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The skinny

The skinny: Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring

Chill, dude

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring

In the middle of one of the biggest winter storms in decades, the country's most famous groundhog predicted an early spring Wednesday. Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a small crowd who braved muddy, icy conditions in rural Pennsylvania to hear his handlers reveal that he had not seen his shadow. Phil has now seen his shadow 98 times and hasn't seen it just 16 times since 1887; records for other years are missing.

Canine caper

Priority mail fails, to puppy's relief

A Minneapolis postal worker got a shock when a package wiggled and fell to the floor. Then came the sound of heavy panting. Inside a tightly sealed box was a 4-month-old black poodle-Schnauzer mix puppy that a woman tried to mail to Georgia. "It's just crazy," said Minneapolis police Sgt. Angela Dodge. The air holes punched in the box were covered with mailing tape, and the puppy would have been dead on delivery, said a police spokesman, Sgt. William Palmer, adding, "I've been doing this for 17 years. This is a new one on me." The woman, Stacey Champion, declined to tell police why she was mailing the puppy, named Guess. She faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Storm recovery

Ex-mayor's shorts shed for court visit

There was a time when not even President George W. Bush could get Eddie Favre to wear pants. Favre lost everything but the clothes he was wearing — which included Bermuda shorts — when Hurricane Katrina flattened Mississippi's Gulf Coast in 2005. He was mayor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., at the time. Favre vowed then that he would wear shorts instead of pants until his city was back on its feet. He even met Bush in shorts. But Tuesday, Favre donned pants to testify in court as a financial expert. He served as mayor for 20 years, but decided not to seek re-election in 2009.

Rehab & renew

Cartel queen gets Botox behind bars

Bars and barbed wire couldn't stop a reputed Mexican drug cartel "Queen of the Pacific" from trying to look her best. Mexico City's prison authority said a doctor was improperly admitted to Santa Martha Acatitla women's lockup in January to perform a "procedure not authorized for inmates." City prosecutors later said the doctor gave a Botox injection to Sandra Avila Beltran, a purported top decisionmaker in the Sinaloa cartel. She has been in custody since 2007 on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic drugs, money laundering and organized crime. She also faces possible extradition to the United States in connection with the 2001 seizure of more than 9 tons of cocaine.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources.

The skinny: Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring 02/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:15pm]

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