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November 2007

4 November 2007

Authorities in Bayonne, New Jersey, explained to Lindsey Miller why her car had suddenly burst into flames outside her home. Firefighters said that a squirrel had been chewing on overhead power lines connected to a transformer above the Toyota Camry. The 23-year-old ex-car-owner's brother, Tony, said: 'The squirrel chewed through the wire, was set on fire, fell down directly to where the car was', and slid into the engine compartment. He said: 'It's something to laugh about once she has a new car. It's not funny yet.'

Brandy Fanning of Syracuse, New York, says that dentist George Trusty's drill bit snapped off while he was working on her teeth and dancing to a song on the radio. Trusty tried to pull the bit out with a metal hook, but that pushed it closer to her left eye. He allegedly then told her she would sneeze out the drill bit naturally. In the end, Trusty set up an appointment with an oral surgeon and told Fanning, 31, to go to the local hospital immediately. She did so and was there for three days for surgery. She is suing Trusty not because of the chronic infections and nerve damage she suffers but because, she says, he broke his promise to pay her medical bills.

A 14-year-old boy explained to the police in Middletown, Ohio, that his mother had dropped him off to see his father for the first time in four years. While the boy and his father, Charles Neal, were taking a walk, Neal asked him to wait while he burgled a home. After the burglary, the boy changed his shirt to throw officers off the trail, while Neal was captured and arrested. The police later found the boy knocking on a door and asking for Neal.

Tourism officials in Hanover, Germany, are facing criticism for a design decision affecting a children's Advent calendar on sale in tourism offices. It is not the appearance of Santa Claus or the Star of Bethlehem that is the problem. Some take issue with the presence of serial killer Fritz Haarmann lurking beside a tree with a meat cleaver in his hand. Hans-Christian Nolte, head of the city's tourism board, explained that Haarmann, who before his execution in 1925 killed 24 young men and dumped the bodies (at least those parts that couldn't be sold as meat) in the Leine river, 'is part of our city's history'.

Elsewhere in Germany, Lower Saxony ministry spokesman Dennis Weilmann reported that a 19-year-old inmate at youth prison escaped by hitching a ride with a 17-year-old fellow inmate who was released from the institution. The 19-year-old woman, who had served all but two weeks of her sentence, simply hid in her friend's suitcase. Neither woman has been caught. Weilmann said: 'Our staff are going to make sure they inspect big suitcases more carefully in the future.'

Many people would be excited and happy if they were to discover a secret room in their home. That was not the case when Kerri and Jason Brown of Greenville, South Carolina, found a hidden room behind a bookcase in the home they'd purchased a few months earlier. In the room was a handwritten note proclaiming 'You found it!' and explaining that the high levels of various moulds in the room were the reason the previous owner had moved out. The Browns filed a lawsuit claiming that several parties had withheld information on the mould, including the real-estate company and its agent Sue Bakx, as well as the Federal National Mortgage Association, which was later dropped from the suit after buying the home from the Browns.

Officers in Monroe, Ohio, stopped a truck because a back wheel was on fire. Driver Richard Waters, 43, had started driving without disengaging the vehicle's emergency brake. This caused the fire as well as a background check on Waters, whom officers recognised from previous encounters. He was arrested for receiving stolen property - the truck was a stolen city vehicle.

Sweden's Sydsvenska Dagbladet reports that a 40-year-old man and his wife were in the process of getting divorced when the man had to travel to the US on business. The wife's father decided to punish him for this decision, since she was feeling unwell and had wanted her husband to stay home and care for the couple's children - so he sent an e-mail message warning the FBI that the businessman had al Qaeda ties. The son-in-law was arrested upon arrival in the US, held for 11 hours, and put on a flight back to Europe. After his computer was identified as the source of the FBI tip, the father-in-law said that he didn't think the US authorities would be 'stupid enough that they would believe anything'. He has been charged with aggravated libel.

Aw Cheng Fatt, 25, was pulled over at a drink-driving checkpoint in Malaysia. A court recently heard that Aw, when taken to the police station for a blood-alcohol test, spoke to a chief inspector about 'settling' the case and handed him the equivalent of about 10 euros. The chief inspector warned Aw against trying to bribe him. When pressed, the inspector did finally take the money - and booked Aw for bribery. The blood-alcohol test showed that Aw was not legally intoxicated.
The judge fined him about 200 euros for attempted bribery.

According to UPI reports, Zimbabwe's Nomatter Tagarira, 35, was given the equivalent of 11,000 euros as well as an armed security detail and a farm in exchange for her work to produce enough oil to meet the country's needs for the next century. Her technique for producing refined diesel fuel - which passed an official government examination - involved hitting a rock with a stick. A second ministerial examination demonstrated, however, that she had simply found an abandoned fuel tanker and run pipes to the area of the rock. An assistant started the flow of fuel to the rock when Tagarira used the stick.

20 November 2007

Japanese transportation firm Nagoya Kanko Nikkyu announced that the 33-year-old driver of one of its passenger buses was caught driving under the influence of alcohol, having convinced someone else to take his required breath test and then set out on the trip from Nagoya to Osaka. As a driver based at his office of the company had been dismissed for drink-driving in August, the driver apparently said under questioning that 'I thought it would be bad if another case was detected'.

A 42-year-old woman was sitting in her sport utility vehicle, parked beside New Hampshire's Saltmarsh Pond, when state fish and game conservation officers decided to check on her. The woman, who was wearing a wedding dress, became upset. She reached for a bag of marijuana. When one of the officers tried to take it from her, the woman drove off - around the car park and then into the pond.
As her SUV began to sink, the officers and someone who lived nearby tried to rescue her. She bit the latter on the arm before finally being brought back to dry ground. She is being charged with driving after suspension, reckless conduct, simple assault, and transporting a controlled drug, according to local police.

Raines Carter, chief solicitor for the municipal court in Atlanta, Georgia, said that city police officers have handed out hundreds of traffic citations that bear two different addresses for the courthouse. One side specifies '150 Garrett St.' and the other '150 Garnett St.'. Carter mentioned one driver who became confused after going to the wrong address to contest a $75 fine and then received an additional $100 fine for missing his court date. Carter said 'To go to that address and not find the courthouse, what's a person to think? I'm so sorry for this person.' City officials said there was little they could do, as the man has paid both fines.

According to the Connecticut Post, a man entered a doughnut shop in the city of Fairfield and claimed to have both a gun and a bomb. He handed the clerk a note threatening to use both devices, then made off with the till. It didn't contain any cash, however, as it wasn't actually the till he drove off with. He escaped with the Dunkin' Donuts outlet's adding machine.

According to UPI reports, Liverpool's Jean Gardner, 74, was trying to reverse out of a car park when the accelerator pedal allegedly jammed. A waiter at nearby restaurant Cafe 23, said: 'The car just shot out of the car park, knocking down a fence, and then it flew over the road in reverse. I was watching it and thinking she wasn't going to stop, and then the next minute it crashed through the railings and into the restaurant." The restaurant managed to complete its grand opening without further mayhem.

A 16-year-old boy in Riverview, Florida, heard that there was money hidden in a local pipe, so he decided to investigate. He and two friends drilled a hole into the pipeline, which carries ammonia to several fertiliser plants. He suffered serious burns, which have landed him in hospital, and about 3700 nearby residents were ordered to evacuate their homes while fire crews spent the night spraying water on the leak to deal with the youths' ammonia cloud. Four firefighters were treated for respiratory problems, and the teenager is expected to be treated to felony charges.

A police officer noticed a truck stuck in the mud at a park in Clio, Michigan. Investigating, the officer found a 13-year-old boy behind the wheel. The boy's 41-year-old father, in the passenger seat, explained that he'd had too much to drink so had let his son drive. Police chief James McLellan said that the boy had been drinking as well and 'even said he didn't want to drive because he was too drunk'. The father faces various charges, and the boy will face a juvenile court.

According to Reuters reports, a German man who was caught collecting welfare payments while holding a grey-market job was sentenced to 720 hours of community service. He was assigned to work as a cleaner at the Evangelical Kindergarten St. Petri in Melle. According to Osnabrück prosecutor's office spokesman Alexander Retemeyer, a colleague 'didn't read the file' so didn't notice that the man had three paedophilia convictions on his record. This information came to light after the head of the kindergarten caught the man fondling himself in front of two children.

Oslo's Leif Harry Ersland was finished with the nail gun he'd borrowed, so he sent the owner a text message: 'the gun is on the cabin steps'. He entered the telephone number incorrectly, though, and the recipient of the message contacted the police. Officers visited Ersland's home and questioned his partner, Hilde Pedersen, about the apparent arms deal for 45 minutes. She said she'd known nothing of the text message and found the experience 'very unpleasant'. Half an hour after leaving, the officers rang to tell her that there had been a misunderstanding.

According to AP reports, a 66-year-old man in Southworth, Washington, who was trying to loosen the final lug nut on the wheel of his car decided to approach the task with a 12-gauge shotgun, from about arm's length. According to Kitsap County Deputy Scott Wilson, the buckshot and debris left him with serious injuries, and he was taken to hospital with wounds from his legs to his chin. Wilson reported that the man was not intoxicated.

Charles Tucker, Jr, apparently wanted to sneak back into his girlfriend's home in St. Augustine, Florida, after she'd kicked him out. The 32-year-old Tucker couldn't fit through her cat door, however, and became stuck. It was there that police officers found him the next morning, dead. Witnesses believe he'd passed out when becoming stuck, since there was no sign of a struggle and his girlfriend apparently hadn't heard him trying to get in. An autopsy is pending.

When Myrna Jones, 65, was at a casino in Yonkers, New York, a video slot machine informed her that she'd won $80 but didn't spit out the winning ticket. A mechanic opened the machine and didn't find the ticket, so a security officer (a plain-clothes state trooper) questioned Jones in a back room. She said the officer told her: 'On camera it shows you put the ticket in your bra.' Jones explained that it showed she had taken a dollar from her bra to put into the machine. To prove that she hadn't secreted the ticket there, she said, 'I pulled up the sweater and unhooked the bra and she told me to pull up my shirt.'
In the end, said Jones, after two and a half hours, 'they came and said they found the ticket [...] in the machine.' Suing for an undetermined amount in damages, she said she wants to prevent others from being similarly humiliated.

In Waupaca County, Wisconsin, Thomas Hille hit a deer with his truck and pulled onto the hard shoulder to summon help. Then, a minivan struck the deer, and driver Dennis La Coss lost control. His car then hit Hille's truck and ended up on fire in a ditch. Both drivers escaped with minor injuries.


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