Baby Sellers Find No Takers

"Would you like to buy a baby?"

At least four New Jersey beachgoers were stunned this past Sunday by a man who walked up to them with a black duffel bag and asked just that, according to WPVI-TV of Philadelphia.

Inside the bag was, yup, a 4-month-old baby boy.

Wildwood Crest (search), N.J., police promptly arrested Timothy Pingue, 28, and his girlfriend, Otilia Ayala, 38, both of Philadelphia, and charged them with child endangerment.

The parents, who were released on $5,000 bail each, say they were only trying to protect the infant from the blowing sand when they put him in their towel bag.

As for the offer of sale, police and defendants agree it was just a bad joke.

"Right now we're leaning toward a conclusion that it was not an authentic offer," Lt. David Mayer told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "But if he thought he was being funny, it sure wasn't very humorous."

The endangerment charge is due to the top closures on the bag, which looks like an old-fashioned doctor's satchel.

The boy, who was in good condition, was placed with state family services and will likely be turned over to Pingue's family.

"It seems too crazy to me," neighbor Donna Ansaldo told the Inquirer. "They seem like really good people. Maybe he was just messing around. Tim seems real proud of the boy, and the mother takes him everywhere."

The couple also have a daughter, who wasn't at the beach Sunday. She is now staying with Pingue's mother.

"My daughter plays with their daughter," Ansaldo said. "She was really excited to hear their names on the news. But she's only 6. She doesn't understand what's going on."

Mental-Health Therapist Goes Ballistic

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Health and Human Services system has revoked the license of a North Platte therapist accused of firing a handgun at a memo that angered him.

Robert Powers, a mental health practitioner and professional counselor, got upset when he received a memo last summer saying only the manager of his office would have the key to certain supply drawers, according to state documents.

Powers took the memo and shot it several times with a .22-caliber handgun before returning it to the office, the document says.

Two days later, he reportedly called the office secretary and said he was too angry to return to work because he "might shoot somebody."

The comment prompted several co-workers to seek protection orders against him.

The state revoked Powers' license to practice as a counselor or therapist on the grounds of unprofessional conduct.

Cruise Ship Repossessed, Passengers Left on Shore

NOME, Alaska (AP) — More than 100 passengers expecting to take a 19-day cruise along Alaska's coast were turned away because their ship had been repossessed.

Cruise operator Society Expeditions (search) posted a statement on its Web site that said mortgage holders took possession of the World Discoverer before it was to depart on June 18.

The cruise ship was to take passengers throughout the Bering Sea to remote islands, bird rookeries and walrus haul outs, at a cost of $6,865 per passenger, according to the Nome Nugget.

The cruise operator, which also sells trips to Antarctica and other exotic locales, said problems in the travel industry had led to fewer customers.

"These unusually low numbers have led to financial shortages, and we regret to inform you that our mortgage holders have unexpectedly taken possession of the World Discoverer," Society Expeditions' statement read in part.

Company officials did not return calls for comment Monday afternoon.

Arrangements had been made for the passengers' return home from Nome. Some flew home, while others decided to stay in Nome a while longer.

The ship was headed to Singapore this week to a shipyard of the company that owns the mortgage.

Either Way, You Lose

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian diver who says he speared a gray nurse shark in self-defense faces charges for killing an endangered species.

"I thought it was either the shark or me," the unidentified man told the Daily Telegraph in a story published today. "I was convinced it was trying to eat me."

A New South Wales state fisheries officer found the spear fisherman on a beach north of Sydney with a dead 20-pound gray nurse shark (search) on June 9.

Gray nurse sharks — also known as sand tigers — are considered dangerous to humans, although the speared animal was identified as an immature one.

The man could become the first person charged with killing a gray nurse under state law since the shark became a protected species in 1984.

He faces fines of up to $220,000 Australian dollars (about $150,000 U.S.) and two years in prison if convicted of killing the shark.

"The charges are still being considered," a fisheries spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

The man said the small shark repeatedly charged him and snapped after he speared a squid.

"I was so scared, I didn't have time to try and work out what species it was ... I was too busy trying to defend myself."

Fisheries Director General Steve Dunn described the killing as "serious."

"Grey nurse sharks are endangered and are protected from all forms of fishing, so this is a serious offence," Dunn said in a statement.

"The loss in this case was particularly great because it was an immature female, of which there are already too few."

It is illegal under state law to catch, buy, sell or possess a gray nurse shark.

Steal a Yellow Ribbon From the Old Oak Tree

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) — When yellow ribbons in Bob Saskowski's yard started disappearing, he suspected evil intentions.

"Every time it disappeared, I would hang a new one," said Bob Saskowski, who tied the ribbons with his wife, Alexis, in support of their son and other troops in Iraq.

It went on for eight months. The last straw was when three ribbons disappeared in three days.

So Bob Saskowski appealed to his neighbors, asking them to talk to their teenagers about respect and patriotism and asked for their help.

"It indicated I needed their eyes to help them watch the trees," he said.

Neighbors responded by adding yellow ribbons to the trees in their yards.

"We all decided if this person was going to pick on Bob, they can pick on all of us. And we literally put ribbons up and down the street," said neighbor Patty Kenyon.

The ribbons kept disappearing, but only from the Saskowski yard.

"We thought someone had a vengeance against us, personally, because no one else's ribbons in the neighborhood was disappearing," Saskowski said.

Finally, the couple set up a video camera, focused on the yard. Six weeks later, they caught the culprit on tape.

The ribbons were being shimmied slowly down the trunk by a squirrel.

"We can laugh now," Saskowski said. "Before, it was not funny."

Comes With Air Conditioning, CD Player, Snakeskin Interior

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A motorist found a slithery surprise not covered in his rental car agreement when a ball python (search) stuck its head out from between his legs.

"He was completely in shock," said Officer Laura Walker. "I mean he said he was lucky he didn't crash the car."

When Walker and animal control officer Tim Frank arrived to help Sunday, the 2½-foot constrictor snake was coiled around the seat's base, Walker said.

With some effort, Frank removed the black and gold snake and took it to the Dane County Humane Society, which will put it up for adoption if no one claims it, Frank said.

The man had rented the car the night before and had driven it to Milwaukee and back and around Madison on Sunday, Walker said.

The snake was slightly dehydrated and was probably there for at least a week, Frank said.

It was tame and likely hand-reared, Frank said, adding that ball snakes are very common pets.

Sgt. John Radovan said the driver had no idea how or when the snake got into the car.

"Before he left he told the officer that he was going to expect a free car rental," Radovan said.

Elderly Man Has Flashback to Third Grade

GREEN BROOK TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A time capsule buried in the cornerstone of an elementary school 66 years ago has been saved from oblivion — thanks to a man who remembered witnessing the ceremony.

Rens P. Eelman, 74, was age 8 when the small metal box was put in the cornerstone of the Irene E. Feldkirchner Elementary School (search) in 1938.

When part of the building was scheduled to be demolished last week, Eelman accompanied Committeewoman Melonie Marano to look around the school for any artifacts the township might want to preserve.

It was during the tour that Eelman remembered the time capsule.

"I seem to remember from my memory, they talked about something with the time capsule," Eelman said. "I was there at the dedication when they laid the cornerstone."

Workers demolished part of the building Tuesday and removed the cornerstone, and found the capsule where Eelman said it would be.

The capsule is on display at the township municipal building, and Marano said she will discuss what to do with it with the Board of Education.

"It's very, very exciting because this box is a mystery box," she said. "What's in this box, nobody knows."

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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