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September 2010


25 September 2010

The Clippings are back. While moving to a new home, they suffered a nearly inexcusable hiatus. This batch includes items from the May-September. I've put the oldest items at the end.

Kansas's Hutchinson News reports on the panic caused in recent weeks by town tornado sirens sounding seemingly at random. The problem eventually was traced to the telephone system, in which the sirens are assigned local phone numbers and dialling these numbers activates the sirens. Residents were causing the havoc themselves by dialling wrong numbers.
Officials blame a software glitch and have now assigned new numbers to the sirens that should be accessible only to emergency workers.

Washington's Bellingham Herald reports on Tommy Ryser, who didn't take the hint after drunkenly crashing his truck into a utility pole. The 54-year-old Ryser abandoned the truck and got into his wife's car. He crashed that too, sending it into a guard rail down the road from the first wreck. Ryser then decided to solve the problem by towing the two ex-vehicles back to his home. As Ryser pulled up with his tow truck and a bloodied forehead, the police arrived in response to accident reports.
Sergeant Larry Flynn of the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office says that Ryser now faces three counts of driving while intoxicated. Not quite managing three is Colorado's Adam Segura, who faces two counts of DWI - one for driving away with the police car while police were interviewing a witness to his drunkenness.

In Florida, police officer Jason Moore asked dispatchers to send out a call about a suspicious person peering into cars at a local shopping mall. The idea was that Moore's girlfriend, also a cop, would show up at the scene and he could then confess his love to her. The dispatchers agreed with the plan, but Moore got more than he had bargained for: several officers showed up at the shopping centre 'crime scene'. The two dispatchers and Moore all were fired.

In a recent ruling, Minnesota judge Kevin Ross wrote that '[t]his case requires us to determine the constitutionality of a novel police procedure which, as far as we can tell, has never been reviewed on appeal by this court or any other'.
Back in 2008, police officer Kara Breci witnessed a suspicious in-car transaction in a car park and approached, asking Frank Irving Wiggins to raise his arms. When he did so, his loose-fitting trousers fell to his knees. Breci pulled them up and felt a handgun in his pocket. He was arrested for drugs and weapons offences and given a five-year prison sentence for the latter.
In the end, the appeals court decided that Breci's act did not constitute an unlawful search, since 'she hoisted his pants presumably to conceal rather than to reveal'.

According to the German Bild, an ear, nose, and throat specialist identified as Hakan B., 44, became annoyed at anaesthetist Thomas S. during a surgical operation and punched him to the ground, then kicked him. A 60-year-old nurse who tried to get the surgeon to return his attention to the patient's nose received harsh words and an elbow to the chest.
At his trial on Wednesday, the surgeon apologised and explained that it had been his fifth operation that day. The judge said 'A doctor should behave differently' and handed down a three-month suspended jail sentence and an order to pay 3,000 euros to charity.

Michigan couple Jennifer and Duane Tesch were upset that their six-year-old daughter had to perform inappropriate cheers as part of the Madison Heights Wolverines flag football cheerleading squad. One cheer in particular was problematic for them: 'Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right.' The problem was solved by the other parents voting unanimously to remove the Tesches' daughter from the cheerleading squad.

Dallas Amber Smith, 18, was drinking with friends in Washington when they challenged her to perform a back flip. She agreed but received teasing as soon as the smell of her feet hit the air. Prosecutors summarise the ensuing events by saying that she stabbed a 19-year-old man for telling her that her feet smelled. He was found with a steak knife protruding from his back. The other end of the knife caused his lung to collapse.
Smith faces charges of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Ron Sveden of Brewster, Massachusetts, developed a bad cough, and then X-rays showed a dark spot on one of his lungs, indications of probable lung cancer. However, biopsies showed no cancer. In June, doctors decided to investigate. Dr. Jeff Spillane, who removed the lump, said: 'I sent it to the pathologist. They said it was a vegetable.' To be precise, the 75-year-old Sveden had a pea growing in his chest. 'It definitely had a sprout,' said Spillane. After three weeks in hospital and some rehabilitation, Sveden said he now feels fine.

An air stewardess with Air France was arrested for stealing several thousand euros in cash, credit cards, and jewellery from sleeping passengers on flights between Europe and the Far East. Between January and July, passengers on 142 flights on these routes reported thefts. French police found blank cheques, credit card numbers, and other stolen items in her home, and her bank accounts showed 'an incredible gap between her lifestyle and her declared income'. So far, the 47-year-old woman has confessed to committing 26 thefts since March 2009.

Minister Donald Crosby was arrested outside a high school in Georgia for disorderly conduct that he termed 'standing up for Jesus'. The 26-year-old pastor, alongside others, was protesting against the school's mascot: their sports teams are called the Demons.

Armand M. Pacher is a 64-year-old former insurance executive who was concerned about his two-and-a-half-year-old Great Dane. Allegedly, when Pacher took the dog to a veterinarian in Miami, he explained to a member of staff: 'She doesn't seem to enjoy it as much when we have sex. Maybe it's because I haven't been as energetic lately and that's why she's not enjoying it.' In view of evidence of forced sexual activity that was not initiated by another dog, Pacher was charged with cruelty to animals. Pacher's attorney says that his client was making a joke and it was misunderstood.

Bernadette Music wanted help meeting men. The 43-year-old Norwood, Ohio, woman decided to request help with this, by ringing the emergency number. She was drunk at the time but not too drunk to forget this clever idea, which she acted upon a few more times. After her arrest in connection with the calls (and with urinating in the hallway of her apartment building), she explained her actions: 'I'm very brave and bold.' She spent three days in jail for the offences.
In another story of misuse of the emergency number, a five-year-old boy from Kelowna, British Columbia, knew when to use the number: when needing help. He told the dispatcher that he needed police help, then hung up. After learning why he needed help, responding officers said that '911 shouldn't be called when your sister won't let you on the computer'.

Police in Barrie, Ontario, report that a 40-year-old woman interviewed for a job at a local shop and then stole a few things on her way out. After police 'easily identified the thief using her resume', store staff pored over further surveillance camera footage and verified that the woman had been in the shop the previous day also. That visit coincided with the disappearance of clothes strikingly similar to those she later wore for the job interview.

Police in Sweden say that a man deposited the equivalent of about 100 euros in a teenaged girl's bank account after apparently arranging to have sex with her in exchange. The girl allegedly didn't show up for the rendezvous, and the man found her home telephone number. He rang her father to demand a refund.
He explained after his arrest that he had believed the girl was much older than 13.

You may have read about the UK woman who was caught trying to throw her cat in a wheelie bin. A 51-year-old man in Buffalo, New York, by contrast, adopted a less wasteful approach when his cat was 'mean' to him. When officers pulled the man over and heard mewing from the boot, they found four-year-old Navarro covered in crushed red peppers, salt, and oil. The man was charged with cruelty to animals, and workers with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that they hope the cat's new owner won't try to eat him.

An Edmonton man - we have quite a few items from Canada this time - was late for his meeting with his probation officer. The man, 19-year-old Michael Letendre, therefore stole a bicycle in order to make his appointment at the police station and thus avoid jail time. He was arrested, and his actions were determined to have violated the terms of his probation, which include being of good behaviour. Defence attorney Nicole Sissons called the theft 'more a crime of stupidity than anything'. Letendre has been sentenced to four months in jail.

Kathleen Collier became lost when driving her car in California, so she rang her daughter for directions. While on her mobile phone, the 47-year-old Collier drove from the car park of Vieira's Resort and, without noticing it, down the resort's boat launch. After the car hit the Sacramento River, the daughter, still on the line, heard the vehicle fill with water. Collier was later pronounced dead at the scene. Alcohol is believed to have been involved in the accident.

A Paris man registered 55 children, by 55 different mothers, in exchange for between 150 and 200 euros each. According to Reuters, the state may have paid out over a million euros in benefits for these children. Police became suspicious because, among other things, more than 50 people are officially registered as living at the 54-year-old scammer's address. There are DNA tests in progress.

Instead of their customary first-day-of-primary-school cardboard cone of sweets, German schoolchildren at Essen's Adolf Reichwein school found that their cones contained pens that project erotic images of women. Parents contacted the headmaster on this point. It emerged that the pens came from a discount store, who explained the pens' operation by simply saying that they light up when a button is pressed.

German network administrator Oliver Beel was fired from his job, after 19 years with the company, for charging his Segway at work for 1.5 hours in May 2009. A court has now ruled that sacking Beel was not proportionate to the theft of 1.8 euro cents' worth of electricity. The court pointed out that, for example, other employees were not fired for charging mobile phones or digital photo frames at work.

Also in Germany, someone in Aschaffenburg warned the police of a possible scam. Officers arrived on Frohsinnstrasse to find a pensioner handing out money and wearing a sign that read: 'I am not unemployed or homeless. I have a wife. I am well. That's why I'd like to give you a euro.' The man was distributing money to celebrate his retirement. The man explained himself and was allowed to continue giving away his money.

Roger Mildenhall returned to Australia from abroad to find that the locks to a home he owned in Perth had been changed and that cleaners were coming in to prepare the home for its new owners. Mildenhall found that individuals from Nigeria had sold the home via an estate agent back in June. While the Nigerians had faxed copies of the deeds to the house to the estate agent, such documents are public anyway, and Mildenhall stressed: 'There were several things that should not have happened without me - the real me - activating the sale.' He is now trying to get the estate agent to pay him for the home.

There was unpleasant news for the 275 passengers on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong: they were probably going to die in the North Sea. Or "This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water.' Reuters quoted one passenger on the flight as saying: 'I can't think of anything worse than being told your plane's about to crash.' That passenger survived. In fact, they all did. Human error had caused the automated message to play, and the cabin crew hurried about after that to reassure everyone.

California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Pat Foy said that two wardens were checking for illegal hunting in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest when they noticed five people loading military-style sleeping bags and heavy-duty duffel bags onto the bed of the wildlife officers' pickup truck. The wardens shouted at the men, and three ran off into the forest. The other two, one of whom was carrying a shotgun, were handcuffed.
The five men were marijuana-growers who had mistaken the pickup truck for their delivery vehicle. The wardens recovered a little under 60 kilos of processed marijuana.

A California man visited the Craigslist Web site to find a replacement for his stolen mobile phone. He found one of the same model and bought it. When it arrived, it contained many familiar phone numbers. So the man contacted the police, who found the seller, thief Neil Hefner, at the return address given on the package. Officers also found 163 mobile phones, several people's wallets, and stolen computers there.

Zarmineh Moody, a belly-dancer in Yuma, Arizona, was accosted by a man with a knife when she was picking up groceries after work. He demanded her handbag, which she then told him was in her car. Told to retrieve it, she instead produced the scimitar she uses in her dance routine. She held it to his stomach and asked whether he still wanted the handbag. The second time she asked, while poking him lightly with the weapon, he ran off and hopped on his bicycle. She said that the police arriving on the scene were 'amused but were trying to keep straight faces'.

Police in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, responded to reports that a naked man was walking along the side of Highway 70 while on fire and was trying to enter passing vehicles. After the 47-year-old burning man was extinguished, he explained that he and his friends had agreed that whoever drank the least would be set alight. Since he'd had only six beers, it was his lot to be set on fire.
He explained that he had removed his clothes because of the pain, once the fire had spread from his prosthetic leg to his buttocks and arms. He said he was beside the highway because his friends got cold feet while taking him to an area hospital. He was eventually taken to a burn unit in Texas.

From back in May, the Finnish media reported that a man became worried when he realised that a breath-test point had been set up on the road ahead of him in Hämeenlinna. He hatched a plan. When the police reached the man's van, they found a woman sitting in the passenger's seat. The driver was found in the back of the van, drinking a beer. He told the police that he had driven up to the check point sober and had started drinking only once he'd left the driver's seat. Officers didn't believe him.

FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas said that 40-year-old Lois Harvey produced a robbery note at an Ohio bank and then noticed that a uniformed police officer was waiting behind her in the queue. The officer hadn't noticed that anything was amiss, but then Harvey called attention to herself by running from the bank.
Outside the bank, the officer arrested Harvey, who tried to swallow the note. She ended up coughing it up onto the pavement and was then taken to jail.


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