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Odds & Ends 11/09

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Hand-size snails take over town's crops
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — A breed of giant, ravenous snails that first appeared in Barbados five years ago is destroying crops and prompting calls for the government to eliminate the slimy pests.
    A nocturnal ‘‘snail hunt’’ recently found millions of giant African snails swarming the central parish of St. George, the country’s agricultural heartland. Farmers had complained of damage to crops, including sugar cane and potatoes.
    ‘‘We saw snails riding on each other’s backs and moving in clusters,’’ said David Walrond, chairman of the local emergency response office that organized the nocturnal hunt. ‘‘In some cases we saw areas of 20 to 30 square feet with hundreds of thousands of snails.’’
    The Barbados Agricultural Society said the count revealed the scale of the problem for the first time and urged the government to set up a task force to eradicate the snail population.
    The snails, which are about the size of a human hand, are known to consume as many as 500 different plants, and their mucous can transmit meningitis and other diseases.

Woman sues after hurting herself during "Shake-It-Like-Shakira" contest  

    NEW YORK — A woman who said she fell off a slippery bar and injured herself while dancing in a ‘‘Shake-It-Like-Shakira’’ contest is suing the Manhattan saloon that sponsored the competition.
    Megan Zacher, 22, of Delanco, N.J., fell at Calico Jack’s Cantina on July 8, her lawyer, Lawrence Simon, said Tuesday. He said the fall caused a torn knee ligament that required surgery.
    Simon said Zacher and two friends were celebrating a birthday. She had been at the crowded establishment about an hour, was working on her second drink and was dancing on the bar, vying for the $250 prize, when she fell, he said.
    Shakira is famous for her eye-catching belly dance moves in videos and live performances. Her latest hit is ‘‘Hips Don’t Lie.’’
    Simon said there were about 10 other women on the bar. Her friends, schoolmates from Staten Island’s Wagner College, did not take part in the competition, which required a $35 entry fee, he said.
    Zacher’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court, says the bar’s operators should have known the contest was ‘‘dangerous and likely to lead to injury.’’
    The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Calico Jack’s.
    A man at Calico Jack’s who identified himself as the manager said he had no comment.

Bibles truly saved a man's life

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man says two small Bibles in his shirt pocket saved his life when they kept a bullet from hitting him.
    The 54-year-old Orange Park man, whose name was withheld because his attackers were still at large, told police that two men ambushed him with a rifle as he carried bags of garbage to a trash bin.
    The man said he was carrying two New Testament Bibles in his shirt pocket to give to friends and they stopped a bullet that otherwise would have torn into his body.
    The men fled in opposite directions and have not been arrested, police said.
    Other than a red mark and a pain in his chest, the man was not injured, The Florida Times-Union reported Tuesday.
    Police took the Bibles as evidence.

Robbers' masks lead to their capture 

    MARYSVILLE, Calif. — Two armed robbers thought that wearing ghost masks would guard their identity. Instead, it led to their undoing, investigators say.
    A witness saw the men run out the back door of a cigarettes store the day before Halloween, watching as they jumped into a two-door sports car.
    Sheriff’s deputies found the car, but the suspects — and their masks — were gone.
    However, the robbers left behind the wrappers from the masks in the car. Investigators used bar codes on the wrappers to trace the masks to Wal-Mart, then found surveillance video of the men buying the masks.
    ‘‘It’s a very interesting case,’’ Detective Brandt Lowe said.
    Alben Bonds, 24, of Linda, was arrested Monday in the Oct. 30 robbery, and police are looking for a 17-year-old boy they say was his accomplice.
    Bonds was being held at Yuba County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping and burglary.
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