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Curses, foiled again

Responding to an early morning call that two suspicious men were emptying a clothing store in downtown Springfield, Mass., police had no trouble linking two suspects to the theft of "tens of thousands" of dollars worth of merchandise. Sgt. John Delaney said officers nabbed the two a short distance from the store wearing some of the stolen clothing with price tags still attached.

Authorities were alerted to the theft of $8,000 in dollar bills from a shuttered restaurant in Inyokern, Calif., when Donald Dejarnette, 34, used 10 of them to pay a court fine. The clerk immediately recognized they were from the Homestead restaurant because some had "Homestead" written on them. The restaurant had a tradition of customers writing messages on the currency and hanging it on the walls; when the restaurant closed, the owner left the bills in place.

Signs of hard times

Cosmetic surgeons are blaming a drop-off of patients on the sagging economy. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that 53 percent of about 700 doctors who responded to a questionnaire last spring said business is down, some said by as much as 30 percent. Patrick McMenamin, president-elect of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, told the Associated Press he had heard from cosmetic surgeons complaining that business continued slumping through the summer, although he had noticed an increase in less-expensive procedures, such as Botox injections and wrinkle fillers.

New York City's dominatrixes complained their business, already hurt by a series of prostitution raids, is also suffering. "It's never been worse," Mistress Johanna, owner of Chelsea's Le Salon DeSade, told the New York Post. "Business is down 70 percent." The Post reported more than a dozen dominatrixes and S&M club owners retained John Campbell of the Tilem and Campbell law firm to start a political action committee, DomPAC, which will lobby lawmakers to rewrite prostitution laws to protect the bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism industry.

One business benefiting from hard times is Sarah's Smash Shack, where patrons can combat stress by hurling dinnerware and bric-a-brac against a wall. The San Diego establishment, which operates around the clock, charges up to $45 for 15-minute sessions. Customers wear protective gear while music blasts and a neon sign urges, "Break More Stuff." Owner Sarah Lavely told the San Diego Union-Tribune she donates the shards to area schools, artists and nonprofit groups for use in mosaics.

Food fight

A Lebanese trade group threatened to sue Israel for falsely marketing hummus, a Middle Eastern dip made from pureed chickpeas, as an Israeli food. "It is not enough they are stealing our land," Fadi Abboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, said. "They are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine."

Sweet 'Ome

The Birmingham City Council distributed 720,000 leaflets thanking residents of Britain's second-largest city for exceeding recycling goals before noticing the photo of the city's skyline showed Birmingham, Ala. England's Birmingham is noted for its modernist Bullring shopping mall, canals, churches and historical buildings. The Alabama city's skyline includes the Wachovia Tower, University of Alabama buildings and skyscrapers. "I can't believe no one at the town hall noticed," resident Jon Cooper told the Associated Press.

In fact, it was the second mix-up this year. Three British lawmakers representing Birmingham at the European Parliament used a picture of the U.S. city on their Internet site in January.

Big wheel

After suspect Rogelio Santana, 27, was shot and paralyzed from the chest down during a store robbery in Westwood, Ohio, Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. noted that budget cuts prevented him from providing around-the-clock guards at the nursing home holding Santana. Prosecutors recommended releasing Santana on his own recognizance, explaining he wasn't a flight risk because he was confined to a wheel chair. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Santana failed to show up in court to answer charges he was involved in the robbery, however, having fled the nursing home two weeks earlier. "He rolled himself away, your honor," assistant prosecutor Ryan Nelson told the judge.

Nice recovery

A man entered a bank in Dublin, Ohio, waved a gun and ordered everyone to get down. According to the FBI, the weapon fell to the floor and broke into several pieces. The man kept yelling at everyone to stay down while he picked up the pieces and put the gun back together. Then the robber jumped over the teller counter, demanded money, stuffed it in his bag and fled.

Unwoven web

When self-proclaimed Bigfoot trackers Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer announced they had found a body of a Sasquatch in northern Georgia, they posted a picture online of the 500-pound dead biped crammed into a water-filled icebox. Skeptics abounded. "It looks like a costume, a waterlogged costume that's been stuffed into a freezer," Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University who conducts Bigfoot fieldwork, told the Washington Post. Unfazed, Whitton declared, "Everyone who has talked us down is going to eat their words."

After the block of ice was slowly thawed out, however, Bigfoot turned out indeed to be a rubber gorilla costume. Two days later, Whitton and Dyer admitted to two Atlanta TV stations that the entire matter was a "joke" that got out of hand. "I just wanted to put out some good news," Dyer told WGCL-TV. "People are upset with the war and stuff. What's so bad about Bigfoot? Nobody got hurt." Except Whitton, who was fired from his job as a Clayton County police officer, Chief Jeffrey Turner told foxnews.com, because "a police officer needs credibility and honor."

Horseless headman

When organizers of a 44-year-old English festival couldn't afford liability insurance to cover the character of a swashbuckling literary hero who rides through the streets of Dymchurch, the character was forced to walk so he wouldn't fall off his horse. "It just wasn't the same," Ian Hyson, chairman of the Day of Syn told the Kent News. The festival celebrates the exploits of Dr. Christopher Syn, a vicar by day who dons a scarecrow costume at night to avoid authorities and leads a band of nightriders who bring food and drink to starving villagers. Dr. Syn starred in seven novels by local author Russell Thorndike and was featured in the 1963 Disney miniseries The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

  • All the strange news that's fit to print.

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