The mother of an 8-year-old girl who was put on the wrong plane while traveling unaccompanied blames the mix-up on “total incompetence and a lack of caring” by Continental Airlines. Wendy Babineaux said Wednesday she’s “getting the run-around” from the airline while trying to find out how her daughter, Taylor Williams, flew out of Houston on Saturday and ended up in Fayetteville, Ark. She was supposed to go to Charlotte, N.C., to visit her father.  ***MARLAR: How do you blame the airline when you as the parent are totally fine with sending an 8-year-old across the country without parental supervision? 

The lions, tigers and bears will soon be smoke-free — at the Minnesota Zoo. The zoo south of the Twin Cities is banning outdoor smoking beginning Saturday. Smoking inside was made a no-no long ago. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums notes nearly two-thirds of their members have smoking restrictions. Minnesota Zoo visitors who want to smoke will be allowed to light up in the parking lot.  ***MARLAR: One reason for the ban is that some non-nocturnal creatures are up all night craving nicotine. 

During a recent TV interview President Obama swatted and killed a fly. Now PETA is upset. The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the President to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he’s bothered by a fly. PETA is sending The President a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside. ***MARLAR: Does that trap also work on PETA people?

It’s a long way down — but window washer Alex Clay lives to tell about it. He fell from six floors up, suffering just a broken foot and gash in his leg. He hit a small roof over a Wisconsin bank building’s entryway and bounced off. Clay says his safety line never caught, but officials think it might have slowed his fall. Clay had only been washing windows for about four months.  And he’s not eager to go back. His mother says that’s fine with her. She adds that she’s “amazed” the 21-year-old survived the fall.  ***MARLAR: Superman leaped over tall buildings in a single bound… this window washer leapt from a tall building with a single bounce. 

Spelling bees aren’t just for kids.  Seniors demonstrated their spelling prowess last weekend in Cheyenne, Wyo. More than 50 people age 50 and above competed in the AARP National Spelling Bee. The contest started with a 100-word written spelling test. Then came the oral rounds. By the way, last year’s winning word was debouch — that’s d-e-b-o-u-c-h.  ***MARLAR: And because of senior forgetfulness, it was also THIS year’s final word. 

A middle school girl is going to court over her Winnie the Pooh-themed socks. Seventh-grader Toni Scott got in trouble for violating the dress code at the Redwood Middle School in Napa, California. The policy calls for students to wear solid colors only, in a handful of hues. The ACLU is suing on Toni’s behalf, and contends the dress code is illegal, because it denies the students’ right to self-expression. ***MARLAR: If the school has a dress code, so be it – but don’t try to make Winnie the Pooh socks a “free speech” issue.  Puh-leese… what’s that supposed to represent?  The right to BEAR arms?

Not exactly an urban legend.  A spokeswoman for Frito Lay says a dead mouse found by a Colorado eighth-grader in a bag of potato chips probably chewed its way in after the snack was delivered to the school.  The late rodent was found by a student who bought the bag of chips in the lunch line at Lewis-Palmer Middle School in Monument, Colorado.  Bag and dead mouse were sent off to the home office in Plano, Texas, which is where Frito Lay employees found a “chew hole” in the bag.  For now, bags of chips have been pulled from the school district’s vending machines. But they’re expected to return after spring break early next month.  ***MARLAR: With new and better prizes inside!

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