Docs Want Kitchen Knives Banned

There is a menace lurking in British homes — the common kitchen knife.

Citing a rash of stabbings across Britain, three physicians wrote in a British Medical Journal article published Friday that the large pointed knife beloved by chefs both professional and amateur was needlessly deadly and should be replaced by safer, blunter counterparts.

"The long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available, potentially lethal weapon, particularly in the domestic setting," wrote lead author Dr. Emma Hern of West Middlesex University Hospital (search) in London.

Short knives, Hern and her colleagues Drs. Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett wrote, generally caused only superficial wounds, but long pointed blades slip into human flesh in a way akin to "cutting into a ripe melon."

The doctors proposed a simple solution — outlawing pointed choppers and slicers.

"Government action to ban the sale of such knives," they wrote, "would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years."

Reaction from professional chefs in Britain was less than enthusiastic.

"Kitchen knives are designed for a purpose," the head of the Edinburgh, Scotland, Restaurateurs Association told The Scotsman newspaper. "It would be like asking a surgeon to perform an operation with a bread knife instead of a scalpel."

In America, where deadly weapons tend to be more sophisticated, leading authorities thought the proposed British ban was cute.

"Are they going to have everybody using plastic knives and forks and spoons in their own homes, like they do in airlines?" Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (search), asked The New York Times.

"Can sharp stick control be far behind?" wondered LaPierre's erstwhile opponent, Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (search).

New York celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, not known for mincing words, was both blunt and sharp-tongued.

"This is yet another sign of the coming apocalypse," he told the Times. "Where there is no risk, there is no pleasure."

— Thanks to Out There reader Kevin H.

As Good a Place as Any

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Police Cpl. Mike Swygart said he did not believe it at first when someone told him two men were making a drug deal next to his patrol car.

Swygart said he was on a break having a cup of coffee last Friday night when a person told him what was going on outside.

"I laughed because I thought no one would be so foolish as to handle illegal drugs next to a police car," Swygart wrote in his report. "He looked at me and told me that he was not joking."

Swygart walked outside and spotted two men in a car parked next to the squad car, holding what appeared to be bags of marijuana.

"I opened the passenger side door and shouted, 'Police, don't move!' Both suspects dropped the baggies and let them fall on the front seat," he said.

Officers detained the two men and reported seizing two small bags of marijuana as well as some drug paraphernalia and pills.

— Thanks to Out There readers Jamie A. and Aaron G.

Rodent Tosser Cleared of Cruelty

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana University (search) student is cleared of animal cruelty charges after a December skydiving stunt involving a parachute and a guinea pig.

Nineteen-year-old David Feldscott was accused of taping a parachute to the rodent and sending it out an eighth-floor dorm window.

He and some friends told police they were planning to retrieve the guinea pig when it reached the ground, but that plan failed when the animal got stuck in a tree.

It was rescued and placed at a local animal shelter, where it acquired the name Noel since it was the holiday season.

The judge dropped the criminal charge against Feldscott because the student had already paid a $500 civil fine.

— Thanks to Out There reader Amanda S.

I Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Me

SULLIVAN, N.Y. (AP) — Car owners around town are covering their mirrors in an attempt to outsmart a woodpecker who apparently thinks his reflection is an enemy.

Tim Taylor, who owns Thruway Auto Glass, said he replaced 30 smashed mirrors last year and 18 this year because of the bird, which has claimed this area east of Syracuse as his territory.

"People come in pretty mad. One guy's been in here three times already because he keeps forgetting to cover up the mirrors," Taylor said.

During breeding season, male woodpeckers aggressively defend their turf, even against imaginary foes, said bird-watcher Benjamin Burtt.

Anne Miller has had two mirrors on her Pontiac Grand Prix smashed and watched the bird attack her neighbor's Malibu.

"I told him to shoo. He did. Then he came right back and finished the job," she said. "Instead of flying off, he walked across the windshield and did the passenger mirror. I was flabbergasted."

Pampered Pet Gets to Eat Big-Time Cheese

LONDON (AP) — It's a case of the cat that got the cheese. And at a price.

A British cheese company said Thursday that a small piece of their special blend of extra-strong cheddar cheese, branded "TNT," had sold on the Internet auction site eBay for $278.

"It works out at more than $916 a kilogram, so that's an expensive piece of cheese," said Richard Clothier of cheese company Wyke Farms (search) of Somerset, southern England.

And Clothier said the successful bidder, known only by his eBay login name of "Huggysdad," plans to feed the pricey cheddar to his cat.

"Huggy is apparently the name of his cat, who loves cheese," Clothier said. "He has obviously got lots of money and just wanted his cat to have the best cheese possible.

"I'm slightly offended that someone would feed our best cheddar to a cat, but if you pay $916 a kilogram for it you are entitled to do what you want," he said.

Bad-Breath Bear Has Tooth Removed

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Yukon the polar bear underwent surgery that zookeepers hope will clear the air.

The 16-year-old polar bear got an infected tooth pulled Thursday at Seneca Park Zoo (search). A team of veterinarians used a small hammer and chisel to remove it.

The 805-pound bear was the perfect patient. He remained still on a large examination table, sighing occasionally during the hour-long procedure, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported Friday. Of course, he was sedated.

The doctors linked the tooth to Yukon's bad breath.

"You can just enter his den and you can smell it," said Dr. Jeff Wyatt, the zoo's director of animal health and conservation. "It's kinda funky."

Wyatt, who performed the surgery, said Yukon's tooth problem is actually quite common in older bears.

Zoo officials said the bear — and his breath — are expected to make a full recovery in a few weeks.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to