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Canine cheat

Washington, June 12: An animal trainer has gone on trial accused of supplying the US government with sniffer dogs that

could not smell explosives and refused to work after catching a more tempting whiff of hot dogs.

Russell Lee Ebersole, 43, had boasted that he had revolutionised dog training, creating animals so highly skilled that they could tell their handlers which drug they had detected by pointing to plastic letters of the alphabet with their noses.

But according to prosecutors in Virginia, his dogs were useless, putting thousands of lives at risk at the facilities they guarded, including the state department and tax offices.

After a tip-off to an anti-fraud hotline, private detectives hired by the Federal Reserve drove three vehicles up to entrances at three Reserve buildings, crammed with 50lb of dynamite, 50lb of TNT and 15lb of C-4 plastic explosive. Ebersole’s dogs failed to notice anything amiss.

Another dog fell under suspicion when it did not detect a powerful smell of marijuana drifting across a Washington street. In subsequent tests, he was so distracted by the smell of a hidden hot dog he refused to work.

Baby blues

Berlin (Reuters): A German nurse driven to distraction by the wails of a new-born baby, used sticking plasters (Band-aids) to pacify it, a hospital in the western city of Kassel said on Thursday. The shocked parents discovered the four-day-old boy in the post-natal ward with a dummy (pacifier) taped to his mouth. The nurse, who has since been moved from the children’s ward, has admitted responsibility and will be disciplined, the hospital said. “She just made a mistake,” a hospital spokeswoman told Reuters. The child was unharmed in the incident.

Jackson suit

Los Angeles (Reuters): Pop star Michael Jackson yesterday settled a $12 million breach of contract lawsuit by his former top adviser, avoiding a trial that threatened to spill details of his financial empire and personal life into open court. Jackson’s attorney, Zia Modabber, confirmed that the entertainer had settled his legal fight with Myung-Ho Lee and his firm Union Finance and Investment Corp., but declined to discuss the terms. Modabber said the two had reached a confidential agreement to settle Lee’s lawsuit and a counter-suit by Jackson and filed notice with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Andria Richey yesterday. He said Jackson had personally signed off on the settlement. Lee claimed that Jackson hired him in the late 1990s to put his financial affairs in order.


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