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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Two masked men armed with a shotgun tried to rob a bagel shop in Orlando, Fla., but fled empty handed when one of the employees pushed a bagel cart at them.

Shoe business

A man who robbed a shoe store in Knoxville, Tenn., made off with four or five left-foot shoes from the storeroom. Police Lt. Bob Woodbridge told the Knoxville Sentinel the robber didn't get matching pairs because the right-foot shoes were being used for displays. The following day, employees spotted the suspect in the shoe-store parking lot and called police. They arrested Vincent E. Salters, 46, who the Sentinel said was shoeless at the time.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, was discussing his experience at a news conference in Paris, when someone in the audience threw a shoe at him. Al-Zeidi ducked, and the shoe hit the wall behind him. The Associated Press reported that al-Zeidi's brother, Maithan, chased the unidentified attacker and hit him with a shoe as he left the room.

Sprocket crime

After police received a report of a man trying to ride a bicycle while holding a cash register in Bloomington, Minn., officers spotted Travis William Himmler, 22, a few blocks away behind some bushes, somewhat dazed. The Eden Prairie Sun said a loose electrical cord from the register apparently jammed the gears of the bike, causing it to careen out of control. "There was evidence all around him," Commander Mark Stehlik said, adding that the shoes Himmler was wearing matched shoeprints on grease on the floor of the restaurant and on the register.

German police searching for convicted killer Peter Paul Michalski, 46, after he escaped from a high-security prison in Aachen spotted him riding a woman's bicycle near the Dutch border and deliberately crashed into him, knocking him off the bicycle onto the grassy shoulder.

Police investigating motor noise near a Christmas tree lot in Portage, Ind., at 1 a.m. spotted Phillip Menefee, 48, riding a bicycle equipped with a homemade motor but no lights. The Post-Tribune reported Menefee was balancing a stolen Christmas tree across the handlebars.

Washing up

After a charity car wash raised hundreds of dollars to benefit the family of a hit-and-run victim in Clark County, Wash., police accused fundraiser organizer Mallory P. Ewart, 18, of using most of the money to bail defendant Antonio Cellestine, 18, out of jail. The Columbian reported the all-day car wash drew between 30 and 40 cars, most belonging to parishioners of the victim's church. The paper added that investigators were tipped off to the scam by a purported admission on Ewart's MySpace page.

Avoirdupois follies

More than two dozen seniors at Pennsylvania's Lincoln University risk not being able to graduate this spring because they were too fat when they were freshmen and have taken no measures to stem their obesity. Inside Higher Ed reported that 92 entering freshmen in 2006 had body mass index scores below 30 and were required to lose weight or take a one-semester class called "Fitness for Life." Twenty-five of the students did neither, and James L. DeBoy, chair of the health, physical education and recreation department, notified them they failed to meet the school requirement. "No student should ever be able to leave Lincoln and not know the risks of obesity," DeBoy said.

Bread with that?

Authorities in Marion County, Fla., reported that a man told them Elsie Egan, 53, repeatedly hit him in the face with an uncooked steak. Sheriff's deputies told the Associated Press that Egan attacked the man because he refused a piece of sliced bread. He said he wanted a roll. Egan denied hitting the man with the steak but did admit slapping him "so that he could learn."

Gun goofs

When the New Orleans Saints played the Washington Redskins, Wayne A. Spring of Albany, La., announced to his friends that they were welcome to shoot his 60-inch, high-definition, flat-screen TV if the Saints won. The Redskins looked like winners until the final minutes, when the Saints tied the score. After they won in overtime, about a dozen Saints fans showed up at Spring's house with firearms and a case of beer and shot up his TV. The TV shooting broke no laws, Louisiana State Police Lt. Doug Cain told the Associated Press, "but I would say mixing booze and firearms is not a good thing."

Size matters

As part of Thailand's "Condoms for All" campaign, Thailand's Public Health Ministry began distributing official penis measuring devices. The disposable paper measuring tape records widths of between 49 and 56 millimeters, covering the "Thai penis-size standard," said Dr. Somyos Kittimankhong of the Department of Disease Control. The $8.38 million nationwide condom giveaway is aimed at encouraging men and women ages 15 to 25 to wear the right-size protection. "Larger-size condoms can slip off or deaden the pleasure during sex, while smaller ones will cause discomfort to wearers," Kittimankhong told the Nation. "These factors dissuade people from using condoms."

Hard at work

An abuse hotline staffed by Florida's Department of Children & Families has begun curtailing the number of calls it investigates in an effort to reduce workload and the system-wide stress that high case loads can cause. The Miami Herald said that since the department changed its policy, the Tallahassee-based hotline has screened out tens of thousands of calls alleging kidnapping, rape, aggravated child abuse, medical neglect, malnutrition and kids roaming the street unsupervised. The revised policy allows investigators to concentrate on children who are most at risk and cut down on frivolous complaints, DCF Secretary George Sheldon said, including a report from a teacher that a child came to school wearing mismatched sneakers and another about a boy whose underwear was on backward.

A workshop on government openness held in Washington, D.C., was closed to the public. WJLA-TV News reported the Justice Department-sponsored private training session for Freedom of Information Act officials was aimed at explaining the new U.S. Office of Government Information Services, which settles disputes between the federal bureaucrats and the public. "If they're getting marching orders, why shouldn't the public be there?" Jeff Stachewicz of FOIA Group Inc. said.

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