Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Dexter White, 41, called 911 in North Charleston, S.C., complaining that he paid $60 to a drug dealer for crack cocaine but received only $20 worth of drugs and that the dealer refused to give him his $40 change. White said he smoked his crack before calling the cops, who arrested him anyway, for disorderly conduct. (Charleston's WCSC-TV)

No one spoke to the 911 operator who answered a call in Onondaga County, N.Y., but the operator overheard three men in a car planning break-ins. The men also mentioned their location. Realizing one of them had "pocket dialed" his cellphone's emergency number, the operator alerted sheriff's deputies. When one of the callers announced, "there go the cops now," the passing deputy turned around, stopped the vehicle and found tools reported stolen from a local business. Arrested were brothers Ronald J. Euson, 30, and Thomas Euson Jr., 28, and their cousin, Allen Euson, 29. (Associated Press; Syracuse's The Post-Standard)

When Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton received a text message from a Helena, Mont., teenager asking to buy marijuana, Dutton realized the boy had misdialed his drug dealer's number. He directed the texter to meet a detective posing as the dealer. When the texter arrived with a friend, the detective identified himself. One of the boys fainted. No citations were issued, but Dutton said they faced worse punishment from their parents. (Helena Independent Record)

Poetry Ph.D.s cheap

Ninety-three of 162 U.S. public research universities have adopted a "differential tuition" scale that charges students in potentially high-earning fields more than those with less earning potential. Business and engineering students typically pay more than English majors, for instance. Before 1988, only five institutions used the sliding scale, according to Glen Nelson, who researched the issue while at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the past three years, Nelson said, 18 institutions have adopted the practice, with business students paying 14 percent more tuition and engineering students paying 15 percent more. (Omaha World-Herald)

Joy ride justice

FBI Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston decided to take a joy ride in a 1995 Ferrari F50, which was being stored in Lexington, Ky., as evidence in a car-theft case. Within seconds of leaving the warehouse, Kingston lost control of the high-performance vehicle, which "fishtailed and slid sideways" and then crashed into a curb, bushes and a small tree, according to his passenger, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson. Declaring the rare automobile a total loss, Motors Insurance Co. sued the government for the $750,000 it had paid the stolen car's owner five years before the FBI recovered it. The Justice Department refuses to pay the Michigan company, insisting it is immune to tort claims when "certain goods" are in the hands of law enforcement. (Detroit News)

One-book wonder

After spending three months embedded with NASA's mission control, Andrew Kessler wrote his first novel, Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission. Next, he opened a bookstore in New York City's high-rent West Village and stocked it with just one book: his own. The store, Ed's Martian Book, is divided into sections, among them "staff favorite," "best-seller" and "self help." Reactions vary. "A lot of people are scared to come in," Kessler noted. "Some people wonder if we're Scientologists." (CNN)

No detours

A 24-year-old German man told authorities he became trapped in a women's prison in Hildesheim after he noticed its open gate and mistook it for a shortcut to a nearby park. By the time he realized his blunder, the gate had been locked. Mayor Henning Blum happened to be passing the prison when he heard the man's cries for help and notified police, who freed the man and began investigating why the prison gate wasn't closed. (Reuters)

Guilt ridden

When police pulled over a car in Rensselaer, N.Y., a 21-year-old male passenger bolted from it. He jumped into the Hudson River, whose current carried him 250 feet downstream before he could grab a branch and hold on until police rescued him. The unidentified man explained he fled because he thought officers had a warrant for his arrest. No warrants were outstanding. (Associated Press)

The Queen's OK

Although 41 percent of adults in England and Wales support independence for Scotland, according to a poll by the market research firm YouGov, only 29 percent of Scottish adults favor breaking away from the United Kingdom. (Reuters)

Melons go boom

As many as 115 acres of watermelons exploded in China's Jiangsu Province after farmers there overdosed the melons with the growth stimulator forchlorfenuron during wet weather, turning them into what Chinese news media described as "land mines." The 20 farmers affected were using the chemical for the first time, hoping to capitalize on a surge in watermelon prices. (Associated Press)

Come right in

Citizens have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes, according to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled in a separate case that same week that police serving a warrant do not need to obtain a judge's permission to enter a home without knocking. (The Times of Northwest Indiana)

Way to go

When a woman found a man using the bathroom of her apartment in Fayetteville, Ark., she screamed. The man, identified as John Standridge, who was homeless but spending the night in a neighboring apartment, then ran out of the room with his pants around his ankles, tripped, fell down the stairs and died. (Northwest Arkansas' KHBS-TV)

Louisiana State Police reported Jacques Luckett, 27, rear-ended another car on I-20 outside Ruston, then, for some reason, got out of his car and lay down on the road, where another vehicle ran him over. He died. (Monroe's News-Star)

Revolting grammar

A ceremonial banner hung in China's Forbidden City intended to congratulate local police for catching a suspect in the theft of rare handicrafts. Instead, it appears to be an invitation to revolution. Actually it's just a typo, a common occurrence in Mandarin Chinese, which is rife with homonyms. The slogan read, "To shake the great strength and prosperity of the motherland, and to safeguard the stability of the capital," but the word for shake, "han," is pronounced the same as the intended word: guard. When pictures of the subversive-reading banner were posted on the Internet, many Chinese reacted not by demanding freedom but by mocking the literacy level of the person who designed the banner. (The New York Times)


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