Blog Posts by Claudine Zap

  • Illinois Tollway releases list of ‘super scofflaws’

    The Illinois Tollway.

    It's the “Scarlett Letter” for Illinois scofflaws.

    State Tollway officials have published its list of shame -- deadbeat drivers who owe more than a thousand bucks in unpaid fines. 

    One day after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law okaying the public browbeating, the names are up at The banner at the top of the page reads, “List of Super Scofflaws. Learn more.”

    "Tolls are a significant source of revenue for maintaining and improving our region’s transportation system, and our Board understands that every dollar counts,” Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff noted in a statement provided to Yahoo News that underscored its “zero tolerance policy” for toll cheats.

    The Tollway points out that 98 percent of Tollway users pay their bills on time.

    The Illinois Tollway says it has named 157 businesses that collectively owe $3.7 million, resorting to this after contacting the businesses nine times over the course of nine months to two years. Number one on the list: Landa

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  • School cheerleading uniforms violate dress code

    Give me a B-O-O!

    That’s no doubt what the cheerleaders of Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., are saying to the news that their uniforms violate the school dress code and they can't wear them to class on game days, according to a story from WFTS-Tampa.

    Officials at the school, which is located in the Tampa Bay area, are telling the students that their school-provided cheerleader uniforms should cover shoulders and the skirts should reach midthigh.

    “I love putting it on. All the cheerleaders do,” cheerleading team member Jeana Fraser told the TV station.

    But now, due to a strict enforcement of policy, Jeana may no longer be showing up to class on game days in her uniform. According to the Tampa Bay Times, in the past, Pinellas County high schools had turned a blind eye to the dress code violations.

    This school year, some of the high schools are stepping up enforcement or introducing a stricter dress code for school hours, even when it comes to approved school uniforms.

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  • Oxford Dictionaries online adds 'twerk'

    Miley Cyrus made 'twerking' famous. The OED put it in the dictionary. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

    The Oxford Dictionaries online on Wednesday announced its annual additions to its tome. Miley Cyrus might be glad to hear that “twerking” made the cut.

    “Selfie,” “bitcoin” and“srsly” are also on the list.

    As are the dessert on a stick “cake pop” and “babymoon.” They are now officially things.

    Also, "buzzworthy" is in. So are "jorts" (denim shorts), "double denim" (wearing denim on denim, regarded as a breach of fashion etiquette) and "squee" (to exclaim with delight).

    The term "twerking" seems especially well-timed, but it's not new, OED spokeswoman Katherine Connor Martin told Reuters.

    It's described as "a dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance."

    "The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker's song 'The Twist,'" said Connor Martin.

    "Only time will tell if twerking will similarly

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  • Don't get caught using eco-friendly light bulbs in Glenn Beck's office

    Do anything to combat global warming in Glenn Beck’s office? You’re fired.

    To prove his case against global warming, which Beck labels a “load of socialist, communist crap,” the right-wing talk-show host announced his war against energy-efficient light bulbs.

    On air, he asked a staffer to write a memo that threatened to fire anyone caught using one. The YouTube video of the moment was picked up by Grist.

    "I'm dead serious," Beck said on his radio program, as his employees titter nervously. "I fire the person that starts to purchase fluorescent light bulbs, unless that is the only light bulb for a very specific reason, and I want to be cc'd on what that reason is." How about to light a dark room? Is that reason enough?

    But Beck’s vendetta against eco-friendly office supplies doesn’t end there. He told one worker not to purchase any more recyclable spoons, either.

    “If anyone does anything in this company because of global warming, they’re fired,” he said. He’s OK with saving trees,

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  • Cops caught busting — a move

    Three dancers getting down in a crowd at a carnival: That’s crazy fun. But if those three men are police officers, it’s just crazy.

    A video posted by YouTube user MOOF Bulleh titled “Notting Hill Carnival 2013 Police Dance Off" captures three of the community’s finest getting freaky in London. One officer asks the crowd to “make some noise” before they show off their dance moves to an enthusiastic audience that forms a circle around them to watch.

    They're wearing their hats and green safety vests and are laden down with all their gear strapped around their waists, but that doesn't get in the way of the dance-off.

    In an act that looks somewhat choreographed, the first does a hip wiggle, the second some grinding, and the third shows a hip-hop move. The three then flop to the ground, one behind the other, and mimic rowing a boat to the roar of the crowd.

    The video has taken off on the Web, receiving over 500,000 views so far. Reaction as to whether police officers should be engaging with

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  • 'Pacific Rim' called American propaganda in China

    (Warner Bros. Pictures 2013)Truth could be stranger than fiction: A Chinese army officer is denouncing the movie “Pacific Rim” as American propaganda, reports the news site The sci-fi blockbuster is about … robots.

    According to, in an op-ed for the People’s Liberation Army Daily, Zhang Jieli asserts, "The decisive battle against the monsters was deliberately set in South China Sea adjacent to Hong Kong.” He added, "The intention was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area and saving the mankind."

    The monster flick depicts countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean that join forces to fight giant creatures called Kaijus that rise up from the ocean floor to attack humans.

    Written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the summer film has grossed almost $400 million worldwide, including $106.2 million in China, where it topped the box office for the past three weeks. In fact, the monster vs. robots movie has done better in China than the

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  • Mystery gnome homes appear along trail in Kansas

    Overland Park, Kan., has some new, pint-size residents. Or at least, residences. Tiny “gnome homes” have sprung up at the base of knotty trees, two at last count, around the city’s Tomahawk Creek Trail.

    "We don't know when they arrived or who's living in these little tree homes, but we welcome them to Overland Park," City spokesman Sean Reilly told local station KMBZ.

    The city has rolled out the welcome mat for its gnome neighbors, providing the public with a map and an introduction on Facebook.

    “It’s recently been discovered that a small gnome population has become the city’s newest residents” the Facebook post reads. “The gnomes are currently residing in trees along the Tomahawk Creek Trail. They just moved to the area and would love to meet any neighbors they may have. Here are the locations of their tiny houses, so feel free to stop by and say hello! They will even leave a note and tea if “Gnomebodies” home … how thoughtful!"

    The mystery miniature homes have tiny painted doorways,

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  • Rare — and adorable — baby elephant born in Indonesia

    Female baby elephant born in Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo National Park. (WWF-Indonesia/Wishnu Sukmantoro)

    Cuteness alert: A female baby elephant was born Aug. 9 in Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo National Park, the World Wildlife Fund announced.

    The Tesso Nilo calf’s mother is 35 years old and a trooper: She was pregnant for 20-22 months before giving birth to the 90-kilo (198-pound) baby only a few days before World Elephant Day, according to the animal conservation organization.

    The calf’s mother is part of an elite team of critically endangered Sumatran elephants and their handlers who protect villages from coming into conflict with nearby wild elephants.

    Only four elephants have been born to the group since it was established by the World Wildlife Fund and Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry in 2004.

    The so-called Flying Squad is made up of four trained adult elephants and their eight handlers, called mahouts, who deploy noisemakers, lights and a truck to drive back the wild elephants who try to enter local villages.

    Four of these squads exist in Riau Province — where the palm oil, pulp and paper

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  • Mr. President, watch this!

    Child's play (Pete Souza/Official White House photo)

    When you have access to the president of the United States, you want to make a good impression. Or any impression.

    That appears to be the plan of this high-energy toddler, who threw himself on the floor in Magnolia's Deli and Cafe in Rochester as the president sat at a table nearby with a small group of college students, graduates and their parents to discuss the high cost of higher education on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

    Official White House photographer Pete Souza snapped the unnamed boy, whose mother appears to be sitting at another table — and laughing — at the kid’s adorable antics.

    It’s not clear if the president chooses to ignore the child or if he hasn’t noticed him at all.

    The photographer posted to Twitter, “A young boy plays as Pres Obama lunches with college students and their parents in Rochester, N.Y.”

    Perhaps the child wouldn’t be so cheerful if he knew how much his college education is going to cost him in the not too distant future.

    This isn’t the

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  • Petition calling for investigation into death of man with Down syndrome goes viral

    It started with a dispute over a movie ticket in a Maryland movie theater and ended with the death of Robert Ethan Saylor.

    Now, Emma Saylor, the sister of the 26-year-old man with Down syndrome who died while in the custody of three off-duty Frederick County deputies, is petitioning Gov. Martin O'Malley for an independent investigation and better training of law enforcement.

    “I never thought that anything like this would happen in my town, let alone to my brother,” Emma Saylor, 23, told Yahoo News on the phone. So far, the petition has received over 166,000 signatures — with 52,000 coming in the last 24 hours.

    The governor’s office did not respond to a request for a statement from Yahoo News.

    On Jan. 12, 2013, Robert Saylor, known as Ethan to his family, went to see “Zero Dark Thirty” with his caretaker. At the end of the movie, he wanted to watch it again and refused to leave the theater.

    Three off-duty sheriffs who were moonlighting as mall cops approached Saylor and asked him to

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