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March 2008

20 March 2008

After one of their tanks crashed through a villager's home in the Urals, the Russian army explained that the tracked vehicle had slid on melting ice. The official explanation was later amended: the tank broke and fell behind a column headed for military exercises. 'The crew acted in good faith to catch up with its unit,' said Colonel Konstantin Lazutkin. However, a mobile phone video shows what happened after the encounter with the house: a laughing tank driver trying to climb aboard to join the rest of the drunken crew after having purchased two more bottles of vodka at a local shop.

Ever since their honeymoon in February, Wang and wife Luo from Hubei province had done little but fight, according to China's Xinhua news agency. On the night of 4 March, 'in frustration they together drank a bottle of liquor to ease their anger', the report said. After Luo watched her husband get into bed without cleaning or washing his feet, she angrily and drunkenly set fire to his sheets. He awoke, the pair fought once more, and Wang passed out in inebriation. When the fire grew too hot for Luo, she exited the room and left Wang to burn to death. She confessed after her arrest.

Authorities in Ness City, Kansas, report that a 36-year-old man contacted them to report that 'there was something wrong with his girlfriend'. The 35-year-old woman had been sitting on his toilet for two years, telling him each day when he brought food to her that she would come out 'maybe tomorrow'.
Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said that the disoriented woman, whose skin appeared to have grown around the seat, indicated that she didn't need any help but finally acquiesced, so 'we pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital'. The county attorney will determine whether the boyfriend is to be charged.

Police in Chile have discovered an 85-metre tunnel stopping about 30 metres shy of an interior yard at the Colina II prison near Santiago. The large concrete-and-wooden-beam tunnel, featuring a ventilation system, noise barriers, and electrical power, was the brainchild of two inmates' wives. They had hired four miners to build an escape tunnel from a nearby house.
Police heard about the tunnel when monitoring prisoners' telephone conversations as part of an investigation into drugs trafficking. Rene Castellon, a deputy director of police detectives, said: 'The tunnel is striking. I don't know of anything like it in police history,'

Reuters reports that Lefkos Hajji of London placed an engagement ring that cost him about 6000 pounds in a balloon, which was filled with helium. He planned to give his girlfriend a pin and let her 'pop the question' herself. The events that followed were predictable: as the 28-year-old Hajji headed from the shop with his balloon, the wind pulled it from his hand.
Hajji said that after spending two hours trying to chase the balloon in his car, he 'felt like such a plonker'. Although his girlfriend didn't kill him as he'd predicted, 'she is refusing to speak to me until I get her a new ring'.

Police in Pennsylvania report that a man arrived at a bank in the town of Liberty and sat in his car for about 20 minutes. Then, wearing a ski mask and carrying a rifle, he tried to enter the bank. He hadn't done his homework: this particular bank closes at noon on Thursdays. The man fled the scene, but bank employees had had ample time to note his licence plate number. A 28-year-old man has been jailed in connection with the planned heist.

Finnish authorities were embarrassed after convicted thief Martin Vaiksaar escaped from prison with the aid of knotted bed-sheets and wasn't detected as missing until the next day. He ran 20 kilometres to catch a ferry to Estonia, where he spent the next week in his home town of Paide with his partner. It was then the turn of Estonia's police to be red-faced.
Before Estonian police reported capturing him thanks to 'specific police work', Vaiksaar, 31, told a television crew he met at a restaurant: 'If you look where prisoners go when they escape, most of them go home. That's all a prisoner wants.' After the interview, Vaiksaar asked the television crew to drive him to a police station so he could turn in a lost wallet. Returning from the police station, he said: 'I even told them my name, but they showed no interest in me.' He was detained later in the day after telling passers-by in the centre of Paide that nobody was interested in arresting him.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, police responded to a burglar alarm at a Chinese restaurant to find the till drawer open. When they sought information from Terrence Middleton, 30, who was walking down the street, he dropped a few coins and a prison identification card. His pockets contained about $20 in coins - the amount stolen from the till. Also in his pockets were two fortune cookies, of a type used at another Chinese restaurant, which had been broken into 14 minutes earlier. Apparently, nothing else had been taken from that restaurant.

In Lambertville, Michigan, a Monroe County sheriff's detective set out to catch an arsonist. While on the stakeout, Detective Thomas Redmond caught the 17-year-old suspect in an unexpected location - beside Redmond's unmarked cruiser with a bucket, syphoning petrol from the tank. Redmond got out of the car and gave chase. The teenager was arrested and admitted to the two arson attacks under investigation as well as three more.

Joan Kennedy Biddle, 77, has sued the city of Tampa, Florida, for not repaying a loan. When she produced the city's promissory note for $300. city attorney David Smith said that the claim would not stand up in court, Biddle's lawyer responded that the state had had no statutes on the books concerning the validity of such notes at the time of its issue: 21 June 1861, during the Civil War. Biddle is suing the city for $22.7 million - the amount of the loan plus eight per cent annual interest.


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