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July 2006

4 July 2006

Final-year students at New York's Northport High School are asked to pick a quotation to appear under their picture in the school's yearbook. Principal Irene McLaughlin has apologised for the school allowing the quotations chosen by two 18-year-old students to be printed: 'Strength lies not in defense, but in attack' and 'The great masses of people [...] will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one', attributed to Adolf Hitler. A written apology is to be sent to parents, and the two students might be subject to disciplinary action. The pages in question might be reprinted, another option being to offer special tape to people who wish to cover the quotations.

An Ann Arbor, Michigan, couple said they were in their flat discussing marriage when the man said that taking risks is an important part of life. The woman then dared him to leap from the first-floor window and run across the street in the buff. Before returning to the flat, he hid in the bushes to avoid being seen by passers-by, one of whom then noticed a rustling in the bushes and, with a gun drawn, ordered their occupant to come out of hiding. A chase ensued, with the gun-wielding man threatening to shoot, claiming to be an Army drill sergeant, and firing a 'warning shot', which prompted the fleeing man to hit the ground, bruising himself in a few places. Police, responding to a nearby resident's report, arrested the gunman, who is apparently neither in the Army nor licensed to carry the firearm. The naked man was not arrested.

Iron County, Utah, Sheriff's detective Jody Edwards said that Nicholas T. Galanis, 47, was approached by officers who wanted to discuss some stolen property. Galanis decided to flee, with his dog, and chose to drive at speed down a nearby rural road, with officers giving chase. 'Deputies could see the dog in the passenger's seat getting slammed into the window' as the car headed down the bumpy dirt road, Edawrds said. The dog, a pit bull cross, became agitated and bit Galanis in the face, removing part of his nose. He stopped the car and was taken to hospital before being sent to jail.

Brad Coslett, 20, and Brad Selenski, 19, decided not to pay for their food at a restaurant in Moosic, Pennsylvania, so they fled - and fell down a 30-metre embankment nearby. According to the local police, dozens of rescuers were required in order to free the two men, who were taken for treatment of their cuts and bruises.

In Welsh, Louisiana, 51-year-old Joseph Harmon decided not to pay for $60 worth of petrol, so he drove back onto the interstate highway - and into the back of another pickup truck, which was moving slowly due to traffic congestion. He kept going and hit the side of a sport utility vehicle and the rear of a van. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident; the drivers of the other vehicles damaged weren't harmed.

Jody Brian Minor, by reports heavily intoxicated, found a cheque book at a bar in Statesboro, Georgia, and decided to use one of the cheques therein to buy drinks. However, the bartender recognised the name on the cheque as belonging to co-worker Hubble Beasley, who rang the police. The 21-year-old Minor's father has paid the $129 drinks bill.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, have been left frustrated after three robberies of area chemist's shops. In each case, a man rang the shop with a bomb threat and asked that pain medicine OxyContin be prepared for collection. A man showed up a short while later and picked up the OxyContin. What has the police especially frustrated, according to police sergeant Shaun Laird, is that in all three cases the pharmacist didn't ring the police until after the drug had been collected. The culprit remains at large.

North Dakota's Grand Forks Herald reports that an area mother stopped at the Wonder Years 2 day-care centre to pick up her five-month-old baby after work. According to Curt Kreun, owner of the centre, she was told by staff that the child hadn't been dropped off there in the morning. Apparently then realising that she'd forgotten something before going to work, the woman looked in the back of her minivan, where she found the child's body. The incident is under investigation, but no charges are likely.

In September 2004, I reported on the resignation of Oklahoma judge Donald D. Thompson after allegations arose that he had used a penis pump while presiding over civil and criminal cases. He has now faced criminal charges in court.
Court reporter Lisa Foster testified that she began hearing 'shh-shh' sounds in Thompson's courtroom in 2000 and several months later pinpointed the cause. She said: 'it was just sickening to have a grandfather telling about the death of his grand-daughter and there was the judge pumping on his penis.' Courtroom recordings during at least four cases featured such a sound in the background, and Foster soon began marking her stenographer's notes to indicate when the pump was operating.
The defence countered that there were construction workers nearby who could have made the sounds. Thompson - who claimed that the charges were part of a Sapulpa Police Department conspiracy - said the courtroom was too wide open an area for using a penis pump, and the other actions described by various witnesses, including that he shaved his scrotum, clipped his toenails, and shined his shoes while presiding. He said he moved the pump between his bench and chambers but never used it on his penis. He said it didn't work anyway, and prosecutors stressed that stains from seminal fluids were found on only one of his robes.
The latter claim was countered in final arguments, with prosecutor Pattye High holding up Thompson's main robe to show that the pockets had been slit, and attaching the pump to her arm via the vacuum. A jury found Thompson guilty on four counts of indecent exposure in connection with use of one or two penis pumps on the bench and been sentenced to a year in prison and the revocation of his $90,000-a-year pension.

At a police station in Iizuka, southern Japan, officers discovered an unfamiliar box wrapped in newspaper. Prefectural police spokesman Yoichi Oyama said there was no sign that the package had been delivered by post, and it reacted to a metal detector. They evacuated five homes near the station and closed local roads. The bomb disposal team found six cans of beer in the box. Upon hearing of the commotion, a woman in her 80s came forward to admit that she had left the beer in thanks for the police having addressed her safety concerns.

WThe Scotsman reports that a distraught Darren Sutherland, 27, arrived at the Craiglea bed and breakfast, near Mallaig, in the Highlands. Awakend from his slumber, John Bryden came to the door, and Sutherland explained that he was a little bit drunk and had 'smashed up' his van. He asked for a ride and added: 'Don't tell the bobbies.' Bryden told Sutherland to wait a moment for him to get dressed. When Bryden came back downstairs, he was wearing his police uniform, 'including my hat'. Bryden, who wears many hats in addition to that of the remote area's local policeman, handcuffed Sutherland and summoned colleagues to give him a ride. Sutherland's van, which was blocking the road around a sharp bend, was removed.

According to AP reports, Wiman Sukchareon, 32, waited until nightfall and broke into a small grocery in northern Thailand's Uthai Thani province to steal some beer. A police spokesman said that the thief apparently sought cover when hearing the shop's owner apparently waking up; he hid under the shopkeeper's bed. While there, Sukchareon drank some of the stolen beers and passed out. Awakened by loud snoring, the shop's owner rang the police. Sukchareon faces a six-month prison term.

24 July 2006

William Allen Cunningham of Atlanta, Georgia, apparently wanted to get some money from Campbell Soup Company, so he poisoned his three-year-old son's and one-year-old daughter's soup. After his children were taken to hospital, the 40-year-old Cunningham rang the soup company to complain about the soup. The plan didn't work, so he tried again. The third time the children were taken to hospital, the soup was found to have been laced with two anti-depressants. Cunningham was charged with both the poisoning and fraud, and the children are now in their mother's care.

Allstate Insurance provided a truck full of free petrol at a station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a reward to the city for having the safest drivers. Hundreds of motorists, each hoping for $30 of free petrol, queued patiently for hours. However, police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said, two car crashes took place in connection with the event, apparently when people tried to let friends jump the queue. In addition, fights broke out, as the queue stretched into a residential area, preventing some residents from leaving for work in the morning.

Responding to complaints of noise, sheriff's deputies in Aloha, Oregon, knocked on Lorna Jeanna Dudash's door and gave her a warning. After the officers left, Dudash rang 911 and asked that the officers return. When the dispatcher insisted on knowing the reason, Dudash explained that one of the officers was very cute and: 'I'm 45 years old and I'd just like to meet him again.' He did return to her home, to arrest her for abusing the emergency telephone number. She faces a $6,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

A patient at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Texas really wanted to smoke a cigarette. Dallas Fire-Rescue captain Paul Martinez said the man 'somehow got the strength to smoke a cigarette with a non-removable [oxygen] mask'. The resulting fire destroyed the man's room and melted medical equipment while a nurse rescued him from his burning bed and staff evacuated more than 100 other patients. The man was taken to the burn unit at another hospital.

Two Irish men missed their ferry back to Dublin from north Wales so stole a fishing trawler in Holyhead and set sail. After a few hours, they decided to radio the Irish coast guard for help. 'They thought they were just off the coast of Ireland,' said Ray Steadman, press officer of the Holyhead lifeboat in north Wales. In fact, the men had been going in circles and had travelled, in total, about 19 kilometres in the wrong direction. The men were unfamiliar with sailing and 'didn't even know how to switch the cabin lights on', according to Steadman. The British coast guard sent out life boats and a helicopter to rescue them.

History graduate Kieron Keenan, 23, was told that he could not put his name forward in application for a trainee museum assistant's position at Brighton's Royal Pavilion, as he is not of African, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian, or Chinese descent. Brighton and Hove Council have applied the Race Relations Act to block whites from applying for the job as a way of helping to fill quotas for hiring of minorities. A council spokesman said: 'It is lawful to offer training only for people from a certain racial group or to encourage people from that racial group to apply.' Keenan said he is 'very annoyed' that 'I have been automatically barred because of my skin'.

According to Beijing Qingnian Bao, a headmaster at a school in China's Heilongjiang province secretly sold an arboretum of about 1,000 trees surrounding his school. Headmaster Meng decided to secure the other teachers' silence via free food, so his friends obtained two dogs for him to cook at the school. The fire on which they were cooking the dogs got out of control and spread to the school's main office and then classrooms, 10 of which were left unusable. The local education office fined Meng 10,000 yuan (about 1000 euros) and suggested that he be discharged, the newspaper said.

A man whose car broke down in a remote area of Australia, near Esperance, figured that no-one would stop to help him if he were standing up, so he lay down on the highway. Doug Backhouse, a detective with the Western Australia state police, said a woman swerved to avoid the body, which didn't move, and rang for help. When local police arrived with an ambulance, they found that the man was fine and told him that playing dead in the middle of the road was 'a stupid thing to do'. He was not charged with any offence.


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© 2006 Anna Shefl