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September 2006


2 September 2006

Indonesian police spokesman Aspan Nainggolan reported that prisoners at Pematang Siantar Penitentiary in North Sumatra had saved hot peppers from their food and mixed them with water in plastic bottles. The men sprayed the liquid at prison guards, temporarily blinding them, and grabbed their keys. They made for the gate. Authorities soon recaptured 15 of the escaped convicts. Another was captured later, and at least two remain at large.

Not everyone is so eager to be rid of prison. Detlef Federsohn was recently released after serving a two-year sentence at Vienna's Josefstadt prison for theft. He was rearrested in late August after being caught on the roof of the prison. He explained that he had hoped to break back in and blend in with the inmates without the guards noticing. Federsohn explained: 'Life is so much easier on the inside. They feed you, do your washing, and let you watch TV, which I can tell you is a lot more than my mum does.'

Elsewhere in Austria, a 34-year-old man entered a municipal building in the province of Carinthia in the belief that it was a bank. It might have been the cash machine in the lobby that misled him. Determined to rob the 'bank', he allegedly threatened a woman with an air gun. The woman, Helga Aichwalder, later said: 'At first, I thought he was making a bad joke.' When she informed the man of his mistake, he ran from the building, and he was arrested shortly thereafter. Hermann Klammer, head of the criminal division of the Carinthia police department, said: 'This is an extremely odd case.'

Croatia's 24 sata reported that Mario Visnjic went swimming in the buff at Valalta beach and then relaxed, sunbathing in a wooden deckchair. When he decided to stand up, he was surprised to note that his testicles had expanded following his swim and were now stuck between the slats of the chair. Visnjic contacted the beach's maintenance services staff on his mobile telephone. A member of staff arrived to cut the chair in half, and he was freed.

Missouri's Sarah and Kris Everson were sentenced to community service and four years of probation for deceiving their neighbourhood for financial gain. Community leaders in Grain Valley testified that the couple claimed in March that Sarah, 45, had delivered sextuplets who needed medical attention. There was no record of the births, but the couple explained that they had been kept quiet because the Eversons were on the run from a family member with homicidal intentions. They collected money and gifts locally, including at Kris's workplace, and via two Web sites. However, when facing media attention, the homeless couple admitted that there were no babies.
After pleading guilty to the charges against them, they were told that they must make partial restitution. As to whether they had any comments for their victims, Sarah said: 'We already made our apologies.'

In May, a judge in Lincoln, Nebraska, gave Richard W. Thompson, 51, a sentence of 10 years of 'intensive probation' for at least twice sexually assaulting a child. District Judge Kristine Cecava explained her decision not to impose a prison sentence: she feared that Thompson's 155-centimetre stature could leave him vulnerable to other inmates. Seeking a tougher sentence, the state is now filing an appeal.

On 20 August, Swedish state television broadcaster SVT provided an extra during a five-minute late-night news update. An explicit sex scene from an adult Czech film was shown on a television in the background while anchorman Peter Dahlgren read the news.
The engineers in the news room had earlier watched a pay-per-view football match on Canal Plus, which often shows porn after midnight, and they forgot to switch back to a news channel before the news update aired. News director Per Yng said: 'This is highly embarrassing and unfortunate.' He also said there had been no viewer complaints.

Roger Annies, 48, works for Royal Mail - at least for the moment. He gave those on his Barry, south Wales, postal route leaflets concerning the company's opt-out scheme for 'Door to Door items'. These stated: 'Royal Mail plans to increase your advertising mail. This will mean a lot more unwanted post. [...] If you complete the slip below and send it to the Royal Mail delivery office, you should not get any of the above-mentioned unwanted advertising.' Annies has been suspended with pay pending a hearing on his 'alleged misconduct'. A Royal Mail spokesman said: 'If we do not deliver this mail then rival companies will."

In Florida's St. Johns County, lawn service supervisor Lance Tywan Wamley, 26, allegedly criticised one of his workers, Eric J. Torres, complaining that his grass-cutting skills weren't up to standards. According to The Florida Times-Union, Wamley hefted a baseball bat to emphasise his point, as well as threatening several other workers. Torres defended himself with a weed trimmer but was hit in the chest anyway. The scuffle was defused by another worker, who was armed with a hammer. Torres was taken to hospital, and Wamley can expect to see him in criminal court.

Australian doctor Andrew Katelaris was convicted of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis after police found 49,519 plants on his property 125 kilometres north of Sydney. Also, the state medical tribunal suspended his licence to practise medicine for three years, in part for distributing marijuana to patients.
At a recent sentencing hearing, however, he received an unexpected reprieve because his crop wasn't all he had hoped. The levels of THC were found to be so low that the plants had no drug value. Thus, Katelaris will not face prison time.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 42-year-old Victoria Villicano drove her 15- and 19-year-old boys, and three of their friends, around Silver Lake and Echo Park, California. Police estimate that she made at least 100 stops, so that the five youths could spray graffiti on nearby surfaces, possibly to help them out against a rival 'tagging team'. 'This had to be a first,' said one of the detective.
Ray Bermudez, Villicano's stepfather, said he doesn't believe that she is guilty. He stressed: 'She's a good mom. She's old enough to know better.' Her police record includes possession or purchase of a cocaine base for sale and weapons charges.

A man in Dallas, Texas, was looking at live images from Web cameras in Liverpool's Beatles quarter when he noticed a group of men climbing a ladder near a camera on Mathew Street. At the top of the ladder was a broken window at Blacks outdoor activity shop. Seeing items being liberated from the shop, the Texas man rang the Merseyside police, who arrived on the scene at 4:30am local time and arrested three men in their mid-30s on suspicion of burglary.

News agency Ansa reported that Tommaso Coletti, president of Italy's Chieti province, created a brochure promoting local job centres, in which he wrote: 'Work makes you free. I don't remember where I read this phrase, but it was one of those quotes that have an instant impact on you because they tell an immense truth.' Others did remember. The governor of the Abruzzo region, which contains Coletti's province, apologised to Italy's Jewish community for this reference to the Auschwitz death camp slogan.

A pilot for Air Canada subsidiary Jazz used the washroom on a flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg, then discovered that he was locked out of the cockpit with about 30 minutes of the flight remaining. Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stewart said: 'The door malfunctioned ... this is a very rare occurrence.' A report in newspaper The Ottawa Citizen said that 'passengers described seeing the pilot bang on the door and communicating with the cockpit through an internal telephone, but being unable to open the door'. After about 10 minutes, the crew were able to remove the door from its hinges so that he could rejoin the co-pilot.

Reuters reports that Maria Ilieva, 17, fell asleep on her overnight Air Malta flight home to Bulgaria. The crew failed to notice this, and she made the return journey from Sofia to Valletta before waking. She paid for a new flight. Her mother, Nadezhda Vulova, said: 'Air Malta officials said the airplane was not a place for sleeping. But I have not seen any signs saying "No sleeping".' The family say they have filed a complaint against the airline.

Madin Azad Amin, 29, was travelling from Chicago to Turkey with his mother when he was stopped by security guards at O'Hare International Airport. One of the guards asked him to identify a roughly grenade-shaped object from his luggage. There is disagreement as to what the embarrassed Amin whispered in reply. The guard claims that Amin, 29, said it was a bomb and that she believed him. Amin's attorney claims that the word was 'pump', as the object was part of a penis pump, and that Amin had said: 'It's a pump. Put it away. Put it away,' in hopes that his mother wouldn't see it. He has been charged with felonious disorderly conduct.

18 September 2006

Lane County, Oregon, sheriff's deputies reported that Stephen and Mary Gray had been drinking for much of the day while doing yard work. It is unclear why Stephen, 43, shot his wife's pet chicken with a shotgun or whether this was intentional. Either way, the 58-year-old Mary was not happy, and she shot Stephen in the back with a rifle. Officers were sure that the latter shooting was deliberate, and she has been arraigned on an assault charge.

In Michigan, when 20-year-old Brandon Dickens failed to return to jury duty after lunch, county judge David Reader ordered him to spend three days observing a civil case and to write a five-page paper on the history of jury service. After Dickens submitted the paper, a court employee recognised many phrases, which were lifted from 'Trials and Tribulations', a story in an online magazine. Dickens said that the article wasn't plagiarised, merely 'quoted'. He must rewrite the paper and spend four rather than three days in the courthouse.
At least some original material was contained in the paper: 'When picked you show up and serve your country.'

Slovakia's Nový Cas reports that a 42-year-old man crashed his car into a bus in the town of Levice, after ignoring a 'give way' sign. Rescuers found the man unconscious behind the wheel of his car - and naked from the waist down. Also, he was sporting a penis pump. Police officer Peter Polák said: 'It's very likely he had auto-sex while driving; this is a matter of investigation.' The man was taken to hospital with head injuries.

Reuters reports that a thief in Bielefeld, Germany, stole some clothes. from a shop, including two shoes in the same style but two different sizes. The 20-year-old shoplifter made a return visit two days later - while wearing a sports jacket stolen from the shop. Noticing the man try to remove the wrong-sized shoe to switch it with another, the shop owner contacted the local police, and the man was apprehended.

Building company David McLean put up an 'apology for the inconvenience' notice at an Aberdeenshire work site. The bottom half of the sign was in English, a translation of the top half: 'Ymddirheurwn am unrhyw anghyfleustra a achosir yn ystod gwaith adnewyddu.' Local MP Brian Adam said: 'I'm not against the Welsh language, and this is not an anti-Welsh sentiment, [but]... it's not appropriate for this part of Scotland.' A spokesman for the North-Wales-based construction company said: 'We understand that local people would prefer Gaelic signs, and we will be putting up a new sign as soon as possible.'

According to AFP reports, a 15-year-old girl in Doboj, northern Bosnia, became upset when her father confiscated her mobile telephone in an argument, so she threatened to blow him up with a hand grenade. The AFP quote a local police officer as saying: 'The 15-year-old was briefly arrested, but a prosecutor has not yet decided what to do.' The telephone and hand grenade both were seized. While hand grenades feature in news of domestic squabbles in Doboj every so often, the officer reportedly said: 'The most disturbing is that she did not find the grenade in her father's house, but she got it from somewhere else.'

A 14-year-old girl in Hyogo, Japan, was being bullied at school because of her mother's ongoing battle with clinical depression. When the girl told her mother of this, the 40-year-old woman became distressed. Later, the mother rang the police and reported how she had solved the problem: 'My daughter had been worried about educational problems, and I wanted to put her out of her misery.' Officers found the girl strangled, with a belt wrapped round her neck. The mother, who has been arrested on suspicion of murder, said: 'I thought I would commit suicide too, but I couldn't do it.'

Troy Stewart of Lantana, Florida, had an idea while on his daily bicycle ride. The 31-year-old father suggested to his daughter Meagan that they cure her fear of heights by jumping from a five-metre-high bridge. Meagan, 10, later said: 'I thought "It's kind of high" and then he's like "Trust me".' She did, making the jump into the Intracoastal Waterway safely. Her father broke his leg. Meagan cycled home to alert her mother, who contacted the emergency services.

Julio César Gómez, speaking for the mayor's office in Pereira, Colombia, described a new effort to curb the gang violence that has plagued the city and claimed hundreds of lives last year alone. He said that wives and girlfriends of gang members visited the office because 'they were worried some were not handing over their guns, and that is where they came up with the idea of a vigil or a sex strike'. To accompany what the women are calling the 'crossed legs' strike, they have recorded, and obtained local airplay for, a song asking other women to join their attempt to force the men to disarm.

Robert Zellner was dismissed from his position as a teacher at Wisconsin's Cedarburg High School after he was discovered to have viewed pornography for one minute and six seconds on a school computer on a Sunday. However, an arbitration panel has now overturned that decision, and Zellner will be allowed to return to work. School Board President John Pendergast explains that a precedent was set when another teacher, who had looked at stock quotes on school computers, was only reprimanded for his actions.

Six-year-old Kevon Gorham of North Charleston, South Carolina, wants to be a cop when he grows up. His practical training has already begun. When he used his toy handcuffs on a favourite cuddly toy, he decided to make sure the animal didn't run off, by attaching one of the cuffs to his own wrist. His mother, Rolandra Wright, reported that the boy then couldn't remove the handcuffs, and neither could she. The real police were called in, and they in turn summoned firefighters, whose soapy water and bolt cutters didn't solve the problem. Eventually, fire department engineer Burgess Atkins picked the lock with a hairpin and separated the boy from his reindeer prisoner.

In a contest held each day at a fair in Canada, contestants put a marshmallow in their mouth, then say 'chubby bunny'. They add one marshmallow at a time until only one person remains who can pronounce the words. According to Ontario's London Free Press, 32-year-old Janet Rudd took a break from her work at a booth at the fair, someone persuaded her to participate in the contest, and she never returned. She collapsed offstage, and medics arriving with suction equipment were unable to remove the blockage in her throat. Rudd died in hospital. Her family report that a close friend of hers choked to death three months earlier.


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© 2006 Anna Shefl