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Stranger than fiction

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Curses, foiled again

Police arrested forgery suspect Alfonso Rizzuto, 47, after he entered a post office in Kingston, Pa., and a postal worker recognized him from a wanted poster posted in the office. The Times Leader reported that when police stopped Rizzuto outside the post office, he identified himself using a New York driver's license and claimed the man on the poster was his brother. After a fingerprint scan revealed his true identity, Rizzuto admitted he was the person on the wanted poster and that the driver's license belonged to his brother.

New York City police looking for a man who tried to rob a bank but left with no cash spotted a man fitting the suspect's description waiting in line at another bank. Just as the man was handing the teller a hold-up note, Officers Michael Gonzalez and George Billaverde walked up and arrested Mark Mcnulty, 55. "He was surprised," Gonzalez told the Daily News. "He was so focused on what he was doing."

When a man in a liquor store in Trenton, N.J., grabbed a bottle of cognac and ran for the door, owner Jeff Wadkins, 76, activated a switch that locked the door. Police said the trapped thief pulled a handgun and demanded to be let out of the store, but Wadkins recognized the gun was a fake, kept the door locked and called the police. The Times of Trenton reported the suspect ran to the back of the store looking for another way out. Finding none, he sat down and began crying. Officers arrived to find Edwin Calix, 19, still sobbing when they arrested him.

Flu fever

Afghanistan's only known pig was removed from view at Kabul Zoo to avoid worrying the public. "Most people don't have much knowledge about swine influenza, and seeing a pig, they panic that they will be infected," zoo director Aziz Gul Saqib told Agence France-Presse. He explained the animal, a gift from China in 2002, has been quarantined in its winter house until the worldwide pig panic subsides.

Slight provocation

Police called to break up a fight between a married couple in Surrey, British Columbia, attributed the altercation to the evening news broadcast. "The violence on the news was disconcerting to the woman," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow told the Vancouver Sun, explaining the husband slapped his wife twice across the back of her head, and she replied by smashing him over the head with a jar.

Expert witness

District Attorney Al Moustakis of Vilas County, Wis., said he planned to recruit 5-foot-8, 140-pound women willing to stick their head in a toilet to help him make his case that a woman was drowned by her husband and didn't commit suicide as he claims. Appleton's Post-Crescent said the experiments involve positioning women the size of the late Genell Plude, 28, around a toilet to determine whether the version of events told by her husband, Douglas Plude, 42, is plausible.

Hot-smelling teens

Authorities in Lakewood, Colo., asked schoolteachers, principals and parents to discourage youngsters from viewing more than 200 YouTube videos showing Axe Body Spray being used as a flamethrower. "Nearly a dozen young people are facing a range of charges after using the popular teenage cologne to set things on fire, including themselves," a news release from West Metro Fire Rescue stated. "Recently, several young people have been investigated by fire officials after lighting classmates' clothing on fire and using it as a flamethrower to ignite other items. In one instance, bushes next to an apartment caught fire and spread to the building."

Joy-riding follies

Kile Wygle, 28, was hospitalized in Newark, Ohio, after crashing his vehicle — a motorized barstool powered by a dismantled lawn mower. The Newark Advocate reported that Wygle, who was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated after admitting he had consumed 15 beers, told investigating officers the barstool had a top speed of 38 mph.

Authorities in Sun City Center, Fla., reported a rash of souped-up golf carts speeding on public roads. About 25 percent of area residents own golf carts, which are street legal so long as they don't go faster than 19 mph. But sheriff's Deputy Rob Thornton told the St. Petersburg Times he gets calls every week about speeding golf carts, mostly from other golf-cart drivers. Sun City Golf & Cars accommodates requests for more powerful motors but makes customers sign a waiver promising they won't use the golf carts on public roads. "You have to take their word for it," storeowner Barry Klawans said. Ray's Golf Carts also installs faster motors but only to customers who swear they'll get a license plate, which is required for carts that go faster than 20 mph.

Spelling counts

Two-thirds of Americans think that spelling among adults is on the decline, with about a quarter admitting that they are bad spellers themselves, according to a study by the London-based Spelling Society. The most troublesome word for men, misspelled by 78 percent on occasion, is "friend;" for women, more than half couldn't spell "liaison" correctly. The society, founded in 1908 to raise awareness of problems caused by irregularities in English spelling, advocates a regular spelling system for the United States and Britain, a move favored by 40 percent of those surveyed. Ten percent said it's government's responsibility to help Americans improve their spelling.

Birmingham, England's second-largest city, decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, declaring they're confusing and old-fashioned. "Apostrophes denote possessions that are no longer accurate and are not needed," Councilor Martin Mullaney, who heads the city's transport scrutiny committee, said. "More importantly, they confuse people," as well as GPS units, including those used by emergency services. Jenny Hodge, an official with satellite navigation equipment maker TomTom, disputed Mullaney's claim, explaining that GPS units accommodate addresses with and without apostrophes. A test by the Associated Press backed her up.

Officials in Webster, Mass., discovered that signs directing visitors to a local lake have spelled its Indian name wrong for years. It isn't Lake Chargoggagoggmanchaoggagoggchaubunaguhgamaugg, but Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (with a U at letter 20 instead of an O and an N at letter 38, not an H). Locals simply refer to it as Lake Webster.

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