STOCKHOLM — Belarus' top security agency — the KGB — has summoned a Swedish advertising team for questioning after the group air-dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears that carried pro-human rights messages onto the soil of the authoritarian ex-Soviet state. The agency threatens the Swedes with fines or even jail time if they don't show up in 10 days.
The July 4 teddy bear drop by Studio Total infuriated Belarus' autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko, who fired two generals over it. It also may have added stress to already deteriorating diplomatic relations between Stockholm and Minsk. Earlier this month, Belarus effectively expelled Sweden's ambassador and ordered the Nordic state to close its embassy.
The summons, signed by an investigator named P. Tsernavsky and posted on the KGB's website Saturday, says the agency is investigating the "criminal case" of the ad group's "illegal crossing" into Belarusian airspace. The KGB said it wants the Swedes to participate in its "investigative actions" so it can clarify the role each person played and help it decide how to deal with two Belarusian men accused of aiding the Swedes.
One of the Belarusian suspects, a journalism student, was arrested after he posted photos of the teddy bears on his personal website; the other is a real estate agent who is said to have offered the Swedes an apartment when they visited Belarus some time before the stunt.
If the Swedes don't show up within 10 days, the agency said they could face a fine or "correctional work for up to two years, or imprisonment for up to six months."
Studio Total co-founder Tomas Mazetti, who piloted the plane in the teddy bear drop, said he received the summons via email, and that it demands he and two colleagues, Hannah Frey and Per Cromwell, appear.
It's "a bit cute and tragic at the same time," he said. "They just expect us to show up just because they say so."
Mazetti told The Associated Press that the group wants legal advice before deciding what to do, and that the team members would likely demand guarantees that they would not be detained if they showed up. "We have nothing against helping them in their investigation to clarify just how we did it," he said.
Studio Total has previously staged attention-grabbing campaigns by burning up stacks of cash and setting up a fake sex-school in Austria. Mazetti said it orchestrated the non-commercial air-drop of the 879 teddy bears to shine a light on Belarus' poor record on human rights and freedom of speech and to embarrass its military, a pillar of Lukashenko's power.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus, a nation of 10 million, since 1994, repressing opposition groups and independent news media while preserving a quasi-Soviet economy with about 80 percent of industry in state hands. He has earned the nickname in the West of "Europe's last dictator."
LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — Nudist resorts have a reputation for attracting older adults, but one Florida park is trying to change that.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Sunsport Gardens is holding a weekend bash aimed at attracting nudists ages 18 to 30. The Florida Young Naturist's Fourth Annual End of Summer Naked Bash is slated to be a celebration of nudity and body acceptance.
Sunsport Gardens principal shareholder Morley Schloss tells the paper the park has been trying to bring in younger members with lower prices, 24-hour hot tubs and Friday night drum circles.
The gathering at the 40-acre Loxahatchee park is expected to gather several hundred young adults. Nudist resorts around the country have been working to attract a younger crowd.
INDIANA, Pa. — A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with possessing an instrument of crime — a bag of shredded counterfeit money — after police say he handed it to them when they went to his house on an unrelated disturbance call last year.
Thirty-nine-year-old Peter Letso, of Indiana, Pa., was charged by state police only this week because crime lab experts and the U.S. Secret Service have been examining the bag's contents to determine what it contained.
Police say they were answering a disturbance call on Sept. 10, when Letso told troopers he knew why they were there and handed over the bag. Police haven't explained why Letso did that or how he allegedly obtained the counterfeit money.
Online court records don't list an attorney for Letso, who also doesn't have a listed phone.
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The "squirrelly" configuration of a western Pennsylvania road helped cause a state road crew to paint a double-yellow line over a dead raccoon.
Motorcyclist Sean McAfee snapped a photo of the mistake before it could be cleaned up and submitted it to the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown.
He says he almost crashed, he was laughing so hard.
PennDOT spokesman John Ambrosini says paint crews usually have a foreman on the job who clears away any dead animals before the paint-spraying truck equipment passes by. This crew didn't have a foreman and the equipment was too big to turn around in traffic, remove the animal and repair the paint. He says the "the squirrelly geometry" of the narrow road didn't help.
But the crew did try to stop the paint gun.
WASHINGTON — Musician Seth Horvitz is used to tickling the ivories, not squeezing a trigger.
So when a UPS delivery worker dropped off a military-grade semiautomatic rifle instead of the flat-screen TV he had ordered from an Amazon.com third-party seller, he didn't dare touch it at first.
"When I first identified it as a rifle, as a serious weapon, I was just shocked and confused," Horvitz said Thursday. "I didn't ever really imagine this kind of mix-up could happen."
Horvitz, 38, wasn't immediately alarmed by the long rectangular box a UPS delivery worker had dropped off in the hallway of his apartment building Tuesday. While he knew it wasn't the right shape or size to hold the 39-inch TV he had ordered, he said he thought maybe it contained a television stand or accessories and that the actual monitor would be delivered later.
But when he opened the box, he found a fully assembled rifle in a plastic bag, surrounded by foam.
Horvitz said he called the police, who confiscated the gun and told him it was illegal in the District of Columbia to handle such a weapon.
He also contacted Amazon, UPS, the seller and his credit card company. At first, he said, "No one claimed any responsibility."
The seller of the television has refunded Horvitz and is now involved in filing a claim with UPS and reporting the package as lost, Horvitz said.
Horvitz said he believes the mix-up to be a shipping error, especially since there were multiple UPS labels on the box and an invoice inside indicating that the company, GunBuyer.com, intended for it to be delivered to a gun store in Duncansville, Pa.
"I got my money back and I'm happy to be absolved of the situation at this point," he said.
No one from Amazon or UPS immediately returned emails seeking comment.
ATHENS, Ga. — A Georgia man told police he fears a dog ate his false teeth after a fight with his roommate.
Police say the 49-year-old Athens man told them that his roommate threw the teeth out the door in a fit of rage.
The Athens Banner-Herald reports that police were called to the man's home on Norwood Circle around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. The man told officers that his 28-year-old roommate grabbed his false teeth off a table and threw them outside.
Police say the teeth are valued at $300.
SALT LAKE CITY — A moose was freed from a strange backyard entanglement thanks to a brave Utah deputy and a pair of cutters.
Sgt. Lane Findlay found himself face to face with the moose whose antlers were wrapped up in a backyard swing set this weekend.
The Weber County Sheriff's deputy got the call Aug. 5 and responded to a residential community outside Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City. He said the moose appeared in distress, and was bleeding.
Findlay said he handed his mobile phone to an onlooker and asked the person to shoot video, telling him, "If something happens to me, give this to my wife."
The video shows the moose twisting in an attempt to free its antlers from the metal chains of the swing as Findlay cautiously approaches with the cutters. He clips the chain links one by one until the moose finally pulls free and wanders off with minor injuries.
Findlay said he initially called wildlife officials but was told it might take an hour for them to respond.
"I just made the decision to go in there and see what I could do," he said Wednesday. "Fortunately, the moose was tired and it didn't seem threatened."
Once free, the moose trotted to a nearby bucket of water and began drinking, "then he collapsed right there on the ground," Findlay said.
He said he spent about an hour spraying down the animal with a hose while waiting for wildlife officials to arrive and assess the moose's health.
"Pretty crazy stuff," he said. "This is certainly a first for me, and hopefully a last."
DENVER — A bear in a candy store is nothing like a bull in a china shop. At least not this one.
A black bear went in and out of a Colorado candy store multiple times early one July morning, but he used the front door and didn't break a thing.
The bear did, however, steal some treats from the Estes Park store, including English toffee and some chocolate-chip cookies dipped in caramel and milk chocolate called "cookie bears."
Surveillance video at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory showed the bear prying open the door and grabbing some candy near the registers. He took the treats outside and ate them, then returned for more.
The bear made seven trips in about 15 minutes, finally leaving after a passing car apparently scared him away.
Store owner Jo Adams said Wednesday the bear managed to pop open the door because the deadbolt wasn't completely secured.
She said the only evidence her mindful visitor left behind was some dirt on a counter and some paper on the ground. There weren't even any wrappers, so she assumes he ate those too.
"He was very clean and very careful. He ate a lot of candy," said Adams of the bear break-in, first reported by the Estes Park News.
JERUSALEM — It's the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don't have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.
In an effort to maintain their strictly devout lifestyle, the ultra-Orthodox have separated the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces in their neighborhoods. Their interpretation of Jewish law forbids contact between men and women who are not married.
Walls in their neighborhoods feature signs exhorting women to wear closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. Extremists have accosted women they consider to have flouted the code.
Now they're trying to keep them out of clear sight altogether.
The ultra-Orthodox community's unofficial "modesty patrols" are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few meters so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry — including women. It's not known how many have been sold.
For men forced to venture outside their insular communities, hoods and shields that block peripheral vision are also being offered.
The glasses are going for the "modest" price of $6.
LONDON — Note to self: A microwave is for leftovers, not your boxers.
British firefighters say they saved an apartment from destruction after its domestically challenged resident tried to dry his wet socks and underwear in a microwave oven.
The Dorset Fire and Rescue Service says firefighters rescued the man from his home and extinguished the kitchen blaze Monday.
The fire destroyed the appliance along with the two pairs of underwear and socks inside it, and caused smoke damage to the apartment in Weymouth, a town on England's southwest coast.
"The fire safety message here is to never put clothing of any kind in the microwave or an oven to attempt to dry them," the Dorset firefighters said in a statement.
TOLEDO, Ohio — An Ohio woman has been convicted of letting her 11-year-old niece get behind the wheel to move closer to a gasoline pump, leading to a fiery crash.
Twenty-nine-year-old Lashawnda Braddy of Toledo pleaded no contest Aug. 3 to disorderly conduct and was found guilty by Municipal Judge Amy Berling.
She was sentenced to time served since the accident two weeks ago.
Authorities say she allowed her niece to get behind the wheel to inch closer to a gas pump.
According to The (Toledo) Blade, the girl lost control of the vehicle and hit the pump, causing a fire. No one was hurt.