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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Florida’s Manly Men

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In May, Kendrick Pitts, 20, and his brother Marquise, 19, were arrested in a women’s restroom in a small office building in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They were hiding in the bathroom stalls after being chased by police investigating a stolen vehicle. Their ruse failed when they tried using falsetto voices to persuade the cops that the only people present in the restroom were women.

 Questionable Judgments

 A June report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that people on our nation’s suspected-terrorist list tried to buy guns or explosives on approximately 1,000 occasions over the last five years—and were successful 90% of the time. One suspect even managed to buy 50 pounds of explosives. Federal law treats those on the suspected-terrorist list with “no-fly” and “no-visa” restrictions, but apparently not “no-gun.”

 People With Issues

 Lawyer Larry Wilder works part-time as a city attorney for Jeffersonville, Ind. In fact, he recently represented the city in a high-profile case in the Indiana Court of Appeals. So imagine the surprise of the police officers who found Wilder in the early morning hours of June 17 sleeping off an apparently heavy night of drinking. He was discovered in a neighbor's yard, his head and torso inside a garbage can that was tipped over on its side, with his legs sticking out.

 Least Competent Criminals

 In a scene caught on surveillance video, WCBS-TV in New York City reported on the unsuccessful robbery of Mohammad Sohail's deli in Shirley, N.Y., in June, in which Sohail surprised the perp with a shotgun. Suddenly, as Sohail recounted, the robber dropped to his knees, crying and begging for mercy. When the robber offered to convert to Islam on the spot, Sohail tossed $40 at him and sent him on his way.

 Latest Religious Messages

  •  The order at the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wis., is about to reach its 131st consecutive year of around-the-clock prayer, in shifts, at its Adoration Chapel. The Sisters' ritual began Aug. 1, 1878, and has involved at least two members of the order praying ever since.
  • Ms. Dyker Neyland is one of the few parents who have successfully challenged a school board's restrictive student dress code for adolescents. Earlier this spring, Neyland persuaded the board in Irving, Texas, that devout religious modesty should take precedence over the district's no-untucked-shirttails rule, in that an extended shirttail provides additional cover for her 7-year-old daughter's backside.

 Smooth Reactions

 A bridge in Guangzhou, China, has become a popular spot for attempted suicides, with 12 attempts in a 45-day period in April and May. During each incident, traffic is slowed or halted for hours while crews attempt to talk the distraught person down or perform rescues. In May, a man identified as "Chen" was on the ledge, according to an Agence France-Presse dispatch, but he couldn't make up his mind about jumping. One frustrated motorist, Lai Jiansheng, ended the suspense by walking up to Chen and pushing him off. Chen survived, and Lai was arrested.

 News That Sounds Like a Joke

 In May, police in Winder, Ga., arrested a marijuana seller with a rather low-tech delivery system. A wireless doorbell was hidden on a tree in woods alongside an apartment building, and when the buzzer sounded, a bucket was lowered from a second-story apartment window. The buyer put money in, the bucket was raised and the dope would be sent back down.

 Recurring Themes

 (1) In June in Xianyang, in China's Shaanxi province, a family hired a service for the equivalent of $4,400 to dig up a female corpse for their recently deceased son to "marry." It's the latest incidence of trying to overcome a centuries-old belief that forecasts a bad afterlife for men who die unmarried. (2) In shootings in May (in Rodeo del Medio, Argentina) and April (Salvador, Brazil), victims of chest wounds survived when robbers' bullets were partially deflected. According to Agence France-Presse dispatches, the Argentine man was an evangelical pastor who was holding a psalm book to his chest, and the Brazilian woman was protected by a wad of cash stuffed in her bra.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd