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November 22, 2019 GMT

BAH HUMBUG! NORTH POLE LACKS ENOUGH ICE FOR SCULPTURES

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Blame the Grinch or Mother Nature, but the annual Christmas in Ice sculpture park won’t open this year in North Pole, Alaska, because of a lack of ice.

The event’s Executive Director says it’s the first cancellation since the event started 14 years ago in the city where Christmas is celebrated year-round and city light poles are decorated like candy canes.

The ice park is next to the Santa Claus House gift shop in North Pole, located 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks. The park normally operates through December and features Yule-themed ice sculptures.

But, this year, there isn’t enough ice on ponds to harvest for ice carving.

North Pole Community Chamber of Commerce says the event attracted carvers from around the world.

IN MEXICO, GIANT BABY JESUS CRECHE FIGURE DRAWS MEMES

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A church in rural Mexico has created one of the largest known Baby Jesus creche figures in the country.

While the church wanted to draw attention to the traditional Christmas-season display, it didn’t expect the outpouring of internet memes poking fun at the threatening size of the Baby Jesus.

At just over 21 feet tall, the diaper-clad baby figure looks so large in a video posted on the church website that it appears able to step on the humans around it.

Mexicans quickly created memes showing the looming baby threatening to invade cities or public gatherings, like Godzilla.

Others noted the blue-eyed baby looks a lot like actor Nicolas Cage, or musician Phil Collins.

BOEING NAMES SPACE TEST DUMMY ROSIE AFTER WWII RIVETER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX had Ripley. Now Boeing has Rosie.

The company revealed the name of the test dummy on board Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule as it was being moved to its Florida pad Thursday for a mid-December launch,

Rosie the Astronaut is named after World War II’s Rosie the Riveter. The dummy has hundreds of sensors for the first Starliner test flight to the International Space Station. And it’s wearing Rosie the Riveter’s trademark red polka-dot head scarf, along with a Boeing blue spacesuit.

Boeing says it chose the name given its long history of hiring women, especially during World War II to keep up bomber production.

SpaceX turned to the “Alien” movies in naming its test dummy, Ripley, launched aboard a crew Dragon in March.

Flights with NASA astronauts should follow next year.

THE SEARCH IS ON FOR A RED PANDA THAT ESCAPED A FRENCH ZOO

PARIS (AP) — A search is on for a red panda that broke out of a zoo in the Rhone region of southeastern France.

Officials at the Saint-Martin-la-Plaine Zoo said the endangered animal was last seen 3 miles from the park by a surprised motorist. The park said the panda escaped last Friday by climbing up branches broken by snowfall and swinging from tree to tree.

The panda, a cat-sized nocturnal animal with reddish fur and a shaggy tail, would probably spend “a good part of the day sleeping in a tree.” The zoo advised residents to keep a look out “at the top of the trees.”

A zoo veterinarian said the animal has good claws and good teeth and shouldn’t be hugged, although it isn’t considered dangerous.

STUDY: YELLOWSTONE BISON MOW, FERTILIZE THEIR OWN GRASS

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Yellowstone National Park grazing study found bison essentially mow and fertilize their own food, allowing them to graze in one area for two to three months during the spring and summer while other ungulates have to keep moving to higher elevations to follow new plant growth.

When hundreds of bison graze in an area, it greens up earlier and faster and the grass stays greener for a much longer time.

The grassland dynamics were observable by sensors on NASA satellites.

Research found that large numbers of bison grazing in one area actually stimulate the growth of nutritious grasses, in part because the grass is fertilized by their waste.

The research was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WEDDING RING LOST IN GROCERY BAG RETURNED TO STORE WORKER

CHELMSFORD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman says she worried she had lost her wedding ring forever after it fell off her finger as she bagged groceries.

Jan McGuire tells WBZ-TV she was bagging groceries at a Market Basket in Chelmsford when she noticed her ring was missing.

The 80-year-old Lowell woman was heartbroken because her late husband gave her the ring 59 years ago.

McGuire posted about the missing ring on Facebook. She says she knew it had fallen into a customer’s bag because she hadn’t heard it hit the floor.

Someone returned it to the store’s customer service a few days later.

McGuire says she “couldn’t stop crying” when she heard the ring had been returned.

She says she will wear the ring around her neck until she can get it resized.

FORGOTTEN BLACK CEMETERY FOUND AT FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Officials say ground penetrating radar has found what appear to be 145 caskets near a Florida high school.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins on Wednesday announced the discovery at the southeast corner of the King High School campus.

The district began investigating last month after cemetery researcher Ray Reed informed them that a paupers burial ground known as Ridgewood Cemetery once existed on the site and bodies could still be interred there.

Records indicate Ridgewood opened in 1942 and that more than 250 people, mostly African Americans, were buried there. The school district bought the land in 1959.

Reed publicized historical records this year that led to the discovery of forgotten Zion Cemetery, another predominantly black cemetery. Experts say nearly 800 people were buried there between 1901 and 1929.

FIRST MARVEL COMICS ISSUE SELLS IN TEXAS FOR $1.26 MILLION

DALLAS (AP) — A rare near-mint condition copy of the first Marvel Comics comic book has sold at auction in Dallas for $1.26 million.

Heritage Auctions says the Marvel Comics No. 1 from 1939 sold Thursday. Heritage says the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

Heritage auctions calls it a historic copy of a historic comic book. The issue features the first appearances of characters such as the Human Torch, Ka-Zar, Angel and the Sub-Mariner.

Heritage says the comic book was first purchased at a newsstand by a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, mail carrier who made a practice of buying the first issue of comic books and magazines. Since then, the issue has only changed owners a handful of times.

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO HAVING CELLPHONE IN FEDERAL PRISON

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a man will get extra prison time for using a cellphone to post to Facebook from the federal prison in Atlanta.

Court records show that 32-year-old Brian J. Wilson pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing a contraband cellphone. A 2010 law made it a crime to possess or use cellphones while in federal prison.

Prosecutors say Wilson used a cellphone between May and July to post images, including a selfie, and to live stream content from his cell at the medium-security federal penitentiary.

He was serving a 10-year sentence for having a stolen gun. He was scheduled to be released in November 2022. But under federal law, possessing contraband in prison requires additional time once the original sentence is completed.

Wilson is set to be sentenced in February.