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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

A witness observed a boy who appeared to be breaking into a pickup truck in Port Charlotte, Fla. When confronted, the suspect fled, but as he did, the witness told Charlotte County sheriff's deputies, his shorts fell down, revealing red boxer undershorts. The deputies reported that they located the suspect, Antonio Kleiss, 14, and "asked him to pull down his tan shorts a little, and he revealed that he was wearing red boxer shorts underneath." Recognizing the shorts, the witness identified Kleiss, who was charged with burglary and attempted grand theft. (United Press International)

Authorities arrested Dale Foughty, 56, after they said he entered a convenience store in Onslow County, N.C., wearing a Spiderman mask and waving a sword, and demanded money. The clerk pulled out a broom and poked the robber in the stomach. A second clerk joined in the struggle, during which the suspect lost his mask and had part of his ponytail ripped out. He fled empty-handed, but sheriff's deputies found him nearby. (Associated Press)

Woe be we

After Charlie Bolden, the administrator of NASA, declared that deflecting a near-Earth object (NEO), such as an asteroid or a comet, will be "what keeps the dinosaurs — we are the dinosaurs, by the way — from becoming extinct a second time," he admitted that the space agency couldn't afford to tackle that task, even if it wanted to. He explained that the annual federal allocation for "planetary defense" is $5.8 million, which represents a mere 0.03 percent of NASA's budget and is barely adequate merely to locate NEOs and track their orbits. (The New Yorker)

Rude awakening

After a couple staying at a tree-house bed-and-breakfast in Taklima, Wash., fell to the ground, they sued Josephine County for $1.2 million for physical, financial and emotional injuries. The suit filed by Michelle M. Buswinka and Maurice L. Breslin charged, among other things, that the county failed to stop the Out 'n' About Tree House Treesort from building structures without a permit. County Legal Council Steve Rich said the county had threatened to tear down the tree houses over permit issues but ultimately allowed it to operate with five tree houses. On its website, however, the resort lists 18 tree houses, as well as rope bridges, zip-lines and rope swings. (Grants Pass Daily Courier)

Banks always win

During the 2008 financial crisis, trading companies Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley declared themselves to be banks so they'd be eligible for emergency loans from the Federal Reserve Bank. When the Fed issued the Volcker rule, which bans banks from trading when their own money is at risk, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst David Hilder reported the firms would shed their bank status to avoid having their activities constrained. (CNBC)

Rescues of the week

Firefighters had to be summoned to free a man from a straw dispenser at a McDonald's restaurant in Ipswich, England. The victim tried to remove straws from an opening at the rear of the dispenser that workers use to refill it but became trapped. The rescue crew took 20 minutes to free him. (Britain's East Anglian Daily Times)

Firefighters in Vallejo, Calif., rescued a 21-year-old man who spent nine hours stuck in a child's swing. The man told police he became stuck after making a $100 bet with friends, then lubricating himself with laundry detergent so his legs would fit through the swing's two leg holes. When he couldn't get out, his friends left him overnight. Summoned by a groundskeeper who heard his screams for help the next morning, firefighters cut the swing chains, then took the victim to a medical center and used a cast cutter to slice the swing off his body. (Vallejo's Times-Herald)

Silent treatment

To encourage civility among reckless drivers and inattentive pedestrians, Mayor Carlos Ocariz of the Sucre district of Caracas, Venezuela, assigned 120 mimes dressed in clown suits and white gloves to wag their fingers at offenders. "Many times, the mimes can achieve what traffic police cannot achieve using warning and sanctions in their efforts to maintain control," Alex Ojeda, head of a cultural organization that hired professional actors to train the mimes, said, although he conceded that changing motorists' behavior might take time. At a ceremony for newly trained mimes, Ocariz vowed to continue the initiative "until the streets of Sucre are full of creativity and education." (Associated Press)

Old habits die hard

While Mark Burgin was on trial for robbery in Franklin, Tenn., he was arrested for robbing a jewelry store during his lunch break. Describing the heist as "a grab and run," jeweler Mike Walton provided police with a description that led them to Burgin. Judge Robbie Beal kept the news from the jury until they delivered a verdict — guilty — and then police charged Burgin. (Nashville's The Tennessean)

Charles Burnett, 29, held up the same New York City bank three days in a row, using the cash to pay for a suite at a nearby luxury hotel during his spree and hiring a chauffeur-driven SUV to take him to his final heist. "I considered him a VIP because he was going to spend like $500," driver Rafael Rubio said. By then, bank staffers recognized the 6-foot-1, 275-pound thief as "the same dumb ass who hit us yesterday," one of them said. Two passing police officers also recognized Burnett as he left the bank, pursued and tackled him. He was holding a sack with $10,002 in it. Officers found $3,000 more in his hotel room. (New York Post)

Drinking-class hero

After sponsoring a bill to legalize carrying a gun into bars in Tennessee, state Rep. Curry Todd was arrested in Nashville for drunken driving while possessing a loaded .38-caliber pistol. State law makes it a misdemeanor to consume alcohol while carrying a firearm in public. The police affidavit stated that Todd, who refused to take a Breathalyzer test, was "almost falling down at times" and was "obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun." Todd made national news last year for commenting on a federal law requiring the state to extend prenatal care to women regardless of their citizenship that illegal immigrants "go out there like rats and multiply." (Associated Press)

The Sharpie look

Sheldon Williams, a student at Texas's Marshall Junior High School, complained that when he violated a school rule banning "designs shaved into the hair," the principal used a permanent marker to fill in the design lines. (Shreveport, La.'s KSLA-TV)

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