Stranger Than Fiction 

Curses, foiled again Hoping to avoid ground-level alarms, burglars decided to cut through a roof to enter a business in Des Moines, Iowa. Instead, they wound up on the sidewalk outside. "They forgot to take into account the overhang," said Rich Bartlett, owner of Southside Tobacco & Liquor. The burglars apparently tried to cut a second hole, only to be spotted by a woman walking her dog who told them to get down. They did, right in front of a security camera. Police easily identified Zagory Harris, 17, and Taylor Kraus, 15, as the culprits. "They have a hell of a good camera at that store," Detective Ron Foster commented to the Des Moines Register. "Very clear pictures." Not so fast The proliferation of online videos, music and games prompted Comcast cable company to start cutting off its Internet service to excessive downloaders, who it said hog Internet capacity and slow down the network for other customers. The Washington Post reported the company declined to reveal specific bandwidth limits, insisting that if customers knew, they would use as much capacity as possible without tipping the scale, causing networks to slow to a crawl. Only cable networks are affected because subscribers often share connections, whereas phone lines run directly to each home. Grand updates To handle an increase in the number of obese patients, the Dutch city of Assen began deploying heavy-duty ambulances. Emergency services director Tjerk Hiddes explained that operators ask callers their weight. Any heavier than 220 pounds are handled by the new ambulances, which weigh 3,300 pounds more than regular ambulances and have special lifts to hoist patients.

A British maker of fire and rescue equipment introduced a 392-pound training dummy to help emergency services cope with the growing number of obese people they have to rescue. Noting that simply adding weight to existing dummies doesn't accurately represent the weight distribution in a larger person, Lawrence Lee of Ruth Lee Fire & Rescue Equipment said the company "created a dummy that replicates, as closely as possible, the body mass of a large person." Who needs guns? A 27-year-old man broke into a home in Uniondale, N.Y., and beat the homeowner with a karaoke machine, while the 64-year-old victim tried to defend himself with a vacuum-cleaner hose. Nassau County police Sgt. Anthony Repalone said the attacker, who also bit off the victim's ear, "just randomly picked this house." Homeland insecurity A recent probe by the Government Accountability Office uncovered that the Pentagon cannot account for $19.2 billion worth of equipment provided to Iraqi security forces. The July 2007 report said the equipment includes "about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80 items of body armor and 115,000 helmets." Inconvenient truth Researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences reported that a grown moose belches out methane gas equivalent to 4,630 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. That, according to Scandinavian Airlines, is more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted on a round-trip flight from Oslo to Santiago, Chile. Way to go Workers from a shopping center in Allen Park, Mich., found the body of a 41-year-old man in a nearby wooded area next to a guillotine he built and used to kill himself. The 6-foot-tall device was bolted to a tree and included a swing arm. Investigators pointed out the man, who did not leave a suicide note, had to make several trips to carry the wooden and metal parts to the scene. "I can't even tell you how long it must have taken him to construct," Deputy Police Chief Dale Covert said. "This man obviously was very determined to end his life." No privilege in rank Scott Richardson, director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance and a resident of Hilton Head Island, received a letter notifying him that his policy was being dropped, along with thousands of other coastal residents in the state. "If I'm not immune," Richardson said, "then nobody is."


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