Columns » Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction


Aiming to reduce aggressive behavior among pedestrians on London's busy Oxford Street, merchants proposed dividing sidewalks into fast and slow lanes. Slow walkers straying into the fast lane would be fined 10 pounds ($14.34). "In an ideal world, there would not be any regulations," Rhona Harrison, a spokesperson for the merchants, said. "But there are too many people, and there is too little space."

Police in Haverford Township, Pa., arrested Clayton Lindsay, 22, when he tried to buy a new car using credit cards that had been stolen from a woman in Downington. Although Lindsay pretended to be the victim by dressing as a woman, police pointed out he is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds.

A 35-year-old man in Moenchengladbach, Germany, decided to commit suicide when his girlfriend left him. He turned on the gas in the cellar of his apartment building he shared with two other families, but had second thoughts and turned it off. After returning to his apartment, he lit a cigarette, unaware that the building was still full of gas. The blast destroyed the roof and several walls, according to police, who took the man into custody.

Nicotine patches and gum aimed at helping people quit smoking may themselves cause cancer, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. "Our research provides scientific evidence that nicotine products designed for long-term use may not be safe," Stephen Hecht told New Scientist magazine, indicating this is the first time that nicotine, rather than other chemicals in tobacco, has been linked to the disease.

Earl Misch, 65, quit his job as a top-selling real estate broker to realize his life-long goal of becoming a Chicago police officer. He spent less than a year on the force when the City Council enacted a mandatory retirement age of 63, forcing Misch to retire.

State inspectors near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, stopped two U.S. Government water trucks en route to fight wildfires in Montana and discovered the trucks were one and two tons over the 17-ton highway limit. After issuing $100 citations, the inspectors wouldn't permit the drivers to continue until they had dumped enough water to get below the limit.

Sheriff's deputies in Stafford County, Va., arrested Paul Gilbert Smith, 43, after they said he pulled down his pants and mooned them from his motel window while they were talking to a woman, then extended an arm and displayed his middle finger. Sheriff Charles Jett said the man told the deputies that he heard police were conducting sobriety checkpoints, and he was "intoxicated and feeling cocky." At the time, Jett noted, the deputies were not conducting sobriety tests.

A post mortem of Emma Christofferson, 28, who died minutes after getting off a flight from Australia to London, concluded that she was the victim of "economy class syndrome." The condition, technically called deep vein thrombosis, is often caused by long periods spent in cramped conditions, such as the packed seating found in the economy class section of airliners. Christofferson's Qantas flight via Singapore traveled 12,000 miles.

Nearly 30 years after the Attica prison riots, the government finally mailed settlement checks to surviving inmates who claimed they were brutally beaten when New York State police retook the prison. The checks ranged from $6,500 to $125,000, depending on the severity of the inmate's injuries.

Shortly after Keevis and Tiffanie Holland, both 18, were married, they beat a 64-year-old woman in Irving, Texas, and stole her car, police said. Living off the victim's stolen credit and gas cards, they drove to Chicago, then headed east. After a snowstorm hit Buffalo, police in nearby Clarence, N.Y., found the Cadillac stuck in the snow and discovered it was stolen. When they searched the car, they came across a business card from a local motel, where they found the Hollands.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone proposed that two statues memorializing 19th-century British generals Sir Charles James Napier and Henry Havelock be moved from Trafalgar Square and replaced with people "that ordinary Londoners and people from around the world would know." Among those objecting to the change was Niall Ferguson, a history professor at Oxford University. "It is a sure sign that a country is a banana republic," he told the Associated Press, "when the statues in the squares are changed every 30 years or so to conform with current political thinking."

Culture Secretary Chris Smith announced that a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh is being moved from its prominent central London location to distant Greenwich to make way for a monument to the women of World War II. Noting the scholar, warrior and explorer is "a figure of enormous importance," Smith explained the statue of the man who spread his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth I could keep her feet dry, is "dwarfed and out of place" in its present location.

Zurich's Electric Power Co. reported that as many as 200 of the 600 clocks it controls around Switzerland's financial capital were set back two hours at the end of daylight savings time instead of the intended one hour.

Christopher Cush, 23, flagged down a Spotsylvania County, Va., sheriff's deputy when his car ran out of gas. While the deputy was driving him to a gas station, Cush gave him a name that did not turn up during a routine check. Suspicious, the deputy had another deputy check the disabled car and found it had been reported stolen, according to Maj. Howard Smith, who announced Cush's arrest.

Chicago police charged Marque Love, 19, with bank robbery after a teller told investigators the robber's blue-gray suede shoes were the same as those Love had worn when he once worked at the bank. Police who arrested Love a few hours after the robbery said they found the stolen money in his pockets.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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