Bizarre News-Text-Messaging Driver

COVENTRY, R.I. (AP) - Texting while driving is bad enough. But texting while driving and hitting a police cruiser is even worse. Rhode Island State Police charge David Mercer did just that. Troopers tell The Providence Journal that Mercer admits to texting when he crashed into an empty patrol car Wednesday night on I-95. The police cruiser had its lights flashing to divert traffic from an earlier accident. No one was seriously hurt, but both cars were totaled. Texting while driving isn't against the law in Rhode Island. But police say Mercer is being cited for several traffic violations, including failure to maintain control of his vehicle.

UNDATED (AP) - Travis Pastrana has big plans for New Year's Eve. He's going to try to set a new world record for the longest jump in a car. And if he fails, he's going to get all wet. Pastrana is a freestyle motocross star and rally car champion. He'll make his record attempt at the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach, Calif., jumping the car onto a barge anchored in the harbor. Pastrana says he'll try to clear about 250 feet over water. The current record is a jump of 171 feet. The jump will be the latest in Red Bull's New Year, No Limits series.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Winning a multimillion dollar Powerball jackpot can be hazardous to your health. Just ask Doug Miron of Marinette, Wisc. He says he jumped for joy and pulled a leg muscle, when he learned he had the winning $31.4 million Powerball ticket. His ticket for Wednesday's drawing was validated yesterday and Miron will get his check Monday. State lottery officials say he's opted for the lump sum pay out of 16.7 mil.

UNDATED (AP) - So, what's Fluffy going to be for this Halloween? Dave Heuer of Roseville, Minn., says his black cat, named Black Cat, will either be a witch or a skunk. But the vast majority of pet owners won't be dressing up Rover or Tabby. An Associated poll finds only 8 percent of pet owners plan to put costumes on their animals for Halloween. Bill Mc Nutt of Scottsdale, Ariz., has four dogs and two cats. They'll be wearing just their own fur. But Mc Nutt says he and his wife often dress up as Sylvester the cat and Tweety Bird for Halloween. She's the cat and he's the bird.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some scientific whizzes are studying the fizzes. Turns out the tongue's sour-sensing taste buds are what's sensitive to the carbonation in everything from soda to champagne. The research is detailed in the journal Science. The researchers say the tingly taste is actually caused by carbon dioxide, not the bubbles themselves. So why would we humans be sensitive to carbonation, when soda water was invented only about 250 years ago? The scientists say it might have been a protective mechanism, to avoid spoiled, fermenting foods.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Ceara Sturgis wants to be in a tuxedo for her senior yearbook picture. And the ACLU is threatening legal action if her photo isn't accepted. Everyone at Ceara's Mississippi high school knows she's a lesbian. She's an honor student, trumpet player and goalie on the school's soccer team. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi says it will take the school district (Copiah County Schools) to court if Ceara can't wear a tux, which is traditionally worn by boys for their yearbook headshots. Ceara's mother notes the girl doesn't even own a dress. District officials are declining comment on the threatened suit.

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