Tuesday, December 24, 2013
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — In this land of fire and ice, where the fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the "hidden folk" — thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland's wilderness.
So perhaps it was only a matter of time before 21st-century elves got political representation.
Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.
The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.
And it's not the first time issues about "Huldufolk," Icelandic for "hidden folk," have affected planning decisions.
They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states that "issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on."
Scandinavian folklore is full of elves, trolls and other mythological characters. Most people in Norway, Denmark and Sweden haven't taken them seriously since the 19th century, but elves are no joke to many in Iceland, population 320,000.
A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that 62 percent of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, a self-proclaimed "seer," believes she can communicate with the creatures through telepathy.
"It will be a terrible loss and damaging both for the elf world and for us humans," said Jonsdottir of the road project.
Although many of the Friends of Lava are motivated primarily by environmental concerns, they see the elf issue as part of a wider concern for the history and culture of a very unique landscape.
Andri Snaer Magnason, a well-known environmentalist, said his major concern was that the road would cut the lava field in two, among other things, destroying nesting sites.
"Some feel that the elf thing is a bit annoying," said Magnason, adding that personally he was not sure they existed. However, he added, "I got married in a church with a god just as invisible as the elves, so what might seem irrational is actually quite common" with Icelanders.
Terry Gunnell, a folklore professor at the University of Iceland, said he was not surprised by the wide acceptance of the possibility of elves.
"This is a land where your house can be destroyed by something you can't see (earthquakes), where the wind can knock you off your feet, where the smell of sulfur from your taps tells you there is invisible fire not far below your feet, where the northern lights make the sky the biggest television screen in the world, and where hot springs and glaciers 'talk,'" Gunnell said.
"Everyone is aware that the land is alive, and one can say that the stories of hidden people and the need to work carefully with them reflects an understanding that the land demands respect," he added.
Gunnell said similar beliefs are found in western Ireland, but they thrive in Iceland because people remain in close contact with the land. Parents still let their children play out in the wilderness, often late into the night. Vast pristine areas remain, even near the capital, Reykjavik.
And at Christmas, Icelanders await not just one Santa Claus, but 13 trolls known as the "Yule Lads" who come to town during the 13 days before Christmas. Each has his own task, putting rewards or punishments into the shoes of little children. They include Stufur, or Stubby, who is extremely short and eats crusts left in pans; Pottaskefill, or Pot-Scraper, who snatches leftovers; and Hurdaskellir or Door-Slammer, who likes to slam doors at night.
"If you ask an Icelander about elves, they might say they don't believe," said Jonsdottir. "But we always have stories of them, if not from ourselves then from someone close like a family member."
Hilmar Gunnarsson, a writer in Reykjavik, fondly remembers a story his grandmother told him about a mischievous elf.
"She told me about (a pair) of her scissors that went missing and she was certain that an elf borrowed them," Gunnarsson said. "She would not believe that they were just lost and she would not buy (new) scissors. She said the elf would give them back when he was finished. She said they were returned."
Stephen Colbert if people in her country believed in elves.
"We do," she said. "It's sort of a relationship with nature, like with the rocks. (The elves) all live in the rocks, so you have to. It's all about respect, you know."
Friday, December 20, 2013
ELK CITY, Okla. (AP) — Talk about a marriage proposal to remember.
An Oklahoma man proposed to his girlfriend last week while an officer tried to arrest him on two outstanding warrants.
An officer spotted Justin Harrel of Elk City in a local park last Friday and discovered that he had outstanding warrants out of two counties for obtaining cash or merchandise by bogus check, according to court documents. Harrel resisted arrest at first.
"I advised Justin that he was under arrest and directed him to turn around and place his hands behind his back," the officer wrote in his police report. "Justin said, 'Steve, let's talk about this. Give me five minutes.'"
When the officer took him into custody, Harrel explained that he was about to propose to his girlfriend. He asked if he could go ahead with the proposal.
The officer allowed Harrel to complete the marriage proposal, and Harrel's girlfriend eventually said yes. Harrel then asked the officer to get the engagement ring from his coat pocket and give it to her.
The officer handed the ring to the girlfriend.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
2 Helena women charged
December 17, 1946
HELENA - Two Helena women are in jail after allegedly forcing their way into a woman's apartment, assaulting her, and then stealing her horse.
The incident happened on Sunday afternoon at the 800 block of Stewart Homes in Helena.
Amy Brooke Hildenstab, 23 years old, is charged with aggravated burglary. She also had an outstanding felony warrant on a different case.
No, that's not even true. The above paragraph was fabricated by the writer of this story.
According to court documents Hildenstab and Betsy Ross were arrested after the alleged incident while fleeing the scene of the residence. Ms. Ross, whose estimated age is more than 267 years, had been a fugitive from justice since 1778, when she stole the original American flag and fled to Cuba, in anticipation of the Cuban Revolution of 1956.
Both women are being held in the county jail on $25,000 bond.
Wait! That's not even true, either.
This entire story was made up by the writer after snorting cocaine and grapefruit juice for 6 hours.
Monday, December 16, 2013
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania State Police say they found 20 pounds of marijuana in boxes wrapped as Christmas presents inside a minivan after a traffic stop.
The Centre Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/1j4exXu ) that 38-year-old Randy Jesus Valdivia, of Surfside, Fla., faces felony drug charges after the stop on Interstate 80 near State College.
Police say they became suspicious after Valdivia was stopped Thursday afternoon, and got him to agree to a search.
Valdivia, who appeared stoned, took cops to a grow farm where he obtained the weed for his Ho, ho, ho presents for friends.
Valdivia, who appeared stoned, took cops to a grow farm where he obtained the weed for his Ho, ho, ho presents for friends.
They say they found 20 pounds of weed vacuum-sealed inside large boxes wrapped as Christmas gifts.
Online court records say Valdivia was then taken to the local jail. A defense lawyer wasn't listed.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
MILAN (AP) — A provocatively adorned outdoor Christmas tree in central Milan was just too naughty for city officials, who have ordered it denuded of its racy red sex toys.
The city said in an order that the Christmas season, "qualifying as a holiday for children and families, requires sobriety in urban decorations," in particular when using "traditional symbols that distinguish Christmas."
Norma Rossetti, who launched an Italian sex toy e-commerce website this year, said Friday she complied immediately with the order. But she defended the so-called "Tree of Pleasure," saying the objects chosen were elegant and not obviously X-rated. She said her goal is to break down taboos by making sex toys "completely normal everyday objects. "
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Six-year-old Hunter Yelton, a first grader at Lincoln School of Science & Technology in Canon City, Colorado, was recently suspended for kissing a girl in his class on the hand. Hunter spoke to KRDO Newschannel 13and explained, "It was during class yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened." The boy went on to take responsibility for what he did, "She sent me to the office, fair and square. I did something wrong and I feel sorry. I’ve been trying to be good at school."
Hunter Yelton (KRDO)
Hunter got in trouble because his actions fit the elementary school’s definition of ‘sexual harassment.’ So now Little Hunter has a record with school district RE-1 as a sexual harassment offender.
School District RE-1 definition of 'sexual harassment.' (KRDO)
It’s terminology that Hunter’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, felt was inappropriate saying, “'Sexual harassment.’ This is taking it to a, to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a six-year-old. Now my son is asking questions, ‘What is sex mommy? It should not ever be said, ‘Sex,’ in a sentence with a six year old."
Jennifer Saunders, Hunter Yelton's mother (KRDO)
This is not Hunter’s first run in with the school authorities as he’s been suspended in the past for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl from this most recent incident, on the cheek. The female classmate and her parents have not come forward but according to Ms. Saunders, "She was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. The other children saw it and went to the music teacher.” Hunter’s mom says that she has made efforts to work with her son on improving his classroom behavior by grounding him and giving him, “…very big restrictions.” It does seem like there have been discussions at home because the young man has his own articulate explanation for why he does what he does saying, “I just have a lot of energy. I mean six-year-olds. They have a lot of energy."
Friday, December 6, 2013
SEATTLE (AP) — Crowds of people bundled in winter coats celebrated the anniversary of marijuana legalization in Washington state Friday by sparking up at a city-sanctioned party under Seattle's Space Needle.
Marijuana activist Ben Livingston said it took him three months to persuade city officials to grant him a permit for the party marking the anniversary of the day the legal pot law took effect. It began at 4:20 p.m., with a line of people streaming into a big tent that quickly filled with a marijuana haze.
Partygoers wished each other a happy anniversary and chanted, "Thank you, Washington!"
Jay Zozh, who moved to the state less than a month ago, marveled as the crowd passed around a footlong joint.
"If we were all in Texas, we'd be arrested and charged with felonies," he said.
The free event, capacity 999, was set up behind a double perimeter fence at Seattle Center, with the pot smoking blocked from public view. Hundreds were expected to attend throughout the event.
"I want to make the point that cannabis consumers are good people, and we should be treated equally with other people when trying to utilize city facilities," Livingston said.
The party was being held near Key Arena, where Pearl Jam was ending a North American tour, and Livingston extended an open invitation to the band's fans to swing by on their way to or from the show.
The Winterfest holiday lighting celebration, a Pacific Northwest Ballet performance of the Nutcracker, and a Seattle Children's Theatre staging of "James and the Giant Peach" were also taking place Friday night at the Seattle Center campus.
Those events didn't jibe so well with a big pot party, according to some drug abuse prevention groups. Nine people sent a letter to the Seattle Center, the City Council and the mayor, asking the event be canceled. Among the signatories were Dr. Leslie R. Walker, chief of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital, and Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.
"Seattle Center is a poor location for the party considering it takes place during Winterfest, a family-friendly event, and among popular venues that cater to children and their families," the letter said.
Livingston responded by noting that the family-friendly Winterfest has a beer tent, which no one protested.
Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust said the pot party was permitted by the city, and it's the center's role to help ensure it's a success.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A brazen thief has made off with a New Mexico pastor's "church on wheels," taking about $40,000 in equipment and dozens of donated toys.
KRQE-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1hxXmMi) the New City Church in Albuquerque is a portable church that uses a trailer to store everything it needs for Sunday services, including speakers, cords and microphones. It has a small office in northeast Albuquerque.
New City Pastor Nate Bush says a man with a red pickup cut the lock on a fenced parking lot Sunday and towed away the church's trailer. He says the trailer was loaded with the church's equipment and supplies, along with toys for an upcoming charity event.
Bush says the trailer and its contents were insured. He says the theft is frustrating and one of the reasons he plans to move New City into a permanent space.