Licorice Lawsuit Goes Down the Tubes

Warning: Eating a pound of candy a day can cause health problems.

That's apparently the kind of label one woman expected to see on her box of licorice.

Margit Kieske, 48, who consumed nearly one pound of licorice per day, sued the German candy company Haribo for not posting a health warning on boxes of the chewy treats.

Kieske, 48, claimed the sticky sweets were responsible for her heart troubles — and asked for $7,200 in damages.

The Bonn, Germany regional court presiding Judge Paul-Hermann Wagner rejected the claim, saying the company hadn't made any mistakes in labeling the licorice.

For flavor, licorice candy contains glycyrrhizin (search), a powerful compound derived from licorice root. Any product containing more than 0.2 percent of glycyrrhizin must be labeled accordingly, Wagner said.

But the Haribo product contained less than that amount, so a warning was not needed, Wagner ruled.

Well-Traveled Kitty to Be Reunited With Family

A Phoenix feline decided to take a side trip from the one his owners were making to Germany — and as a result spent almost three weeks in an airplane cargo hold instead, according to The Associated Press.

Billy the cat's owners boarded a US Airways flight en route from Phoenix to Philadelphia March 29 with him in tow. But instead of making the transfer to Guenther and Ingrid Koelbl's Germany-bound jet, Billy fled his cage for a 19-day sojourn in cargo.

Somehow the gutsy kitty hunted down enough food and water to survive. Workers found him on the plane last week at New Hampshire's Manchester Airport after they heard his meows.

Billy was treated at an animal hospital and is doing well, said Guenther Koelbl. The cat will be reunited with his family on Wednesday.

"For sure, that plane is definitely free of mice," said Guenther, who lived in the Phoenix area for three years before moving to Kirchdorf, a small town east of Munich.

He said the family is just relieved to have Billy back.

"The worst thing was not knowing what happened to him. We don't see them as cats, we see them as family members," he said.

'Gladiators' Storm Ruins on Rome's Birthday

ROME (AP) — Hundreds of fans of ancient Rome dressed up as gladiators and marched by the ruins of the forums Sunday to mark the birthday of the city, which legend says was founded 2,757 years ago on April 21.

The actual anniversary is Wednesday, but the "gladiators," armed with spears and sporting helmets, turned out to stroll down Via dei Fori Imperiali (search), which is closed to traffic on Sundays.

The boulevard leads to the Colosseum (search), Rome's monument, which hosted bloody gladiatorial combat to the thrill of the masses in the city's ancient days of glory.

The enthusiasts came from as far away as the United States, Hungary, France and Germany.

Legend has it that Rome was founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, on April 21, 753 B.C.

"I'm retired military from the United States Air Force and this is my hobby," said Dan Hight, from Utah and dressed up as Vespasian, the emperor who began construction of the Colosseum during his rule from 69-79 A.D.

Others dressed up as Roman senators and legionaries. Leading the marchers was a young woman dressed a vestal virgin, a select group of young girls whose duties included tending the sacred fire.

Robber Trades Wetsuit for Jailhouse Frock

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A bank robber wearing a wetsuit under his clothes tried to make a scuba-diving getaway but was tackled by police before he reached the water, authorities say.

Police subdued the man Thursday on the shore of Budd Inlet after a car chase, a crash and a sweaty quarter-mile dash through the woods, during which he tried to sprint into the water while lugging his diving gear and a backpack filled with the stolen cash, Sgt. Ray Holmes said.

Charles E. Coma, 35, was jailed on suspicion of robbery.

Police said Coma held up a bank Thursday with an assault rifle and fled with an undisclosed amount of money, leading police on a two-mile car chase. After crashing into a tree, he got out and ran, wearing a weight belt with an air tank and regulator slung over his shoulder, police said.

Coma managed to get close enough to toss the backpack into the water before officers tackled him on the shore and used a stun gun to halt him, Holmes said. The money was recovered.

Police found a pair of fins inside the car.

He had gone into the bank with a wetsuit under an overcoat or a sweatsuit, police said.

Why Did the Drunk Cross the Road?

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) — A suspect who was arrested but denied entry to the county jail despite being charged with intoxication was struck by a car as he walked away.

The state attorney general said in a letter to Selmer's police chief that the McNairy County Sheriff's Department may have violated state law after the March 17 incidents with Joe David Rickman, who wasn't seriously injured in the accident.

Sheriff Tommy Riley said he refused to book Rickman because he has "a serious medical condition" and was obviously bleeding. Officials cited health privacy laws in refusing to disclose the illness.

Selmer Police Chief Neal Burks said officers first arrested Rickman after complaints from a hotel manager. He was charged with vandalism and public intoxication, according to police reports.

But Riley refused to book him and told Rickman he was free to leave the jail because of his medical condition. As Rickman stumbled along the roadway, he was sideswiped by a vehicle.

Selmer police found Rickman was slurring his speech and unsteady on his feet, reports stated.

He was taken to the hospital, then to the county jail where he was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and vandalism.

"Sheriff Riley told my officers he could not take Rickman because his jail was overcrowded, but that is against the law." Burks said. "I told my officers to do their job and leave Rickman at the jail."

Rickman was finally booked, and later sent to the Western Tennessee Mental Health Center in Bolivar for a psychological evaluation.

High School Vegan Refuses Pig Dissection

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — A teenager did more than let out a groan when she learned she had to dissect a fetal pig in her freshman biology class. She and her parents objected to school officials.

Morgan Merrick, a vegan who eats no meat, dairy products or eggs, believes it is wrong to dissect frogs and fetal pigs in the name of science.

She and her parents talked with a counselor on the day she was scheduled to start the dissection.

By midday, Morgan and the school had worked out a compromise. She could perform a virtual fetal pig dissection, on the Internet.

Morgan spent the next four days working independently in the library to complete her virtual dissection. She received a score of 85.

Buses for Sale on eBay

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — This might be a chance to have something bigger than your neighbor's SUV.

Golden Gate Transit is offering some of its old buses on eBay.

For a starting bid of 1,000 dollars, the agency is trying to sell some of its 14-year-old buses on the Internet auction site.

The white-and-green buses would probably dwarf any other set of wheels parked in a neighborhood driveway. They're 40-feet long, and come equipped with 39 seats.

A transit agency spokesman says the vehicles are equipped with high-back, slightly reclining seats that are cushioned. They also have reading lights and luggage racks.

A word of caution though. The buses only get about four miles a gallon. And they don't come with cup holders.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil and Catherine Donaldson-Evans.

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