Offbeat News: A Dead Man Walking, Stupid Criminals & More

“Family Business”

For many high school seniors, getting into Harvard would be a dream, but one teen is delaying her higher education to follow a different passion: racecar driving. Aurora Straus didn’t intend on becoming a racecar driver when she was younger, but after her dad – who happens to be CEO of Monticello Motor Club in the Catskills – signed her up for driving lessons at the track at 13, she was bitten by the bug.

Straus has graduated from her high school in Westchester, New York and has been accepted into Harvard. However, she ended up deferring for the year and continued racing instead. So far she’s competed in 35 races and will be one of three women among 150 drivers competing in the Pirelli World Challenge series in Austin, Texas.

“Best Worst World Leader”

When it comes to great world leaders, people think Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, maybe even Barack Obama, but how about Adolf Hitler? The book publisher, Pegasus, is being slammed for including the Nazi Germany leader in its book Great Leaders.

The book includes those previously mentioned including Hitler as “powerful world leaders who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of their countries and the people living in them.” As you might imagine, Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center doesn’t quite think Hitler lived up to those standards (just like any other right thinking person!).

Cooper says: “Placing Hitler alongside truly great political and humanitarian leaders is an abomination that is made worse as it targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history and ethics.” The Wiesenthal Center has demanded that Pegasus remove the book from shelves.

“Dead Man Walking”

A Romanian who worked as a cook in Turkey for more than 20 years has returned to his home country to find out his wife had him declared dead. Since learning of this in January, Constantin Reliu has been actively trying to prove to government officials that he is who he says he is, and he’s not dead. After going through some serious questioning, it was determined that Reliu was in fact alive and well, but he’s still facing issues overturning his death certificate. The court ruled that his request to do so was filed too late. And get this – Reliu can no longer find his wife, who’s believed to be in Italy. He says he originally left her in the 90’s after learning of her infidelity. Adding to the fun? He’s been banned from Turkey for life after being detained and deported back to Romania over expired papers, but plans to write to Turkish president to repeal the decision.

“The Goodest Boy”

Ever notice how excited your dog may get when you ask, “who’s a good boy?” Well there may be a reason for that. A new study out of the University of York has concluded that dogs respond better to baby talk. Researchers found that like human babies that respond best to parents who speak in a high pitched happy voice, dogs like the sound of it, too. Adult dogs used in the study reportedly reacted better to humans who spoke like babies rather than using their regular tone. The study suggests that talking high pitched can strengthen the bond between human and dog.


  • The co-owner of Birds-N-Paradise in California says that six very expensive birds were stolen from the shop. Erik Schreiner says that thieves took three Patagonian conures worth $950 each, a caique parrot worth $1,400, a rose-breasted cockatoo worth $2,200 and a yellow nape Amazon parrot worth $2,500. He thinks the crimes are related to two other bird thefts that have taken place in the area, but the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department isn’t certain they’re linked.
  • A Florida woman was arrested after driving intoxicated with a child in a vehicle with four flat tires. The woman, named So Pak, was pulled over after going five to 10 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone with the four flat tires. Pak insisted there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. Police say they noticed a child in the back seat and smelled a strong scent of alcohol coming from the car. She failed a sobriety test and was charged with driving under the influence and child neglect. Pak was booked into St. Lucie Jail and released on bond.
  • An Indiana man was arrested after taking a cab to and from a bank robbery. Derrick Faria was arrested nearly an hour after he robbed a bank by passing a note to the teller demanding money. It’s being reported that he didn’t show a weapon and that he used the money he stole to pay his cabby. He’s being held at Vanderburgh County Jail on charges of robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia.


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