Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

News of the Weird

I Didn’t Do It

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According to police in Honolulu, Ellis Cleveland robbed four banks within a five-day span. When an officer stated the number of banks as Cleveland was arrested in January, he allegedly responded by saying, “Four? I didn’t do four. I only robbed three banks.

But it doesn’t matter because I’m not talking to you guys. I want a lawyer.” Police later said that Cleveland was not counting the attempted robbery of the Bank of Hawaii on Dec. 31 because, after three different tellers tried unsuccessfully to decipher his holdup note, Cleveland gave up and walked out empty-handed.

Police Blotter
The Austin (Texas) Police Department announced in January that it had suspended officer Scott Lando, 45, based on preliminary indications that he had been hiring a prostitute while on duty. According to a search warrant affidavit (disclosed in the Austin American- Statesman), Lando had paid for the woman’s services in part by letting her choose clothes from Mrs. Lando’s closet, declaring that his wife “would never miss” some of the items.

Chutzpah: (1) Georgia Ann Newman, 36, was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer after she allegedly wiped her nose on the uniform shirt of an officer in Charleston, W.Va. (2) Teresa Walker, 44, was arrested in Cincinnati in October during the course of a minor traffic stop because, while the ticket was being written, she allegedly called the police department on her cell phone to complain that the officer was writing too slowly.

Turning Their Lives Over to Sat- Nav
Satellite-navigation is undoubtedly a boon to drivers, but reports are accumulating of incidents in which drivers turned over too much discretion to the technology. For example, in January in Bedford Hills, N.Y., a visiting Silicon Valley computer technician absentmindedly obeyed his car’s global positioning system and his car wound up stalled on some railroad tracks, where a passing Metro-North train smashed into it (after the man had exited).

Government in Action!
A commercial, prepackaged ham-and-cheese sandwich using one slice of bread is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which con- ducts daily inspections under its jurisdiction, but a ham-and-cheese sandwich on two slices of bread falls to the Food and Drug Administration, which inspects manufacturers about once every five years. That anomaly surfaced in the current presidential campaign and was verified by a Congressional Quarterly-St. Petersburg Times “PolitiFact” researcher in December. A USDA official admitted to the Times that there “is no rationale or logic” behind the distinction: “It’s an issue that makes it look like we don’t know what we’re doing.”

Political Campaign Strategies: (1) Lee Myung-bak was elected president of South Korea in December. During the campaign, his organization sprayed a sharp fragrance they call “Great Korea” in the air at campaign events and at polling places, hoping for an olfactory influence on undecided voters. (2) Matthew Lajoie, 21, could have used chemical help in his race for an at-large school board seat in Brunswick, Maine, in November. He spent the campaign trying to convince voters that he is a changed man from the one who had amassed 18 criminal convictions in the previous two years. (He lost the race, but did manage to earn 10.5% of the votes.)

Great Art!
Samina Malik, 23, was convicted in a British court in December and given a suspended nine-month sentence for having amassed a large collection of how-to books on terrorism. She came to authorities’ attention as the self-described “lyrical terrorist” who writes poetry glorifying the Islamic mujahideen fighters who specialize in beheadings. (From her “How to Behead”: “Tilt the fool’s head to its left / Saw the knife back and forth / No doubt the punk will twitch and scream / But ignore the donkey’s ass / And continue to slice back and forth.”)

Medical Personnel With Issues
(1) In October, Syracuse, N.Y., dentist George Trusty was sued in federal court after a drill bit snapped off and lodged near a patient’s eye, allegedly because Trusty was dancing to the song “Car Wash” on the radio while tending to the patient. (2) In January, a patient in Skokie, Ill., complained about Joseph Vernell Jr., a former assistant to an eye doctor. The patient said that Vernell licked her toes during an exam. Vernell allegedly responded by saying that he was just “checking (her) sugar level.”

2008 Chuck Shepherd

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