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Stranger Than Fiction

Curses, foiled again

Police were able to link Christopher Furay, 33, to six bank robberies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by his distinctive red beard. After media coverage of the first four robberies, he wore a fake red beard over his real one for the next two. He was arrested anyway after the sixth robbery when a detective recognized his getaway vehicle as the same one used for previous heists. (Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV)

Tyler Trammell, 27, was arrested as the "Average Joe Bandit" when he robbed a Phoenix, Arizona, bank he'd robbed only weeks earlier. This time, a detective standing "approximately 15-20 feet away" said he recognized Trammell as the suspect and saw him accepting money from the teller in a small blue bag. Trammell explained he robbed the bank a second time because he needed money "because the country is so fucked up." (Phoenix's KPHO-TV)

Firebuggery

Federal authorities were forced to drop criminal charges against a California man accused of starting a wildfire because two key witnesses died within months of his indictment. The 2013 blaze burned 400 square miles, including parts of Yosemite National Park, destroyed 11 homes and cost $125 million to fight. One of the witnesses died in a workplace accident, the other of a heart attack. Prosecutors said statements they made implicating Matthew Emerald, 33, can't be used in court. (Associated Press)

Utah authorities arrested Weston Frank Vetere, 25, after he told them he started a brush fire that burned 40 acres of old-growth cottonwood trees and threatened several buildings. The Grand County Sheriff's Office said Vetere explained that he set the fire to signal for help after his car got stuck. (Reuters)

Crime and punishment

Peter Mutty, 57, received a heavy sentence for brewing light beer because he did it Saudi Arabia. Authorities arrested him after finding two cartons of home-brewed light beer and two cases of homemade red and white wine in his car. "I knew it was wrong and I made no attempt to hide the fact I was guilty," he said after serving six months in the notorious Thuqba prison "with rapists, murderers and killers." Before being released, he received 28 lashes with a cane and was told he cannot leave the country because his case is not finalized. He also cannot work. "I am trapped in limbo and have not earned a brass razoo in six months," he said. (Britain's The Telegraph)

Quebec police issued a $148 ticket to 91-year-old Yvette Vachon for making too much noise with her recliner rocking chair. Two officers responded after her downstairs neighbor complained about being irritated by the sound of her chair and her television and insisted that police take action. Lawyer Charles Cantin took on her case pro bono. After he reported the ticket to the media, prosecutors in Saguenay canceled the fine and said the officers should have issued her just a warning. (Canada's National Post)

First things first

The utility company on the Philippines island of Palawan asked residents to turn off refrigerators and other electrical appliances so there'd be enough power to broadcast the boxing match between local favorite Manny Pacquiao and American Floyd Mayweather. (Australia's News.com.au)

Not lovin' it

Hoping to overcome its junk-food image, McDonald's began testing two breakfast bowls in Southern California. One includes kale. The chain is also introducing three salads in Canada that contain kale. The new menu items follow recent ads for the Big Mac that mocked trendy foods like kale, soy, quinoa and Greek yogurt. (Associated Press)

A Michigan court sentenced Shaneka Torres, 30, to three to seven years in prison for opening fire at a McDonald's restaurant that failed to put bacon on her burgers. She complained when the burger she ordered at the drive-thru was missing bacon. She was offered a free replacement, but this one also lacked bacon, provoking her to shoot through the restaurant. (Associated Press)

Thanks so much

More than a thousand military veterans a day contact the Veterans Administration's Veterans Suicide Hotline, according to a Scripps news report that found the calls often overload the system. The hotline was set up in 2007 with four operators receiving 60 calls a day. It now has 52 operators. Some calls are rerouted to other call centers, but many callers are placed on hold, some for as long as 36 minutes. (Tampa Bay's WFTS-TV)

Cheaters win

The Internal Revenue Service announced that it won't even try collecting from delinquent taxpayers who owe less than $1 million. "Nobody's ever going to knock on their door," said Richard Christian, supervisory revenue officer for the Dallas area, who explained that five years of budget cuts by Congress have reduced staffing to where collection efforts are now focused on tax cheats who owe $1 million or more. Christian further noted that traditional collection methods don't work against the people who owe between $100,000 and $999,000 because they generally don't have regular jobs and wages that can be garnished. "If you just owe $700,000," he said, "we'll hope you get a job sometime so we can levy." (The Washington Post)

Kissing cousins

According to the Lithuanian talk show "An Hour With Ruta," Norway's Child Protection Service is seizing foreign children and fostering them to Norwegian parents to combat "the highest inbreeding in the world." The program said that Lithuanian children living in Norway "are a sought-after commodity" to combat the high rate of Down syndrome and other birth defects among Norwegians. Dag Halvorsen, Norway's ambassador to Lithuania, hired a Lithuanian public relations firm to counteract the misconception that Norwegian authorities are working "to obtain fresh, foreign children, such as Lithuanian ones, to strengthen the genetic material." (Norway's The Local)

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