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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

A police sergeant was in the process of arresting Xavier Ross, 19, for creating a disturbance by repeatedly playing "Chopsticks" on a piano in front of police headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., when another officer recognized Ross as a suspect wanted for felony burglary. (Grand Rapids's WZZM-TV)

FBI investigators charged Ryan Homsley, 19, with robbing a bank in Tualatin, Ore., after he claimed responsibility on his Facebook page. "im now a bank robber," he posted after changing his Facebook profile picture to the surveillance photo taken of the bandit at the bank. (Associated Press)

Proofreading follies

The name of Illinois gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney was misspelled as "Rich Whitey" on electronic-voting machines in nearly two dozen Chicago wards, about half of them in predominantly black neighborhoods. "I don't want to be identified as 'Whitey,'" said Whitney, who represents the Green Party. The error was discovered just before the Nov. 2 election, and elections board Chairman Langdon Neal assigned crews to work overtime to correct it in time for Election Day balloting, at a cost he estimated in the "low tens of thousands" of dollars. (Associated Press)

A digital billboard in South Bend, Ind., urged people to go to the website for a look at the "15 best things about our pubic schools." After a neighbor notified South Bend School Superintendent Jim Kapsa of the missing "L," the Blue Waters Group, which does consulting work with South Bend's redevelopment commission to promote the city, took responsibility, explaining that "four people looked at" it without noticing the mistake. (South Bend Tribune)

Irony is sweet

The American Postal Workers Union announced it was extending its internal election after "a large number of union members had not received their ballots" by the deadline because they got lost in the mail. (Fox News)

It's reasonable

Sheriff's deputies who stopped Raymond Stanley Roberts, 25, for speeding in Manatee County, Fla., smelled marijuana coming from the car and searched Roberts. When Deputy Sean Cappiello felt a soft object in his buttocks, Roberts said, "Let me get it," and pulled out a clear plastic bag of marijuana weighing 4.5 grams. Roberts denied possessing any other drugs, but Cappiello felt another soft object in the same area and pulled out a bag with 27 pieces of rock cocaine weighing 3.5 grams. When the bag fell to the ground, the deputies said Roberts declared, "The white stuff is not mine, but the weed is." He explained that a friend who borrowed the car earlier must have left the cocaine on the passenger seat, and Roberts hid it when he was stopped. (Bradenton Herald)

Gun goofs

The 4-year-old son of Pennsylvania State Trooper Nicholas Petrosky accidentally shot himself in the leg with his father's gun. Donora police said Petrosky was drying his son after a shower when the boy grabbed the gun, which Petrosky had placed on the bathroom counter. (Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV)

Michael Hunter, 23, accidentally shot himself in the leg with a handgun he bought at a gun show in Manchester, N.H. Police said the gun fired while Hunter was trying to locate the safety. (Manchester's WMUR-TV)

Insuring profit

The Department of Veterans Affairs agreed in 2009 to let Prudential Financial withhold lump-sum payments of life insurance benefits owed to survivors of service members. The amended contract sanctioned the previously unauthorized practice, which Prudential had carried out since 1999. Prudential's original contract, covering 6 million active service members, requires it to send lump-sum payments to survivors who request them. Instead, the insurer sends survivors checkbooks tied to accounts not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Meanwhile, it invests the money — $662 million as of June 30 — in its general corporate account, earning 4.2 percent interest in 2009 while paying survivors 0.5 percent. (Bloomberg News)

Sing it, don't ding it

Tired of performers jazzing up the national anthem, lawmakers in the Philippines voted to ban improperly singing "Lupang Hinirang" ("Our Beloved Land"). Violators face up to two years in jail and a 100,000 peso fine ($2,280). "Our Congress has given more teeth to government's campaign to invigorate patriotism, respect and love of country by singing our anthem properly," said Rep. Salvador Escudero, the measure's principal author. (Reuters)

Two-time loser

Canadian terrorism suspect Khurram Syed Sher, 28, who was arrested this summer in connection with a plot to bomb targets in Canada and abroad, was a contestant on the reality show Canadian Idol. Sher, who auditioned in 2008, sang a comical version of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," complete with dance moves that include a moonwalk. Neither his singing nor his dancing impressed the judges, one of whom asked, "Have you ever thought of being a comedian?" (Associated Press & MSNBC)

Don't believe it

Police responding to a domestic violence call in Cheyenne, Wyo., with their Tasers drawn found homeowner Brian Mattert, 34, hastily covering himself with white latex paint. "You see all this water-based paint? You shoot me with that and you'll kill me," Mattert explained. The two officers informed him the paint wouldn't affect the Taser, then, when he became defiant, shot him twice with their stun guns before leading him off in handcuffs. (Wyoming Tribune Eagle)

Not so innocent

After Roberto Paniagua, 40, picked up the wrong kindergarten pupil at the end of the school day, Dallas police said the incident occurred because of a "lapse of judgment" by someone in the school and declared that Paniagua had done nothing wrong. Police arrested him anyway on "minor unrelated warrants." (The Dallas Morning News)

Tongue tied

A California plastic surgeon has developed a weight-reduction procedure that involves surgically applying a tongue patch cut from surgical mesh to reduce food intake. "This patch contains no drugs or chemicals," Dr. Nikolas Chugay said. "It simply makes chewing solid food very difficult and painful, relegating the patient to a physician-supervised liquid diet." Chugay said the tongue patch can be applied in less than an hour and is easily removed once the target weight is reached. (Los Angeles Times)

Batter up

Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, 33, missed the final six games of the baseball season with concussion-like symptoms after, he said, "I whacked myself on the head with my bat" when he struck out. "It's something I've done a million times," Roberts pointed out, adding, "I had my helmet on." (The Baltimore Sun)

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