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Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Seattle police arrested a 40-year-old suspect who showed what looked like a gun (but turned out to be a flashlight) at a restaurant and demanded cash from the register. Employees refused and told the robber to take the tip jar instead. He did, collecting about $15, and then demanded money from several customers. They declined. He tried to leave by kicking down a side door, only to bounce backward onto the floor when it wouldn't open. He found another exit and tried to grab a woman's car keys in the parking lot but fled after the victim took his photo with her cellphone. He tried to steal another car at a gas station, but the driver wouldn't hand over his keys. He did offer the suspect a ride. Instead, the suspect used the tip money to buy a beverage at the gas station and was drinking it when police arrived and took him to the King County Jail. (Seattle Police Department)

Indoctrination nation

Chinese students applying to U.S. universities will be expected to learn the values of "freedom, justice and human dignity" while studying for their SAT entrance exam. The College Board's amended syllabus for the test requires applicants to read passages from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the writings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as "a way to develop valuable college and career readiness skills." China's official Xinhua News Agency declared the reforms amount to "ideology intrusion," although SAT coach Kelly Yang wrote in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper, "If the new SAT succeeded, it will be the first time America is able to systematically shape the news, beliefs and ideologies of hundreds of thousands of Chinese students every year ... through what the Chinese care about most — exams." Beijing resident and Ohio State University student Tang Anran said the few months of preparation for the SAT wouldn't brainwash applicants, explaining, "We learn knowledge for the exam, and after that, we forget it." (The Washington Post)

Real reality

Police shot and killed a crew member of the television show Cops while trying to stop a robbery at a Wendy's restaurant in Omaha, Neb. Police gunfire struck the suspect, Cortez Washington, 32, but he fled the restaurant and officers continued firing, killing the suspect and Bryce Dion, 38, described by his production company as "a long-term member of the Cops team." (Associated Press)

Drinking-class heroes

The National Institutes of Health is spending $3.2 million to get monkeys drunk so scientists can determine alcohol's long-term effects on their bodies and $69,459 to study whether text messaging college students before they attend pre-football game tailgate parties will encourage them to drink less and "reduce harmful effects related to alcohol consumption." Previous NIH research projects into the effects of alcohol involved spending $835,571 to develop a flight simulator to show pilots what flying drunk feels like and $154,000 to determine if excess drinking causes gamblers to lose more money. "We don't need a study to tell Americans that gambling while drunk is a bad idea," David Williams, president of the think-tank Taxpayers Protection Alliance, said, "as anyone who has ever sat next to a drunk guy at a blackjack table can attest." (The Washington Times)

Firearms follies

Sixth-grade teacher Michelle Ferguson-Montgomery was seriously wounded when the concealed firearm she was carrying accidentally discharged in the faculty bathroom of an elementary school in Taylorsville, Utah. Investigators said the bullet struck a toilet, causing it to explode and send bullet and toilet fragments into her lower leg. (Associated Press)

Quick thinking by an 11-year-old boy in Harris County, Texas, saved the life of his 5-year-old brother who shot himself in the chin while the two were hunting near their home. The older boy drove the wounded child to a neighbor, who called for medical help. Sheriff's investigators were unable to explain why the boys had access to a gun and a car. (Houston's KHOU-TV)

Picky eaters

Indonesian police arrested Heather Mack, 19, after her mother was found bludgeoned to death in a Bali hotel room, along with her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21. When Mack complained about the meals, police bought them KFC fried chicken, prompting them to accuse police of racist stereotyping. Bali police said the allegation of racism surprised them, since few Indonesians can even afford a KFC meal, so they switched the two prisoners to food from McDonald's. (USA Today)

No respect

Transportation Security Administration agents at several U.S. airports refused to accept driver's licenses issued by the District of Columbia because it isn't a state, and a new smartphone app designed to ease ordering a pizza wouldn't recognize Washington addresses, declaring, "DC is not a valid state." The app's founders, all New York City residents, notified users, "Instead of DC, put in VA and your correct zip code!!!" (The Washington Post)

Stop the music

Music publishers have started denying use of their music to the world famous Ohio State University Marching Band after the school fired band director Jonathan Waters. The firing resulted from an investigation that alleged he failed to eliminate the band's "sexualized culture." Mark Greenburg of Tresona Multimedia said publishers are distancing themselves from the university because they don't want their music associated with the investigation's unflattering assessment. Greenburg said the report could affect football halftime shows this season and potentially tarnish the reputation of the "Best Damn Band in the Land" inside the music industry. (Columbus' WCMH-TV)

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