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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Authorities investigating a burglary in King County, Wash., found that in addition to a digital camera, laptop computer, iPod and DVD player, the intruder took clean clothes and left behind his soiled underwear, jeans and shoes. Sheriff's Detective Cary Coblantz said he "specifically requested that the underpants be analyzed for a DNA profile," which identified a 39-year-old man with a long criminal history as the suspect. He was already in jail for several counts of residential burglary but had been out on bail when the underpants burglary occurred. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

German authorities reported that robbers who tried to blow up a bank cash machine in Malliss miscalculated and wound up reducing the bank to rubble, completely obliterating its roof and damaging cars and buildings within a 100-yard radius. The only thing left intact was the cash machine. "Something evidently didn't work the way the robbers wanted it to," police official Niels Borgmann said, noting, "The explosion was so big, they had to run away without the money." (Reuters)

Classical gas

A German sewage-treatment plant is saving $1,200 a month by using the music of Mozart to motivate microbes to break down waste faster. "We think the secret is in the vibrations of the music, which penetrate everything — including the water, the sewage and the cells," said Anton Stucki, chief operator of the Treuenbrietzen plant. "It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better." Stucki believes Mozart works because the composer "managed to transpose universal laws of nature into his music." (Britain's The Guardian)

Not so much fly

Having paid $440 on eBay for a paraglider, Britain's Roy Dixon, 45, learned to fly it by watching video clips on the Internet. For his maiden flight, he also made the mistake of tethering the paraglider to his car. The flight lasted less than a minute, and he fell 40 feet to the ground, breaking his back in two places. "I went shooting up in the air, then banged down on the ground," Dixon said from Newcastle General Hospital. "I should have joined a club and got lessons, but I was trying to teach myself and learn from bits I had seen on YouTube," (BBC News)

Homeland insecurity

Firefighters responding to a fire in Jersey City, N.J., found no one at home in the apartment, where a pot on the stove had boiled dry and cloth inside had ignited. They also found 60 to 80 half-gallon containers of unknown substances and an envelope with President Obama's name on it, triggering a massive response by Secret Service agents and a hazardous materials unit. When the apartment resident returned, he said he must have forgotten to turn off the stove burner when he walked to the store. The 80-year-old man explained he uses the chemicals to make perfume, which he sells for a living. (The Jersey Journal)

Duty first

David Boruchowitz, a sheriff's detective in Nye County, Nev., was charged with burglary and assault to try to harass candidates for public office after an investigation, which he conducted himself. Boruchowitz, who handles media relations for the sheriff's office, issued a press release about his arrest, accompanied by his booking photo, that noted his duties include investigating and arresting people who commit crimes, "no matter who they may be." (Associated Press)

Gun goofs

Police in Austin, Texas, accused Jose Alejandro Romero, 17, of trying to rob a gas station with a caulk gun. Clerk Johnnie Limuel, 68, thought it was a joke, until the robber hit him with the caulk gun. Limuel responded by hitting the robber with a plastic trashcan. According to the police affidavit, Romero fled empty-handed, accompanied by a transgender prostitute. (The Statesman)

Google map follies

The Louisiana Senate unanimously approved a bill that would increase penalties for crimes committed with the aid of a "virtual street-level map." The Internet-generated maps show the locations or pictures of homes and other buildings. The measure would add at least 10 years to sentences where virtual maps are used to commit acts of terrorism and at least one year in jail for burglary. (New Orleans's The Times-Picayune)

Slight provocation

Police investigating a stabbing at a home in Northport, Ala., said the attack occurred after two men got into an argument over how many championship rings basketball coach Phil Jackson has. The 30-year-old victim required stitches. Jackson, 64, now has 13 championship rings — two as a player and 11 as a coach. (Tuscaloosa News)

Slick solutions

A scientist proposed protecting the Louisiana wetlands from British Petroleum's Gulf of Mexico oil slick by having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers open existing dams to divert more water toward the mouth of the Mississippi River. Calling the river "the biggest tool in the toolbox," marine scientist G. Paul Kemp, vice president of the National Audubon Society's Louisiana Coastal Initiative, explained upstream flooding to increase the river's flow into the Gulf could not only block the inland flow of oil, but also help flush oil that has already collected on the fringes of the marshes. (Popular Mechanics)

After Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., urged BP America President Lamar McKay to resign, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-La., suggested a harsher course of action. "In the Asian culture, we do things differently," the Vietnamese-American lawmaker told McKay. "During the Samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri." (CBS News)


Critics derided Canada's government for spending nearly $2 million to build a media center in Toronto for reporters unable to cover the Group of Eight global economic summit in Huntsville, 140 miles to the north, which could accommodate only about 150 of the 3,000 journalists assigned. "This is supposed to be a meeting about dealing with the international debt crisis," opposition lawmaker Mark Holland said. "We're supposed to be leading the world in showing austerity, and we invite them to our doorsteps to sit around a $2 million dollar fake lake." Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted the lake, which is only a few blocks from Lake Ontario, is really only a reflecting pool intended to promote tourism. (Associated Press)

Justice at any price

Now Advanced Metal Technologies in East Spokane, Wash., offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identity of whoever stole its doormat, worth $20. (KREM-TV News)

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