Dateline Florida

Published March 3, 2007


Florida prosecutors on Friday charged astronaut Lisa Nowak with trying to kidnap a romantic rival, not the attempted murder charge police wanted. Nowak, 43, was formally charged almost a month after she was arrested at the an Orlando airport parking lot after a 900-mile drive from Houston Feb. 5 (with diapers, just in case). The charges: attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm, burglary with an assault using a weapon, and battery. Police say the mother of three confronted a woman she viewed as a rival for a space shuttle pilot's affection. She donned a wig and trench coat, then sprayed a chemical into the woman's car when she wouldn't let Nowak in.

Campaign signs rankle resident

Chris Kelly was tired of seeing signs promoting the Penny for Pinellas sales tax on parks and public buildings - especially because some of those buildings will be polling places March 13 when voters decide whether to extend the 1 percent tax another decade. State law bars campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place, and elections officials say poll workers will ensure that the Penny signs are gone by Election Day. But Kelly thinks allowing governments to promote pet causes on public property is wrong.

Post office to end its graveyard shift

Night owls, take note. After 20 years of staying open 24 hours, seven days a week, the post office at Tampa International Airport is now closing its retail counter during the graveyard shift. The new hours are weekdays, 6 a.m. to midnight, and weekends, 8 a.m. to midnight. Some good news: Vending machines and mail slots will remain open around the clock.

Phony groupers spread to Alabama

Alabama has jumped into the phony grouper fray. On Monday, WKRG-TV Ch. 5, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, reported that it made 10 "grouper" purchases in January from restaurants and seafood markets in the Mobile-Pensacola area. DNA tests showed that one was genuine, one could not be identified and eight were other types of fish, including three Asian catfish. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has since taken 35 samples of its own, the TV station reported.

Televangelist takes on Howard Stern

St. Petersburg televangelist Bill Keller prides himself on his biting banter in the name of God. Turns out, he can hold his own with Howard Stern, who interviewed Keller on his radio show for about 20 minutes Thursday morning. They touched on topics ranging from homosexuality to the existence of God. Stern seemed impressed by Keller's confession of a spate of vices that Keller claims were forgiven when he got serious about Christianity. They pair sparred at almost every turn but agreed on one thing: their shared vitriol for Oprah.

The Gradebook

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