Bizarre News-Pepper Prank

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A pepper prank is burning some students. Four people have pleaded guilty to trying to steal a giant pepper off a Chili's restaurant in Bennington, Vt. Two are college students, one is a recent grad and the fourth is between work and school. The Bennington Banner is reporting the would-be pepper-nappers have been sentenced to write five-page essays on how they've wasted taxpayers' money. They were also given two-year suspended sentences, probation and must do 200 hours of community service.

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Smokey's riding in a big rig. The Nevada Highway Patrol is putting troopers in the passenger seats of 18-wheelers. But they aren't after truckers. The troopers are on the lookout for drivers who tailgate tractor-trailers, or cut in front of the big-rig trucks. NHP Capt. Julie Johnson says the statewide "Badge on Board" program aims to improve safety and cut the number of truck crashes. The big-rig troopers won't be making any traffic stops themselves. They'll radio for a trooper in a marked patrol car to make the stop and issue the tickets.

NEW YORK (AP) - Ronald Tackman might look like a lawyer. But he's not. He's an escapee from a New York City courthouse. Tackman is a sharp-dressing robbery suspect. He was to appear in a New York court yesterday on a string of robbery charges. A guard apparently mistook Tackman for a lawyer and allowed him out of the detention area. His attorney says Tackman is "charming, respectful and intelligent." Authorities note Tackman has a criminal career that goes back more than 30 years and includes a number of escape attempts. He was being held on $350,000 bail.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Confession may be good for the soul. It's also good for the law, when done on MySpace. A man who admitted to robbing a bank has been sentenced to seven years in prison. Joseph Wade Northington of Roanoke, Va., pleaded guilty earlier this year. He was ordered to prison yesterday. Prosecutors say Northington had posted a message on his MySpace page saying: "On tha run for robbin a bank Love all of yall." He was later arrested.

YORK, Pa. (AP) - Tina Graham is no linebacker. But the Eagles might think about drafting her. The Pennsylvania woman tackled a crook who broke into her home and hung onto him until the cops arrived. The 40-year-old Graham says she heard a stranger in her York home early the other morning. She called 911, then yelled to the bad guy he was going to jail. When he tried to run, the 140-pound woman says she pounced on the 160-pound culprit. Graham says what she did is no big deal. But plenty of people disagree and they're giving her lots of attention.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tourists in Washington can now see the stars. No, these aren't Hollywood stars, or even political notables. We're talking stars in the heavens. The National Air and Space Museum is opening its first public observatory. Now, the big crowds on the National Mall will be able view the sun, moon and planets. A 22-foot dome houses a telescope, on loan from a Smithsonian Observatory in Massachusetts.

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