Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

When Chicago police investigating reports of shots fired stopped a car that Shandra Kidd, 22, was riding in, she bolted. After an officer caught her, she stuck a gun in the officer's chest and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't fire. She tried again, but again the gun didn't go off. The officer then shot Kidd in the buttocks and arrested her. Investigators explained Kidd's gun was empty because the cylinder opened while she was fleeing, and all the bullets fell out. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Authorities investigating a spree of vehicle fires in El Paso, Texas, identified Edwardo Ramirez, 25, as the culprit because he left footprints that led to a nearby home, where he was found burning clothing in the backyard. The police report added that gold and silver spray paint on Ramirez's hands were the same colors as fresh graffiti near the burning vehicles. Also, a tattoo on Ramirez's stomach matched some of the graffiti. (El Paso's KVIA-TV)

Detached attachment

Two British security officers assigned to place an electronic monitoring tag on Christopher Lowcock, 29, were fired after officials discovered the device had been attached to Lowcock's artificial leg. According to the Ministry of Justice, Lowcock wrapped the fake limb in a bandage and then talked an agent of G4S, a security firm the government hired to tag offenders, into installing it over the bandage. Whenever Lowcock wanted to go out, he unattached the monitored leg and left it home. The second agent was fired after he went to inspect the monitoring equipment but failed to notice it was attached to an artificial leg. Managers discovered the ruse when they went to check on Lowcock a third time, only to learn he'd left home and been taken into custody for driving illegally. "Procedures were clearly not followed," a ministry official acknowledged, noting, "Two thousand offenders are tagged every week, and incidents like this are rare." (Britain's The Telegraph)

Litigation nation

The Washington, D.C., city attorney general's office filed a suit against convicted drug kingpin Cornell Jones, who founded a nonprofit organization when he got out of prison that received grants to fund a job-training center for people with HIV/AIDS. Instead, the suit says, Jones used $329,653 of the grant money to turn a 14,000-square-foot warehouse into a popular nightspot that advertises "five-star dining" and nude dancers. (The Washington Post)

John H. Gass filed suit against the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for revoking his driver's license after its $1.5 million antiterrorism computerized facial recognition system misidentified him as another driver. Gass, who drives for a living, said he had to spend 10 days dealing with bureaucratic indifference to prove his identity and correct the error. "There are mistakes that can be made," Registrar Rachel Kaprielian conceded but insisted protecting the public far outweighs Gass' or anyone's inconvenience. "A driver's license is not a matter of civil rights," Kaprielian reminded. "It's not a right. It's a privilege." (Boston Globe)

Non-user fees

AT&T began charging its landline customers who don't have long-distance calling plans — most rarely, if ever, make long-distance calls — a $2 a month "minimum use" fee. AT&T's Holly Hollingsworth said the charge is necessary to cover the company's cost "to provide customers with basic long-distance service, including account maintenance, even if no calls are made." (Cleveland's The Plain Dealer)

Justice is blind

After Julia Sullivan, 16, failed three tryouts for her high school cheerleading squad, her parents asked the Aurora, Neb., school board to correct what they called "scoring errors" during her third tryout. Following school administrators' advice to evaluate all participants the same, the three judges gave Sullivan, who cheers from a wheelchair and was born without legs and with arms that stop short of her elbows, a low score in the jumps/kicks category. (Omaha World-Herald)

Blow-up job

Police arrested Edwin Charles Tobergta, 32, for engaging in "sexual activity" with a pink inflatable swimming pool raft in Hamilton, Ohio. When the raft's owner shouted at the suspect to stop, Tobergta took the raft and fled. According to his grandmother, Tobergta has "always had a fascination for plastic." (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Way to go

After an Asiana Airlines flight from Guangzhou, China, landed at Korea's Incheon International Airport, a 43-year-old South Korean man's body was found in the aircraft's bathroom hanging by his belt from a clothes hanger. Police said the passenger apparently committed suicide during the flight. (Associated Press)

Bakery workers David Mayes, 47, and Ian Erickson, 44, were baked alive while cleaning a giant oven at a bread factory in Leicester, England. The men were crawling along a conveyer belt that carries bread trays slowly through the 75-foot-long oven because managers at the Harvestime bakery decided it would cost too much to remove the oven's side panels to easier access. Prosecutor Anthony Barker told Leicester Crown Court the machine should have been allowed to cool for 12 hours before the men went inside, but it had cooled for only two hours because the company lost 1,120 pounds ($1,750) for every hour the oven was idle. (Britain's Daily Mail)

Who needs guns?

When two teenage boys threw rocks at a passing car in San Diego, the vehicle stopped, and a passenger fired a crossbow that wounded one of the boys. The vehicle drove off, according to police, who said the deadly projectile pierced the 16-year-old boy's belly, but the injury wasn't life threatening. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Risky relaxation

Massages could prove fatal, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which said King International's ShoulderFlex Massager has already killed one user and nearly strangled another because a necklace and clothing became caught in a piece of the device that rotates during use. In other cases, people's hair became caught in the ShoulderFlex. The agency urged people who own one of the personal massagers to "dispose of the device components separately so that the massager cannot be reassembled and used." (U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety communication)

One-stop shop

A public restroom in Boston is being converted into a takeout sandwich shop. City officials said that Florida-based Earl of Sandwich chain signed a 15-year lease on the 660-square-foot Pink Palace restroom, which was built on Boston Commons in the 1920s and last used in the 1970s. It's called the Pink Palace for the color of its masonry. The company will renovate the mausoleum-like building to use as a kitchen and aims to open in spring 2012. (Associated Press)


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