Man's Corpse Phones Home

One Serbian man just called to say he's not dead!

After organizing a funeral for a man who wasn't dead, an undertaker director is facing criminal charges, according to The Australian.

Bogoljub Topalovic rang his daughter's cell phone as his supposed coffin was being lowered into the ground.

The not-quite-corpse said he's been wondering why none of his family had visited him that day — at first shocking his dumbfounded daughter and then filling her with relief.

Eager to cash in on a commission paid for info on new deaths, a nurse had jotted down the wrong name when calling the funeral home by mistake.

Workers at the funeral home then picked up somebody else's body after the nurse's incorrect corpse call.

After Topalovic's family suffered days of mourning for their non-expired kin, the nurse faces disciplinary charges, The Australian reported.

— Thanks to Out There reader Alex K.

This Company Just Doesn't Know How to Get Ahead

CHICAGO (AP) — A northern Illinois resident reported finding a bird's head in a can of pinto beans, prompting a Chicago-based food company to announce a voluntary recall on Friday.

La Preferida Inc. said in a statement that it was recalling a limited number of its cans as a precaution. The company says the beans were canned by New Meridian Inc. in Eaton, Ind.

"There are still many unanswered questions, but we have decided to err on the side of safety," said David Brand, La Preferida's director of quality assurance.

The company is investigating how the bird head got into the 15-ounce can, he said. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also are investigating.

Luz Marrufo, a 28-year-old nurse's assistant, told the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb that she found the bird's head Thursday while preparing breakfast for her three sons. She said she purchased the can at a grocery store in Aurora.

"I don't think we'll be eating beans for a long time, unless I make them," Marrufo told the newspaper.

She gave the can to the county's health department. No injuries or illnesses resulted, the company said.

The cans affected by the recall bear the lot number 5348 MF on the lid. The batch was canned Dec. 14 and is marked by a best-buy date of Dec. 14, 2007, the company said.

A phone message left with New Meridian Friday evening was not immediately returned.

— Thanks to Out There reader Shannon O.

Every Gym Teacher's Got His Price

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — An Escambia County middle school gym teacher let children sit out his class if they paid a $1 bribe daily, netting him perhaps thousands of dollars, officials said Thursday.

Authorities said students paid Terence Braxton, 28, of Atmore, Ala., between September and December. He turned himself in early Thursday at a Pensacola jail on bribery charges and was released on his own recognizance, Escambia sheriff's Sgt. Mike Ward said.

"It's not bad if you can make an extra $100 a day tax free," said Ronnie Arnold, spokesman for the Escambia County School District.

Arnold said Ward Middle School principal Nancy Gindl-Perry learned of the scheme from a parent and began her own investigation in December. She then contacted authorities and placed Braxton on administrative leave. Braxton resigned before the school board was scheduled to vote to fire him at a January meeting.

"Just when you think you've seen it all," Arnold said.

Between the time Braxton resigned and the arrest warrant was issued earlier this month, Braxton taught some classes as a substitute teacher at the Atmore School District in Alabama, Arnold said. That district removed Braxton from its substitute list after Florida officials notified administrators of Braxton's history, Arnold said.

Ward said six pupils have pursued charges against Braxton, but many more are believed to have paid him to get out of gym class.

"One of the kids said something to their parents and the parents said something to the principal and the principal started interviewing his classes and everybody was like 'Yeah, I paid and I paid,'" Ward said.

The official charges accuse Braxton of taking about $230 from the six students, but Ward said Braxton's actual take from the 250 sixth-to-eighth-grade boys and girls was likely much greater.

District officials have reported the allegations to the Florida Department of Education Professional Practices Commission, which could revoke Braxton's teaching certificate if he's found guilty of the charges.

Braxton does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

— Thanks to Out There reader Kathleen S.

E.T. Needs a Little AA

NEW YORK (AP) — E.T., sober up.

The lovable alien from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is on Maxim magazine's list of the 20 Greatest Movie Drinkers.

E.T. is No. 9 on the list, while Bluto (John Belushi) from "Animal House" is one spot ahead of him.

Other top movie drinkers include The Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) from "Blazing Saddles, who comes in just ahead of the McKenzie Brothers (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) in "Strange Brew" and just behind Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) of "The Bad News Bears."

Dudley Moore's Arthur is an obvious choice — he comes in at No. 2, and a couple of Will Ferrell characters are at the bottom and top of the list, respectively.

Ferrell's Ron Burgundy from "Anchorman" is No. 19 and his Frank "the Tank" from "Old School" is No. 1.

— Thanks to Out There reader Molly R.

No Means No — Even to Armed Gunmen

HESPERIA, Calif. (AP) — Sometimes a simple "no" will deter robbers.

A clerk at Rocky's Mini Mart on Main Street was confronted Feb. 13 by an armed would-be thief who demanded money from the cash register, said Roxanne Walker, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"The clerk explained that she couldn't do that, and that there were other employees inside the store. The suspect then said 'thanks' and left the store on foot without taking any money or items," Walker said.

The same gunman was suspected of robbing the nearby Cigmart a short time later. He again brandished a weapon and demanded money from the clerk, who did as the man asked, Walker said.

Now I Had the Time of My Liiiiife

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Their feet may be sore, but Penn State students grooved their way to another record over the weekend in their annual Dance Marathon.

The Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon says the 700 dancers raised more than $4.2 million in the 48-hour event, an increase over the $4.1 million raised last year and the $3.5 million the year before.

The announcement Sunday night set off a celebration by the capacity crowd. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the student-run philanthropy has raised more than $30 million to help children battling cancer.

Freshman Lauren Kay said she was in pain from standing for two days.

"But when you see the children and what they're going through, the pain in your feet is a lot less than what they are dealing with," Kay said.

Disc jockey Larry Moore, who ended off the marathon with Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" and Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer," said more than 15,000 people from about 30 countries watched via the Internet this year.

— Click in the picture box above to see a pic of people who danced for a really long time.

Apparently Washington State Is Seeing Green, Dude

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Law enforcement officers harvested a dubious record last year — enough marijuana plants to rank the illegal weed as Washington state's No. 8 agricultural commodity, edging out sweet cherries in value.

The 135,323 marijuana plants seized in 2005 were estimated to be worth $270 million — a record amount that places the crop among the state's top 10 agricultural commodities, based on the most recent statistics available.

"We're struck by the amount of work they put into it," said Rich Wiley, who heads the Washington State Patrol narcotics program. "It's very labor intensive. They often run individual drip lines to each plant, and are out there fertilizing them."

The net results have a tremendous payoff to illegal growers, said Wiley, who coordinates pot busts with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement agencies. A single plant can produce as much as a pound of processed marijuana, worth an estimated $2,000, he said.

The estimated $270 million value of the plants seized in 2005 ranked just above sweet cherries, which were valued at $242 million in 2004 and just below the $329 million the state's nurseries and greenhouses produced. Apples are the state's No. 1 agricultural commodity, bringing $962.5 million in 2004.

This is the seventh year in a row that record numbers of marijuana plants have been seized and destroyed statewide, the State Patrol said.

The state's known pot harvest, based on seizures, went from 66,521 plants in 2003 to 132,941 in 2004, then to 135,323 last year.

Most of the growing operations were in eastern Washington, principally outdoors on federal or state land in remote locations near a source of water, the State Patrol said.

In recent years, marijuana crops have been larger and more sophisticated than in the past, law enforcement spokesmen said.

Douglas County sheriff's Chief Criminal Deputy Robbin Wagg said while some "mom and pop" crops of 500 or fewer plants are still being found, most are larger and more sophisticated, with as many as 10,000 plants being irrigated and tended.

Marijuana eradication efforts have been hampered by cutbacks in Air National Guard budgets and personnel have been assigned to tasks related to the Iraq war, Wagg said. National Guard helicopters are the most productive way to spot marijuana patches in the county's remote fields and draws, he said.

"We used to get three or four days of flying time. Now, it's one to 1 1/2 days," he said. "They do a great job for us."

Wiley said last year, three National Guard helicopters and three provided by the DEA flew for a month during the marijuana harvest season in late summer, before they were assigned to Hurricane Katrina duties. About 80 percent of the finds are made from the air, he said.

Facing their own budget restrictions, law enforcement agencies in north-central Washington estimate they find perhaps half of the pot being grown illegally.

"We get half if we're lucky and good," Wagg said.

— Click in the photo box above to see a pic of a whole lotta weed.

Compiled by's Andrew Hard.

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