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January 2013

16 January 2013

Sarah Childs didn't get along with her neighbours in Denham Springs, Louisiana, so she set up her Christmas lights in the shape of a hand with the middle finger raised. When neighbours complained and an officer told her that she could be fined for breach of the city's obscenity statute, she took the lights down. However, assured of the American Civil Liberties Union's support in an open letter to the local newspaper, she put the lights back up - with a second hand joining the first.
The city responded with tickets, for the display and for simple assault - after she walked down her driveway while singing an obscenity-laced impromptu song about her relations with her neighbours. She took the lights down and then, with the ACLU, sued the city. A judge has now ruled in her favour.

In Norfolk, Virginia, a caller to the emergency services reported seeing a baby lion walking down the street. The Virginia Zoo assured officers that both of its lions were still in custody, but someone was sent to investigate the sighting for safety's sake. The cause of the call turned out to be a three-year-old labradoodle whose owner, Daniel Painter, had shaved him to resemble an area university's lion mascot. Painter says that police have told him several times about the issues that the dog creates, and that members of the public have run away in fear before.

Afghanistan's Din Mohammad is serving 20 years in prison for killing his wife's mother and her siblings last year. Recently, during a conjugal visit, he added his wife herself to that list, strangling her with her veil. After she was found hanging in the room, Mohammad explained to officials that she had been having affairs with other men. His source for this information was his own mother, who has now been brought in for questioning.

In Arapiraca, Brazil, prison guards saw a white cat at the main gate. The interesting part was that its body was wrapped with tape. Beneath the tape, attached to the cat's body, were a mobile phone and charger, a small saw, batteries, and drills. There are at least 263 suspects, everyone held at the facility. A prison spokesperson is quoted as saying: 'It's tough to find out who's responsible for the action as the cat doesn't speak.'

In Newton, Massachusetts, police officers were sent in response to a report of people throwing eggs at a house. It turned out that there were already officers on the scene - as the perpetrators. Five off-duty officers were egging a superior officer's house, according to Interim Police Chief Howard Mintz. At least three officers face discipline over what they characterised as 'a prank, a joke between friends'.

An employee of the US Social Security Administration was reprimanded for creating a hostile work environment at the Baltimore office by continuously 'passing gas and releasing an unpleasant odor'. Over the space of about 12 weeks, co-workers had on 60 occasions complained about the 38-year-old man passing gas. Speaking for the agency, Dorothy Clark said: 'When senior management became aware of the reprimand it was immediately rescinded.'

According to police in Florida, Zachariah Dalton Howard walked to a convenience store in Niceville and allegedly demanded money, telling the clerk that he had a gun under his long coat. The clerk showed the miscreant an empty till, and he left. Howard, 22, was then seen leaving the shop and calling his mother to ask for a ride home. He later explained to authorities that he hadn't planned in advance to rob the shop and that he had hatched the idea while walking there, without thinking about how he would return home.

Elsewhere in Florida, a man has been jailed for the theft of a $1.29 pastry. Brandon C. Phillips, 18, is accused of sticking an Iced Honey Bun down his sweatpants at a 7-Eleven in the Palm Bay Area and then fleeing by bike. With the aid of a police dog, officers found and arrested him. The bun wasn't recovered, but the clerk identified Phillips, and the sweatpants and getaway bicycle matched the description given. Phillips faces charges of retail petty theft, resisting arrest without violence, and resisting in the recovery of merchandise. He is being held on $1,001.29 bond.

In another story from Florida, a man explained that drinking buddy Robert Briley, 44, pestered him with requests for 'a threesome with [Briley's] wife and him all day long', according to Indian River County sheriff's officers. Tired of the requests, the 37-year-old man agreed to have one-on-one sex with Briley's wife. This was the wrong answer, and Briley started swinging a baseball bat at him. Briley has been arrested on charges of aggravated assault.

A Spanish guest at Sweden's Orbaden Konferens & Spa leisure centre became upset because the Santa Claus at the spa didn't match the 'traditional' image. The woman, in her 30s, expected her two children to see a man dressed in red, as shown in her travel agency's brochure, rather than a figure in a grey wolf-skin coat. Thus it was that police were summoned to the spa on Christmas.
Speaking for the spa, Helene Åkerström Hartman said that the woman's case, if any, is against the travel agency. She added that the two children seemed to have enjoyed themselves regardless of the local elf's clothes not matching the colours made popular by Coca-Cola's Claus.

David Zehntner was flying his private aeroplane over his home in Stafford, Virginia, when he noticed a man peering through the home's window. He saw the man, later identified as Gary Haines, steal Zehntner's trailer and leave. Zehntner followed Haines for a time and then reported the incident. Haines was swiftly arrested.

An Ohio high-school teacher claims that she was forced to retire after district administrators transferred her to duties that triggered her phobia of small children.
Maria Waltherr-Willard had taught high-school Spanish and French for over 30 years when the decision was taken to move over to an online-only French programme. The middle school needed someone to teach Spanish. The result, says the 61-year-old former teacher, was life-threatening blood-pressure spikes. She claims discrimination on account of her disability, and administrators claim that she is just after money.

Detroit Police Sergeant Eren Stephens reports that the stolen body of a 93-year-old man was found in a new freezer in his 48-year-old son's home. Relatives claim that the son had been planning to bring the elderly man back to life through the power of prayer.
The father is being returned to the cemetery, and the son was taken into custody.

A man posed as a fire inspector in order to gain entry to three public institutions and steal from them. Christopher Kieter, 26, was identified and caught because he had signed the guest book at the Philadelphia Art Institute the day before returning to liberate two laptops there during his 'fire inspection'.

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© 2013 Anna Shefl