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Curses, foiled again

A man who snatched a wallet from a woman shopping with three friends at a market in Santa Rosa, Calif., tried to make his getaway on a bicycle, but the victim heaved a 12-pack of Miller Lite beer bottles at him when he was maybe 12 feet away. She hit him, knocking him to the ground, where all four women "were on him like kids on a burst piñata," according to the Press Democrat. After the victim got back her wallet, the women let the man go but kept his bicycle.

Philadelphia police chased two drug suspects, who ran inside a building and up the stairs into a second-floor room and then slammed the door. Police who entered the room right behind the suspects found it empty. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the puzzled officers were leaving when they heard noises below the floor, looked behind a couch and discovered a trapdoor, which led them to suspects Diego Rivera, 20, and Mario Torres, 23.

Rocky road

More than 20 of Michigan's 83 counties are turning deteriorating roads back to gravel to avoid the expense of repaving them. At least 50 miles of roads in the state have been reverted, according to the Associated Press. It reported that officials in Montcalm County, which converted nearly 10 miles of primary road to gravel this spring, estimate that grinding up a mile of pavement and putting down gravel costs about $10,000, whereas to repave it costs 10 times that amount.

Ordering out

Australian military leaders dispatched a special team of military cooks to Afghanistan because Australian soldiers griped about having to eat Dutch cooking. "It's not Aussie food, it's European food," Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston told lawmakers at a special defense budget hearing in Canberra after many of the 800 Australian soldiers assigned to Tirin Kot military base in Uruzgan province complained that the food at the Dutch-run mess hall lacks freshness and flavor. "The least they could expect when they are deployed for six months," Sen. David Johnston told Houston, "is that they can eat proper food."

Stimulus package

A woman hired to sell ads on commission for a weekly newspaper in Lincoln, Neb., placed $12,000 worth of bogus ads to boost her salary, police said after arresting her. Officer Katie Flood told KOLN-TV the paper's owner discovered the fraud when he began trying to collect money for the ads from businesses, which denied buying them.

Swashbucklers

Franziska Stegbauer, 77, suffered a fatal stab wound while trying to break up a sword fight between her grandson and brother-in-law. Both men were hospitalized, and the brother-in-law, Adolf Stegbauer, 69, later died from his wounds. The Indianapolis Star reported that the Marion County prosecutor, who charged the grandson, Christopher Rondeau, 37, with murder and reckless homicide, said the men had been drinking when Adolf Stegbauer "went from a happy drunk to a mean drunk." Stegbauer grabbed a samurai-type sword, knocked Franziska Stegbauer down and stabbed Rondeau, who told investigators he got a Japanese saber-style infantry sword from another room, "parried a few times and hit Adolf at least two times."

Fashion faux pas

Police arrested the groom at his own wedding reception for disturbing the peace because his nephew was wearing saggy pants. The Times-Picayune reported the incident began when a police officer working security at the reception at the Crystal Plantation in Kenner, La., told Samuel Lucas, 19, to pull up his pants to comply with the reception hall's dress code. According to the police report, the boy's father, Walter Lucas, 52, told the officer to mind his own business and began arguing. While the officer was trying to escort the father outside, the groom, John Lucas, 53, got involved. The officer called for backup, and all three were arrested. "All the kid had to do," Crystal Plantation owner Leonard Dazet told the newspaper, "was pull up his pants."

Store-policy follies

After a Wal-Mart store in Manatee County, Fla., refused to allow Phillip R. Wright, 41, to return several items, authorities said he retaliated by setting fire to three racks of clothes. The Bradenton Herald reported that store officials quickly evacuated the store and extinguished the blaze. Wright was arrested two hours later at another Wal-Mart trying to exchange a few boxes of water filters, several flavored water filter packets and a greeting card.

Guilty but arrogant

Mark Ciavarella, a former judge in Luzerne County, Pa., admitted he was crooked but insisted he's entitled to immunity for decisions he made from the bench, even if those decisions were corrupt. Ciavarella, who was sentenced to prison with fellow judge Michael Conahan for accepting more than $2.6 million in kickbacks in exchange for rulings that benefited private detention centers, is defending himself against a lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of children who said he violated their civil rights by taking the money and sending them to the facilities.

Virtual buccaneers

Sweden's Pirate Party captured a seat in the 785-seat European Parliament by winning 7.1 percent of Swedish votes in the Europe-wide ballot. "This is fantastic," leading candidate Christian Engstrom told Reuters. The party, formed in 2006, advocates deregulating copyrights, abolishing the patent system and reducing surveillance on the Internet.

Backward ways

A marriage counselor in the United Arab Emirates has written a book about a variety of sexual topics, from the female orgasm to homosexuality. Wedad Lootah, 45, filled the book, Top Secret: Sexual Guidance for Married Couples, with anecdotes from her eight years as a marriage counselor in Dubai's main courthouse. Although conservative Arabs accused Lootah of blasphemy, The New York Times noted she is a religious Muslim who studied Islamic jurisprudence in college, and that the book is studded with religious references. It warns against anal sex and homosexuality, for example, not because of AIDS but because the Koran bans them. Noting that separating the genders in Muslim countries results in many men having their first sexual experience with other men, Lootah adds that when they marry, they "want the same thing with their wives because they don't know anything else."

Church and state

Employees who recently lost their jobs from religious institutions in Virginia discovered they don't qualify for unemployment benefits. The reason, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, is that the state tax exemptions for religious organizations also exempt them from paying unemployment taxes.

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

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