REIGNING "WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG" DIES IN CALIFORNIA: HANFORD (AP) — When a beloved pet dies, good manners usually dictate saying something nice about the departed companion.
But for a recently deceased dog named Yoda, it's a compliment to say she sure was ugly.
The 15-year-old Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix won the 2011 World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair for her short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs.
Owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford told the Hanford Sentinel that Yoda died in her sleep Saturday.
The 1.8-pound pooch had come far since Schumacher found her abandoned behind an apartment building and first mistook her for a rat.
LIFESAVING NEUROSURGEON GETS CITIZENSHIP IN FLA. : TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — An otherwise routine citizenship ceremony was extra special Wednesday for a Florida immigration officer who presented a naturalization certificate to a doctor from Peru who saved her life with an emergency brain surgery.
In front of 450 people from 75 countries gathered in the Tampa Convention Center, immigration services officer Melissa Wingerd presented Dr. Gabriel Gonzales-Portillo his naturalization certificate. The new citizens clapped, cheered and waved U.S. flags.
Last year, Wingerd suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage the day after her daughter's fifth birthday party. She was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa — and the neurosurgeon on call was Gonzales-Portillo.
The doctor told Wingerd that a vein in her brain that was malformed at birth had burst, and that she needed surgery immediately or she would die. Gonzales-Portillo performed the surgery, and within two weeks Wingerd's life was nearly back to normal. However, she still deals with some effects, such as a loss of smell and losing hearing in one ear.
CO-WORKER TO PAY 5 NJ MEN MILLIONS IN LOTTERY SUIT: ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Five construction workers who claimed a colleague cheated them out of their share of a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot have been awarded $4 million each by a New Jersey jury, their lawyer said.
A unanimous verdict was reached Wednesday morning by the jury, which heard the lawsuit in state Superior Court in Elizabeth. The panel rejected the claims of Americo Lopes, 52, who had claimed he won the 2009 jackpot on a personal ticket — not with a ticket he bought as part a lottery pool with the co-workers.
Attorney Rubin Sinins represented the five men and says the $38.5 million jackpot was worth $24 million because Lopes chose the cash option. But he declined to discuss or provide more specific details on the amounts the plaintiffs would receive.
"Our clients all feel vindicated" by the verdict, Sinins said. "This has been their position all along; they've been challenged in their position and the jury saw it their way. They are very gratified."
Earlier Wednesday, court spokeswoman Sandra Thaler-Gerber had said each plaintiff would get a pre-tax payment of $2 million. She did not return a message seeking information about the discrepancy between her statement and the lawyer's statement.
ARIZ. OFFICIALS REVISIT OBAMA'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE: PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona officials are jumping back into a persistent, yet debunked controversy over President Barack Obama's birth certificate and his eligibility to hold office.
A legislative committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal that requires presidential candidates to swear that they meet the qualifications to be the nation's chief executive.
And the Arizona secretary of state is expected in the coming days to call for candidates to complete a new form asking eligibility questions, including whether they are natural-born U.S. citizens.
The widely-disproved notion that the president was born abroad rather than in Hawaii, as state officials have repeatedly confirmed, comes up regularly in Arizona. Most recently, the man known as "America's Toughest Sheriff" released a report from a volunteer posse challenging the authenticity of the president's birth certificate.
APPEALS COURT ALLOWS WOLF HUNTS: BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunting and trapping that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months.
The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.
Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals. Wildlife advocates claimed in their lawsuit that Congress violated the Constitution's separation of powers by interfering with the courts.
JERMAINE JONES DISQUALIFIED FROM 'AMERICAN IDOL' : LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jermaine Jones was dismissed from "American Idol" — and not because of viewer votes.
It was revealed during Wednesday's installment of the Fox singing contest that the 25-year-old vocal instructor from Pine Hill, N.J., was disqualified Tuesday for not revealing he had outstanding arrest warrants.
"Idol" executive producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe confronted Jones about the matter in a taped segment.
Warrick told Jones "you were incumbent to tell us the truth about all of this, and you haven't on any level."
The so-called "gentle giant," as he was dubbed by host Ryan Seacrest, was a top 13 finalist after the judges gave him a last-minute spot among the 11th season's semifinalists.
Seacrest said that despite Jones' dismissal, one of the remaining top 11 singers would be eliminated Thursday.
Ohio ambulance hits truck, killing driver, patient
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) — An ambulance rear-ended a flatbed truck carrying lumber near an Ohio hospital Wednesday, killing the ambulance driver and the patient, who was being taken to a doctor's appointment, authorities said.
The truck had stopped to turn onto a roadway when it was struck by the ambulance shortly before 10 a.m. outside Chillicothe, according to the State Highway Patrol said. Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston said it's not clear why the ambulance hit the truck.
Ambulance driver Cody A. King, 21, of Chillicothe, and patient Barbara L. McWhorter, 72, also of Chillicothe, died at the scene, the patrol said in a statement.
The driver of the lumber truck, Carl H. Dearth, 50, of Frankfort, was transported to Adena Medical Center for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening, according to the patrol.
POLICE: MAN WITH 3 KNIVES STABS 4 IN OHIO BUILDING: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man armed with three knives went on a stabbing spree in a downtown office building on Wednesday, starting in the admissions office of a technical school and injuring four people, including an employee of the state attorney general, authorities said. The rampage stopped when he was shot by a police officer on the street in front of the building just blocks from the state Capitol.
The man confronted one victim in the admissions office of Miami-Jacobs Career College before 1 p.m. and stabbed him, Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner said. Other people intervened and took away a knife the man was using but didn't realize he had others, Weiner said.