The Odd Side – November 18, 2014

California Cat Cafe Is Catnip for Feline Fans

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Cat lovers in Northern California are pouncing at the chance of spending time with feline company at a new cat cafe in Oakland.

Cat Town Cafe is giving dozens of visitors a chance to mingle with furry friends while sipping coffee and nibbling on cat-themed cookies.

The cafe opened last month and has been full since opening day. It was inspired by the cat cafe craze in Japan, where many people live in cramped high-rise apartments that don’t allow pets.

While making feline friends became popular therapy for lonely or anxious workers in Japan, the Oakland coffee shop puts the focus on the animals.

The tuxedo, orange tabby and Siamese cats napping or stretching in the sun in Cat Town come from a local shelter and are available for adoption.

“Most of them have been at the shelter for four months or more. So as much as this is a super fun experience, it’s really a mission-driven project to get the cats out of the shelter and into great homes,” said Ann Dunn, founder of Cat Town Oakland, a nonprofit group that helps place cats least likely to be adopted from the Oakland Animal Shelter.

She said there were 14 adoptions in their first 12 days.

For a $10 donation to the organization, visitors get one hour of kitty company in the cafe, where they can play with felines, scratch their backs and watch them nap. Each person is given a designated window of time to make sure there are not too many people at once in the room painted with cartoon-like, bright murals of cats.

Cat naps are very popular at the cafe, but Christina Souza, who visited on a recent afternoon, didn’t seem to mind.

“I think it’s fun. It’s great. It’s exciting,” Souza said. “Why not have more venues where cats can let out their fun personalities?”

Cat cafes are now open in London, Vienna and Paris, and Cat Town’s founders believe their coffee shop is the first of its kind in the United States. That may change soon — a half dozen cat cafes are set to open in the U.S. next year, most of them along the West Coast.

Tenn. Sheriff Pays Ransom for Case Files

DICKSON, Tenn. (AP) – The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office in Middle Tennessee ended up paying a ransom after a malicious computer program blocked access to their files.

Detective Jeff McCliss told WTVF that malware on a computer locked the agency’s case files, which included reports, witness statements and crime scene photos. He says the malware doesn’t tamper with files on a computer, but keeps them locked until a ransom is paid.

After consulting with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, McCliss said the agency determined the only way to get their files back was to pay the asking price: $500 in bitcoins.

Officials think the malware came from an ad someone in the department clicked on. McCliss says it doesn’t appear that the office was targeted.

Tractor-Trailer Stuck in Park, Driver Blames GPS

MILWAUKEE (AP) – A man who drove his tractor-trailer onto a walkway at a Milwaukee park, getting it stuck on a foot bridge, says his GPS device is to blame.

The driver has been cited for reckless driving and failing to obey road signs, which carry nearly $580 in fines.

Milwaukee County sheriff’s officials say the Indiana man drove the truck onto a walkway last Tuesday afternoon at Lake Park. The truck had a 53-foot trailer.

The truck got hung up on a peninsula behind the North Point Lighthouse along Milwaukee’s lakeshore. The mishap damaged several trees and concrete railings on two pedestrian bridges.

Crews were able to remove the truck Wednesday afternoon.

Calif. Newspaper Asks Reporters To Help With Deliveries

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – One of California’s largest newspapers has asked reporters and other employees to help deliver papers on Sundays, according to a memo obtained by Reuters, the latest sign of the toll that financial woes are taking on print journalism.

The Santa Ana-based Orange County Register, which recently stopped contracting with rival Los Angeles Times for delivery services, is offering $150 gift cards to staff members if they deliver 500 to 600 papers, according to the memo sent on Thursday, which was confirmed by the paper’s top editor.

“The entire company — all departments, including our newsroom — has been asked to help during what has clearly been a difficult situation,” editor Rob Curley said in an email to Reuters. “It’s strictly voluntary.”

Employees have also been asked to help out in customer service, personally telephoning subscribers who had not been able to reach a live agent, according to the memo sent to the staff.

“It’s unusual, yes,” Curley told Reuters. “It’s frustrating that we’re even in this position. But it’s temporary. Bottom line: all of us want our loyal readers to get their papers first thing in the morning.”

Register publisher Rich Mirman on Friday said that most of the paper’s delivery routes are now covered, but that a few are “affected by intermittent or late delivery.”

 Ark. Teen Arrested After Failed Attempt at Driver’s License

LITTLE ROCK Ark. (Reuters) – An Arkansas teenager’s attempt to land a driver’s license landed him in jail after he was charged with driving to the test site without a license and smashing into a state trooper’s patrol car and a house when trying to flee.

Damontay Wright, 19, was seen by police driving himself to a test site on Monday in Jonesboro. But when a state trooper approached Wright to issue a citation for driving without a license the teenager fled, the police said on Thursday.

Wright’s vehicle then struck a state police car, causing minor damage. With state and local officers in high-speed pursuit Wright attempted to navigate an intersection, but lost control of his car and plowed into a residence, police reports said.

Damage to the house was estimated at $20,000, the reports said.

Wright, who was not injured, was taken to jail and on charges including felony fleeing. Police said the license plate on Wright’s car had been reported stolen.