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Japanese man gets kicks from Syria war tourism

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© Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Toshifumi Fujimoto, a tourist from Japan, in front of damaged buses in Aleppo’s old city in December.
Toshifumi Fujimoto's vacation pictures, posted on his Facebook page, show him in poses familiar to any tourist. He lines up with interesting people, tries local activities and shows the sights. Except in the case of Mr. Fujimoto, a Japanese tourist, that means images of what appear to be Syrian rebel fighters engaged in battle, of himself firing an assault rifle and of the corpses of some of the 60,000 people the United Nations has said have died in Syria since a civil war began there early last year.

Mr. Fujimoto, 45, is, according to an interview he gave the news agency Agence France-Presse in Aleppo, Syria, usually a trucker hauling loads between Osaka and Tokyo or Nagasaki. For the last week and on a previous trip, he has been a tourist snapping pictures with his Canon D-SLR cameras and a compact video camera in Aleppo - the very heart of the Syrian conflict. (A link to his Facebook page is here, with the warning that it contains very graphic images.)

He told the news agency, via Google Translate, that he had sneaked across the border from Turkey and taken up a position where the fighting is heaviest. "I always go by myself, because no tour guide wants to go to the front," Mr. Fujimoto said. "It's very exciting, and the adrenaline rush is like no other."


Airplane

American Eagle pilot arrested preparing for takeoff

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An airport spokesman says an American Eagle pilot preparing for takeoff has been arrested after failing a blood-alcohol test at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Spokesman Patrick Hogan said witnesses alerted airport police that the pilot smelled like alcohol before he boarded the plane. Hogan said the pilot was conducting preflight checks about 6:30 a.m. Friday when officers boarded, conducted a Breathalyzer test and arrested him on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol.

Passengers had not yet boarded the flight to La Guardia, New York City.

American Eagle is owned by American Airlines.

Airplane

Passenger on JFK-bound Icelandair duct taped and tied to chair after getting drunk

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© credit: andyellwood.tubmblr.com
Restrained Passenger Reportedly On IcelandAir Flight
A passenger aboard an Icelandair flight had to be tied down by fellow passengers after going on a rampage Thursday.

According to Icelandic media outlet MBL.is, the passenger began acting out two hours before the flight was set to land. He reportedly had been drinking heavily, and allegedly began ranting, spitting and threatening the crew before he was restrained.

Andy Ellwood, a contributor with Forbes, was aboard the flight and snapped a photo which quickly went viral.

On his Tumblr account, Ellwood wrote the passenger "drank all of his duty free liquor on the flight," "tried to choke the woman next to him" and was "screaming the plane was going to crash."

Sheriff

Fired Utah state trooper Lisa Steed accused of falsifying DUI arrests

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© ABC News
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper and her superiors alleging that she filed false DUI charges during her career.

The department fired Lisa Steed in November for alleged misconduct related to her duties.

Attorney Michael Studebaker, who is one of the lawyers leading the class-action lawsuit, says he has been contacted by at least 40 people claiming Steed wrongfully arrested them on DUI or drug charges.

"Culture of corruption. The stories are just rampant," said Studebaker, who filed the lawsuit Dec. 14 in District Court in Salt Lake County.

Lawyers have yet to determine exactly how much the plaintiffs will seek in monetary damages.

One of the alleged victims was Michael Choate, who says Steed pulled him over for speeding with his wife in the car.

"She said she clocked me at 73. I was going about 50, 52 at most," Choate said.

V

Appeals court: Motorist cannot be stopped for giving police the middle finger

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© Image via Shutterstock
A motorist cannot be stopped for "giving the finger" to a police officer, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In a lawsuit against two police officers, the court held the insulting gesture did not constitute "reasonable suspicion that criminal activity or a traffic violation was afoot."

The lawsuit was sparked by an incident that occurred in 2006 while John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz were driving to their son's house.

The couple saw a police officer using a radar gun to catch speeding motorists at an intersection. John, who was a passenger in the car, stuck his arm outside the side window and "flipped the bird" over the car's roof. The police officer then followed the couple to their son's home and stopped them. John was arrested for disorderly conduct after other officers arrived as backup.

Arrow Down

Kidney racket: 11 hospitals under police scanner in India

Organ Trade
© Rmunatunagb Wikispaces
Over a thousand people illegally donated organs: Intelligence reports

Eleven corporate hospitals in the City are under police scanner for their alleged role in illegal transplantation of kidney, a nexus of which was busted recently by the Ramanagar police.

Intelligence reports have also established that over a thousand people had illegally donated kidneys in Mandya and Ramanagar districts in the last ten years.

Ramanagar police sources said they suspected the involvement of at least 25 well-connected agents who fabricated the necessary documents for kidney transplantation. Following the arrest of a few agents by the Kumbalgodu police recently, many others had gone missing, sources added.

It is learnt that Ramanagar and Mandya police plan to create a joint police team to investigate the racket, considering its ramifications. It has come to light that the lure of money, coupled with poverty and illiteracy, is driving hundreds of people in Magadi town and surrounding villages of Ramanagar district to resort to kidney donation.

Sources said people belonging to different tribes in the taluk, along with those involved in weaving, sericulture, daily wage and domestic workers are falling prey to the kidney racket run by middlemen.

Many donors see it as an easy way to make money and there are cases of auto drivers and their family members donating kidney to make fast buck. There are examples of three to four members of the same family donating kidneys in the taluk.

No Entry

Illegal ivory worth $1.4m seized in Hong Kong

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© Part of a shipment of 779 pieces of ivory seized from a shipping container by customs officials in Hong Kong.
Part of a shipment of 779 pieces of ivory seized from a shipping container by customs officials in Hong Kong.
Customs officers find a tonne of elephant tusks hidden under rocks in shipping container in third big seizure in three months.

Hong Kong authorities have made their third big seizure of illegal ivory in three months, confiscating more than a tonne of elephant tusks worth $1.4m, customs officials said on Friday.

Customs officers seized 779 pieces of ivory weighing 1,323kg (2,916lb) in a shipping container that arrived at Hong Kong's port from Kenya after passing through Malaysia.

The officers discovered the ivory after x-raying the container, which was declared to be carrying architectural stones. Forty sacks holding the ivory were found inside five wooden crates, hidden under rocks.

The investigation is still continuing. No one has been arrested.

Eggs Fried

Off-duty Massachusetts police get caught egging house in Framingham

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© Alex Jones
The Newton Police headquarters annex at 25 Chestnut St., on Dec. 31, 2012.
Three Newton police officers had egg on their faces last month. The trio were caught by Framingham police after egging the house of a superior officer.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:51 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, according to Framingham police, when officers responded to a report of two male "teenagers" throwing eggs at a Griffin Road residence. The caller said the pair drove off in a red car.

Framingham police stopped the car at 2 a.m. near the residence, and identified the occupants as two Newton police officers, according to Lt. Ron Brandolini, a Framingham police spokesman.

The driver admitted the pair had just egged the home but said, "It was a prank, a joke between friends."

Ambulance

Cleveland stripper falls from 15-foot balcony while giving lap dance, suffers severe head injury

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© Lauren Block/Facebook
Lauren Block is seen in this undated Facebook profile photo.
A Cleveland stripper is in critical condition after attempting a tricky move during a lap dance that instead caused her to tumble off a balcony, landing 15 feet below, police say.

Lauren Block, 22, was entertaining a customer on the second floor of Christie's Cabaret at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday when she attempted a "jump-dance" move that misfired, the man getting the lap dance told police.

"He stated that she grabbed the rail, as he was facing away from the balcony, and she tried to complete some sort of jump-dance move, and accidentally went head first over the rail," a Cleveland Police Department incident report said.

Arrow Up

Canadians warned to get ready for higher food prices in 2013

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Canadians likely will pay more for steak and poultry come BBQ season, but there is a way to manage the pain

Last year Canadian consumers experienced modest increases in food prices. In fact, not only did food prices barely increase, but fruit and vegetable prices decreased by more than eight per cent.

Unfortunately, this year will be a different story. Several forecasts predict food prices will go up anywhere from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, likely exceeding our national inflation rate.

In other words, consumers will have to rethink how they will spend their hard-earned discretionary income. Indeed, meat and poultry lovers will be especially hard hit as prices for meats will likely increase by more than 4.5 per cent.

With this rise in food prices, spending in other sectors is bound to decrease - a family may need to pass on that exquisite trip to Cancún or that new oversized television set.