Your Next Family Vacation: Pay-Per-Stay Prison

Picture yourself on the vacation of a lifetime.

Maybe you’re thinking of some sunny sky scenario where you and a frosty beverage are swinging gently in a hammock on a white sand beach. Or maybe you’re thinking of a week in a Soviet-era prison camp.

The mayor of a Russian town that used to be home to one of Joseph Stalin’s infamous Gulags certainly hopes so.

Igor Shpektor, mayor of Vorkuta, says he’s looking for an investor to turn an abandoned prison camp into a vacation destination for torture-seeking tourists, The Independent reports.

While Vorkuta — located 100 miles above the Arctic Circle and about a million miles from nowhere — may not strike your run-of-the-mill potential vacationer as the ideal place to bring the kids for a sojourn into family funland, Shpektor is optimistic that there’s a masochistic contingent of travelers who will shed their straitjackets and enthusiastically come on down.

Shpektor’s plan, which isn't particularly amusing to local survivors of such camps, calls for a restoration of the grounds to house a watchtower, barbed wire, snarling dogs, the most basic of accommodations and guards armed with paintball guns. And he plans to charge about $150 to $200 a day for the experience.

"The town needs money and we have the possibility of turning Vorkuta into a tourist region," he told the daily Novye Izvestia. "The chance of living in the Gulag as a prisoner is attractive to many wealthy foreigners, something they have told us themselves.”

But it won’t be total torture for interested tourists — they’ll also be given the opportunity to fish and hunt for game during their stay.

And the mayor isn’t alone in his colorful ideas about what constitutes fun. Extreme tourism is a growing trend in Russia.

Tour companies already offer the opportunity to undergo basic military training under the watchful eye of Chechen war veterans, and plans have been proposed to open a “Leninland” theme park.

Meet Guy B. Lyin, Attorney at Flaw

LEWISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man with a criminal record masqueraded as an attorney for months after stealing the identity of a lawyer with the same name, authorities said.

Jeffrey P. Riddell, 40, of Hershey, has never held a law license in Pennsylvania, but claimed to be another attorney with the same first and last names, authorities said. At the time, the real attorney was living in Russia.

Riddell was jailed Tuesday and faces a charge of unauthorized practice of law. Prosecutor Stephen S. Snook said he also hopes to file identity theft charges.

Snook's suspicions started when he got a letter from Riddell on behalf of a defendant in a drug case in March. Written on the lawyer's stationary, the letter was threatening and "goofy," he said. "The letter was just not what you would expect an attorney to write," Snook said.

He ended up getting more letters from Riddell and almost daily phone calls. Then, when he saw Riddell at a hearing, Snook said he started getting very suspicious.

Snook and police believe Riddell assumed the identity of attorney Jeffrey A. Riddell after he had left the country and deactivated his law license with the state.

"Maybe he Googled his own name one time," Snook said. "Somehow he knew about him."

Jeffrey P. Riddell was being held on $50,000 bail. Snook said Riddell planned to represent himself in court.

Granny's Got a Gun

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Not even triple-bypass surgery has kept Rita Roherty from the shotgun shooting that has been her life's passion.

The 82-year-old great-grandmother underwent surgery last year, and then recovered to win a bronze medal in the women's shooting division of the Badger State Games in June. She hit 91 of 100 clay pigeons to take third place in the competition, three years after winning the gold.

"When a gun fits you, it don't kick," she said of her pet Browning Lightning 12-gauge over-under shotgun.

Roherty, born Rita McAuliffe in 1923, had 14 children in 28 years of marriage before her husband, Donald Glynn, died. Then she met George Roherty, who took her trap shooting on the couple's first date in 1973.

"It was a very good couples thing to do," she said.

She says she shoots because she likes competing. When she won her gold medal in shooting, she hit enough clay pigeons to tie a woman half her age, then won in a shoot-off by hitting all 10 pigeons, she recalled.

She said she intends to keep shooting as long as she can still hold the gun, and she'll take on men as well as women.

But be forewarned — Roherty admits she sometimes can't resist asking competitors, "You let an old lady beat you?"

Who Hasn't Telepathically Talked to a Panda These Days?

ATLANTA (AP) — Lun Lun the giant panda may be pregnant.

That, at least, is the consensus of two psychics, enlisted Friday by Zoo Atlanta to predict the 8-year-old female panda's pediatric prospects.

It was all done "in the spirit of good fun," according to a news release from Zoo officials.

Atlanta-born psychic Helene Frisch said she telepathically connected with Lun Lun using "tone vibration," the release said. Frisch said she discerned that not only is Lun Lun pregnant, but she will likely bear a male cub by Sept. 4.

Another psychic — Andy Liu, a native of China — used the ancient I Ching to calculate a 65 percent chance that Lun Lun is pregnant.

Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Waller said officials have another reason to suspect that Lun Lun is expecting: The panda was artificially inseminated last March. But panda pregnancies are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Waller said officials should have definitive word on her condition this month.

Last July, Zoo Atlanta officials thought Lun Lun was pregnant but learned in August she was not.

Compiled by's Taylor Timmins.

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