MANASQUAN, N.J. (AP) — An autistic man in New Jersey was offered several choices before he chose to jump off a jetty into the freezing ocean as part of a prank, an attorney for one of the alleged pranksters said in municipal court Tuesday.
Attorney Jason Volet said during opening statements that Parker Drake, of Howell, refused to eat a hamster for money or walk into the ocean from the beach for two packs of cigarettes. Instead, he said the 20-year-old decided to jump from the jetty for the cigarettes and $20.
“He wanted the extra money and he went in off the jetty,” Volet, who represents Nicholas Formica, NJ.com reported.
Formica and Christopher Tilton, both of Howell, are charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person, an offense punishable by up to six months in jail. The 21-year-olds are accused of coaxing Drake to jump from the jetty in Manasquan in February 2015 and posting a video of the prank on social media.
Drake, a diabetic, has said that after the plunge, his insulin pump froze and he feared he would drown, according to NJ.com.
The case led lawmakers to increase the penalty for endangering people with developmental disabilities.
Drake’s psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Ganime, said Drake has Tourette’s syndrome and autism spectrum disorder with Asperger’s characteristics, as well as learning and adjustment disorders. He told Attorney Anthony Vecchio, who is prosecuting the case, that people with autism often don’t know when they’re being swindled.
“People with autism spectrum disorder fall short of that social intelligence,” he said, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Ganime, when questioned by Tilton’s attorney, Alton Kenney, said Drake is unable to make medical or financial decisions and is not fully aware when he’s in a dangerous situation.
Drake is “easily taken advantage of by other people,” Ganime said.
The case revolves around whether Drake is incompetent and unable to care for himself, Volet said.
He said he doesn’t think Drake’s “difficulties” are sufficient to conclude Drake was incompetent at the time.
The trial is expected to continue next month.
MLADENOVAC, Serbia (AP) — A young man poses as a sleazy, bejeweled politician in a white suit, sitting atop a white horse surrounded by hordes of bodyguards while promising jobs and prosperity to the voters.
Luka Maksimovic and his friends started out to have fun, but the young pranksters have become a sensation — and have been elected to office — after finishing second in a local vote in a run-down industrial town in central Serbia.
The success of the rookie citizens’ group at last weekend’s election in Mladenovac, outside Belgrade, seems to reflect widespread disillusionment with politicians in crisis-stricken Serbia and the desire for new, young faces still untouched by the corruption that has plagued all aspects of the Balkan country’s political scene.
Maksimovic and his friends said the election outcome surprised them as well.
“This is quite a shock. None of us are experienced politicians,” the 24-year-old media and communications student told The Associated Press. “It all started out as a joke. … We wanted to make video clips mocking Serbia’s political scene.”
Maksimovic described his alter ego — Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli — as the worst possible version of a typical Serbian politician: He is loud and dishonest, owns a shady business and obeys no rules. He promises jobs and better lives, but never delivers.
During campaigning, Preletacevic parodied Serbia’s political reality: bare-chested, he saved children from imaginary danger, posed with small animals in his arms, handed out forged university diplomas and promised healthier sandwiches than his opponents.
Even the name Preletacevic is symbolic. The English translation would be something like “Switchover” — suggesting that he switches political parties easily for personal gains. His closest aide — Sticker — is sticking to his boss without asking questions.
“This is a satire, a show, but it turned out that people responded to it,” Maksimovic said.
The group’s election list, dubbed “Hit it Hard — Beli,” won 20 percent of the votes, or 13 out of 50 or so seats in the municipal council — behind the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Aleskandar Vucic’s populist Progressive Party but ahead of all the opposition parties in Mladenovac.
The future council members from the list include Preletacevic and Sticker, but also independent activists determined to help change the situation in their town and serve as a control mechanism for the work of the local authorities, Maksimovic said.
Draza Petrovic, the editor-in-chief of the liberal Danas daily and a satirical columnist, said the happenings in Mladenovac show that citizens increasingly have been turning to irony and satire as a form of opposition to the dismal reality of their everyday lives.
“People are looking for opposition leaders among the people who are not part of the political establishment and who are fun,” Petrovic said. “They are definitely disappointed with official politics.”
Petrovic predicted that the Mladenovac group could set an example for other Serbian towns and future elections.
Amid Serbia’s recent economic crisis, Mladenovac has turned from an industrial hub into a worn-out town, where many of the 20,000 residents have been left without jobs after factories closed one after another.
The situation is similar throughout the country, even though Serbia has recently made advances in its bid to one day join the European Union.
Out in the streets, Mladenovac citizens laugh and wave as a cheerful, blue-eyed Preletacevic walks the town in his white suit, his hair bundled on top of his head.
“At least, he jokes,” said 63-year-old Dusan Glisic, who is jobless. “The others pretend to be serious, but they most certainly have been kidding with us.”
Emergency nurse Emilija Milosevic, 43, described Maksimovic as a “real refreshment which brings hope that people can actually use their brains.”
Maksimovic and his friends said that although they started in mockery, they will take their roles seriously. Maksimovic promises to keep an eye on municipal spending and make local strongmen uneasy.
“I will be there in my white suit, to remind the others who they really are,” Maksimovic said. “We are there now and that’s it, like a destiny or something.”
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese video-game maker Nintendo Co. reported a 24 billion yen ($216 million) loss for January-March Wednesday, bigger than the loss it reported the previous year.
Nintendo also said Wednesday that its new game platform codenamed NX will be launched globally in March next year. Some game fans had expected the machine might be shown at the annual E3 electronics show in Los Angeles in June.
Quarterly sales fell 26 percent on-year to 78.8 billion yen ($708 million) as overseas revenues were hurt by a stronger yen. Nintendo racked up a nearly 18 billion yen quarterly loss the previous year.
The Kyoto-based company behind Pokemon and Super Mario games said Wednesday it expects to recover to a 35 billion yen ($314 million) profit for the fiscal year ending in March 2017.
For the fiscal year just ended, it earned 16.5 billion yen ($148 million), down 61 percent from the previous fiscal year.
Recent sales of Nintendo’s Wii U machine have lagged rivals Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 console and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One, including the key year-end holiday shopping season.
After years of scoffing at the threat from smartphones, Nintendo did an about face last year and entered an alliance with Japanese mobile game company DeNA Co. to develop games for mobile devices.
It said its first app for smartphones called Miitomo has done well since its release in March. The app features customizable avatars called Miis, created using a smartphone camera and then outfitted with virtual fashions.
The momentum of Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held game machine has dwindled amid competition from other mobile devices and a lack of hit game software for the 3DS.
Nintendo said it will release a major Pokemon software game for the 3DS called “Pokemon Sun/Pokemon Moon” globally ahead of the holidays later this year.
It was the deadliest nuclear power plant disasters in history affecting thousands of people throughout Europe. The total amount of people who died from this tragedy in the months and years following the accident remain debatable since the Soviet Union worked hard to keep this information secret. What we do know is it rendered an area around one-thousand square miles useless, known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Visiting this place was probably one of the coolest but also creepiest experiences I’ve had. It is a place where people are not permanently allowed to live because of the potential radiation dangers following the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster (there are a couple hundred self-settlers who snuck back to their homes).
We got hooked up with a group, Chernobyl Tour based out of Kiev, Ukraine to take us around the Exclusion Zone. For the most part this place looks normal. Nature is abundant with trees, open fields and wildlife. Even in the town of Chernobyl which is located about nine miles away from the power plant there are signs of human life. Radiation levels here are said to have returned to pre-Chernobyl levels. Hotels have guests, cars are out on the road, and men dressed in camouflage clothing are seen doing work. Some people are now able to spend as much as a half year here now.
In Pripyat, a city located only a couple miles from the power plant it’s a different story. It’s a wasteland. Buildings are left vacant. It was spooky walking through here and being quite honest spending a night here would freak me out. Many things were left behind by former residents adding to the scary feel of this place. Trees are growing out of the floor in many of these abandoned buildings, creepy dolls left behind still hold the same stare, and even clothes are still hung up in the same place they were left 30 years ago.
The best way to really explain this is to actually show you. So, Maggie and I are taking you behind the scenes during our visit to this place of mystery.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prince’s old band is reuniting for some live shows following his death.
Members of the Revolution made the announcement in a video posted online Tuesday.
Five band members appear in the video, sitting on a couch. Guitarist Wendy Melvoin says the group’s members decided, after spending “three or four days together” grieving Prince’s death, that they would like to “come out and do some shows.”
She says the group wants to let fans know “we’ll be there soon,” but gave no details.
Drummer Bobby Z told the Star Tribune he’s “happy it’s good news” but declined further comment.
None of the members could immediately be reached by The Associated Press for comment.
The Revolution gained fame as Prince’s band during his hit 1984 movie “Purple Rain.”
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Officials for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are trying to determine if a second giant underground tank containing radioactive waste from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons is leaking, the U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Tuesday.
Air monitors attached to an aging tank known as AY-101 recently found radiation at higher than normal background levels, the agency said.
A video inspection of the underground tank found no evidence that radioactive waste had leaked from the primary tank into the space between the two walls, Hanford officials said. While a new leak is a possibility, they have found no evidence of one.
“We want to discredit that potential before we make any statement,” said Tom Fletcher, the U.S. Department of Energy’s tank farms manager at Hanford.
A Hanford watchdog group on Tuesday contended the higher radiation found by the air monitors was evidence of a leak in a second tank. Hanford Challenge is based in Seattle.
“The presence of these radioactive materials in the outer shell of the tank, known as the annulus, is a solid indicator that the primary shell of the tank has failed and is leaking high-level nuclear waste into the outer shell,” said Mike Geffre, a former Hanford worker now on the board of Hanford Challenge.
Earlier this month, Hanford officials revealed that a tank known as AY-102 had leaked several thousand gallons of radioactive waste from its primary tank into the annulus.
It was the first of the 28 double-walled tanks at Hanford to be found to have leaked. That waste is being pumped back into the primary tank.
The sprawling Hanford site is located near Richland, Washington, and was constructed during World War II to make plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. The site is now engaged in cleaning up the leftover waste at a cost of more than $2 billion per year.
The most dangerous wastes are stored in 177 underground tanks, most of them old, single-walled tanks, some of which have leaked. The double-walled tanks were presumed to be much safer.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a frequent Hanford critic, said the situation there was urgent.
“In light of today’s developments, I will also be asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to examine what and when DOE knew about the leaks in these tanks, the adequacy of the department’s tank safety efforts and responses to the deteriorating condition of all of the high-level waste tanks,” Wyden said.
Fletcher, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said air samples checked on April 6 and April 14 showed some elevated levels of radioactivity within the annulus of tank AY-101, which is more than 40 years old and contains about 578,000 gallons of waste.
They did a video inspection of the annulus and found no evidence of a leak, Fletcher said.
“There are a number of potential sources this could come from,” Fletcher said, including a leak that might have so far escaped detection.
Fletcher said Hanford officials will continue to study the problem, but he could offer no deadline for solving the riddle.
Hanford Challenge, quoting unnamed sources inside Hanford, said the air monitor recorded above-background levels of Cesium-137 and plutonium in the annulus.
The possible failure of a second double-shell tank at Hanford is serious because Hanford is running out of space to store waste from leaking tanks, said Tom Carpenter, director of Hanford Challenge.
“There is no other realistic option but to begin building new tanks immediately,” Carpenter said. Those tanks would take several years to build, the group said.
Hanford stores about two-thirds of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, Hanford Challenge said. Dealing with that waste is expected to take decades and cost billions of dollars.