Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

Wearing a ski mask and sunglasses, John Columbus Beane, 58, entered a pizza place in Sissonville, W.Va., pointed a .410 shotgun at several employees and demanded money. The workers fled, leaving the store's electronic cash register. Beane couldn't figure out how to open it, however, and left empty-handed. Later that night, he entered a sports bar just down the road, again showing a shotgun and announcing a robbery. This time, two patrons wrestled the weapon from him and repeatedly clubbed him with it until police arrived. (The Charleston Gazette)

A man barged into a motel room in Bradenton, Fla., pulled a black handgun from his waistband and demanded "everything you got" from the two men inside. Police Capt. Warren Merriman said the men began to fight, the intruder dropped his gun, and one of the victims pepper sprayed him in the face. The suspect ran away but returned moments later and begged the two men to sell him back his gun for $40. They pepper sprayed him in the face again, and he ran away. This time, a police officer who'd arrived on the scene, spotted the fleeing suspect and arrested Cedrick Mitchell, 39. (Bradenton Herald)

Truancy thwarted

A Brazilian school system is spending $670,000 to provide students with computer chips, to be embedded in school uniforms, that send a text message to the cellphones of parents when their children enter the school or alert them if the children fail to arrive within 20 minutes after classes begin. Coriolano Moraes, education secretary of Vitoria da Conquista's 213 public schools, said nearly half of the city's 43,000 public school students have started using the chips and that all of them will be using them by next year. (Associated Press)

Leading the witness

Superior Court Judge David E. Barrett was presiding over a bond hearing for a sheriff's deputy accused of rape and assault in Lumpkin County, Ga., when the female victim became evasive while giving testimony. The judge informed the woman she was "killing her case" by being uncooperative, then pulled out his handgun and feigned offering it to her, saying, "You might as well shoot your lawyer." District Attorney Jeff Langley approached the judge and asked him to put away the weapon. He did, and the hearing proceeded. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Not lovin' it

After Evangeline Marrero Lucca, 37, cut ahead of a McDonald's drive-through line in Fayetteville, N.C., store employees told her she would have to go around and wait in line like everybody else to place her order. The woman became confrontational and refused to move, sheriff's official Debbie Tanna said, noting that when deputies arrived, "she really got mad." Lucca stayed put for about 20 minutes, whereupon several deputies entered the car and used a Taser on her, according to witness Anthony Rich, who said, "When they Tased her the second time, she just flopped out of the car like a fish." (Fayetteville Observer)

Scanner follies

Spanish police arrested 22 Romanian nationals suspected of operating two Madrid prostitution rings that tattooed women on the wrist with bar codes as a sign of ownership. Police dubbed the suspects "bar code pimps." (Associated Press)

Rent or own?

NASA head Charles F. Bolden Jr. asked Congress for $830 million so the agency can stop paying Russia to ferry U.S. space crews to the International Space Station. "I'm going to pay the Russians $450 million a year for every year that I don't have an American capability to put humans into low-Earth orbit," Bolden told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Admitting that the agency's reliance on Russia is the result of poor planning over the past several years, Bolden said that with the money, partnerships with private industry and President Obama's commitment, the United States could begin transporting its own crews as early as 2017. (The Washington Times)

Fiction turns to fact

After Maria Dmitrienko won for Kazakhstan at the Arab Shooting Championships in Kuwait, she received her gold medal while the public address system broadcast a spoof of Kazakhstan's national anthem from the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Instead of "Sky of golden sun" and "steppe of golden seed," the audience heard "Kazakhstan's prostitutes cleanest in the region." Dmitrienko kept a straight face throughout the anthem but afterward cracked a smile. Her teammates, however, demanded an apology and that the ceremony be repeated. Organizers insisted they had downloaded the parody from the Internet by mistake. They also got Serbia's anthem wrong. (BBC News)

Facebook justice

Alan Fulk married a woman in 2001, moved out in 2009, changed his name to Alan L. O'Neill and remarried without divorcing her. The first wife found out about the second wife when Facebook's automatic efforts to connect users suggested a friendship connection under its "People You May Know" feature. "Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2's page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake," Pierce County, Wash., Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, adding that the first wife immediately called O'Neill's mother. Within an hour, O'Neill was at the first wife's apartment, admitted they weren't divorced and implored her not to report him. Despite his protests, she promptly notified police, who charged O'Neill, 41, with bigamy. "Facebook is now some place where people discover things about each other that end up reporting that to law enforcement," Lindquist said. (Associated Press)

Orthographic outrage

When some parents objected to a school menu in Methuen, Mass., that offered "KKK Chicken Tenders," the Methuen Public School's Nutrition Department said "KKK" stood for "Crispy, Crunchy Chicken," with the C's swapped for K's. Informed that "KKK" was offensive, a department official said the menu wouldn't be reprinted, but the entry was changed on the school's website to "Krispy, Krunchy Chicken." A parent who'd complained, complained again, saying, "If they're teaching our kids to spell correctly, it should be 'CCC.'" (Boston's WCVB-TV)

Way to go

Justin Miller, 28, was killed while walking along a sidewalk in Beaufort, S.C., after being hit by a stolen fire truck. Firefighters had responded to an emergency call at an apartment complex, where authorities said Kalvin Hunt, 26, stole the fire engine. He drove about two miles before hitting Miller, then careened off the road and crashed into some trees. Hunt was pinned inside the truck. After rescue workers freed him, he began assaulting two police officers who tried to take him to the hospital with injuries. (The Beaufort Gazette)


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