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Curses, foiled again

Police investigating a credit card theft in New Britain, Conn., identified Joel Rubin, 42, as their suspect. They said that after using the stolen card belonging to a co-worker to make an $11 purchase, Rubin handed the clerk a store discount card in his own name.

A man entered a business in Nicholasville, Ky., waving a gun and demanding money. When an employee told him there was no money, police official Scott Harvey said the robber insisted, "I know you have money. It's a bank." After being told the bank moved four months earlier and that it was now the office of the Jessamine South Elkhorn Water District, the robber looked around, realized it wasn't a bank and left empty-handed.

Bush's legacy

Shoe-throwing has gained a foothold as a form of protest since Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi hurled his size 10s at President George W. Bush during a December news conference in Iraq. The Washington Times reported six incidents within days of each other in January:

During a council meeting in Ithaca, N.Y., an antiwar protester identified as Robin Palmer threw three shoes at Mayor Carolyn Peterson. Palmer was removed from the meeting but not arrested.

Benny Dagan, Israel's ambassador to Sweden, was hit on the leg by a barrage of shoes, as well as books, during a student gathering at Stockholm University.

A Ukrainian reporter shoed a local politician over taxes.

Several hundred Bosnians threw their shoes at effigies of local officials.

A lone British protestor threw a shoe that missed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a speech at Cambridge University.

Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva threatened to throw his shoes at unfriendly journalists.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi town of Tikrit, home of Saddam Hussein, unveiled a 6-foot, ton-and-a-half monument to Zaidi that depicts a bronze-colored shoe, filled with a plastic shrub. The "Statue of Glory and Generosity" by artist Laith al-Amiri bears the inscription, "Muntazer: fasting until the sword breaks its fast with blood; silent until our mouths speak the truth."

Hooray for science

In a dispatch about German scientists having reconstructed the genome of Neanderthals, the New York Times reported that Dr. George Church, a genome researcher at Harvard Medical School, estimated a Neanderthal could be brought to life using present technology for about $30 million. Doing so, he said, would satisfy the deep-seated human desire to communicate with other intelligences.

Gun goofs

Steve Tapp, 59, reached into his pocket for money to pay for lunch at a hospital cafeteria in Lafayette, Colo., and shot himself in the right thigh with a gun concealed in that pocket. He was treated at the hospital and released.

Joseph Lyle, 31, was killed by his own hunting rifle while driving his pickup truck in Rutherford County, Tenn. Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin said evidence indicated that Lyle was handling the loaded weapon with the safety off when it accidentally discharged.

Police in Fargo, N.D., said a woman sleeping with a shotgun in bed rolled over on it, causing the gun to fire and send a pellet through the wall and into the headboard of her neighbor's bed. Sgt. Jeff Skuza couldn't say why the woman was sleeping with the gun but told the Fargo Forum individuals who keep guns in the bedroom rarely sleep with them. "It's not something we recommend," he said.

A woman trying to commit suicide in Tallahassee, Fla., instead accidentally shot her boyfriend in the shoulder, according to police Investigator Derek Friend. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

While a 15-year-old boy was sitting on a couch with his girlfriend on his lap at a home in Syracuse, N.Y., he pulled out a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol. The girlfriend objected, but the boy insisted the safety was on. Police Sgt. Tom Connellan said the boy tried to prove his point by aiming the gun at his face twice and pulling the trigger. When he pointed the gun at his face a third time and pulled the trigger, the gun fired. The boy was hospitalized in serious condition.

Fugitive of the year

Assuming that police were after him on drug charges, Bennie Wint faked his own death in Daytona Beach, Fla., and then spent the next 20 years hiding from the law. He fled to Alabama, changed his name to William Sweet, married and had a son. His secret was exposed in January when police stopped him in Asheville, N.C., for not having a light bulb on his car license plate. When the name he gave police failed to show up on their computer, he blurted out his story and admitted his real name. Officers informed him there were no outstanding warrants. "He believed he was wanted when he really wasn't," Sgt. Stacy Wyatt said after Wint, 49, was ticketed for driving without a license and giving a false name to police.

The name game

Thai police charged the singer of a band with negligence for setting off fireworks that started a nightclub blaze and killed 66 patrons in Bangkok. The singer, Sarawut Ariya, 28, was performing with the band Burn.

British dairy farmers who call their cows by name reported higher milk yields than those who don't, according to a study by Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Reporting in Anthrozoos, an online journal devoted to the "interactions of animals and people," the researchers said they interviewed 516 dairy farmers, 46 percent of whom said their cows had individual names. Dairy farmers who named their cows got 2,105 gallons during a 10-month lactation cycle, compared with 2,029 gallons from unnamed cows. "Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention," researcher Catherine Douglas said.

Gezundheit sex

Sneezing may be a sign of sexual arousal, according to British doctors Mahmood Bhutta and Harold Maxwell. Citing the case of a middle-aged patient who suffered uncontrollable fits of sneezing whenever he thought of sex, the doctors gathered further evidence from Internet chat rooms, where 17 people of both sexes reported sneezing immediately upon thinking of sex and three others who said they sneezed after orgasm. The doctors, who reported their findings in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, believe the phenomenon is more widespread than thought and might even be inherited.

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