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Scripps Howard News Service


June 22, 2005

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Police are keeping an eye out for a highly skilled and frustratingly elusive prankster who has been tampering with city traffic lights for more than three months.

Whoever is behind the shenanigans has kept a low profile and drawn no attention to himself - or herself - while surreptitiously turning traffic lights around to face the wrong way, tampering with control boxes so the lights flash red in all directions and throwing the timing off to stymie motorists, said city spokesman John Pilger.

"There is evidence that whoever is doing it knows what they're doing," Pilger said. "The evidence suggests they're an electrician or have that background. This isn't a high school prank."

Further puzzling investigators is the fact that the traffic trickster used a cherry-picker truck to reach an overhead signal spanning a busy intersection - apparently without anyone being any the wiser, Pilger said. What's more, the practical joker has effortlessly opened the control boxes that contain the signals' electronic guts.

"No one's seen anything, and they've obviously blended in, and they have a key to the traffic boxes," Pilger said. He noted that such keys are not proprietary to the city, so a key that works elsewhere probably works in Sunnyvale.

- San Francisco Chronicle


PITTSBURGH - In the case of the surrogate triplets who were placed in the custody of the surrogate mother, a judge has terminated the parental rights of the egg donor.

Judge Shad Connelly eliminated Jennifer Michelle Rice of Texas, the egg donor, as a possible mother for the babies. That leaves surrogate mother Danielle Bimber as the 19-month-old triplets' only mother.

"I am so excited," said Bimber, of Corry, Pa. "So far everything has gone my way. But of course they appeal everything."

She was referring to James O. Flynn and Eileen Donich, the Ohio couple who arranged the surrogate birth. They arrived at the hospital the day the babies were born, Nov. 19, 2003, but then failed to visit for a week, prompting hospital officials to call the child welfare agency to have the babies placed in foster care.

Bimber returned to the hospital to take custody rather than see the babies go to a stranger.

She has had primary physical custody since, despite repeated legal challenges from Flynn and Donich. Donich is not married to Flynn, was not a party to the surrogacy contract and did not donate genetic material, so she is not considered a legal mother.

- Pittsburgh Post Gazette


NAPLES, Fla. - Sea turtles are showing up in fewer numbers to nest on Marco Island beaches, continuing a trend that has environmental specialists somewhat baffled.

Sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1 and ends Oct. 31. Normally, June is the busiest month for turtles coming ashore to dig nests for laying eggs.

As of Monday, June 20, only 18 nests had been found on Marco shores and marked for protection by Mary Nelson, environmental specialist in Collier County's environmental services department.

By the same date last year and in 2003, some 29 nests had been found on Marco, Nelson said.

Scientists and environmental specialists have yet to nail down the reason that sea turtle nests have been declining in numbers since 1998.

Nelson suggested that one cause for this year's decline may be that water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have been cooler than the 80 degrees that seems to bring the endangered sea creatures ashore.

"The water temperatures didn't stabilize at 80 degrees until we got into May, so that could have something to do with it," she said. "We've noticed that there's been more nests showing up in this past week, so maybe they just got started a little bit late."

- Naples News


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