," Nolan told the Roanoke Times, adding he asked neighbors and friends, too. "We watched the sky for buzzards."
Turns out the answer was right under Nolan's, uh, hay bales.
Kyle Bean, who keeps livestock on Nolan's land, was walking past Nolan's barn and saw two ears moving from underneath two large rolled bales of hay, the steer having apparently decided to help himself to a meal and gotten stuck when the hay fell.
The steer "was real thirsty, but he was up" and seemingly healthy, Nolan said.
The steer had been trapped for almost two weeks without water and looked like he had lost about 100 pounds, Nolan said. It quickly headed for the nearest stream.
"He was still in the creek about a half-hour after I got there," Nolan said. "I was just so thankful he was alive. It's amazing he's in as good a shape as he is."
— Thanks to Out There reader Stanley N.
EAST BROOKFIELD, Mass. (AP) — While jurors deliberated the fate of a man accused of selling a stolen gun to a pawnshop, the defendant went out for a cup of coffee.
A week later, Peter J. Leo, 32, of Worcester was still is on the run.
According to court records, Leo was being tried Jan. 4 on charges of larceny, carrying a firearm without a license and receiving stolen property.
His lawyer, Christopher Loconto, said Leo was accused of selling a pistol that did not belong to him to a pawnshop in 2002.
After listening to closing arguments, jurors left to begin their deliberations. Leo and his girlfriend also left the courtroom, saying they were going for coffee, a court officer told The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester.
The jurors returned to the courtroom a short time later to deliver their verdict, but Leo was not there to hear he had been found guilty.
Court officials told the newspaper that Leo had been free to come and go from the courtroom.
When it became apparent Leo was not going to return, the judge issued a warrant for his arrest. He now is charged with failing to appear for a jury verdict.
"He's got some family issues he's dealing with," Loconto said. "I would encourage him to turn himself in."
Besides the mandatory one-year prison sentence on the theft charges, Leo could face two more years in jail because of the latest charge, court officials said.
DURANT, Okla. (AP) — Inmate meals at the Bryan County Jail (search) aren't what they used to be after authorities discovered an inmate chef with a gourmet palate spent more than twice as much on groceries as was budgeted.
Jail officials are cutting costs in the kitchen after authorities were billed $13,000 for a month's worth of inmate food. The monthly grocery bill at the jail is usually about $5,000.
"They were just going a little wild with the ordering of the food," said Jerry Ridgway, interim jail administrator.
The menu is back to normal — chicken patties instead of chicken breasts — and food costs are under control, Ridgway said. Staff members are ordering the food and taking inventory.
The inmate who ordered the food was a trusty who has since been released. Ridgway said he expects no repercussions against him.
"It's just something we'll have to pay because the food was ordered," he said.
Meanwhile, inmates have not been pleased with the jail's downscaled menu.
"They didn't like it at all," Ridgway said. "They started feeling like they were being neglected. Of course, they weren't. We were just trying to get them back on track."
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — While at a check-in counter at Auckland International Airport (search), Dale Rodel was really bugged. No, really: He was bitten by a scorpion.
"I felt this stabbing like a piece of glass. At first I thought it was a spider so wasn't too worried. When I saw it was a scorpion, I took a step back," Rodel said Thursday.
Investigators from New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said they were working to ascertain the origin of the scorpion, which is foreign to New Zealand.
Rodel, 19, of Napier on New Zealand's North Island, suffered mild pain and swelling of his foot after being bitten by the insect. He said his injuries were mild, and went away after about eight hours.
Rodel had recently returned from a holiday in South Africa but did not believe the scorpion had hitched a ride in his luggage.
New Zealand, which has stringent quarantine regulations, has no venomous insects or snakes.
SEATTLE (AP) — An expensive MRI machine at Virginia Mason Medical Center (search) sustained at least $200,000 in damage when a metal floor buffer was mistakenly placed nearby and was sucked in by the machine's powerful magnets, a television station reports.
The accident happened Jan. 3 when a member of the housekeeping staff improperly took the buffer near the machine, despite a warning sign not to use metal objects near it, KIRO-TV reported Monday night.
Virginia Mason spokesmen did not respond to repeated Associated Press phone messages for comment left Monday night with hospital switchboard operators.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines are sophisticated diagnostic tools used to provide detailed pictures of the body's interior.
The magnets used are so powerful it is not uncommon to hear of large pieces of equipment being pulled into the machines.
Several hospital employees worked on removing the buffer. According to a hospital incident report cited by KIRO, one worker lost an earring and another had his hearings aids destroyed.
The hospital plans some staff retraining, KIRO reported.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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