From AP REPORTS
Crocodile takes up residence on Australian golf course
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – A golf course in tropical Australia has a new water hazard: a crocodile that took up residence in a lake at the 14th hole.
Club owner Don Matheson in the Queensland state city of Townsville said the small, freshwater crocodile posed no "significant threat" to people, but that the club doesn't allow them on the course.
"It's quite novel that we have got a croc who has made his home here. If we allowed it, he would stay here," Matheson added.
The meter-long (3-foot, 4-inch) crocodile moved into the lake at the Willows Golf Club during flooding that followed heavy rains in recent weeks, Matheson said, adding that he'll ask wildlife authorities to place the animal back in the wild.
Wildlife authorities last week warned residents in the Queensland tropics to be alert for crocodiles and snakes carried onto properties by floodwater.
Mega Millions jackpot increases to $87 million
ATLANTA (AP) – The jackpot in the multistate Mega Millions lottery drawing grew to $87 million Wednesday.
None of the tickets sold for Tuesday's $73 million drawing matched all five lotto numbers and the Mega Ball. The next drawing will be Friday.
There were five second-prize winners from Tuesday night's drawing, matching all five lotto numbers but not the Mega Ball number to win $250,000 each. Also, 33 tickets matched four of the five lotto numbers, plus the Mega Ball number. Those tickets are each worth $10,000.
The winning numbers from Tuesday's drawing were: 8, 23, 39, 40 and 42. The Mega Ball number was 24.
House passes $146 billion economic recovery package that would speed rebates to most taxpayers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy's slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.
The plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.
It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and some Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. That plan, written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, would deliver checks even to the richest taxpayers, who are disqualified under the House-passed measure.
Both versions would provide tax breaks to businesses to spur equipment and other purchases.
President Bush and House leaders urged the Senate to take the bipartisan agreement and pass it quickly, even as Baucus, D-Mont., planned a Wednesday vote in his committee on a larger package that could face a slower path.
Hostage standoff ends in Venezuela; gunmen arrested after fleeing in ambulance
ALTAGRACIA DE ORITUCO, Venezuela (AP) — Gunmen who held more than 30 hostages inside a Venezuelan bank for over 24 hours fled in an ambulance and were caught Tuesday along a roadside, where they surrendered and freed their last five captives.
The gunmen first let three hostages go and then negotiated with police while holding on to the last two, Guarico state Gov. Eduardo Manuitt said.
"This nightmare is over," Manuitt told state television.
They eventually turned over their guns and a grenade, and then were ordered to the ground as police arrested them, Manuitt said. The pursuit ended less than two hours after the gunmen fled the bank in the ambulance under a deal negotiated with police.
The standoff in this town southeast of Caracas began Monday morning with a botched robbery. In the final hours, some hostages inside the bank waved signs in the windows with desperate pleas for help and used cell phones to call their relatives.
Under the deal with police, the gunmen were permitted to leave with five hostages who agreed to accompany them, freeing the rest of the captives at the bank.
Sean Young enters rehab for alcohol after outburst at Directors Guild awards
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sean Young has entered rehabilitation for alcohol abuse following a weekend outburst in which she was heckling from the audience at the Directors Guild of America awards.
The 48-year-old actress was escorted from the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Century City Saturday night after sparring with Julian Schnabel, who was nominated for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
"Actress Sean Young voluntarily admitted herself yesterday to a rehabilitation center for treatment related to alcoholism," a statement from Insignia PR said Tuesday. "It is understood that Young has struggled against the disease for many years."
At the DGAs, all of the film nominees get a chance to say a few words before the top prize is announced. Schnabel, in his trademark yellow-tinted glasses, seemed moved by the occasion and was a bit slow to start, looking down at the podium and running his hands through his wild, curly hair.
That's when Young could be heard throughout the room urging him to get on with it. Apparently rattled, Schnabel scanned the room and asked who said that, then spotted Young and suggested that she "have another cocktail."
A real 'sweet' room — made of chocolate — is unveiled for Valentine's Day stunt in NYC
NEW YORK (AP) — Don't lick the walls.
An all-chocolate room was unveiled in Manhattan on Tuesday — a pre-Valentine's Day creation complete with furniture and artwork made of the sweet stuff.
"It's the perfect bit of sin," said Ali Larter, star of TV's "Heroes," of the Godiva chocolate "pearls" that are her private daily indulgence.
Here, they were dripping off the chandeliers above the dining table, which was a sea of stars, truffles and crescents — all chocolate, of course, under glass.
Larter is the celebrity face hired by the Belgian chocolatier for its annual Valentine's Day promotion contest. This year, anyone who buys the winning box of chocolates — for $23 and up — may win the chocolate room. It is to be re-created in a suite of Manhattan's Bryant Park Hotel for a pampered getaway weekend for two in May.
The winning box — sold only in North America — will contain a note informing the buyer of his or her good luck.