Etc...

Barking up the wrong hedge

"This story is so ludicrous," a police spokesman in Harrislee, Germany, said. "We really can't imagine what he thought he'd achieve." So what did the object of his ridicule do? It seems a town resident enticed a neighbor's dog he didn't like to bark continuously ... so he then could report the animal for disturbing the peace. But the owner investigated and - aha! - found a speaker hidden in the hedge between their houses wired to play tape of another dog's bark. The racket wouldn't have been reason enough to confiscate the canine anyway, police said.

Crikey, where's steve Irwin?

First dismissing it as a hoax, police in Rome responded to a reported crocodile sighting to find a six-foot reptile, jaws agape, sunbathing on an island in the Tiber River. But the croc was curiously unresponsive, even to tossed stones. A closer observation determined it was stuffed - apparently left by a prankster. "A good thing," said one guardia, "since we still don't have a crocodile rapid- reaction unit."

In uneven economy, the US cities rated best for growth

Fayetteville, Ark., near the home base of Wal-Mart Stores (the world's top retailer and largest private employer) is the best-performing city in the US, according to the Milken Institute, an economic think tank in Santa Monica, Calif. Three Texas cities along the Mexican border also made the top ranks of Milken's annual index, which measures where jobs are being created and businesses are thriving. At a time when many industries continued to lay off workers, metropolitan areas with diverse, stable economic bases fared best. The top 10 cities for growth:

1. Fayetteville, Ark.
2. Las Vegas
3. Fort Myers, Fla.
4. West Palm Beach, Fla.
5. San Diego
6. San Luis Obispo, Calif.
7. Laredo, Texas
8. Brownsville, Texas
9. McAllen, Texas
10. Monmouth, N.J. - Business Wire

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