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US: 1793 Penny Fetches $1M at Florida Auction

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© Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel
Coin dealer Bill Weikel, left, talks with a visitor Saturday at the coin show and annual convention of the Florida United Numismatists at the Orange County Convention Center.
A one-cent copper coin minted in 1793, the first year that the United States produced its own coins, has fetched $1 million at a Florida auction.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the final bid by an unknown buyer for the coin was one of the largest sales at the Florida United Numismatics coin show and annual convention.

The newspaper reported that the 1793 penny was sold at such a high price because it is rare and in excellent shape, showing no wear on its lettering, its Lady Liberty face or the wreath on its back.

Nearly 600 dealers of coins and currency are at the show that runs through Sunday. It also features Buffalo nickels, dozens of silver one-ounce pieces and coins from antiquity, misprinted cash and Confederate notes.

Eye 1

US: Descent Into Madness: How NDAA And Police State Brutality Are Destroying A Generation

I'll keep this article brief. The videos speak for themselves.

Exhibit 3: Demoralized, smoking, nervous -- Lauren DiGioia, who was arrested for protesting NDAA at New York's Grand Central Station and HANDCUFFED FOR 26 HOURS, IN ADDITION TO BEING DENIED ACCESS TO A LAWYER OR PHONE CALL, speaks about her experience:


V

US: Portland Responds to Occupy Lawsuit, Seeks Court Victory

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© unknown
The city is hoping to build on a string of successes in other cities where courts have ruled against attempts by Occupy groups to stay in municipal parks while they protest income inequality and Wall Street excesses.

In its response Friday to the suit filed by Occupy Maine in its attempt to remain in Lincoln Park, Portland's lawyers cite similar Occupy situations in five other cities along with a 1984 case in which the Supreme Court said communities can set "reasonable" limits on protests and free speech in public spaces.

In those five other cases, judges all ruled that city authorities had the right to ban overnight camping in city parks and could evict the Occupy protesters.

Occupy Maine filed its suit Dec. 19 after the city turned down the group's application for a permit to remain in the park. The group's suit argues that the Maine constitution gives the protesters free speech rights that go beyond those spelled out in the federal Constitution.

Info

US: Bird Plane Runs Afoul of Federal Regulators

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© The Associated Press/operationmigration.org
This photo, taken in 2006, shows Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff juvenile Whooping cranes along a new migration route in Green County, Wis. Ten young whooping cranes and the small plane they think is their mother are grounded after running afoul of federal regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibit pilots from getting paid to fly the bird-like plane that guides the endangered cranes on their first migration from Wisconsin and to their winter home in Florida. The plane, along with the birds, are currently grounded in Alabama.
Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.

Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.

FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration's plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that's the category of aircraft that the group's small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft - which are sometimes of exotic design - from being flown to benefit a business or charity.

The rules are aimed, in part, at preventing businesses or charities from taking passengers for joyrides in sometimes risky planes.

"That's a valid rule. They shouldn't be hired to do that. But it wasn't written, I believe, to stop a wildlife reintroduction," Joe Duff, an Operation Migration co-founder and one of its pilots, said. The conservation group has agreed voluntarily to stop flying and has applied to FAA for a waiver.

"We're considering that waiver," FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. He said he didn't know when a decision would be made or whether it would be made before spring, when the birds would return to Wisconsin.

Bizarro Earth

Haiti Two Years After the Earthquake: Half a Million Still in Camps

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© unknown
Days after the earthquake killed his little girl and destroyed much of his house, Meristin Florival moved his family into a makeshift tent on a hill in the Haitian capital and called it home. Two years later they're still there, living without drains, running water or electricity.

A few miles away, Jean Rony Alexis has left the camp where he spent the months after the quake and moved into a shed-like shelter built on a concrete slab by the Red Cross. But he's not much better off. The annual rent charged by a landlord who lives in a nearby camp jumped from $312 to $375, and he also has no running water.

"This is misery," said Florival, whose 4-month-old daughter was crushed to death in the quake-stricken family home. "I don't see any benefits," said Alexis, whose shed is flooded with noise at night from a saloon next door that's appropriately named the "Frustration Bar."

The two men are among hundreds of thousands of Haitians whose lives have barely improved since those first days of devastation, when the death toll climbed toward 300,000 and the world opened its wallets in response.

While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and others vowed that the world would help Haiti "build back better," and $2.38 billion has been spent, Haitians have hardly seen any building at all.

Cow Skull

US: Illinois Law Lets Motorists Salvage Fur, Food from Roadkill

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© The Associated Press/Jim Suhr
In this photo taken Jan. 4, 2012, a tractor-trailer rumbles by a roadkill raccoon in southwestern Illinois.
In six years of trapping, one thing has become apparent to Cody Champ: His pursuit of animal pelts isn't cheap, costing him $100 a week just for gas. So, it's little wonder the Illinois man welcomed a recent state law that allows him to get a few freebies, even if he needs a shovel and good gloves.

Among the hundreds of Illinois laws that took effect last year, the so-called "roadkill bill" got little attention despite being perhaps the quirkiest of all - allowing anyone with an Illinois furbearer license to salvage pelts or even food from the unfortunate fauna that prove no match for steel-belted radials.

Republican Rep. Norine Hammond pushed the measure straight-faced at the behest of a retired state conservation officer who thought it was a waste to allow animals' pelts to rot along the roadsides. Hammond said it was an opportunity for some people to make a little money, and could benefit the state by letting citizens carry out the task once relegated to state highway crews.

Despite snickering from some lawmakers, the bill sailed through the General Assembly - twice, because lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Pat Quinn, who worried that motorists might suffer the same fate as the critters. One poke came from Rep. Lou Lang, a Chicago-area Democrat who asked what to do if a critter wasn't quite dead.

Ambulance

US: Connecticut Paramedic Accused of Ambulance Sex Assault

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© The Associated Press/Hamden Police Department
Jan. 5: Mark Powell, of North Haven, Conn., a paramedic arrested on charges he sexually assaulted a woman in the back of an ambulance.
A paramedic has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in the back of an ambulance as she was strapped to a stretcher.

Hamden police said Friday the 22-year-old woman was unconscious Dec. 25 when she awoke to find 49-year-old Mark Powell assaulting her.

Powell surrendered Thursday to face charges of first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

The North Haven man was released on $25,000 bond and is due back in court in Meriden on Jan. 19. He did not respond to a phone message Friday seeking comment.

Police say the woman fell and suffered a head injury around 3 a.m. while attending a holiday party. The assault allegedly took place while she was being taken to a hospital. She contacted Hamden police after her release.

Source: The Associated Press

Heart - Black

US: Monk Seals Beaten to Death in Hawaii

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© unknown
Authorities in Hawaii say they are looking for whoever has beaten four monk seals to death in less than three months.

Honolulu's KITV-TV reported Wednesday a fisherman found the latest seal carcass Monday in Pila on the northeast coast of Kauai.

State officials said its head wounds were similar to those found on three monk seals found dead on Molokai's west side in previous weeks.

"They're dying because their skulls are being smashed. So for me, that is alarming," community activist Walter Ritte told the TV station. "That's setting a dangerous trend."

Ritte said he suspects misinformed young fishermen or hunters may be to blame for the seals' deaths.

Pistol

US, California: Navy SEAL on Life Support After Shooting Himself in Head, Dies


A 22-year-old Navy SEAL was gravely wounded early Thursday when he shot himself in the head at his Pacific Beach home while trying to convince a companion that the pistol he was showing off was safe to handle, authorities said.

The shooting in the 1800 block of Grand Avenue left the sailor on life support at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, according to San Diego police. Authorities initially reported that the man had died.

The serviceman, who had been drinking with a woman at a bar before they returned to his residence, was showing her his 9 mm handgun when the accident occurred, SDPD Officer Frank Cali said.

Crusader

Head of Russian Church Says Leaders Must Listen to Protests

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© The Associated Press/RIA Novosti/Vladimir Rodionov/Presidential Press Service
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill , right, congratulates Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an Orthodox Christmas at Christ The Savior Cathedral in Moscow, early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, Russia and other Orthodox churches that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world.
The Russian Orthodox Church continued what appeared to be an effort to get the authorities to address Russians' grievances over the political system, with Patriarch Kirill I, the church's leader, saying in a televised interview that it would be "a very bad sign" if the country's leaders failed to heed recent protests over perceived electoral fraud.

The church, a powerful force in Russia, made a point of announcing that the patriarch would be speaking on Saturday, which is Christmas Day in Russia.

The announcement, made on Thursday, came just 15 minutes after the Interfax news agency released a report on an essay by a senior church official, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, that made the same point as the patriarch, but in starker terms: it said that the authorities could be "slowly eaten alive" if they did not respond to Russians' concerns.

Church leaders have been walking a careful line since the parliamentary elections on Dec. 4, nudging the government to respond to the protesters and affirming their right to demonstrate, but Patriarch Kirill I has not questioned the legitimacy of the elections or criticized Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

Still, the drumbeat of implicit criticism has been surprising from the church, which has been a strong supporter of the government, and the patriarch's statements on Saturday appeared to keep the pressure on.