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May 2005

11 May 2005

San Antonio, Texas, leading mayoral candidate and city council member Julian Castro asked his brother Joaquin for help in managing his public appearances. This took the form of Joaquin taking his twin's place in a parade and waving to the crowd. In an explanation to the Associated Press after he was found out, the candidate explained that he had double-booked and didn't intend to deceive anyone. He also said: 'We can't help that we look like each other.'

A security guard at a Fresno, California, apartment complex followed a trail of blood to a car boot, from which he heard banging sounds. The guard rang the police, who released the man trapped within. The man explained that he had been hit on the head and stuffed inside, but he changed his story when items stolen from another vehicle were found in the boot of the car as well. Police said the blood was due to the man cutting himself on the door of a car he'd broken into.
As to how the man ended up in the car boot, Fresno County Sheriff's Lieutenant Louis Hernandez said: 'He popped the trunk from the inside and crawled back there, ransacking every inch. But then he grabs the trunk to heave himself out and closes it on top of him.' Hernandez said in summary: 'Genius. Pure genius.'

Yoshio Nakamura, the speaker of Tokyo's Ome Municipal Assembly, is upset about a photo used in a government public relations bulletin. He was among those shown in a picture of the mayor giving a speech in the assembly room. Nakamura is unhappy because his eyes were closed in the photo. He has filed suit against the city for 1.5 million yen (about EUR 11,000) and demanded that the bulletin carry an apology for the choice of photo and its implication. Nakamura, 77, added: 'I was deep in thought, not sleeping.'

Also in Japan, a 39-year-old teacher at Kaimon Municipal Junior High School got into trouble for being impatient during an art lesson on colours for first-year students (ages 11-12). The teacher admitted that when he asked a boy what his favourite colour was and the boy hesitated, apparently because most of the major colours had already been listed, he produced a paper cutter and told the student: 'I'll slash you if you can't answer.' Later in the lesson, he showed the paper cutter to two girls as well. According to Mainichi Shimbun, the teacher later apologised and explained: 'I did it to speed up the class.'

The Pretoria News reports that South Africa's Ann Margarette Fegen, 35, applied for her first passport without incident but was surprised when she received the document, which used an 'M' to denote her sex. Her other information was correct. She said: 'I thought of going back to the home affairs office to ask that they rectify the mistake; I never expected things to get worse when I got there.' She said she was told she would have to get a hand-written letter from a district surgeon in order to establish that she had not undergone a sex change. When she thought the worker was joking, he wrote the instructions down for her. The office has not issued a statement on the incident.

A Brisbane court heard that 21-year-old Shannon David Campbell was at a party when he thought it would be a good idea to play with a friend's rifle. With other friends encouraging him, he discharged the weapon, accidentally shooting Michael Hartman in the leg. The court heard that Hartman was so intoxicated that he went back to sleep after the bullet lodged in his leg, where it remains. Judge Julie Ryrie, who described the group at the party as 'stupid young men', placed Campbell on a 12-month probation order.

Washington's Julie Anderson, 48, apparently was displeased with a haircut she received at her regular salon, Stage 1 in Richland. According to Police Captain Mike Cobb, she returned to the salon and, when her regular stylist arrived, pulled a gun on her and demanded $100. Salon employees gave her the money. Anderson began to drive away but decided to fire at least one shot into the rear window of the stylist's car first. She threw the gun through the broken window and headed to another hair salon in the area for a trim to fix a bad haircut from some time ago. Cobb said she apparently paid with some of the money from Stage 1. She was arrested when she left the salon and could face charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree malicious mischief.

Police in Norway said two men broke into an ambulance boat near Askvoll and, when the burglar alarm alerted the crew, made a quick exit and got into their getaway vehicle, a small rowboat. Deputy Sheriff Arnt Johnny Langeland told the state radio network NRK: 'They didn't have much of a chance. They were rowing in opposite directions.' In a slow-speed chase, the ambulance boat and a local ferry approached the rowboat, shining their spotlights on the small craft as it travelled in small circles. When the two men eventually made it to land, they were taken into custody.

The New York Post reports that Brooklyn's Holiam Clement Ho ran a red light in lower Manhattan. He tried to get out of the traffic ticket by offering $100 to the officer who pulled him over. Wanting witnesses to attempted bribery, the officer told Ho that two other cops wanted to be paid off as well. Obliging, Ho handed the others $100 each, and in exchange he received a free trip to jail - where he offered $100 to the police inspector who was questioning him. Ho faces up to seven years in jail.

Asked by a white goods manufacturer to develop a unique Father's Day gift, Spanish inventor Pep Torres created a washing machine that uses fingerprint recognition technology in an attempt to ensure that the same person doesn't wash the clothes twice in a row. Torres said of the invention, called 'Your Turn': 'I wanted to come up with an invention to enable men to do more around the home.'

Authorities placed New Mexico's Marshall Junior High on lock-down in response to a 911 call reporting a student carrying a suspicious package that could be a weapon. Officers were stationed on rooftops, and nearby streets were closed. In the end, sheriff's officers and state and local police didn't find the culprit; he turned himself in, two hours after the scare began. Realising what the fuss was probably about, eighth-grader Michael Morrissey brought his 76 cm burrito to the school office. The giant burrito, part of an extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising for a product, was confiscated.
Principal Diana Russell said she 'didn't know whether to laugh or cry'.

Baltimore police detective Gregory Jenkins ended his incident report with: 'Again, this really happened.'
First, Sunday Smith reported on 20 April that a gunman ordered her and a friend out of their car, then drove off with it. Two weeks later, the police received another call: Smith had found the car parked near where it had been stolen. It was promptly towed to a police station. Two hours later, the police received a third call concerning the vehicle. Gregory Alston, 20, wished to report it stolen. When officers brought Alston to the station, he told Deputy Maj. Jim Rood that he'd bought the car in March. Rood didn't buy this story, as Alston 'didn't know who he bought it from [...] he didn't know anything - so finally he just owned up' and admitted to stealing Sunday's car. As to why Alston chose to report the disappearance of the vehicle, Jenkins explained in his report that Alston had left his wallet inside and 'was trying to retrieve it without drawing suspicion to himself'.

Laurie Ralston applied for a job as a dispatcher for the Amherst, Ohio, police department. When she was called in for an interview, it wasn't what she had expected. The police had done a background check on her and learned that she was wanted for failing to appear in court and driving without a licence. She had 17 traffic convictions. 'It was just a little excessive to have that type of background and try to get a shot at this type of job', Lieutenant Joseph Kucirek said. After her arrest, Ralston said she didn't know that the police were looking for her.

North Dakota's Grand Forks Herald reports that Fargo pizza delivery driver Atif Yasin had a pizza to deliver but no-one answered the door. After Yasin rang the pizza orderer's mobile telephone, he came to the door in his boxer shorts, took the pizza, and began looking for money. Not finding any, he offered to pay with marijuana. When Yasin said he would need either money or the pizza, the man punched him in the face. Police Sergeant Shannon Ruziska said the officers who later arrested the 21-year-old suspect found him to be intoxicated.

Christie's International and Sotheby's Holdings both spent a considerable sum on sales pitches for Japanese executive Takashi Hashiyama's art collection, which included a Cezanne landscape expected to sell for as much as $12 million. Hashiyama said he was unable to decide between the two prestigious auction houses. He asked them to make the decision themselves, and their representatives were reportedly not thrilled at being asked to play 'rock, paper, scissors' for the contract. They did do so, though, using paper ballots. The New York Times reported that the 11-year-old twin daughters of a Christie's employee suggested scissors because 'everyone expects you to choose "rock"'. The strategy paid off: scissors cut paper.

Oklahoma's Enid News & Eagle reported that a woman in the small town of Kremlin discovered that her television, hi-fi, and video recorder had been stolen over the weekend. Undersheriff Jerry Miles reported that the woman contacted deputies again on Monday night, to report that a second break-in had now occurred. She returned to the home to find that the stolen items were back and all of the cables plugged in. The intruder(s) also repaired a door jamb that had been damaged in the first break-in. Niles said of the de-burglary: 'It was spooky.'

The Romanian press have reported that thieves have constructed at least one complete fake automatic teller machine. Normally, illicit capturing of account details is done using a fake panel placed over a legitimate cash machine. One or more fake ATM showed up at residential buildings and in areas of Bucharest where there are no banks. Police are following up the incidents. Cornel Cojocaru, spokesman for the country's largest bank, told Reuters that customers should be careful and bear in mind that 'banks do not install ATMs in blocks of flats'.

Police in Manchester, New Hampshire, say that Lillian Carter, 84, went to Elliot Hospital to collect her son Ron, 49, at his dismissal from the facility. Driving to the hospital's entrance, she hit the accelerator pedal rather than the brake. The car sped forward and struck her son as he was walking to meet her. The car then connected with a concrete pillar. Ron Carter was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries, and his mother too is now a patient there.

Brandon Fizer, a 23-year-old worker at Kohl's Frozen Custard in Wilmington, North Carolina, lost part of a finger in an accident involving a mixing machine, the shop's second such accident in a year. As other workers tried to help Fizer, a drive-through attendant, who didn't know what had happened, scooped custard from the bucket that Fizer had been working with and served Clarence Stowers a container of chocolate custard. When Stowers returned home, he discovered something in the custard. He said: 'I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream [...]. So I said, "OK, well, I'll just put it in my mouth and get the ice cream off of it and see what it is."' After doing so, he screamed, returned to Kohl's, and found out what had happened half an hour earlier. He refused to give the section of finger to Cape Fear Hospital officials who had hoped to reattach it. He instead put it in his freezer and has been taking it out to show to television cameras.

The media in Utah report that two brothers contacted the authorities to report a break-in at their apartment. When sheriff's deputies arrived, they found a pound of marijuana, two pounds of psychedelic mushrooms, an ounce of cocaine, scales, and a rifle and two handguns, all lying in plain sight. Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sergeant Darren Carr said one of the brothers claimed that these items were randomly planted by the burglars. Carr said the man argued: 'Do you think I'd be stupid enough to call police if I had drugs lying around the house?' Carr said that detectives believe the intruders who kicked the door in were drug associates of the brothers.

Florida's WFTV reports that, after sinus surgery, an Orange County undercover deputy went to Florida Hospital for an injection of the pain medicine Demerol into the muscles of his hip. The officer told WFTV: 'There was a lot of pain. I complained several times that something was wrong in my buttock, hip, in the area I got the shot.' Months later, he had surgery to remove a mass that had built up at the injection site. He later stated: 'When Dr. Nawiki came to me and said we took some glitter-looking stuff out of my buttock, I was shocked.' Indeed, an analysis revealed 'green and red sparkling material' - cosmetic glitter. The man has been hospitalised 12 more times since and is suing Florida Hospital.

The BBC reported that chef Matthew Stevens picked up a flannel to clean behind a freezer and was bitten twice in the hand by a spider that had been under the cleaning rag. Stevens, 23, used his mobile to take a photo of the arachnid for co-workers as proof of his story. His hand then began to swell. When he later began to shake and grew dizzy, he sought medical attention and was sent home to rest. An ambulance later took him to Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital, where the photo was used to identify the culprit as the highly poisonous Brazilian wandering spider, thought to have reached the restaurant in a shipment of bananas. Stevens was successfully treated and a week later had recovered from the bite.
A statement from the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust indicated that the spider, which was captured and brought to the hospital during the chef's stay there, 'was released into the grounds as it was believed to be a domestic species'.

José de la Cruz Torres Jiménez, 35, was doing farm work near Mani, Mexico, when a small poisonous snake known as a bolonpet bit his hand. He told daily newspaper Reforma: 'It made me very angry when the snake bit me, so I grabbed it and bit the tail.' The snake then bit his other hand and, in the exchange of bites that followed, the area around his mouth. Diario de Yucatán reports that a woman removed him from the scene and helped him to the hospital, where doctors saved his life.


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