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The skinny

Calls come to replace Phil with a robot

Me and my shadow

An animal rights group has a suggestion for the organizers of Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day festival: Instead of putting Punxsutawney Phil through the sheer torture of looking for his shadow on Feb. 2, the animal advocates think that organizers should replace him with a robotic rodent. They say that the big crowds and the lights and the cameras are just too much for the famous groundhog. Bill Deeley of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club says the group took the matter under advisement, debated and thoughtfully considered, then released this official statement: "I mean, come on, this is just crazy." So, no. The group insists Phil lives in year-round climate-controlled comfort and is really happy. "Phil is being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania," he added, which is likely to get him comments from other advocacy groups soon.

Help wanted

Reliability is way too much to ask for

Nicole Mamo, a recruiter in Hertford, England, was looking for people to be "domestic cleaners" at a local hospital. So she wrote up an ad that listed the qualifications sought, the pay offered, and sent it to a government job center, which posts help wanted ads. But the center would not post Mamo's ad because the final line called for a qualification the agency could not condone: "Must be very reliable and hard-working." The agency said it cannot ask for "reliable" workers because it would discriminate against unreliable ones. And they might sue. Seriously. "I laughed because I thought that was crazy," Mamo said. The good news is, if an unreliable person sued, they might not show up for the trial.

Drug traffic stops

Two approaches, but neither works

• Whitney Alison Holte was driving in Alcoa, Tenn., when police pulled her over, reports the Knoxville Times. Police were intrigued by the white powder in her mouth. She told them she had been eating powdered doughnuts. Police say field tests showed that the doughnuts must have been powdered with cocaine.

• Police in Crestview pulled over Jason Miles for failing to maintain a single lane. They noticed he seemed nervous, and his car smelled like marijuana, reports the Northwest Florida Daily News. When police asked Miles if he was transporting anything illegal, he said, "I got $2,000 worth of weed in the truck!" Police asked him what he planned to do with it. "Man, you don't know how much weed I smoke," he told them, according to reports.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com.

Calls come to replace Phil with a robot 01/27/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010 12:59am]

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