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The skinny

The skinny: Backyard tree house survives Manhattan legal fight

landmark ruling

unique urban dwelling given lofty status

In the countryside or the suburbs, a tree house hardly raises an eyebrow. But in a historic Manhattan neighborhood whose residents have included Mark Twain and Eleanor Roosevelt, it could raise hackles. Artist Melinda Hackett did just that — by erecting a round, cedar tree house for her girls ages 11, 13 and 16 in their Greenwich Village back yard. After months of legal battles, she triumphed. Her tree house, apparently unique in one of America's most densely populated areas, not only can stay — it has been granted an official permit as part of a district with landmark status. Though the tree house is only 5 years old, Hackett's townhouse is from the 1860s, and she bought it from musician David Byrne of the Talking Heads.

free to vote

Election creates an arrest-free zone

A man accused of raping 40 women turned himself in, only to be let go because Brazilian law prohibits voters from being arrested five days before elections unless they are caught red-handed, authorities said Wednesday. Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, is holding a presidential runoff election Sunday. The 1932 law prohibits arrests to protect voters and candidates ahead of elections. Candidates can't be detained 15 days before the vote. "It exists to guarantee voters and candidates are not subjected to any kind of pressure," said Silvio Salata of the Brazilian Bar Association in Sao Paulo. The prohibition on arrests also runs for 48 hours after the end of voting.

half-baked idea

Man cannot live on spuds alone

The Washington state man who's on a 60-day all-potato diet wishes he would have set a goal of one month instead of two. Chris Voigt told the Tri-City Herald that — as good and healthy as potatoes are — there's only so many ways they can be prepared. And, about halfway through his tuber diet, he has had them boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, marinated and mashed. The Moses Lake man is executive director of the Washington Potato Commission and is on a mission to prove spuds aren't junk food. For variety Voigt soaked one potato in pickle juice. And his wife made him potato ice cream.

for the record

Long story short, python passes

Fluffy is gone. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium workers found the 24-foot python Wednesday morning dead from an apparent tumor. It held the Guinness World Record as the longest snake living in captivity. It was about as long as a moving van, as thick as a telephone pole and weighed 300 pounds. The 18-year-old reticulated python had drawn large crowds since the zoo got it in 2007.

Compiled from Times wires and other sources.

The skinny: Backyard tree house survives Manhattan legal fight 10/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:05pm]
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