Curses, foiled again
Drug suspect Miles Parrotta, 46, tried to avoid arrest by fleeing from sheriff's deputies in Cortland, N.Y., on a bicycle. His getaway ended when he crashed into the back of a parked police car. (Associated Press)
Mauricio Contreras Rodriguez, 20, left a courtroom in Snellville, Ga., after answering a summons for driving without a valid license and hopped behind the wheel of a vehicle. A police court officer saw Rodriguez drive off and notified another police officer, who stopped the vehicle and confirmed that Rodriguez had no license. He also had more than an ounce of marijuana in the passenger seat and was arrested. (Gwinnett Daily Post)
New Christmas story
For this year's "Living Nativity" scene, Baptist Temple Church in Fall River, Mass., replaced one of the three Wise Men from the biblical narrative with Santa Claus bowing before Jesus in the manger. "The true message of Christmas is about Jesus' birth," explained Shirley Johnson, whose husband is the church's pastor. "And you know what Christmas has become for many: It's about Santa and the gifts. That's why we're showing Santa bowing the knee to baby Jesus." (Fall River's The Herald News)
Police arrested a 22-year-old man they said stole video games while working as a loss prevention manager at a Kmart store in Plain Township, Ohio, and sold them for cash to a Game Stop store. (Canton's The Repository)
Tax dollars at work
Unnecessary government spending in 2013 amounted to nearly $30 billion, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. His 177-page annual report of wasted taxpayers' money found, among other expenditures:
• $325,000 to fund a National Institutes of Health study that revealed, "Wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands."
• $3.5 million to install solar panels on the parking garage of a New Hampshire airport that had to be covered with tarps to prevent them from reflecting glare that blinded pilots during landings.
• $15,000 to collect thousands of gallons of human urine to test as hay field fertilizer.
• $360,000 to pay 20 people whom NASA recruited to "spend 70 days lying in bed" with their bodies slightly tilted to study how long-term space flights can decondition the human body, even though NASA has no plans for such travel.
• $566,000 to pay "futurist" Faith Popcorn to envision a viable future for the U.S. Postal Service. (The Washington Times)
A customer at a store in Mobile, Ala., noticed a masked gunman leading one of the employees to the front of the store and intervened. "He had the gun to his head," the customer said. "He had him on his knees. I drew my gun on him and I said, 'Hey, don't move.' At that point he swung around and before he had a chance to aim the gun at me, I fired. I didn't want to shoot him." After the wounded suspect, Adric White, 18, was taken to the hospital, his family said the Good Samaritan should have butted out. "What gives him the right to think that it's OK to just shoot someone?" asked a relative who didn't give his name. "You should have just left the store and went wherever you had to go in your car or whatever." (Mobile's WALA-TV)
After two masked gunmen rushed into a grocery store in Reading, Pa., a man who police described as a "concerned citizen," witnessed the robbery in progress and called 911. As the two robbers left the store, the witness demanded that they stop and wait for police. The robbers refused and pulled their guns. The witness then shot them in self-defense. Surveillance video confirmed the witness's account. Relatives of the dead robbers demanded the witness be prosecuted, however. "He took the law into his own hands and walked away scot-free," Virginia Medina, the mother of one of the robbers, said. A cousin, Peter Ratel, complained, "How about if people just start running around here, policing the city on their own?" (Allentown's WFMZ-TV)
Irony of the week
Rahinah Ibrahim, 48, a Malaysian citizen who was placed on the U.S. government's "no-fly" list in 2005 while studying at Stanford University, was eventually cleared to return to Malaysia. She subsequently sued to have her name removed from the "no-fly" list, but when her case came to trial in San Francisco in December, she wasn't permitted to travel to the United States to testify because her name is on the "no-fly" list. (Wired)
After a 30-minute, high-speed chase through Dallas suburbs, police Officer Patrick Tuter cornered suspect Michael Allen and yelled for him to get out of his pickup truck. Instead of giving him time to comply, however, Tuter immediately opened fire, according to witnesses. He unloaded 41 rounds, pausing at least once to reload, despite taking no return fire from Allen, who was unarmed. Three of those shots hit Allen, killing him, but 38 of them missed. A Dallas County grand jury subsequently indicted Tuter for manslaughter. (Dallas Morning News)
Job interview follies
When the manager of a McDonald's in Norfolk, Va., told job applicant Tevin Kievelle Monroe, 31, that he had to apply online, Monroe lifted his shirt to show her a gun tucked into his waistband. The manager told him to have a seat while she fetched a paper application from the office. She also called police, who arrived as Monroe was filling out the application and arrested him. (Norfolk's The Virginian-Pilot)
Only about half of the people who registered for free massive open online courses (MOOCs) ever viewed a lecture, and only about 4 percent completed the courses, according to a study of a million users by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. A separate survey by the university found that about 80 percent of those taking its MOOCs had already earned a college degree of some kind when they enrolled. (The New York Times)