Curses, foiled again
A gunman demanded money at a Subway shop in Braidwood, Ill., only to be thwarted by a male employee who "threw a pot of soup at the suspect," police Chief Rich Girot said. The suspect fled, empty-handed. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Police said Herbert C. Ridge, 38, siphoned gas from a car in Mesa, Ariz., but caught fire while fleeing and crashed his pickup truck into a neighboring house. A security camera just installed by the siphoned car's owner, Mitch Drum, 26, photographed Ridge leaping from the driver's seat of the pickup and rolling on the ground with his shirt engulfed in flames. "He had this manufactured siphoning system that he made himself, with a pump hooked up to it, to a battery," Drum said. "Something must have sparked." (ABC News)
After avid golfers Robert and Katherine Brady bought a house next to a golf course in Ravalli County, Mont., they sued it and the county for not warning them that golf balls would land on their property. Some 1,300 balls a year landed in their yard, even after they built a 6-foot-tall cedar fence topped with a 14-foot-high net. The Hamilton Golf Club defended itself by pointing out no golfer would intentionally hit a ball into the Bradys' yard and risk a two-stroke penalty, which would cause the golfer "strife and self-loathing." District Judge James Haynes ruled against the Bradys, declaring they "failed to fulfill their independent duty to see what was plainly apparent" before buying the home. (Ravalli Republic)
War on obesity
Following bans on super-sized sugary soft drinks inspired by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, PepsiCo Inc. unveiled a new version of Pepsi-Cola in Japan. Called Pepsi Special, it contains dextrin, an indigestible, potato-derived fiber that Pepsi says slows the absorption of fat in the body by binding with it and eliminating it as waste. "Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza?" Japanese commercials announce. "If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!" (Yahoo Health)
Zany South Koreans
The South Korean city of Suwon opened the world's first toilet theme park to honor its former mayor, who campaigned for better toilets for his country. Sim Jae-Duck, known as "Mr. Toilet," had a passion for toilets, having been born in his grandmother's bathroom. He designed and built himself a toilet-shaped house, which is now a museum in Restroom Cultural Park. Besides the theme park, Suwon holds an annual Golden Poop Art Festival. (London's UK Metro)
Several dozen South Korean activists stepped up aerial missions to launch condoms into North Korea after that country's government threatened "merciless" military attack against such propaganda measures. In the latest assault, North Korean defectors joined Christian and right-wing organizations to launch 20 helium-filled balloons in Yeoncheon County carrying 150,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets and 5,000 condoms, as well as sanitary pads, underwear, flashlights, candy and toothpaste. (Agence France-Presse)
Who needs guns?
Police reported a 28-year-old woman in Bellingham, Wash., hit her 31-year-old boyfriend on the top of his head with a glass bong. (The Bellingham Herald)
When a gunman demanded cash from store owner Saadat Khan, 49, in Stoneham, Mass., Khan told police he grabbed a cup of chili powder he keeps behind the counter to sprinkle on food and threw it in the robber's face, then punched him and threw him out of the store. (Associated Press)
What could go wrong?
California enacted a law requiring safety and performance standards be set for driverless motor vehicles by January 2015. Gov. Jerry Brown showed up in a self-driving Toyota Prius to sign the legislation at the Mountain View headquarters of Google Inc., which has been developing autonomous vehicle technology and already operates a dozen computer-controlled cars. The new law requires a licensed driver to sit behind the wheel to serve as a backup in case of emergency. "You can count on one hand the number of years before people can experience this," Google co-founder Serey Brin said. (Associated Press)
Seatbelts on airplanes are pointless, according to Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary. "If there ever was a crash on an aircraft," he announced, "God forbid, a seatbelt won't save you." O'Leary seeks approval to remove the last 10 rows of cabin seats on European flights so he can sell standing-room-only tickets there for less than $2. "We're always looking for new ways of doing things," O'Leary said. "It's the authorities who won't allow us to do them." (Britain's The Telegraph)
Houston authorities accused Deby Mejia, 23, of beating her 10-year-old sister unconscious with an extension cord because she caught the child eating a bag of Cheetos that she bought from a neighbor while the older sister was gone. (Houston's KTRK-TV)
Death row inmate Ronald Post, 53, asked a federal judge to stop his scheduled Jan. 16 execution in Ohio on the grounds that he'll suffer severe pain because he's so fat that he doesn't have accessible veins in his arms, hands or legs for a lethal injection. Post, who weighs more than 400 pounds, said he's tried losing weight, but back and knee problems have made exercise difficult, and severe depression keeps him from cutting down on his food intake. (Associated Press)
A nice gesture
San Francisco's Health Commission voted to provide and pay for sex-change surgery for uninsured transgender residents. Public Health Director Barbara Garcia described the approval as "symbolic" since the city lacks the expertise, capacity and protocols to provide the procedure through its clinics and public hospital. (Associated Press)
A Connecticut jury convicted Anthony Johnson, 49, of stealing up to $70,000 a week by crawling beneath seats in darkened movie theaters to remove credit cards from women's pocketbooks. He used the stolen cards to collect cash advances from the state's gambling casinos and to go on shopping sprees with his women accomplices, who would alert Johnson where potential victims kept their pocketbooks. The FBI said Johnson has been crawling on theater floors since at least 2007.
New York City fire marshals arrested sushi chef Fei Teng, 42, after gasoline he stored in soy sauce buckets at an East Side restaurant caught fire. Fire official Frank Dwyer said Teng asked a dishwasher to bring the containers from the basement to his car, but "more than half the gasoline" spilled onto the kitchen floor and ignited, burning Teng, a busboy and a waitress. (New York's Daily News)
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