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Photo of group "nature sliding" from The National Archivess. The entire party is wearing tin trousers, the seats of which have been treated with paraffin.

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News of the Odd, June 2002

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Juggler Arrested for Suspicious Balls
A 39-year-old American magician has been arrested for smuggling hash inside his juggling balls. He had purchased the drug in Nepal, and was attempting to bring it through Japan, when Customs officials at Narita Airport opened his luggage. He performed a quick juggling routine for them, but that only increased their suspicions. Each of the two balls yielded 1 kg of hashish. "I smoke five or six grams of the stuff a day, so I thought I'd better stock up while in Nepal," he explained. He was disappointed in the discovery of his stash, since he had spent several days working out the best way of concealing hard hash inside his balls.
(Mainichi Daily News, June 28, 2003)


Sales Call Saves Lost Mountaineer
Leonardo Diaz was lost in the Andes when a blizzard began. But he was prepared. He had his cell phone. Unfortunately, his prepaid minutes were up. So he huddled in the snow for 24 hours, sipping brandy from a flask and preparing to die. Then, suddenly, his phone rang. It was Maria del Pilar Basto, who works for Bell South, calling to ask him if he would like to buy more minutes. He told her she was an angel, he was lost in the Andes and he needed help. Once she realized it wasn't a joke, she and several other operators took turns talking to him until the rescue crews reached him 7 hours later. His two cell phone batteries kept working due to the extreme cold. "I remembered that when I was a boy I put batteries in the freezer," he said Diaz said. "So, I took off (the dead) battery and flung it into the snow. After half an hour, it was working again."
(Reuters*, June 28, 2002)  
Killer Giraffe Suicides
The giraffe suspected of killing an American pastor at a luxury hotel in Kenya chose death over incarceration. The male giraffe, which had been sedated, repeatedly resisted efforts to examine his hooves for bloodstains, and then leapt to his death from a cliff. "You can never get into the mind of a giraffe," said hotel manager James Drysdale. "They are massive animals, it's not like taking a cow for a walk. Once a giraffe takes it in its head to do something, that's it..."
(SMH.com.au, June 27, 2002)
Mind the Rampant Dodos
Slow, DucksIt all started with a sign asking motorists to beware the ducklings. Except they weren't ducklings. They were goslings. It was an innocent mistake. The next sign, put up by villager Pat Wells, said, "Slow, hens." She only posted it to try and save her chickens, who like to wander out into the road. "My chickens seem to have a death wish," she says. But now someone in Beyton, a village in Suffolk, England, has elevated the warnings into something absurd and sublime. Late at night, new signs appear, asking drivers to watch out for aardvarks, camels, low-flying llamas, and the ever-popular rampant dodos. "Who knows what next," said local resident Cathy Cass. "Perhaps alligators in the stream."
(East Anglia Times*, The Hindu, June 27, 2002)
Burglar's Purse Arouses Suspicion. Snakes and Sword Seem Okay
A cabbie in St. Petersburg, Florida became suspicious and called the police after his male passenger paid his fare from a purse. St. Petersburg police spokesman George Kajtsa said, "Never mind that he had an aquarium with snakes and a 4-foot sword." The man, 24-year-old Daniel Beckley, has been charged with robbing his former roommates, taking $200, the purse, an ornamental sword, two cell phones, and four non-venemous Sinaloan milk snakes. The stolen items were returned (minus Beckley's cab fare). Ryan C. George, the snakes' owner, said his scaly friends are glad to be home. "They're slithering in joy."
(Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune*, June 27, 2002)
Dead Teen Buried, 80 Years Late
80 years ago, a dead teenager was found near the railroad tracks in Calvert, Texas. What little is known about him comes from local legend, and from the memory of Gracia Thibodeaux, who once interviewed Perry Tindall, the mortician who embalmed him. "He remembered it was between 1917 and 1923 when [Calvert authorities] found the body and brought it to him," she said. Tindall laid the body in an open pine coffin covered with a wire screen. When the boy's family came to claim him, Tindall handed them his bill. They said, "For $108, you can keep him." So Tindall leaned the coffin against the wall in a back room, where his friends played poker. They named the body Mojo, and "everybody thought [he] brought them good luck." The funeral home was sold, several times, and Mojo always went with it. The newest owner, though, decided it was time to give Mojo a proper burial. About 60 people came to his funeral. No one is quite sure what his headstone should say.
(AZCentral*, June 27, 2002)
The Shade of the Universe is Cosmic Latte
In January, scientists at John Hopkin's University in Maryland announced that if the universe were viewed from the outside, in daylight, it would appear turquoise. They arrived at this conclusion after averaging the color information from 400 galaxies. Their software, however, had erred. They were forced to recalculate, and discovered that the universe was actually beige. Then the color scientists got involved, and pointed out to them that they had not factored enough white daylight into their calculations. The color of the universe was more pink than beige--"decidedly salmon," in fact. But the name of the shade, chosen from email suggestions, is "Cosmic Latte."
(Reuters*, June 26, 2002)
Cows Terrorize Norway
Stian Skoglund, 23, knew something was wrong. The cow seemed agitated. He made eye contact, hoping to calm her, and she attacked, knocking him to the ground, crushing his leg below the knee and breaking several ribs. He played dead and she withdrew. She might have been seeking revenge--he had removed her dead calf from the pasture several days before. Several days later, a cow in Nordby, Raelingen attempted to leave Jahr farm. It charged the farmer's wife, then turned on the farmer when he waved his arms and shouted. "The cow went berserk and couldn't be stopped," a witness said. A year ago, another farmer in the area was trampled to death by a bull. And near Rogaland, four men in a car swerved to avoid a dark shape that fell from the sky. It was another cow, which had leapt from the cliff beside the road. It mooed pathetically a few times, then expired. "I was pretty shaken afterwards but I have to admit we had a laugh as well. The whole thing was tragicomic," Olav Kjeldstad, the driver, said.
(Aftenposten Norway, June 25, 2002)
Naked Porn Collector Invades Home
Sandra Gowen, 60, thought her husband was home when she heard a car pull into her garage. Then a naked stranger walked into the house. He asked for a person she'd never heard of, then came after her when she said his friend wasn't there. She picked up a pair of scissors and he fled. He didn't get far, though. She called 911 and he was arrested in her driveway. Police identified the man as 39-year-old Tod Scott Jelsema, of Jacksonville, Florida. They found 33 pornographic videos in his car.
(Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 25, 2002) 
Man's House Burns in Middle of Flood
Jack Hausner returned from a fishing trip to find floodwaters threatening his house, in Mahnomen, Minnesota. He tried to pile sandbags to protect it, but a dike broke and the water poured in. He gathered up his most prized possessions--his guns and pictures of his late wife--and moved them to the second floor. Then the fire started. Fire trucks couldn't maneuver past the dikes and rushing waters to reach the house in time. Everything burned.
(1010wins.com*, June 25, 2002)
Crematorium Burns; Body Unharmed
A crematorium in Grand Junction, Colorado burned to the ground, but the urns full of ashes and the body inside the furnace were unharmed. Fire crews were unable to enter the building because of the intense heat. Damage was estimated at $400,000, but no one was injured.
(Grand Junction Sentinel, June 25, 2002)
Austrian Army Calls in Mystics to Cure Sleepwalkers
A sudden spate of sleepwalking at the Strass Barracks in Styria has prompted the Austrian Army to hire mystics armed with divining rods to discover the source of the problem. An army spokesman said, "The army keeps an open mind on such things. If the mystics do find negative energy then we will be taking whatever action they deem necessary to make sure it is dealt with." Most of the sleepwalkers have been awakened before any harm came to them, but two fell from windows and sustained serious injuries.
(Ananova, June 23, 2002) 
Foxy Fetishist Filches Footware
Police in Japan have discovered the identity of the fetishist blamed for stealing hundreds of sandals from residents in Takarazuka. Since last spring, 230 people have reported that their shoes were missing from their porches and gardens. The thefts ceased in the late summer, but started up again in April. Police reopened the investigation, and turned up a pile of sandals under the bushes near a Buddhist temple. They had been chewed, and tufts of fox fur were found around them. A neighborhood association spokesman said: "We are all relieved to learn who was responsible. However, as we can't order the fox to stop stealing our sandals, we'll tell residents to put their footwear in a safe place at night." Local veterinarian Akihiro Ishida says one mystery still remains to be solved. "Foxes are really cautious and rarely venture into residential areas. Maybe it was looking for food. I don't think it stole footwear for fun."
(Mainichi Daily News, June 21, 2002)
Prison Discovers Breakout When Escapee Returns
Four prisoners in Puerto Rico escaped from a maximum security prison and spent three days on the run before anyone noticed. It was only when Serrano Morales, 28, who is serving a 46-year sentence for kidnapping and other crimes, turned himself in that authorities realized there were any prisoners missing. They are still searching for the other escapees. Prisons department spokeswoman Iraida Cintron said: "There's a count taken of the inmates four times daily, and so we're investigating how the inmates could have escaped."
(Ananova, June 21, 2002) 
Cell Phone Etiquette Gets Serious
A man in Long Island, New York was shot in the foot by a passerby who heard him swearing into his cell phone and thought the man was insulting him. The victim, who is in his 20s, was not seriously injured. The suspect has been arrested.
(Ananova, June 21, 2002) 
Cop Sets Police Dog on Other Officers
An Austrian police officer reportedly set his dog on colleagues who had come to arrest him for drunk driving. Walter Oberst, 34, had been drinking heavily for several hours before he climbed into his patrol car to drive home. On the way, he crashed into another car and then fled the scene. Two hours later, his colleagues arrived to arrest him, and when he failed the breath test he had agreed to, he ordered his police dog to attack them. The other officers shot the dog, but it is expected to make a full recovery after minor surgery. Oberst has been suspended pending an investigation.
(Ananova, June 21, 2002) 
Robot Makes a Dash for Freedom
A thinking robot being used in a series of experiments in England escaped from the lab and attempted to win its freedom. Gaak, one of 12 robots participating in a "survival of the fittest" experiment, broke out of its paddock, maneuvered down an access ramp, slipped out the front door, and was nearly run over by a visitor's car. Professor Noel Sharkey said, "Since the experiment went live in March they have all learned a significant amount and are becoming more intelligent by the day but the fact that it had ability to navigate itself out of the building and along the concrete floor to the gates has surprised us all. But there's no need to worry, as although they can escape they are perfectly harmless and won't be taking over just yet."
(The Age, June 20, 2002) 
New Yorker Brings Pipe Bomb to Gun Amnesty
A New York police station was evacuated after a woman walked in with a pipe bomb. The station, in Queens, was in the midst of a gun amnesty program. The police had offered to pay $1,000 for each gun brought in. Luz Peralta must have thought that the amnesty extended to other weapons as well. She brought a bag containing a rifle, a shotgun, a revolver, a silencer, and a homemade pipe bomb. The bomb squad was called in to neutralize it. No word on whether Peralta was paid for her firearms; pipe bombs were not on the list.
(Independent Online, June 19, 2002)
"Hero Theory" of Colorado Fire
Prosecutors investigating the case of Terry Lynn Barton, the 18-year-veteran of the U.S. Forest Service accused of setting the fire that has consumed more than 100,000 acres of Colorado forest, are exploring a "hero theory" for her actions. After investigators dismissed her suggestion that a man in a minivan had started the blaze, she admitted that she had done it, but claimed that it was an accident. She said that she had received an upsetting letter from her estranged husband, lit a fire to burn it, and then lost control of the flames. Officials have concluded, however, that the fire was set deliberately. Prosecutors now believe that Barton may have started it so she would look like a hero when she put it out.
(Yahoo! News*, June 19, 2002)  
Stubborn Swimmer Provokes Police
A 22-year-old Utah man who had bluffed his way into a local swimming pool without paying refused to come out of the water when the cops arrived. He told the police they would have to shoot him to get him out of the water. Two uniformed officers finally had to get into the pool with him and drag him out, while he kicked at them and hurled insults. Police believe he may have mental problems.
(Ananova, June 18, 2002) 
Police Use Wild Alligators to Make Arrest
 Five teenaged car theft suspects in Florida splashed off into the swamp to escape sheriff's deputies, but gave themselves up quickly when one of the officers saw an alligator's eyes shining in the beam of his flashlight. "You ought to be more afraid of the alligators," he shouted. "It's alligator mating season." The five boys, aged 13 to 16, immediately crawled out of the muck and gave themselves up.
(Ananova, June 18, 2002) 
Rhode Island Footlicker Charged
Police in Rhode Island have charged a man with licking women's feet in a supermarket. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of simple assault. One of the victims says he followed her around the store, then complimented her toenail polish before bending down, picking up her foot, and licking it. She yanked her foot away and headed for the cashiers. He then approached another woman, told her she had pretty feet and that he was a foot man, and licked her toes while pretending to reach for something on the bottom shelf. Police say they have had similar complaints from three other places in the state.
(Ananova, June 18, 2002)
Gun Safety Lesson on Father's Day
A grown man should know better. Robert Kleindienst, 47, gave his father a .22 caliber Ruger for Father's Day. He had loaded the gun when he purchased it, then forgotten it was loaded and wrapped it for his dad. As the younger Kleindienst had trouble removing it from the plastic case, his father tried to help him, and the gun went off. The younger Kleindienst was shot in the side, and the bullet lodged in his shoulder. He was listed in serious condition at a hospital in Pittsburgh. Police investigated the incident, but no charges will be filed.
(Beaver County Times/Allegheny Times, June 18, 2002)
Robber Dies Under Large Customer
Police in Maryland say James R. Thompson, 37, died when a customer at the convenience store he was trying to rob sat on him. Thompson, who had a history of drug offenses, came into the store at about 3 AM and began stuffing packs of cigarettes into a black plastic bag. When one of the two employees asked him to stop, he said he had a gun, and that he'd already been to jail, and he wasn't going back. As he headed for the door, the employee stopped him again. The confrontation drew the attention of the store's lone customer, a 6'2", 280 pound 20-year-old. He intervened in the argument, and Thompson bit his arm. The customer then wrestled Thompson to the ground and sat on him. By the time police arrived, Thompson was dead. A knife was recovered from his body. An autopsy is being performed by the Maryland State Medical Examiner.
(Washington Post, June 17, 2002)
Porn Flicks Mistaken for Horse Leg
Staffers at Dunstall Park racecourse, in Britain, packaged up a horse's leg to ship it to a laboratory in Liverpool, which is studying horse legs to see why they sometimes break during races. At the same time, they packaged a collection of pornographic films they had rented from the Holiday Inn's pay-per-view movies. The mix-up was discovered when the staff at the lab opened the package. Fortunately for the staff at the movie supply company, the leg was not mailed out.
(Express and Star*, June 17, 2002)
Public Sex Leads to Public Beating
Jerome King should have kept his mouth shut. The 41-year-old man was walking behind the Buckaroo Club in Spenard, Alaska when he saw a couple having sex in the alley. "Having fun?" he asked. Joseph Sivertsen, 36, replied with a 2-foot iron pipe, which he picked up from a nearby construction site. He chased King with it, striking him several times, before King ran into a nearby sporting goods to escape. Employees at the store called the police. King was treated at a local hospital, for injuries to the face, hands and arms, then released. Sivertsen, who has three prior assault conviction, was arrested. According to the criminal complaint against Sivertsen, "Spontaneous interruption of a public sex act to engage in an aggravated assault should be considered as a strong indication of a seriously unaddressed anger management problem."
(Anchorage Daily News, June 15, 2002)
Police Warn of Fat Transvestite in Uniform
Police in Auckland, New Zealand are warning the public about a fat transvestite posing as a policewoman. Ana Williams, also known as Turori Chapman, is suspected of stealing a police uniform, handcuffs, and pepper spray from the Onehunga Police Station while it was being renovated. She is also believed to have stolen two cars. She is not considered dangerous, but she does have a history of committing fraud. The public has been asked to be on their guard if approached by a fat, 5'7" policewoman with long brown hair.
(Stuff*, June 14, 2002)  
Drunken Wheelchair Driver Arrested
A 51-year-old man in Germany has been arrested for driving his motorized wheelchair while intoxicated. His blood alcohol level was more than 6 times the legal limit. Police began pursuing him after noticing that he was blocking foot traffic on the sidewalk. He refused to stop, but they walked after him and switched off his wheelchair.
(Ananova, June 14, 2002)
 Woman Accused of Slicing Off Boyfriend's Buttocks
Kimberly King  A prosecutor in Aliceville, Alabama, near Birmingham, described how Kimberly King, 26, stabbed her boyfriend, Rodney Outlaw, 25, on a dark rural road, then sliced off most off his buttocks with a utility knife. The couple had apparently gotten into a fight at a bar in Mississippi, then left separately. King then allegedly followed his car and attacked him when he pulled over. After he regained consciousness, he drove to the nearest house. Police initially thought he must have been sexually assaulted then dragged behind a vehicle. King is being held without bail. "This ain't right," she said, as she was arrested. Outlaw is still hospitalized.
(Yahoo! News*, June 14, 2002)
Junk Mail Drama in Norway
A 29-year-old Oslo man has been fined for threatening to rape his mail carrier. After posting no advertising stickers on his mailbox and talking to the mailman failed to stem the flow of junk mail, he tacked up a sign that made his feelings absolutely clear. On one side, there was a picture of him holding a gun. On the other, there was a graphic and detailed message in which he threatened to sexually assault anyone who dared to put an ad in his mailbox.
Norway seems to be home to a number of people who take their hatred of unsolicited advertising to extremes. In March, 2002, a man in Moss, Norway who was apparently incensed about the number of advertising circulars in his local paper attacked his newspaper carrier. The woman, who was not seriously injured, described how the enraged, naked man covered her mouth with his hand and then hit her repeatedly on top of the head. She screamed so loudly that he fled, on one roller skate
.
(Aftenposten Norway, June 13, 2002)
Chinese Newspaper Accuses Onion of Misleading It
The Beijing Evening News has apologized for reporting that the United States Congress was threatening to move to either Miami, Florida or Charlotte, North Carolina unless it got a retractable roof on the Capitol Building. The source for the story was the satirical newspaper The Onion. The newspaper admitted that "some of [the article's] contents were identical to The Onion's joke article," but went on to shift the blame by saying that, "Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them, with the aim of making money. This is what The Onion does." The Onion's editor-in-chief, Robert Siegel, said: "Wow, even journalists now believe everything they read. Readers fall for that kind of thing all the time, and maybe I was naive, but I thought reporters would be smarter."
(Ananova, June 13, 2002) 

Hungry Kitties Torch House
Three cats left home alone in Holland while their owner was at work nearly burned down their house for the sake of a meal. They successfully retrieved a packet of food from a kitchen cabinet, but knocked several other packets onto the stove, which one of them had managed to turn on. A neighbor, Lina Holbein, saw smoke pouring from the window and called the fire department, which arrived in time to keep the fire from spreading. Ms. Holbein said, "The cats ran through the house all coughing and miaowing. They were all in shock. But none of them was seriously hurt."
(Ananova, June 13, 2002)
Stolen Bulldozer Used to Steal Two Bottles of Booze
Thieves in Essex, Maryland drove a stolen bulldozer down a quiet residential street and into the back of the Hot Spot Bar and Grill. It was 3 AM, so no one was in the building. The bulldozer demolished the unfinished kitchen, which the owner, Ron Krause, had just spent $30,000 on. He has only owned the bar for about 3 months. The only things missing were two bottles of liquor.
(myCFnow.com, June 12, 2003)
Castrator Claims to Have Done it Before
A Taiwanese national who castrated a man he met on the Internet claims to have done some 50 castrations, in both the United States and Australia. Police in Oak Park, Michigan found the "patient" sitting on a curb, his jeans soaked with blood. His testicles were in a Tupperware container in the "surgeon's" refrigerator. The victim had laid down on the kitchen table while the suspect removed his testicles with a scalpel and stitched up the wound. The two then ate pie together until he began laughing, and then started to bleed. He is recovering. Authorities are trying to determine whether a crime was actually committed, since the victim was apparently willing. However, police found a bottle labeled "zylocaine" in the the surgeon's house, so he might have violated prescription drug laws. He could also be charged with practicing medicine without a license. And in any case, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been notified that he has overstayed his student visa by about a year.
(Detroit Free Press, June 12, 2002)
Doughnut Truck Hijacker Arrested
The man who hijacked a Krispy Kreme truck in Louisiana has been caught. A sheriff's deputy was attempting to pull Chris Messina, 21, over, when Messina tried to ram the patrol car with his pickup. The deputy veered into the ditch and fired a shot that hit the driver's side door of the pickup; Messina was stopped a few minutes later and arrested for the attempted murder of an officer. Later, deputies discovered that he was wanted for the hijacking. "We're glad he's off the streets," said Lieutenant Rob Callahan, "but this unfortunately means we're going to have to stop staking out all the local doughnut shops looking for him." In March, Messina and Rose Houk, 31, drove off with a Krispy Kreme that was parked outside a convenience store with its back doors open and its engine running, leaving a 15-mile trail of doughnuts. They abandoned the truck when police spotted them, but Houk was captured. She said that they had been smoking crack for several hours before stealing the truck.
(The Times-Picayune*, June 12, 2002)  
Boy Rescued From Sewer
Christopher Watt, a 15-year-old boy from Ottawa, Canada, had to be rescued from the sewer by firefighters armed with face masks and breathing apparatus. He had climbed down into the fetid pit on a dare from his friends, then slipped off the ladder and into a waist-high torrent of rainwater, bath water, and "toilent effluent." The sewer is normally blocked by a 200-pound manhole cover atop a four-foot high concrete stump. His worried friends went for help when they could no longer hear him shouting. Rescue workers found nearly a mile from where he had fallen in. "I guess he is our very lucky Sewer Boy," said Pat McNally, director of utility services for the city. Christopher could easily have drowned in the slimy flood, been suffocated by sewer gasses, or suffered hypothermia from the cold wastewater.
(National Post, June 12, 2002)
Mountaintop Wedding Ends in Hospital Vows
Charles Grubbs and Melody Wyman planned to marry atop Mt. Rainier, "the most beautiful cathedral in the world." During the ceremony, though, a strong gust blew the couple and their minister into a crevasse. They had to be rescued by helicopters. They were married in St. Joseph's hospital, by the hospital chaplain, Fred Hutchinson. Ms. Wyman's right leg was in a cast. Mr Hutchinson said: "I wanted to paraphrase, 'I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?' My help comes from the helicopters and the folks at St Joe's."
(Ananova, June 11, 2002) 
Underpants Become Offensive Weapon
Police in Hanau, Germany are holding a man whom they say used his underpants as a weapon. The man had been accused of hiding in a travelling on a train without a ticket. He had hidden in the train's bathroom to avoid the ticket controllers. When the train stopped at Hanau, he ran off, but police pursued and caught him. At the police station, he suddenly ripped off his pants and underwear and began hitting one of the officers in the face with the underwear. He also threatened them with a beer bottle, but they managed to take that away with him. A small quantity of marijuana was found in his pocket. He has been charged with causing bodily harm and obstructing the police.
(Ananova, June 10, 2002)
Monkey Business at Scotland Yard
Two separate residences in a suburb of London, England have been burgled by a chimpanzee. The second victim, Mustapha Riat, says the chimp came in his window and stole his mobile phone. "It was broad and muscular and I was frightened of being bitten. A long arm leaned about 5 feet to my bedside table. It was in and out in a second. I had a lamp and a clock on the table but it only wanted the phone." T. Gina Davidson's flat, 20 doors down from Riat's, was burgled two hours earlier. She said, "The DVD player was moved and a watch was missing. Police dusted my flat for fingerprints but how will that help catch a chimp?" Scotland Yard suspects that the ape is a pet which has been trained to steal electronics.
(The Sun, June 10, 2002) 
Etiquette Lesson at Umbrella-Point
According to Ryuji Sakamoto, 32, Takayuki Niimi, also 32, needed a lesson in manners. In all the time the two had known each other, Niimi had failed to address Sakamoto with the honorific "san" appended to his name. Finally, Sakamoto could take no more. He punched Niimi several times, and then when he fell, Sakamoto stabbed him in the head with an umbrella.
In May, another Japanese man was killed with an umbrella, apparently in a traffic dispute.
(Reuters*, June 9, 2002) 
Man, Pitbull Killed in Surreal Chain Reaction
An Austin, Texas man and his dog are both dead following a bizzare series of events that revolved around an antique rifle. Johnnie Lowell Thomas, Jr. and his friends had gone into the creekbed behind Lowell's duplex to test the gun after the Lakers-Kings game. They tied a string to the trigger, so they could fire it from a distance, and then Lowell went to retrieve it. As he walked back, he stepped on the string. The gun fired, shooting him in the head. Then his pitbull, Junior, attacked his friends, who had called 911. "The dog knew his owner had been injured and became frightened and panicked," said police Sergeant Joe Stanish. The police sprayed the dog with Mace then hit it with their nightsticks. It turned on them then, and bit one of them at least 3 times. Lowell died in the hospital emergency around 1 AM. According to his wishes, he will be cremated, and there will be no funeral.
(Austin American-Statesman*, June 7, 2002)
Husband of "Vampire's" Lover Acquitted
The Cincinnati, Ohio man who planned to defend himself against domestic violence and assault charges by claiming that his estranged wife and her lover were vampires has been acquitted. David R. Biren, 52, attacked Kimberly Biren, 34, and Charles "Shadow" Perkins at the Ohio Renaissance Festival last fall. Biren threw a load of boxes, machetes, a drum, and a sheathed dagger onto Perkins as he walked below the loft area of the building where the Birens worked during the Festival. Kimberly Biren was hit with debris as she went to help Perkins. Biren's attorney had argued that he needed to introduce evidence of Kimberly Biren's "extensive involvement in the vampire world with her paramour Shadow," and of "Shadow's prior financial dealings with several women" to defend his client. Judge James Heath refused to allow the vampire defense to proceed, but Biren was allowed to argue that the attack was self-defense.
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 7, 2002) 
Hostages Shot in Rescue Attempt
Phillipine commandos attempting to rescue a Philippine nurse and two United States missionaries held hostage for more than a year by by Abu Sayyaf kidnappers shot all three of them during a firefight with their captors. Two of the hostages, Martin Burnham, from Wichita, Kansas, and Deborah Yap, the nurse, were killed. Burnham's wife, Gracia Burnham, was shot in the leg, but she is recovering. Phillipine President Gloria Macapagal Arroy expressed her sorrow for the families of the dead, and vowed to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist organization said to have ties to Osama bin Laden.
(CNN, June 7, 2002) 
Fifteen Injured in Annual Cheese Roll
Cheese Roll  Two people were taken to the hospital, and 13 more treated by paramedics, after sustaining injuries in Gloucester, England's annual cheese-rolling contest. Competitors in the event chase an 8-pound wheel of Double Gloucester down a steep incline. The cheese roll, which is hundred of years old, may have originated as a fertility rite. Even organiser Richard Jeffries said that the day had been "a great success," despite the casualties. He said there are always injuries during the cheese roll. "[T]his is probably the most dangerous thing ordinary members of the public can take part in nowadays. But the injuries are not usually that serious and we do warn people what to expect. It’s a great British tradition and we’re determined to keep it alive."
(The Sun, June 5, 2002)
Would-Be Stuntman's Hopes Up in Flames
Nineteen-year-old Elliott Glapa, a self-described "adrenaline junkie" and aspiring stuntman, doused his clothes with gasoline, set himself afire and jumped into Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the battery in the video camera died before his friends could film the stunt. Glapa, who coated his hands and face with Vaseline and donned several layers of protective clothing, was uninjured, and seems game to try again. "Maybe next time I'll get it on videotape," he said. South Milwaukee police, however, who arrested Glapa for underage drinking after a neighbor who saw the incident called them, say the stunt was one of the stupidest things they've seen. "The kids who do this type of thing when they watch this on TV should pay more attention when it says, 'Don't try this at home,'" said police Captain Dan Danek said. Glapa denies that the stunt was dangerous. "I did know what I was doing," he said.
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 5, 2002)
Fish Sauce Jailbreak
Twenty six Vietnamese drug addicts escaped from a treatment center in Ho Chi Minh city by rusting the bars with fish sauce, then sawing through them with guitar strings. Sixteen have been recaptured. Authorities are still searching for the other ten. Drug treatment is mandatory for addicts in Vietnam, where heroin addiction is a growing problem.
(Ananova, June 5, 2002) 
Siren Fetishist Arrested for Arson
Police in Thailand have arrested a man in connection with a series of vehicular arsons. He was spotted driving away from a burning car. Although he first told police that he set the car on fire to relieve stress, he later admitted that it gave him a sexual thrill. He said that he would light the fire, then go buy a beer, call the police, and wait for them to arrive. Watching the flashing lights and hearing the sirens would give him an orgasm. He has already spent two years in prison on a similar charge. Upon his release, he became a volunteer firefighter.
(Ananova, June 5, 2002)
Abominable Snowman Legally Insane
Damon Francis, who crashed his Cadillac through his former employer's fence, stole a street sweeper and drove it to Canada, will spend up to 18 months in a mental institution, rather than going to prison. Hamilton County Judge Thomas Crush found Francis, who believes he is the Abominable Snowman, not guilty by reason of insanity.
(The Daily Camera, June 4, 2002)
Prisoner Freed After Reminder to Judge
Reynaldo Tovar-Valdivia should have been released from a California prison two years ago. He had been sentenced to ten years for drug offences, but the conviction was overturned on appeal and Judge Howard Sachs signed an order for his release in January, 2000. He thought nothing more of the case until he received a polite note: "I would like to humbly request that this court makes an order invalidating my conviction. Thanks for your time, and have a nice day." Court officials are attempting to discover what went wrong. Mr. Tovar-Valdivia said that he had been unable to contact his lawyer, Larry Pace, for two years, and so finally took it upon himself to remind the judge that he should be freed. Pace claims never to have heard from his client.
(Ananova, June 4, 2002) 
Kiss Condoms
The heavy metal band Kiss has expanded its line of merchandise with Kiss Kondoms. The first set of condoms in the series are called "Rock 'N' Rubbers," and are made of bright red latex. Billed as "Tongue Lubricated," they feature a picture of Gene Simmons on the packaging, in full makeup and with his famous tongue extended. Simmons, who claims to have slept with more than 4,600 women, including Cher and Diana Ross, says unprotected sex is stupid. He hopes that Kiss condoms will help people to use condoms more regularly. He says, "Sex is always embarrassing for people, so when a guy whips out a Kiss condom and there's Gene Simmons's tongue hanging out it lightens up the situation." The "Studded Paul," a studded condom featuring guitarist Paul Stanley, and the "Love Gun Protection", an extra strength condom with the entire band on the packaging, will be coming soon.
(Sidney Morning Herald, June 3, 2002)
Butcher Frightens Texas Family
Butcher Bird  When John Henry, of Padre Island, Texas, began finding heads on the trees in his back yard, he feared for the safety of his family. It was a baby bird first, then two black beetles and a lizard. He worried that some disturbed individual was sneaking into his yard and leaving these macabre gifts, so he called the police. Tony Amos, a bird expert with Animal Rehabilitation Keep, says that the likely culprit is a butcher bird--a carnivorous songbird that can kill and eat birds twice its size, and whose calling card is the severed head of its prey. "Just in case they're looking for some evil person...," he said. "[Butcher birds] will eat anything but the head and leave it on the thorn." Henry says he's relieved to know that the neighborhood serial killer has wings.
(Corpus Christie Caller-Times, June 2, 2002) 
Naked Driver Surrenders After Shots Fired
Police in San Diego, California opened fire on a naked man in a Jeep after he ran over a motorcycle officer. They had surrounded the vehicle after a brief pursuit. The driver stopped briefly, then accelerated, striking the officer, who was treated for minor injuries. Another officer fired several shots, breaking the Jeep's windows, but not hitting the driver. He was pulled over and arrested a short time later.
(Reuters*, June 2, 2002)
Good Advice: Leave Drugs at Home When Paying Fines
James Russell, 23, was trying to make good on an overdue parking ticket. He went in to District Justice Robert V. Manlove's office to pay a $74.80 fine. All was well, until he dropped a bag of marijuana. His 26-year-old girlfriend, Dara J. Martin, picked it up and stuck it in her pocket, but too late. As the couple left the building, Patrol Officer Doug Hockenberry, who had seen the bag fall, stopped them and arrested Martin. A search turned up a second bag of marijuana. Meanwhile, a second officer had searched Russell and found 46 packets of crack cocaine in his pockets. Russell, who just finished a 5-year prison sentence, is being held on $150,000 bail; Martin is being held on $35,000 bail. The couple's infant son and two puppies have been turned over to family members.
(The Patriot-News*, June 1, 2002)

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