SLOW SPEED CHASE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Imagine a high-speed chase — in slow motion. That’s what authorities in Alabama say they had on their hands — because a thief couldn’t figure out how to get the truck he swiped out of first gear. Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian tells AL.com the 16-mile case never topped 30 mph — because the driver couldn’t get the vehicle to go any faster. The chase ended when the transmission on the truck seized up, stopping it altogether. Suspect Randy Dewayne Vert faces multiple charges, including attempting to elude and resisting arrest.
DOG BITES MAN AT COUNCIL HEARING
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — It’s said that when dog bites man, it really isn’t news. But in this case it is — because of the circumstances. The city council in Jacksonville, Florida was meeting on Tuesday when a 2-year-old pit bull mix named Elvis bit the ankle of a man who stepped on him. What makes it odd is the reason the dog was at the meeting. The lawmakers were considering a plan to promote pet adoption — and city-shelter dogs were wearing “Take Me Home” vests. As you might expect, city officials aren’t sure whether the program will continue.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Chances are you’ve seen it: a neon sign in Las Vegas featuring a cowgirl. But it’s no longer a part of the Vegas scene. After spending more than two decades on Fremont Street, the sign depicting “Vegas Vickie” has been taken down. The sign was originally built in 1980, when it went by the name “Sassy Sally.” Regardless of the name now, it’s gone — taken down to make way for a new casino-resort. The casino owner says his company is looking for a new home for the sign.
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — You can fix an awful lot of things with duct tape. Apparently an inflatable watercraft is not one of them. An Alaska radio station (KTOO) reports the U.S. Coast Guard had to pick up a 32-year-old man and his dog from a homemade, duct-taped-together inflatable craft when it started to take on water. And as if making his craft at home and featuring duct tape wasn’t enough of a danger for the man, authorities say he also wasn’t wearing a life jacket. An off-duty Coast Guard member saw the rickety craft — and called it in. The man, dog and what was left of the duct-taped boat were safely brought into a harbor in Juneau.
DEER IN PAINT STORE
MOUNT POCONO, Pa. (AP) — Maybe he needed paint for a honey “doe” project? We’ll never know — since the deer that crashed through the window of a Pennsylvania paint store didn’t stay around to talk about it. The owner of the store in Mount Pocono says he was talking with a customer when the deer smashed through a window and roamed around the store — before leaving out the main exit. Surveillance video shows the animal slipping and sliding on the tile floor before heading back out. Owner Steve Gleason says he was bracing for even more damage — thinking the deer would spill paint all over the place.
CROOKED HILLARY SIGN
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) — A sign marking the Crooked Hill Road exit off a suburban New York parkway has been altered to read “Crooked Hillary.” Newsday says the defaced green traffic sign on the Sagtikos Parkway on Long Island was reported to the state Department of Transportation on Wednesday. A DOT spokesman says the sign has been removed and “defacing public signs is illegal.” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump often used the moniker “Crooked Hillary” when referring to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, who at the time suffered from the mistrust of many voters. Trump won the election and in a recent tweet said “Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate.” Clinton tweeted back “People in covfefe houses shouldn’t throw covfefe,” a dig at Trump for tweeting the mystifying nonword.
TEEN VAPING ON DECLINE
NEW YORK (AP) — Teen vaping, which had been skyrocketing, fell dramatically last year in the United States. A government survey released Thursday suggests the number of high school and middle school students using electronic cigarettes fell to 2.2 million last year, from 3 million the year before. Health officials have worried about the booming popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on adult smoking rates in the future. It’s the first decline CDC has reported in teen vaping since the agency began tracking it in 2011. The findings echo a recent University of Michigan survey, which also detected a decline in 2016. It’s not clear why teen vaping fell, and it’s too soon to know if the numbers will continue to drop. The CED says one possibility may be a growing push to ban sale of e-cigarettes to minors, including a federal regulation that took effect in August. Another may be the influence of ads to discourage kids from smoking.
RETHINKING CLASS RANKINGS
LANCASTER, N.Y. (AP) – At many American high schools, the graduation-day tradition of crowning a valedictorian is becoming a thing of the past. The ranking of students from No. 1 on down, based on grade-point averages, has been fading steadily for about the past decade. In its place are honors that recognize everyone who scores at a certain threshold. This year, one school in Tennessee had 48 valedictorians. About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Administrators worry about the college prospects of students separated by large differences in class rank despite small differences in their GPAs, and view rankings as obsolete in an era of high expectations for every student, association spokesman Bob Farrace said. There are also concerns about intense, potentially unhealthy competition and students letting worries about rank drive their course selections.
NON GENDER DRIVER LICENSES
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon has approved a new rule giving its residents the option of not specifying their gender on driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and identity cards, becoming the first state in the U.S. to do so. LGBT rights organizations hailed Thursday’s move. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, under the new rule, which takes effect on July 1, Oregon residents will have the option to mark their sex as “not specified” on their application for a driver license, instruction permit or ID card. An X will appear instead of an M or an F on those documents.
LEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Authorities answering a call of domestic trouble in a suburban Chicago home got a surprise. They discovered more than two tons of fireworks there. And now the Chicago Tribune reports charges are pending against a resident of the home. The police department says officers saw what looked like a box of fireworks inside the front door and that a search of the home turned up fireworks and materials to make more fireworks, including flash powder and fuses.
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Supreme Court says a local jurist can call herself “JudgeCutie” without demeaning the legal profession. Justices on Thursday dismissed a complaint that the state Commission on Judicial Performance filed against Gay Polk-Payton. She is a justice court judge in Forrest County, and has used the name “JudgeCutie” on social media .