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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Authorities investigating a bank robbery in St. Cloud, Minn., nabbed their suspect after officials at Mystic Lake Casino observed him depositing cash into slot machines in exchange for credit slips. "In effect, he was laundering his money through the casino," police Sgt. Martin Sayre said. Casino officials became suspicious because Salamo Nam Rakotojoelinandrasana, 23, was exchanging bills covered with red dye, which the bank used to mark the stolen money. (Minneapolis's Star Tribune)

When Kenneth Parkerson, 28, sneaked into the screened patio of a home in Coral Springs, Fla., carrying a video camera, he was confronted by homeowner Ireneusz Fajkis, a firefighter who also happens to be a mixed martial arts fighter. Fajkis chased the intruder, tackled him to the ground and beat him up before calling the police. "I picked the wrong house," Parkerson reportedly told the hospital nurse who treated his wounds. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Oil spill: not enough

A Pentagon report warned that trash in space might bring a halt to commerce and communications on Earth. Noting that space is "increasingly congested and contested," the Defense Department's interim U.S. Space Posture Review explained that potential crashes between satellites and debris — such as refuse from old rockets, abandoned satellites and missile shrapnel — are threatening the $250 billion space-services market that provides financial communication, global-positioning navigation, international phone connections, Google Earth pictures, television signals and weather forecasts. Scientists said that space collisions could set off an uncontrolled chain reaction that might make some orbits unusable because they are too littered with debris. (Bloomberg News)

Give and take

Georgia's Gwinnett County has asked some 180 county workers to return more than $39,000 they received in bonuses 16 years ago. Authorities blamed the overpayments on a payroll anomaly that occurred when the county adjusted employees' payroll cycles. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A Pennsylvania man who won a $2,001 slot machine jackpot at Erie's Presque Isle Downs & Casino not only must give back the money, but also faces criminal trespass charges. The 55-year-old Waterford Township resident had previously banned himself from casinos under a state program for problem gamblers. (Erie Times-News)

It's reasonable

After a North Carolina jury convicted Michael Ryan of first-degree murder, he told a Gaston County judge that he wants to be sentenced to death but without actually being executed. He explained that being on death row would gain him the respect of his fellow inmates. (The Gaston Gazette)

Appearing in federal court in Billings, Mont., Dale Leroy Satran, 46, admitted illegally killing a bald eagle but said he thought it was a porcupine. (Associated Press)

After inspectors condemned a three-year-old, five-story condominium building in Norristown, Pa., because its load-bearing cinderblock walls weren't filled with concrete and steel rods, as required by code, builder R. Bruce Fazio insisted the hollow walls came "as a surprise to me." He blamed the masonry contractor, although he couldn't recall the person's name. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Practical geometry

Secret Service agents questioned Alabama high school geometry teacher Gregory Harrison, whose lesson in parallel lines and angles used the example of assassinating the president. Joseph Brown, a senior in the geometry class at Jefferson County's Corner High School, said Harrison "was talking about angles and said, 'If you're in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president.'" Special agent Roy Sexton decided the teacher's remarks didn't constitute a credible threat, but school Superintendent Phil Hammonds said, "We are going to have a long conversation with him about what's appropriate." Afterwards, Harrison publicly apologized as part of a negotiated settlement that lets him keep his job. (The Birmingham News)

Lemming see ...

The same day Apple toppled Microsoft as the world's leading technology company, it announced it is investigating the apparent suicides of 11 workers at the Chinese factory that makes Apple's iPhones. While denying that working conditions at the Foxconn Technology plant in Shenzhen prompted the deaths, Foxconn officials said they have begun putting safety nets on buildings to discourage suicide attempts by the company's 800,000 Chinese employees. (The New York Times)

Slight provocation

State police said they arrested Anthony Dodson, 34, in Uniontown, Pa., after he threatened his girlfriend with a meat cleaver while they argued about the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Associated Press)

Guy Edward Jones, 60, landed in jail after he set fire to his house in Sissonville, W.Va., because, according to Kanawha County sheriff's Lt. Sean Crosier, he was mad at his wife for not having dinner ready when he came home. (The Charleston Gazette)

A husband and wife and their three children were driving near Clarksville, Tenn., when the two adults began arguing. At one point, Montgomery County sheriff's Deputy Blake Neblett reported, the 23-year-old man told his wife to "shut up." When she refused, the man jumped from the moving vehicle. He was airlifted to the hospital in critical but stable condition. (Clarksville's The Leaf-Chronicle)

A bit distracted

Ohio truck driver Thomas Wallace, 45, pleaded guilty to manslaughter after his rig rear-ended a disabled car on the New York State Thruway and killed the driver. Authorities said Wallace didn't see the victim's vehicle because he was watching pornography on his laptop computer. (The Buffalo News)

Authorities said a single-car crash in Garbutt, N.Y., that sent four teenagers to the hospital was caused by driver Bryan Parslow, 19, who fainted while he and the other three were trying to hold their breath when driving through the hamlet. Monroe County Sheriff's investigators said that after Parslow lost consciousness, the car left the road, struck a tree and then hit a large boulder. The teens told deputies at the scene that they were all holding their breath as part of a game they had played before. (Rochester's WHEC-TV News)


The Toronto police department has added a new hate-crime victim category: "non-Jewish Shiksa." The term "Shiksa" is a slur for non-Jewish woman, making the category not only redundant, but also baffling to the Canadian Jewish Congress, which accused the Toronto Police Service of pushing the anti-hate law "to its most absurd level." Noting that the police also investigated hate crimes against teachers, feminists, infidels, police, Nazis and pedophiles, CJC CEO Bernie Farber said, "You just can't apply it to literally everything." (Canada's National Post)

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