Two cars, two fools 

Stranger than fiction

Curses, foiled again

Instead of pulling over when a police officer caught him running a stop sign in Palm Beach County, Fla., Alexander Webster, 29, led the officer on a high-speed chase. He lost control and crashed into a hedgerow, then fled on foot until the officer drew his pistol and ordered him to stop. Webster's 6-year-old son was found unhurt in the backseat of the crashed car. Webster said he fled because he didn't want to be charged with driving with a suspended license. Police checked and found his license was valid. (The Palm Beach Post)

Police arrested Ashton Powers, 24, in Tempe, Ariz., for slashing a tire on a police car with an officer in it. "I don't know what this guy was thinking," Sgt. Michael Pooley said. "It's a fully marked car, the car was running, the officer was inside with the air conditioning on and you could hear the car running. It still didn't stop him." Powers admitted slashing the tire but didn't notice anyone inside. (Phoenix's KNXV-TV)

Sons of beaches

After a bridge collapsed in Uganda's Nebbi District, cutting off access to a health center, a school and businesses, authorities took five years to rebuild it. Three days after the new bridge opened, it collapsed. Chief Administrative Officer Seraphine Ali blamed sand mining, which cleared all the supporting grass from the banks while the bridge was being rebuilt. (Uganda's Daily Monitor)

Florida's beaches are running out of sand. Worse, communities that have replenished storm-eroded beaches by dredging up offshore sand are discovering that there's little left offshore. As a result, beach cities are competing to find more sand. "You have counties starting wars with each other over sand," Broward County mayor Kristin Jacobs said. "Everybody feels like these other counties are going to steal their sand." Broward officials are considering a proposal to grind recycled glass into substitute beach sand. Another option is trucking sand from sand mines in central Florida. (The New York Times)

Panties in the sky

Indonesian authorities detained Broderick Chin, a manager at a vegetable oil company in Riau province, after workers who couldn't find a red-and-white Indonesian flag to fly on Independence Day complained that he told them, "Just use my underpants. I have red underpants, and my wife has white ones." National police official Agus Rianto said Chin was charged with insulting a state symbol and faces five years in prison. (Malaysia Chronicle)

Below rock bottom

New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner reportedly hired a California firm to provide actors to pose as supporters at an August Dominican Day Parade. The actors, who had been recruited by Crowds on Demand, were paid $15 an hour to seem "like either supporters or the people who met him and became supporters as a result of that encounter." After the Weiner campaign denied using actors, it released a commercial using unpaid interns, including Joel Acevedo, 18, to pose as regular New Yorkers supporting the long-shot candidate. (New York Post)

Future farmers

Researchers are designing robots that can harvest fresh produce without bruising it by integrating advanced sensors, robotic hardware and GPS technologies. Farmers say that the robots are costly, but they ultimately do save money, avoid labor shortages and yield a more consistent product. Farm workers counter that using robots actually results in lost jobs and greater pesticide use. (Associated Press)

A Massachusetts enterprise, New Earth Robotics, announced that it's teaming up with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to develop self-powering robots to destroy weeds and harmful pests, rendering herbicides and pesticides obsolete. "The robots' artificial intelligence will make them able to tell crops from weeds and good bugs from the bad," company spokesman Dean Cook explained, adding that the first step is to raise $65,000 to begin the research. (NewEarthRobotics.com)

Problem solved

The way to stop recidivism, according to Maryland's attorney general, is to give prisoners tablet computers with Internet access. An Android tablet, for example, would allow inmates to benefit from e-books, law resources and online learning programs. "It has to work," Douglas F. Gansler, declared. "It's common sense that it will work."

Coincidentally, American Prison Data Systems is seeking to sell prison systems tablets that it promises are indestructible and designed so they can't be used as weapons. CEO Christopher Grewe said tablet and Internet access would cost $500 a year per inmate. (The Washington Times)

VIP follies

Within months of offering visitors to the Denver Zoo exclusive access to pet and feed a rhinoceros for an extra $60, zoo officials announced that they would have to suspend the program because the rhino bit the finger of a woman who fed it. After the woman was taken to the hospital, Brian Aucone, the zoo's vice president for animal care, couldn't explain the black rhino's action but insisted it "is a gentle animal" that "has been hand fed safely thousands of times." (Denver's KMGH-TV)

What's your emergency?

Authorities in Hooksett, N.H., charged Jeanie Dufresne with misuse of 911 after she made 10 non-emergency calls in one month, including one asking for a pen. Earlier this year, Hooksett resident Elizabeth Niemi was arrested for calling 911 to ask for help ordering Chinese food. Police Chief Peter Bartlett said he hoped that holding Dufresne and Niemi accountable would send a warning that the emergency system is "not for something frivolous." (Boston's WBZ-TV)

Police told citizens of Fairfield, Conn., to stop calling 911 to complain about losing their cable television service after the emergency system was inundated with calls from distressed Cablevision customers. "Misuse of the 911 system may result in arrest," police posted on the department's Facebook page. (The Washington Times)

Japanese authorities charged Teruo Nozaki, 44, a part-time convenience store worker in Tokyo, with making 28,000 emergency phone calls between January 2012 and June 2013. Nozaki would make as many as 1,500 calls a day. When someone answered, he hung up. After he was arrested, he explained he made the calls "because I was irritated by the fact that I was always watched by police." (Japan Today)

Firearms follies

While demonstrating handgun safety at a class in Lancaster, Ohio, instructor Terry J. Dunlap Sr. fired a .38-caliber bullet that ricocheted off a desk and hit student Michael Piemonte, 26, in the arm. Noting that many students in the class were nurses, who helped stabilize him before he was taken to a Columbus hospital, Piemonte said Dunlap didn't know the gun was loaded. (The Columbus Dispatch)


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