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Iguana foils robbery at Indiana pet spa

An Indiana sheriff is thanking an iguana for taking a bite out of crime.

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Warwick County Sheriff Brett Kruse said someone broke into the Groomingdale’s Pet Spa in Newburgh on Tuesday night and attempted to steal the owner’s pet iguana, Princess Ursula, WFIE reported.

Apparently, the iguana had other ideas. “The Iguana took offense to leaving his home and inflicted what is probably a pretty nasty bite,” Kruse wrote in a Facebook post.

Angie Stanley, the owner of Groomingdale’s, told WFIE that the would-burglar broke into her shop through a window that was accidentally left unlocked, but that nothing was taken. However, she did say said there was blood in Princess Ursula’s cage and bloody human footprints on the floor. 

"I am not happy that someone broke in my shop at all, but I do have some concern for that person, because if they don't go to the doctor or the hospital, I don't know if it was bad enough to need stitches, but at the very least they need antibiotics because iguana bites are really bad and it will get really superinfected," Stanley told WFIE.

In his Facebook post, Kruse had some fun, writing that if residents knew “of anyone that has an unexplained bite injury that looks like it could have been inflicted by a pet lizard, please call the Sheriff's Office and let us know. We want to make sure they get proper medical treatment.”

Report: Tillerson declines request to hold event marking Ramadan

According to two U.S. officials, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam's holy month of Ramadan, Reuters reported.

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Since 1999, secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day's fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month.

Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, Reuters reported, citing two U.S. officials who asked for anonymity.

According to an April 6 memo seen by Reuters, the office recommended that Tillerson hold an Eid al-Fitr reception. The month of fasting and prayer for Muslims begins in many countries on Saturday.

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that the department is “still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr."

Tillerson issued a statement on Friday to mark the start of Ramadan, which he called "a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection."

"Most importantly, it is a cherished time for family and friends to gather and give charity to those who are less fortunate," he said.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started the tradition 18 years ago of America's top diplomat hosting a public event for Ramadan.

Afghanistan car bomb explosion kills 18

At least 18 people were killed and six others were injured Saturday in a car bomb explosion in eastern Afghanistan, CNN reported Saturday.

The attack occurred near a bus station in the city of Khost, said Najib Danish, spokesman for the interior ministry.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

Green Bay named country’s ‘drunkest city’

During the 1960s, Green Bay, Wisconsin, was known as Titletown because of the success of the NFL’s Packers, winners of five league titles and the first two Super Bowls.

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Green Bay can add another title now. According to 24/7 Wall St., a Delaware-based financial news and opinion company, the city is rated as the drunkest city in America.

"The excessive drinking rate among adults in Green Bay is the highest of any metro area in the country," according to a study released Wednesday. The group analyzed self-reported data from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The data was collected across nearly 400 metro areas, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported. 

According to data collected by 24/7 Wall St., Green Bay has 138 bars and more than 26 percent of adult residents drink to excess. The national average is 18 percent, the Press Gazette reported.

Excess drinking appears to be a trend in Wisconsin, too, according to the study. Of the 20 drunkest cities listed by 24/7 Wall St., 10 are from Wisconsin — and the state owns the top four spots with Eau Claire, Appleton and Madison finishing behind Green Bay. Wisconsin also has seven of the top 10 cities, with Oshkosh (No. 6), Wausau (No. 9) and La Cross (No. 10) rounding out the list.

The study also found cities with heavy drinking tend to have better-educated, higher earning and healthier populations than cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates, the Press Gazette reported. 

The ratings appear to be skewed toward the upper Midwest, with cities from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Montana all represented in the top 15. The first non-Midwest city in the rankings is the Fort Drum-Watertown area of New York, at No. 16.

John Kasich shows off pop culture savvy on ‘The View’  

John Kasich famously referred to himself as the “only adult on the stage” during a presidential debate last year, but the Republican governor of Ohio also knows how to connect with teens, thanks to his pop culture knowledge.

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On Thursday, Kasich appeared on “The View” and gave his opinions about the Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud, surprising the show’s panel with his knowledge about music, celebrity spats and dropping names like former One Direction member Zayn Malik.

"We need your insight into a battle that has got this country just split right down the middle,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg began. “Can you explain what in the hell is going on … with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry?"

Kasich did not hesitate, saying it was “shocking to everybody.”

“Don’t ever steal anybody’s dancers, is the message," the governor said, referring to Perry’s admission on “The Late Late Show” this week about the pair’s alleged feud over shared backup dancers.

“Maybe they’re just trying to get some extra press, although I don’t know that Taylor Swift needs any more press,” Kasich said. “In fact, she kind of went into hiding, and now they say she’s going to reemerge with a new sound.”

Kasich, a 65-year-old father of twin 17-year-old girls, then spoke about Swift’s recent hit with Zayn, “I Don’t Want to Live Forever,” and her collaboration with former boyfriend Calvin Harris on “This is What You Came For.” 

“I will tell you, [Swift] met my wife and kids at a concert. She knew everything about my wife and my children. She was just unbelievably great,” Kasich said. “And Katy, you know, I have a friend that knows Katy Perry, and she’s very talented. So, two great pop artists.”

Kasich said his love of pop culture was a welcome break from the grind of politics. 

“You can do it ’til the day you die,” he said. “And I find it interesting, and I find it a nice break from the world of debates and all those kinds of things.”

Man crashes truck into Nevada brothel

A man backed a tractor-trailer through the gate of Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch early Thursday, crashing it into the front door of the brothel featured in the “CatHouse” reality television show, CBS News reported. 

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Brian Brandt, 40, of Reno, was arrested and faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, property destruction and possession of stolen property, the Lyon County Sheriff's office said. He remains in jail, authorities said.

Brothel owner Dennis Hof said none of the five employees, 30 female prostitutes and 10 customers inside at the time were hurt when the crash happened just after 4 a.m.

“It sounded like a bomb went off,” Hof told CBS News. He estimated that the truck caused $400,000 in damages.

Hof said the suspect was wearing full body armor and a mask. He said he did not know Brandt and none of the people working at the brothel did. 

The truck had been stolen from a northern Nevada terminal of Michigan-based Central Transport hours before it crashed into the brothel, Mickey Blashfield, a company spokesman, told CBS News.

Blashfield said Brandt was a trucker for the company but was fired in recent months because of what he characterized as inappropriate behavior, CBS News reported.

 

Missouri bride’s 92-year-old uncle is her ‘something blue’

A Missouri bride wanted to include “something blue” for her wedding earlier this month. 

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She got it in a touching way, as her 92-year-old uncle participated in her service on May 13, in his Marine Corps dress blues.

Alison Ferrell of Cape Girardeau wanted to include Bill Lee Eblen in her ceremony. But Eblen, a sergeant in the Marines who served during World War II and saw action at Okinawa, was sick with pneumonia.

“When we first got engaged I knew that I wanted to include Uncle Bill in a special way," Ferrell told KFVS

“I come from a family where we were taught to have the utmost respect and admiration for the armed services and honoring him as the ‘something blue’ just seemed like the natural choice,” Ferrell told ABC News

"The nurses there at the hospital asked him what his goal was and that what they wrote on the board. He said 'I want to be something blue in your wedding,'" Ferrell told KFVS.

Eblen said he worked hard on his recovery, and on Ferrell’s wedding day he came down the aisle in a wheelchair, holding a sign that read “I’m her something blue.”

"I said I'm 92 years old this is a miracle happening to me," Eblen told KFVS.

Ferrell said she was grateful to have her uncle as part of her special day."Looking at him in his dress blues, it gave me a lot of joy to see how happy he was that day. And obviously a lot of pride for him and his service," she told ABC News. "I really wanted to highlight that day and give him some recognition because he definitely deserves it."

Bank forecloses on ‘Extreme Makeover’ homeowner in Michigan

Nearly nine years ago, Arlene Nickless had her home rebuilt on national television. By Monday, she must turn in her keys and leave.

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Designers with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” helped by hundreds of volunteers — built her family's home in 2008 after the death of Tim Nickless, her husband of 18 years. But keeping up payments on the mortgage has been a struggle, and it was foreclosed in September, the Lansing State Journal reported. It has been up for auction online for weeks.

“When I stepped out of the house the day “Extreme Makeover came, you will see me say ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” she said. “And, truthfully, that’s what I feel right now: I can’t believe this is happening.”

Arlene Nickless did not blame the ABC television show, whose pricey rebuild have led to foreclosures in some cases, However, she did criticize her mortgage company, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Her home’s foreclosure resulted from an ongoing struggle to manage the property’s pre-makeover mortgage — a balance of about $30,000 after the 2008 makeover, but had ballooned to at least $113,000 by the end of 2016, she told the newspaper.

Eight months after Tim Nickless died in January 2008, more than 1,600 volunteers from the Holt area joined the show’s crew to rebuild the family home, an 1860s farmhouse that had fallen into disrepair.

The old home was demolished, and after a five-day building period, Arlene Nickless and her three sons received a new 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom home with stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall, and a retractable flat-screen television, the Lansing State Journal reported.

But the home's annual taxes more than tripled from 2008 to 2009, from about $2,000 in 2008 to about $7,500 in 2009, according to county records.

Those increased taxes and insurance costs were paid through an escrow account, bloating the Nickless family's monthly mortgage payments.

In 2010, Arlene Nickless was in a car crash that caused her to fall behind in making those monthly payments. By late 2010, the property went to a sheriff’s sale, the Lansing State Journal reported.

She filed paperwork to stop the foreclosure the morning of the sale, and the sheriff's deed, which would have given ownership rights to the buyer at the sale, was removed, according to Ingham County records.

At that time, Arlene Nickless said the mortgage lender offered to pay off the loan balance if she could come up with $15,000.

Before she had a chance to gather the money, Ocwen Financial acquired her mortgage in 2011, she said. For the next several years, Arlene Nickless struggled with the loan.

She withheld mortgage payments because she didn’t know where she was sending her money, she said.

“I was trying to find answers,” she told the Lansing State Journal.

Last month, the state of Michigan issued a cease and desist order prohibiting Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC from continued violations of state mortgage law. A press release from the state said Ocwen had a history of improper "servicing and handling of escrow accounts," trouble keeping accurate records and problems with properly crediting payments. 

Ocwen officials said the claims were unfounded.

In September 2016, Nickless' home went to a foreclosure sale again and sold for about $113,000. The six-month redemption period passed with Nickless unable to pull together the needed money.

The house now is listed on the auction website hubzu.com for $176,000.

The spokesman for “Extreme Makeover’s” producers, Endemol USA, declined comment Wednesday. However, the company acknowledged in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article that beneficiaries had issues with the larger-than-life homes and accompanying expenses, so the company scaled back.

Nickless doesn’t know where she’s going or where she’ll store a lifetime of memories, she said. She wanted to share her story in the hopes that it would effect change for others struggling with house payments.

“It breaks my heart to know there are families going through this every day,” she said.

Chipotle restaurants caution customers about possible hacks

Chipotle Mexican Grill is ramping up its security measures after hackers using malware stole customer payment information in March.

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On Friday, the restaurant chain announced that most of its 2,249 restaurants were affected, company spokesman Chris Arnold said.

According to the chain’s website, the breach happened between March 24 and April 18.

Malware collected credit card numbers, names, expiration dates and the verification code each time the card's magnetic strip was swiped.

Some say these sorts of hacks are more common now.

“It's not a surprise to me,” Letitita Walker said. “People are so intelligent now when it comes to technology. It seems like the firewall systems aren't working.”

While Chipotle says it has removed the malware, it is still working with cybersecurity firms to enhance security measures.

In the meantime, some customers are changing the way they pay.

“You can't hack cash, so I'll be using cash from now on,” customer Simonida Brankovic said.

Chipotle is warning customers to watch their bank accounts closely and report any unauthorized purchases. 

 

The day Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder watched the Seattle Kingdome implosion

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was remembered Friday in a somber memorial service in Los Angeles. A mixture of celebrities and music elite remembered Cornell’s love for his family, and his musical achievements as one of rock’s leading voices.

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In Seattle, fan Lee LeFever recalled a day when Cornell and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder stood together on a Seattle rooftop as a couple of locals, watching the Kingdome implosion.

It was a Sunday, March 26, 2000. The Kingdome, which was the longtime home of the Seahawks, Mariners, boat shows, rock concerts and the occasional religious gathering, was packed with nearly 6,000 dynamite charges. Thousands crowded together on rooftops and overpasses to get a view of the early-morning implosion.

LeFever had a buddy with a construction job downtown, and he and three friends went there for the rooftop view. There were about 50 people milling around, passing time before the 8:30 a.m. implosion.

Then someone said, “Wait, isn’t that Eddie Vedder over there?”

It was, and he was there with Cornell.

Cornell was one of the first people Vedder met outside his Pearl Jam bandmates after moving here in 1990. For a time, the two were neighbors.

“I had no idea how it would affect my life and my views on music and my views on friendship and what a big impact he would have,” Vedder told a crowd before performing with Cornell in September 2011.

After LeFever's story about the Kingdome implosion day appeared in a Seattle Magazine story by Michael Rietmulder, he was told the two rock stars had the same entertainment lawyer, who had a penthouse in the building, which was the Newmark Tower at 1415 2nd Ave.

LeFever, 43, discovered Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as a college freshman in the fall of 1991. He remembers watching one of the band's videos in which Vedder falls into a crowd during a Moore Theatre concert, and thinking, “Wow, that’s what’s happening in Seattle.”

That was a part of what brought him here in 1998 after graduate school, moving to Capitol Hill from Charleston, South Carolina without a job but in love with the idea of living in the Northwest. He felt at the time there couldn’t be two places further apart in so many ways, “and I loved it,” LeFever said.

On the rooftop, Cornell and Vedder casually mingled, holding coffee mugs.

“They were definitely the only people there that were dressed like rock stars, especially Chris Cornell,” said LeFever, who wore a button-down fleece that morning. “He just had the spiked hair and the tight pants and the sort of look of a rock star. And I think Eddie Vedder at the time and even now has an unmistakable look.

“It was just sort of unbelievable to look up and see these people that you only see in TV and magazines and music videos. But they seemed totally normal and totally at ease.”

LeFever thought about approaching. He hatched a plan: Ask them to take a picture of him with the Space Needle in the background. That would be a pretty simple request, and wouldn’t make it weird.

But “I couldn’t work up the courage to say anything at the time,” he recalled.

And maybe that was best, LeFever said. If the same scene had happened today, 17 years later in the era of smartphones and social media, maybe it would have been a mob scene with everyone wanting selfies. It wouldn’t be the same.

“I’m glad," LeFever said, "that maybe at the time it was a place where they could be safe at home in Seattle among their Seattleites and know that people aren’t going to be too crazy.”

LeFever now writes a blog, Camping on Tuesdays, and co-founded Common Craft, an educational video company, with his wife, Sachi. They live in Seattle with their two dogs, Bosco and Maybe. (Yes, they have a dog named Maybe.)

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report. This story also was updated to correct the Pearl Jam video filmed at the Moore Theatre. 

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