Hide-and-seek turns deadly

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NEW YORK (AP) – A 2-year-old boy was found dead in a plastic storage container in his family’s apartment on Thursday after what his mother called a fatal game of hide-and-seek with his young siblings, police said.

The 24-year-old mother told police that she last saw little Anthony Pena alive at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, when she put him and two siblings, ages 4 and 6, to bed in their Bronx home.

She claimed that during the night the children sneaked out of bed to play hide-and-seek. She said one of the older children apparently put Anthony in the container and went back to sleep without letting him out.

The mother awoke Thursday to discover Anthony’s body inside the container.

She and the boy’s 28-year-old father were questioned by police, but there were no arrests.

The medical examiner was to determine the boy’s cause of death.

Ali buys home near Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Muhammad Ali and his wife, Lonnie, have bought a $1.8 million home that will bring the three-time heavyweight boxing champ closer to his native Louisville.

Mike Fox, president of the Muhammad Ali Center, told The Courier-Journal that the Alis have tried to come to Louisville to visit the center every two or three months, but that travel is becoming increasingly difficult for the 65-year-old Ali, who has Parkinson’s disease.

The couple own a home in Berrien Springs, Mich., that has been for sale and have a home in Phoenix.

Although it is uncertain when the Alis will move, “it is our understanding that at certain times of the year they intend to spend extended time in the community they love,” Fox said.

The Alis were deeply involved in construction of the Ali Center, which is a museum and education center, and in the development of its programs.

The couple have closed on the $1,875,000 home in eastern Jefferson County, according to property records.

Elizabeth Taylor gives to Hillary

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Elizabeth Taylor says Sen. Hillary Clinton’s savvy and smarts have won her support.

The actress announced Thursday she’ll give $2,300, the legal limit, to the New York senator’s presidential campaign.

“I have contributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign because she has a mind of her own and a very strong one at that,” Taylor said in a statement issued by spokesman Dick Guttman. “I like the way she thinks. She is very savvy and a smart leader with years of experience in government, diplomacy and politics.”

The announcement came amid speculation about whether Hollywood would embrace the New York senator as much as it did her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

DreamWorks movie studio founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen are throwing a fundraiser next month for a Clinton rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Katzenberg has endorsed Obama, but Spielberg remains undecided, said their political adviser, Andy Spahn.

Spielberg and other Los Angeles bigwigs are co-hosting a fundraiser for Clinton in the spring, according to her spokesman, Phil Singer.

Senior federal official resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) – Robert Joseph, the State Department’s senior arms control and security official, has resigned.

Joseph submitted his resignation to President Bush amid uncertainty about the future of negotiations to curb nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. Talks on both fronts have moved slowly, with U.N. penalties against both countries showing limited results. The talks are in recess.

Still, in an interview Thursday, Joseph said, “I think we have a very good record.”

He cited Libya’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction and the dissolution of a network headed by A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani scientist who leaked weapons technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Runaway bride: The musical

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) – The story of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is becoming a rock opera.

The show is scheduled to open in October at Duluth’s Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center.

Mark Pitt, the theater’s owner, says the show will not spoof Wilbanks’ infamous disappearance before her scheduled 2005 wedding. Instead, it will show how the community came together and bonded over the experience, which included a massive search for Wilbanks before she turned up a few days later.

Wilbanks and her then-fiance, John Mason, will only be minor characters, Pitt said.

“The story is more about the city and the tenacity and camaraderie of its citizens,” he said.

Initial reactions to the upcoming show have been mixed, ranging from laughter to shock.

Oops, jackpot was just a mistake

BENSALEM, Pa. (AP) – Stephen Wilkinson was feeding 50 cents a pull into a slot machine at a new Pennsylvania casino when the machine lit up and started blaring music.

An on-screen message told Wilkinson – by name – that he had won $102,000 in a power play jackpot. The woman next to him screamed with excitement.

But Wilkinson’s six-figure payday was short-lived. Casino officials soon informed the retired carpenter that the message was sent in error. “They offered me two comps for the buffet,” said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson suffered his reversal of fortune on Monday, less than a month after 2,100 slot machines went into operation at Philadelphia Park, a racetrack just outside Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Park spokesman Andrew Becker confirmed that Wilkinson had received the message on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine. Wilkinson’s name appeared in the message because he was using a casino-issued players card to track his bets.

“It was just an error in the communication system – an unfortunate one, I might add,” Becker said.

He noted that all machines carry a disclaimer telling players that machine malfunctions void all pays and plays. But he acknowledged that the mistake appears to have been in the casino’s computerized in-house communications system, not in the machine.

Wilkinson, who said he had visited the casino about 15 times, has filed a complaint with Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

“If this is a violation of internal controls, they (the casino) will be heavily fined and sanctioned,” board spokesman Doug Harbach said.



AP Photo ILCHT101

CHICAGO (AP) – The most imaginative Super Bowl ad might not appear on television, but on Jennifer Gordon’s pregnant belly.

The self-professed “die hard” Chicago Bears fan is offering up her nearly nine-months pregnant belly space for advertisers to paint. She’ll showcase it at the Feb. 4 Super Bowl, when the Bears play the Indianapolis Colts in Miami.

All the Chicago woman wants in exchange is two tickets to the game.

Gordon, a publicist, has posted ads online on eBay and Craigslist detailing the ploy.

“I will agree to have your message painted on my belly visible to Super Bowl attendees and the millions of fans around the world who watch,” her Craigslist ad reads.

The going rate for Super Bowl tickets is currently $3,000 to $5,000.

Gordon and her husband Mitch have already booked flights to Florida and have a place to stay. She also has a doctor’s note giving her permission to fly, she said.

“I thought it was brilliant,” Mitch Gordon said. “It’s certainly cheaper than a Super Bowl ad. Isn’t this what fanatics do?”

So far, Gordon has received about 45 inquiries.

The 35-year-old mom-to-be has only one condition.

“I have my standards,” she said. “It can’t have anything to do with Indianapolis or the Colts.”

AP-ES-01-25-07 0547EST

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