Monday 05/04/09

Human Interest News   —   Posted on May 4, 2009

By The Editors of 

Survival instinct
It didn’t take long for Sophie the house dog to make the transition to island dog. And it’s a good thing too: After falling overboard in choppy seas off the coast of Australia, Sophie wouldn’t see her owners for about four months. Jan Griffith and her family assumed Sophie drowned when she wound up in the drink in November. But the resourceful Australian cattle dog managed to swim nearly six miles to the shores of St. Bees Island. There, the one-time house pet lived by hunting feral goats until being discovered by park rangers. On a whim, Griffith said she contacted rangers to see if the stray dog they found was her Sophie. When Griffith got near the dog, there was no doubt: “We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage and they let her out and she just about flattened us,” she said. “She wriggled around like a mad thing.”

Burning issue
If 82-year-old Donald Harmon wants to heat his Seattle home, he’ll have to rethink his homemade wood fire heating system, according to a Washington environmental agency. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency tagged the retired engineer with an $850 fine after they noticed smoke from a wood fire wafting from his chimney one January morning. Harmon said he was just trying to break the chill in his kitchen with his intricate heating system designed to save money by burning things like wood pallets. But the morning Harmon chose to burn also happened to coincide with a region-wide burn ban imposed by the agency to reduce air pollution. Harmon told the Seattle Times it would take him a year to pay the fine from what is left over from his Social Security check. But Mario Pedroza, an agency inspector, told the newspaper that Harmon gets to be the “poster child” for noncompliance with environmental regulations. Harmon fired back: “I’ll be the poster child-for nonpayment.”

Off-target prayers
Views from newly built high-rise apartment buildings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, have some Muslims worried about the efficacy of their prayers. Residents in the towers became worried when they saw the markings directing congregants to pray toward the Kaaba in Mecca were misaligned. Muslim worshippers are supposed to pray toward the Kaaba-the mecca of Mecca. The problem, according to the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, could have affected roughly 200 mosques in the city.