Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Albert Bailey, 27, and a 16-year-old accomplice phoned a bank in Fairfield, Conn., and said they'd be by in 10 minutes to pick up $100,000 in large bills. Their call warned no dye packs and threatened "a blood bath" if the money wasn't ready. Bank officials immediately notified police, who showed up in time to stop the suspects after they picked up the money but before they could make their getaway. The robbers got what they wanted but "didn't expect police to be in the take-out line," police Sgt. James Perez noted, adding, "You can't make this stuff up." (Connecticut Post)

It's reasonable

After police arrested Anthony Coffman, 28, for using a hunting knife to cut open meat packages in a supermarket in Edinburgh, Ind., and then throwing the raw meat on the floor, Coffman explained he's a vegetarian and gets upset when others eat beef. He insisted God sent him to ruin the meat, adding he was trying to save little girls from food he believes would make them "chubby." "He thought if he could save one chubby girl, he's done his job," police Deputy Chief David Lutz said. (WRTV News)

After a late-night argument with his wife, Gerald Lancaster, 84, fired a gunshot as she left their home in Houston, Texas, then went back inside. He didn't come out when police arrived and remained inside for nearly six hours, even after a SWAT team arrived on the scene and tried to coax him out with phone calls and pleas from a bullhorn. At one point, they even fired tear gas into the home, but he still didn't come out. Finally, officers broke through the door and arrested Lancaster peacefully. He explained to authorities that he hadn't responded to their efforts because he was asleep during much of the standoff and didn't realize police officers had surrounded his home. (Houston Chronicle)

Look Ma, no eyes

Turkish pop singer Metin Senturk, who has been blind since he was 3, wept for joy after learning that he had become the world's fastest unaccompanied blind driver. His average speed of 292.89 kph (181.59 mph) broke the previous record of 284 kph, held by a British bank manager. Former rally driver Volkan Isik followed Senturk in a separate vehicle and guided him by radio. (Reuters)

Collier Sims, 24, won the first known blind-fencing competition, held at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass. "A lot of the fencing actions that we do, we can apply them to everyday life," said the competition's organizer, Cesar Morales, fencing coach at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., explaining that learning to use a fencing foil is similar to learning to use a white cane to navigate. (The Boston Globe)

Well-heeled thief

South Korean police arrested a 59-year-old man suspected of stealing shoes, which Koreans customarily remove before entering homes, restaurants and funeral parlors. A subsequent search found 170 boxes packed with 1,700 pairs of expensive designer shoes, sorted by size and brand. "Shoe theft is not unusual here," Detective Kim Jeong-gu said. "But we gasped at this one."

The suspect, identified only by his last name, Park, is a former used-shoe vendor, convicted twice in the past five years of pilfering shoes. He was on parole when police spotted him outside the Samsung Medical Center funeral parlor. They observed him return several times pretending to be a mourner and swapping cheap shoes for expensive ones. (The New York Times)


Cigarettes may contain traces of pig blood, according to Dutch researchers, who found cigarette companies using pig hemoglobin to make filters to trap harmful chemicals before they enter smokers' lungs. Although cigarette manufacturers voluntarily list the contents of their products on their websites, those are proven-dangerous ingredients. They lump pig's blood under undisclosed "processing aids," which "do not functionally affect the finished product," said Australian public health professor Simon Chapman, who pointed out Jewish, Islamic and vegetarian smokers would find inhaling pig's blood "very offensive." (Australian Associated Press)

Green acres

Detroit officials plan turning a quarter of the 139-square-mile city into fields and farms. Mayor Dave Bing said the city faces a $300 million budget deficit and dwindling tax base, and can't continue to provide police and fire protection and other city services to all areas. The plan to "downsize" the heavily industrial city calls for large demolition swaths to cut through 91,000 vacant residential lots and 33,000 empty houses in blighted neighborhoods, creating pockets of green, semi-rural surrounding surviving neighborhoods. The biggest obstacle to implementation is getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to buy land, raze buildings and relocate residents, since the city has no money. (Associated Press)

Avoirdupois follies

Ads and catalogs using plus-sized models don't work with their target audience, according to a study investigating the link between model sizes in ads and the self-esteem of consumers looking at the ads. "We believe it is unlikely that many brands will gain market share by using heavy models in their ads," said Naomi Mendel of Arizona State University, who worked with researchers from Germany's University of Cologne and Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Not only does the lower self-esteem of overweight consumers lessen their enthusiasm to buy products touted by people who look like them, she explained, but also "normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models." (Arizona State University News)

Birds of a feather

Citizens who oppose teaching the theory of evolution in schools are gaining ground by linking it to global warming and arguing that public schools should teach dissenting views on scientific theories in general. The result is more state legislatures debating measures that support the idea. "There is a lot of similar dogmatism on this issue," said John G. West, senior fellow with a group advocating the teaching of intelligent design, "with scientists being persecuted for findings that are not in keeping with the orthodoxy." (The New York Times)

Slight provocation

Jacoby Laquan Smith, 33, admitted beating up his quadruple amputee girlfriend, but only after she hit him first because he yelled at her for blocking his view of television. Tiesha Bell, 28, "punched me in the groin," Smith told a court in St. Paul, Minn., then hit him with a coffee canister, a bedpan filled with urine and her wheelchair. Bell conceded there was hitting on both sides, declaring, "We both need anger management." (St. Paul's Pioneer Press)

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