Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Key Is Subtlety

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In Airdrie, Alberta, in January, police officers responded to a report from Ralph McCall Elementary School that a man was standing in the yard yelling with a portable loudspeaker toward a group of kids. Allegedly, the man was calling out, "Girls in the field, come over to my truck, come pet my dog." When nearby adults started to approach him, the man quickly got in his truck and took off.

 Can't Possibly Be True

Gildazio Costa, 54, was arrested in Framingham, Mass., in February and charged with kidnapping and beating his girlfriend following a five-hour-long argument they were having about the operating hours for the local library.

First, Do No Harm: Tennessee anesthesiologist Visuvalingam Vilvarajah was arrested in February in Kentucky and charged with providing controlled-substance prescriptions (OxyContin, methadone) to as many as 350 non-patients. However, the more basic question is why Tennessee licensed Dr. Vilvarajah in the first place: He had been approved by the state Department of Health even though officials knew that he was on parole after serving a sentence for murdering his wife and mother-in-law. A department spokeswoman told The Tennessean newspaper that no law prevented the licensing of Dr. Vilvarajah.

 Inexplicable

A 25-year-old man was arrested in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., in February after an apparent suicide attempt. According to police, the man tried to gas himself inside his car in a closed garage, but apparently did not have a garage himself, so he drove into a stranger’s garage and caused about $1,000 worth of damage. He was arrested for trespassing.

Total nudity is prohibited during Brazil's annual Carnival, mostly because people consider it artistically tacky. With that in mind, samba dancer Dani Sperle appeared in the street parade in Rio de Janeiro in February wearing a headdress, necklace, matching armbands and nothing else except a patch 3 centimeters long (1.2 inches) covering an intimate area.

 Unclear on the Concept

In response to a bomb threat called in to Hays High School in Buda, Texas, in February, Principal Shirley Reich directed the evacuation of all students, who were kept away for an hour until given the all-clear sign. The school had not been completely cleared, though. Reich ordered eight special-needs students, who presented mobility problems for the staff, to be kept inside during the evacuation. Afterward Reich defended her decision, crediting herself for compassion because, she said, it was cold outside and she wanted the special-needs students to be comfortable.

 Least Competent People

How Could These Victims Have Acquired So Much Money in the First Place? (a) A 27-year-old "psychic" was sentenced to two months in jail in San Jose, Calif., in December after convincing a woman, who had come to her for a $10 reading, to pay her, in ever-increasing increments, $108,000 for a "spiritual cleansing." (b) Charles Silveira filed a lawsuit in March in Morristown, N.J., to recover the $250,000 he had incrementally paid to a "psychic" who said she needed to make a golden statue for him to ward off negativity. The woman also convinced Silveira to buy her a $700,000 home, but the house is in Silveira's name, and he has asked a court's permission to evict her.

Crime Doesn't Pay (except maybe $25 an hour): According to police in Longview, Wash., a 57-year-old woman entered a WinCo Foods store at 5 a.m. on March 2 and did not leave the store until 5 p.m.. Upon her exit, she paid for about $80 worth of groceries—but she possessed about 100 other small, concealed items such as greeting cards, sunglasses and batteries (the total value of which was about $300). She had spent at least part of the day surreptitiously removing the items' packaging so they would not appear to be the store's stock.

 Recurring Themes

 Once again, a man was found to have climbed into the waste tank of an outdoor toilet, but according to a March report in the Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News, the emergency crew seemed to accept his story that it was a mistake and not due to a fetish. Rescuers from the town of Filer, Idaho, said the man told them he was just looking for his keys that he had accidentally dropped and had been in the tank for 15 minutes before help arrived. The man declined to identify himself, and no official report was required, but after the man was hosed off by a firetruck, he "discovered" that his keys had been in his pocket all along, and then drove away.

  2009 Chuck Shepherd