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News of the Weird

Wednesday March 20, 2002

Brooklyn on a diet 


NEW YORK — Is New York City’s largest borough getting just a little too large? 

Maybe so, says Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. He is urging his fellow Brooklynites to go on a two-month diet. 

Starting in mid-April, Markowitz will establish weigh-in stations at hospitals and government offices all around Brooklyn, which has the largest population of the city’s five boroughs. 

Those who participate will have their starting weight recorded, which will be compared with their heft two months later. 

The slightly pudgy Markowitz won’t let his constituents go it alone. He says he’ll be the first to weigh-in. 

Losing weight could be tough in the borough famous for its rich foods, including cheese cake and hot dogs. 


How a good person turns bitter 


KEYSTONE, Iowa — A driver who tried to be a good Samaritan had his car stolen, then destroyed, when he stopped to help at the scene of a traffic accident. 

Billy Lee was driving his 1999 Ford Escort to work in dense fog when he saw an accident in front of him. 

He stopped within feet of hitting a van and pulled to the side of the road to check on the other driver. That’s when he noticed a man peering into his car. 

“I just didn’t feel right about it, so I started running toward my car,” he said. Lee was about 50 feet away when the man jumped in and left in Lee’s car. 

The man, identified by the Iowa State Patrol as Brenton Roberts, 21, crashed about two miles later. Authorities said he then took a pickup from someone who stopped to help. 

He finally surrendered after police shot out a front tire on the stolen truck. Roberts faces more than 17 charges. 

Lee, 51, managed to make it to work after all that happened and tried to look at the bright side. 

“As bad as it was, it could have been worse,” he said Monday. 


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With wads of cash strapped to his body and hoping to make some people happy, Kevin Shelton gave away $1 bills while strolling through a mall. 

In two hours, Shelton says he gave away about $7,000 — with only smiles and “thank yous” to show for it. 

“It’s what I choose to do,” he said Friday after the cash giveaway. “I think it’s making an impact.” 

Shelton, 32, says he earned his money buying and selling real estate in the Tampa Bay area. 

Reactions at the International Plaza varied — from hugs to lectures for not giving the money to the poor. 

Most shoppers happily took the free money and walked away giggling. Some vowed to give it away. Others planned to buy a lottery ticket. 

Shelton began doling out cash last year as a way to brighten people’s day and spark generosity. He swears it’s not a gimmick. He says he doesn’t keep track of what he gives away, but guesses it’s in the tens of thousands. 


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Some mourners whined and others wept as police officers and their canine partners turned out at a memorial service for a police dog that was stolen from its cage and shot. 

“Some may think of him as just a dog, but the reason we’re here today is to remember someone we consider an officer,” Vigo County Sheriff Bill Harris said Monday during the service for Rocky, a Dutch shepherd. 

Rocky disappeared from his cage on March 6 and was found shot to death a week later north of West Terre Haute. Investigators believe the dog may have been shot in revenge for recent drug arrests. 

“Rocky wasn’t stolen and killed. Rocky was kidnapped and murdered,” said Deputy Charlie Funk, the dog’s handler, who was wearing a black ribbon across his badge. 

The warden at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute gave Rocky to the Sheriff’s Department in June 2000.