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Morning Rundown


The Miami Herald's Kathleen McGrory recounts the near-slaying of 81-year-old James Bertakis by a flying stingray:

The spotted eagle stingray leaped out of the water, slid across the bow of the boat and collided with him in mid-air, family members said.

A friend of the family, also on the boat, said she was startled by Bertakis' screams and turned around to find the fish sitting in Bertakis' lap.

Before he could swat it away, the stingray stuck its toxic barb into Bertakis' chest. The sting left him bloodied and in excruciating pain, paramedics said.

But he took control of the boat and dashed back to his nearby home on the canal. Bertakis then called 911, according to family members.

That's a hell of a meeting -- a crazy stingray and a guy who has got to be one of the strongest codgers in the history of weird America. I mean the guy gets stabbed by the ray and then drives the boat home and calls 911? What were his relatives and friends doing? Probably just gawking at the old guy go.

Say what you will about stingrays, but they apparently have terrific aim. Like the one that got Steve Irwin, this one wound up getting into the heart, where McGrory tells us it "each beat of Bertakis' heart was drawing the barb deeper into the muscle." Nice writing. Amazing story. Here's hoping the best for Bertakis.

After the jump: Surfing (The Web) In Cuba and More Foley Follies

-- Also in the Herald, Frances Robles writes about a Reporters Without Borders investigation into Internet use on Cuba. And the French journalist who posed on the island under the pseudonym "Claire Voeux," to test the limits of Castro's Web was surprised to find that Cubans enjoyed almost "unfettered access." There was a catch, though. Wrote "Voeux" in her report: ''But then when I opened an e-mail that had the names of dissidents on it, this pop-up warning came on saying the program would switch off in a few seconds. I thought, 'No way!' It was like a spy movie.''

-- Anthony Mercieca, the priest who molested Mark Foley in the late 60s, is apparently talking to any reporter who will give him a jingle on his island home in Gozo outside Italy. WPTV-Channel 5 in West Palm Beach may have gotten the quote of the year from the man once known throughout South Florida as "Father Tony": "It's not something you call, I mean, rape or penetration or anything like that, you know. It was just fondling." Meanwhile, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that an altar boy who served with Foley believed it was an older priest, who hasn't been named, that once tried to open Foley's fly. Jon Ombres said Foley continued visiting that priest, who also let them smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, even after the incident.

And all those free-love hippies thought they were on the cutting edge.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman