This week's odd news column features am attorney fined for wearing blue tennis shoes, mice invading the senate and two superheroes rescuing a cat from a fire.
Lawyer fined for wearing sneakers
BUCHAREST, Romania -- Don't mess with my blue shoes, a lawyer told a court in Romania.
Defense lawyer Catalin Dancu was hit Tuesday with a fine of 5,000 lei ($1,148) -- the maximum allowed -- for flouting dress regulations and for being late at the trial of five Romanians accused of art theft.
Under his black robe, Dancu wore blue jeans and bright blue sneakers-- triple-stripe models that he said cost 200 euros ($264).
"I am scented, shaved and fresh," the lawyer noted, explaining he had been delayed in another court. "I am going to contest this fine."
Proceedings were adjourned after Dancu moved for the judge to be suspended in the case, which another court will rule on.
The five defendants are being tried for the theft of seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Monet, among others, which were stolen in October from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery.
Candy banned after mice invade Senate
BOSTON -- Massachusetts senators are being urged to end their practice of keeping candy in their desks after mice searching for the treats also chewed the senators' microphone wires.
Senate President Therese Murray made the plea Thursday during a formal session.
The discovery was made during an upgrade of the camera system in the Senate to allow for better webcasting. Workers found that some of the senators' microphone wires had been chewed by mice.
Senators and Massachusetts representatives have traditionally kept treats in their desks for long sessions. Murray said if senators want to continue to do so, the treats should be properly sealed.
The Statehouse, built more than 200 years ago, has long been home to mice, and the animals can occasionally be seen scampering about, including in the press gallery.
Wash. firefighters rescue man stuck in chimney
TACOMA, Wash. -- Firefighters chiseled a hole through bricks early Tuesday to rescue a man who had gotten himself stuck inside a 20-inch wide chimney space at a Washington home that had been converted to apartments.
The young man was not hurt and was not suspected of a crime, but it's unclear why he apparently climbed into the unused chimney, Tacoma Battalion Chief Dyre Fudge said.
"Stories range from `hide and seek" to `repairing the ceiling. Nobody was able to get the straight story," Fudge said.
"I'm in my 35th year, and it's something different every day. You can't make it up," he said.
Firefighters were called about 1:30 a.m. to help the young man who was wedged at the second-floor level of the three-story house. A technical team trained in confined-space rescues was called in to rip through a wall and use power equipment to cut a hole in the chimney.
Firefighters lowered a rope to the man to hold him in place until he was able to step out about a half-hour later.
"He was never very panicking and had no real respiratory distress," Fudge said.
There were other people living in the house, but no one seemed to know why the man apparently climbed into the chimney at the third-floor level and slid down like Santa Claus.
"No real clue," Fudge said. "Just one of those stupid pet tricks, maybe."
Girl finds stolen cremation ashes in Pa. park
CLAIRTON, Pa. -- A girl has found cremation ashes that had been stolen from a van belonging to the dead man's son.
Robert Smith says he thinks someone in the crime-ridden Pittsburgh suburb of Clairton mistook his father's ashes for a powdery drug like heroin or cocaine. He says, "You know this is a high drug area. ... It's sad."
Smith says his father died in June at age 75. Since then, Smith has kept his ashes in a memorial box in the center console of his van.
He discovered the ashes missing shortly before 3 p.m. Monday. They were recovered in a park about seven hours later after a girl found them.
Police are investigating the theft.
Men dressed as Batman, Capt. America rescue cat
MILTON, W.Va. -- Who says superheroes aren't real?
When a West Virginia home caught fire, trapping a kitten inside, it was Batman and Captain America who came to the rescue.
John Buckland, dressed as Batman, and Troy Marcum, dressed as Captain America, saw smoke at a house nearby when they were entertaining children as part of their business. They ran to the house along with another bystander, kicked in the door and broke out a window so some smoke could escape.
Buckland, a former firefighter, says he crawled into the front room and felt something furry. He grabbed the animal, ran outside and gave it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
No one was hurt in the fire, including the rescuers -- though Buckland says the cat hissed and swatted at him when it regained consciousness.
Bay Bridge in Calif gets good luck charm: troll
SAN FRANCISCO -- A final piece of safety hardware -- a bearded, spindly legged troll -- has been installed in the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The troll is meant to be a protector and good luck charm, modeled after a similar statue placed surreptitiously by a steelworker on the old span after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
The new statue forged by an unknown artist was installed at an undisclosed location, Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman John Goodwin told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/19waNW3) in a weekend story.
The original troll was removed from its perch on Labor Day in preparation for the demolition of the old bridge and will likely be housed in a museum or park, but plans were still being finalized.
The new, $6.4 billion portion of the Bay Bridge opened to traffic on Labor Day, nearly 24 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the old span.
Construction was years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget amid political fights over its design and engineering challenges.
Goodwin said the new troll, with a hammer in one hand and an axe in the other, is somewhere inside the new bridge but its whereabouts will be kept secret.
"A new troll appeared, as these things happen, on Labor Day, under the cover of darkness," Goodwin said.