Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Tita Nyambi, 25, tried to withdraw $700 from his mother's bank account by dressing in the woman's clothes and speaking in a high-pitched voice, according to authorities in Somerset County, N.J., who added that he also presented her driver's license and forged her signature on a bank form at the bank's drive-through teller. Newark's Star-Ledger said bank personnel immediately saw through the deception and called police, who responded while Nyambi was waiting for the money.

Bar code fly

Dennis Montgomery, head of a small software company in Reno, Nev., duped the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security into believing he could decode secret messages from al Qaida to its operatives sent via television. Playboy magazine, citing former CIA officials, reported that the Bush administration raised the terrorism alert level and canceled several transatlantic flights in December 2003 after Montgomery claimed bar codes on Al Jazeera TV contained targeting information for al Qaida attacks. The CIA eventually concluded there were no secret messages after French intelligence convinced the agency that the bar codes were bogus.

Guilt-free pleasures

An Irish company introduced the world's first "green technology sex toy." Janice O'Connor, the co-founder of Caden Enterprises, described the 8-inch Earth Angel as a wind-up vibrator with a handle built into the bottom. "You just flip out the handle, grab a hold of it there, and you just wind it," O'Connor told Agence France-Presse. "So for four minutes of doing that, you should generate enough power to give you 30 minutes of full-on, right-to-the-top vibrations." Besides needing no batteries, Earth Angel, which sells for $100, is made from 100 percent recyclable materials.

Chris O'Connor, Janice's husband, said he developed Earth Angel's power-storing technology more out of concern for climate change than for "sustainable pleasure." Ireland's prevailing Catholic morality forced the couple to turn to a British-based company to make the device, but he believes God would bless it as "something that's green and that doesn't do any damage to the environment."

A British company introduced a kitchen appliance that kills lobsters with electricity. Inventor Simon Buckhaven told the Times of London that his CrustaStun system is a humane alternative to boiling lobsters that spares the crustaceans "pain or distress." The microwave-size device costs about $3,500. A Canadian manufacturer is developing an industrial version that will sell for $100,000 or more.

The animal rights group PETA bought two CrustaStuns and paid for Buckhaven and his wife to fly to Tucson, Ariz., for a demonstration at a fundraising lobster dinner for the Family Resource Center. The courier service lost the two machines, however, and volunteers had to kill hundreds of lobsters in boiling water to serve the center's hungry supporters.

Kids today

Police investigating a fire in Clearwater, Fla., that extensively damaged a single-family home and sent homeowner Nancy Broadhead, 47, to the hospital with serious burns arrested the woman's 11-year-old daughter and the daughter's 15-year-old boyfriend, Jack Ault. They said the kids doused the mother's bed with gasoline while she slept, plotting "to basically set the mom on fire and leave her to die," police official Beth Watts said. Watts identified the motive as "teenage angst," which escalated when the mom "confronted the daughter about stealing some of her cigarettes." The St. Petersburg Times added that police charged Ault with stealing Broadhead's car, which the children fled in after the fire. "I thought I had seen everything," Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett told the newspaper. "Just when you think you have, here comes along something like this."

God helps them ...

Preaching to his congregation in North Yorkshire, England, the Rev. Tim Jones, 42, announced that the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" isn't carved in stone. He explained that shoplifting is acceptable as long as the shoplifters are desperate and that they steal from large national chain stores rather than small, family businesses.

Photoshop politics

For a photo contest held in conjunction with December's Copenhagen climate talks, Canada's opposition Liberal Party posted on its Web site a submission showing a doctored photo of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot in which Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's face was substituted for Oswald's. Another posting showed Harper with his fist in a cow's rectum, which the site presented as one of the "best seven" depicting where Harper would rather be than in Copenhagen. Reuters reported the postings were quickly removed and an apology issued by party official Mario Lague.

The year before, Harper was forced to apologize after the Conservative Web site featured an animated video showing a puffin pooping on then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

How about a belt?

New York City police investigating a triple murder at an upper West Side apartment said gunman Hector Quinones, 44, tried to shoot a fourth person, who escaped because Quinones tripped over his baggy pants while chasing her. The Daily News reported that when police arrived on the scene, Quinones tried to flee by jumping out a third-floor kitchen window onto the fire escape, but he lost his balance and plunged to the alley below, where he died from a broken neck with his droopy pants around his ankles.


Japanese police arrested Noda City resident Yuuki Oshima, 22, after he urinated through the mail slot of a woman's apartment onto a towel hung inside the door to keep people from peeping inside. The woman had reported to police that for the past five months, her doorbell would often ring in the middle of the night, and she would sometimes find urine inside the entrance. Japan Today reported that police said Oshima confessed, explaining he first saw the woman on the street five months earlier but didn't speak to her or try to approach her. "I absolutely went crazy for her the first time I saw her," he told police, "and just did it."

Spelling counts

While drinking at a bar in Jefferson, Wis., Jennifer K. Luick and a girlfriend began grabbing people by the butts "as a joke and to be playful," according to police, who said that Andrew J. Wirth, 24, objected when Luick grabbed him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that when Luick told her companion, Gregg T. Peters, 40, that Wirth had offended her, Peters confronted him. Wirth, who has a neck tattoo that reads "Nothing to lost (sic)," pulled out a .380 semiautomatic handgun and fatally shot Peters and Luick. After his arrest, Wirth appeared in Jefferson County Circuit Court, where he was Tasered twice for erupting in obscenities and lunging at the gallery.


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