Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Randy King, 53, admitted stealing an antique wrought-iron fence from a house in Duluth, Minn., after police confronted him with the evidence: the fence itself, which King had installed around his own house, a few blocks away. Officers came looking for him because the victim told them King had tried to buy her fence the month before. (Duluth News Tribune)

Holy melee

Followers of two rival Muslim leaders observing one of Islam's most important holidays by sharing a mosque in Pakistan's Baluchistan province began arguing over which faction should lead prayers. They pulled out weapons and started shooting, Khuzdar district police official Javed Ahmed reported, wounding 18 people. (Associated Press)

Enemies list

John D. Gilliand appeared in court in Alachua County, Fla., asking for restraining orders against former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, President Barack Obama and Jesus Christ. He explained he feels threatened by them and made reference to their being part of gangs or making gang symbols at him. When the court denied his petitions, Gilliand promptly filed a supplemental affidavit asking the court to reconsider a restraining order against Tebow and Obama but not Jesus. (Orlando Sentinel)

Litigation nation

Chadwick St.-OHarra, 59, and Steve Righetti, 59, filed a lawsuit against a restaurant in Marin County, Calif., accusing it of ruining Righetti's birthday dinner by serving "exploding" escargots. The plaintiffs allege when they pierced the snails with cocktail forks, hot garlic butter sprayed on their faces and polo shirts. "I was humiliated," Righetti declared, conceding the friends finished their dinner before deciding to file a claim against the Seafood Peddler. St.-OHarra said he and Righetti wouldn't have sued if restaurant employees had shown sufficient remorse. "It was the indifference," St.-OHarra said. "It was the friggin' rudeness." (Marin Independent Journal)

Cleveland's Tim and Mary Katherine Gann sued their local Steak 'n Shake, claiming their son ordered chili, a restaurant employee asked if he'd like hot sauce, then served him "Blair's Mega Death Sauce," reputed to be 500 times hotter than a jalapeño. After eating some with his chili, the boy broke out in hives, had difficulty breathing and suffered severe pain and inflammation of his digestive system, including his mouth and throat, requiring hospitalization. (Cleveland Daily Banner)

Two Florida restaurants are suing each other, claiming only one uses water with an authentic New York taste. The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. in Delray Beach accused Mamma Mia's Trattoria & Brick Oven Pizzeria in Lake Worth of stealing its water-filtration process to "Brooklynize" water for bagels and pizza. Mamma Mia's insisted that the bagel place is illegally claiming to have patented the filtering process. (United Press International)

Guilty consciences

Franklin, N.J., joined the national Fugitive Safe Surrender program, in which people wanted for nonviolent crimes such as traffic violations and minor drug charges give themselves up and receive favorable treatment. But 550 of the 3,901 who turned themselves in weren't wanted for anything. "For some people, this seemed to be a way to check: Do I have a warrant or not?" parole board official Neal Buccino said. "Or maybe some people didn't know they had a case dismissed." (Newark's The Star-Ledger)

After a hospital security director in Wayne, N.J., discussed a routine code change with pharmacy manager Leonardo Zoppa, 34, Zoppa asked, "Do you know anything else about me?" Asked for specifics, Zoppa admitted placing a hidden camera in the ceiling of a men's bathroom. Maintenance workers found the camera and turned it over to security director Baggo Mileski, who hadn't viewed it before Zoppa's appointment. He believes Zoppa checked on the camera when Mileski asked to see him and panicked when he couldn't find it. (Newark's The Star-Ledger)

Paging Dr. House

A British medical panel permanently suspended Christopher Burrows, a doctor at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital, after he repeatedly turned off patients' monitor alarms because the buzzers "irritated" him. He had been suspended twice before for altering or turning off alarms, dating back to 2005, and told a nurse they were a waste of time. He was also frequently rude to colleagues. In announcing Burrows's suspension, Harvey Marcovitch, chair of the General Medical Council, declared that the doctor showed a "persistent lack of insight" into his failings. (Plymouth's The Herald)

Lower education

Wendy Scott, one of two sixth-grade teachers in North Brookfield, Mass., notified parents that she and the other teacher, Susan LaFlamme, had banned their students from carrying any writing implements on their person, in a backpack or on the school bus. Instead, Scott's memo stated that students would be issued a pencil for use in class that would be collected at the end of each day. Any student found with an unauthorized pen or mechanical pencil would be presumed to possess it "to build weapons" or to have stolen it from the official supply and would be sent to the principal, Scott explained, insisting the purpose of the new rule was to return the school's focus to academics rather than discipline. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

Vicky Parsley, 43, headmistress of Applecroft primary school, for ages 3 to 11, in Hertfordshire, England, banned parents from taking pictures of their children during school performances and events. Parsley also had black bars printed across the eyes of 4-year-old children pictured in the school yearbook. Parsley's 17-page "photography policy" explains these methods are necessary to ensure that children's faces aren't superimposed on obscene Internet images. (Britain's Daily Mail)

Season's eatings

The French fast-food chain Quick is offering burgers made from foie gras at its 350 outlets across France during the Christmas season. The Supreme Foie Gras, consisting of duck liver, beef, relish and lettuce, sells for 5 euros ($6.57). "We want to give our clients great taste at cheap prices and give them the possibility to party a little ahead of time," said Quick's marketing director, Laurent Niewolinski. (Reuters)


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