Monday, July 26, 2010

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: calamitous prison escapes, intentionally terrifying clowns and a mother with questionable priorities.

Curses, Foiled Again
After police arrested Ronald White, 35, for shoplifting in Cinnaminson, N.J., they discovered he had outstanding warrants that required posting $400 bail. White paid cash. The next day, Detective Sgt. William K. Covert discovered that five of the $20 bills White used were counterfeit. “They’re pretty poor,” Covert said. “I didn’t have to touch them, and I knew they were bad.” Before police could locate White, he showed up at the police station to complain that he had overpaid his bail and wanted his money back. Officers found two more bogus $20 bills on him. “One of my favorite sayings is, you can’t teach stupid,” Covert said, “because every day something else comes up, and you just shake your head.”

Chatterbox Justice
San Francisco became the first U.S. jurisdiction to respond to possible links between cell phone use and cancer. The city Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring retailers to post the specific absorption rates (SAR) of mobile phones. Those are the rates at which radio frequencies penetrate human body tissue.

When Guns Are Outlawed
Police in New Port Richey, Fla., charged Angelic Innamorato, 28, with assault after they said she tried to hit her cousin with a ceramic toilet lid.

Hypocrite of the Week
Farmer David Jungerman, 72, posted a sign in a cornfield in Bates County, Mo., accusing Democrats of being the “Party of Parasites,” who “always have their hand out for whatever the government will give them” in social programs. When asked about farm subsidies he has received totaling $1,095,101 in the past 15 years, including $34,303 last year, Jungerman insisted, “That’s just my money coming back to me. I pay a lot in taxes. I’m not a parasite.”

Parasites of the Week
California welfare recipients are able to use state-issued debit cards to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines at 32 of the state’s 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms. To make it easier for cardholders to locate ATMs in casinos, the Department of Social Services lists them on its website.

Overstimulated
More than 1,200 prison inmates defrauded the government of $9.1 million in tax credits reserved for first-time homebuyers, according to a report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general. Among the recipients were 241 inmates serving life sentences, who received $1.7 million. The report disclosed that thousands of non-incarcerated people filed erroneous claims, resulting in more than $28 million being improperly doled out.

Mother of the Year
Police responding to call from an 11-year-old boy in Surprise, Ariz., who reported that his mother was leaving him and his 6-year-old brother, said that Christina Muniz, 29, told them she was abandoning her two boys because she was sick of them and wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a stripper. Officers called Child Protective Services, which presented Muniz with a temporary custody notice placing the children with their father in Phoenix. When she saw the notice, “she looked at the 11-year-old and told him she never wanted to see him again,” police Sgt. Mark Ortega said, adding that as CPS workers started to take the children away, the 11-year-old tried to hug his mother goodbye. “Christina made a fist with her right hand and she punched him in the stomach.”

No Extra Charge—Yet
A U.S. Airways flight set to depart Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport returned to the gate for what passengers were told was a “minor emergency.” The problem turned out to be maggots falling from an overhead bin. “A passenger had brought a container of spoiled meat onto the plane,” airline official Todd Lemacher said. “After it was discovered, all passengers were checked to make sure no other carry-ons had been contaminated, and the passenger with the spoiled meat was re-accommodated on another airline.” The flight continued, with the remaining passengers, to Charlotte, where the plane was taken out of service and fumigated.

Bozophobia
A British circus began offering free workshops aimed at overcoming people’s fear of clowns. A recent poll ranked coulrophobia as Britain’s third biggest phobia, behind spiders and needles. Paul Carpenter, who runs the sessions along with his fellow clown partner and the ringmaster at John Lawson’s Circus, explained that the therapy was aimed at adults, not children. “Many of them have a preconceived idea of clowns as knife-wielding psychos, and they’re petrified, very frightened,” Carpenter said, blaming the role of clowns in horror movies. Participants are taken to see clown actors in ordinary clothes and observe them transforming into their characters, then are encouraged to dress up as clowns themselves.

An “evil clown service,” launched this spring in Lucerne, Switzerland, lets parents hire a psychotic-looking mime to stalk their children at birthday parties. “The clown’s one and only aim is to smash a cake into the face of his victim, when they least expect it, during the course of seven days,” said actor Dominic Deville, who stars as the evil clown. He reported that kids “absolutely loved” his chilling antics.

Contract Follies
Seattle authorities who charged Graydon R. Smith, 31, with domestic violence crimes against his pregnant 19-year-old girlfriend said Smith told police officers that the woman signed a statement giving him permission to abuse her anywhere on her body except her pregnant belly.

Way to Go
U.S. Marshals reported that a body found in a New Mexico landfill was that of Carlos Roberto Medina-Bailon, 30, who escaped from a detention facility in El Paso County, Texas. He was working as a trusty in the kitchen when he escaped through the garbage disposal system and hid in a dumpster. After the garbage truck emptied the dumpster, Medina-Bailon was crushed by the truck’s compactor and dumped at the landfill.

Police investigating the fatal crash of a tractor-trailer on a Houston freeway concluded the 26-year-old driver was trying to crash the 18-wheeler into a support column to collect insurance money. A witness observed the driver jump out of the cab just before impact. The driver hit his head on the ground, lost consciousness and was pronounced dead. Authorities said the driver of a vehicle following the truck was supposed to be behind the wheel of the truck but backed out at the last minute.

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