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TalonRider

This is True

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HAIR OF THE DOG:

A man walking through town in Whitehorse, Y.T., Canada, called the RCMP to report a dog was driving a pickup truck on the street. Sure enough, when officers arrived the dog was still behind the wheel, and the red truck was sitting in the middle of the road -- stopped. Police tracked down the owner of the Black Lab, who was at a friend's house watching the World Cup of Hockey on TV. "Subsequent

investigation made indicates that the dog was celebrating the Canadian victory in the world hockey game and knocked the truck into gear, causing it to roll down the hill," RCMP officials said in a media release, adding that they did not check to see if the dog was drunk while driving. (Whitehorse Star) ...Yeah, but did he have a license?

LINE EXTENSION:

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, has unveiled his latest invention: Kalashnikov Vodka. "I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things," Kalashnikov told reporters in Britain. (Reuters) ...The slogan: "With Kalashnikov it's your choice: get shot or get

bombed."

NOW THAT'S JUST PLAIN MEAN:

"Bald Men's Club Offers Chance to Let Hair Down" -- Reuters headline

INSTRUCTIVE:

The U.S. Department of Defense, citing a need to teach government employees how to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, created a $70,500 video called "The People's Right to Know". But when the Associated Press filed an FoIA request for a copy of the video, it took 18 months to get it, because the Pentagon needed to censor it first. "We knew it would be embarrassing," said Army lawyer Suzanne Council. "We couldn't get approval" from the owners of the copyright of various movie clips used in the video. "We did our darnedest." The FoIA allows the government to remove secret material from information it releases, but the law has no provision for removing copyrighted material. (AP) ...Leaving the Army to insist the censorship is due to its invocation of Fifth Amendment protection.

BLOWN AWAY:

The string of hurricanes to hit Florida have spawned a storm of weather modification suggestions from amateurs looking for ways to stop storms from ever reaching shore. One suggests towing an iceberg from the Arctic to "cool" storms, sapping them of strength. Another suggests building giant fans to blow the storms ck out to sea. "And then there was a guy who called and said he could pray them away," says Hugh Willoughby of the International Hurricane Center in Florida. By far the most common suggestion: exploding nuclear weapons in storms. No good, Willoughby says. "Hurricanes are bad enough without being radioactive. "Put that genie back in the bottle." (AP) ...Actually, it could have benefit: glow-in-the-dark storms would be easier to deal with during nighttime power outages.

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THIS is TRUE for 14 November 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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IT'S THE WATER, AND A LOT MORE: "We couldn't ask for better sales," says

a spokesman for Koyo USA in Kona, Hawaii. "At this point, we can't make

enough." The company is "making" water by sucking it out of the sea,

running it through a salt removal process, and selling it to eager

customers in Japan for $4-6 per bottle. Koyo says it's shipping more

than 200,000 bottles per day, and is eager to expand its distribution.

"There's a lot of water out there," says Mark Anderson of Hawaii's

Foreign-Trade Zone Division. "I don't think they're going to run out."

(AP) ...Odds of the plant running out of sea water: low. Odds of its

customers running out of money: significantly higher.

JUST CAN'T STOP: Medical researchers are excited about a drug that may

help fight all addictions -- from food to cigarettes to alcohol to

marijuana. Rimonabant, developed by France's Sanofi-Aventis, seems to

work by normalizing the brain's reward center. "I think it's going to

have a big impact on the treatment of addiction," says Dr. Charles

O'Brien, a U.S. addiction expert. "I'll try to get my hands on it as

quickly as possible" to begin studies, he says. (AP) ...Once that's

done, then he can start the search for a drug to cure rimonabant

addiction.

WORD PLAY: A Board of Inquiry from Canada's Nova Scotia Human Rights

Commission has ruled that a Mi'kmaq Indian woman was not demeaned when

her employer called her "Kemosabe" -- the name Tonto used to refer to

the "Lone Ranger" in the 1933-1955 radio show and the 1949-1957 TV

show. Dorothy Kateri Moore says she objected to the term, which her

boss Trevor Muller used for all of his employees. Muller says the word

means "trusty friend" and would not stop using it. Moore, who is

presumably not related to Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, quit and

filed a discrimination complaint with the Commission. "The evidence

showed that she was not only treated the same way as other employees,"

the Board ruled, "but was considered a friend." The ruling came after

the Board watched re-runs of the TV show for an entire day. (Halifax

Daily News) ...Later, however, after watching a day's worth of "Star

Trek" re-runs the Board ruled that Picard calling Riker "Number One"

was "offensive bathroom language."

BOYS IN BLUE: The flight crew of an Australian Army helicopter has been

relieved of duty pending an investigation of its actions. During the

Indy 300 auto race on the Gold Coast, the chopper was supposed to be on

anti-terrorist patrol, but instead was hovering near apartment

balconies with a crewman hanging out the door holding a sign reading,

"Show Us Your T-ts", which was apparently targeted to bikini-clad women

on balconies watching the race. The stunt came to light when an

onlooker took a photo of the Iroquois gunship and posted it on the

Internet. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) ...Meanwhile, everyone else was

taking photos in the other direction.

WHO WOULD'VE GUESSED? "Visitors Told to Stay Away as Chocolate Festival

Proves Too Popular" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 21 November 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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NOT OKKK: Grand Rapids, Mich., School Superintendent Bert Bleke has accepted an offer from City High School Principal Jane DeGroot to

forfeit three days' pay for allowing a student to attend a Halloween costume party dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member; he won first prize for "scariest costume". Bleke says the Asian student "didn't realize just how offensive this was," and wondered why none of the teachers prevented the student from wearing the costume. Despite not stopping the student, DeGroot wrote a letter to parents that "it hurts to have the good name of City linked in any way with such an abhorrent organization." She then issued a five-day suspension to the student who wore the costume. (Grand Rapids Press) ...So why didn't she offer to forfeit five days' pay?

CHEAP SHOT: After Samantha Spady, 19, a student at olorado State University in Ft. Collins, drank herself to death [This is True, 3 Oct -- http://www.thisistrue.com/rolemodel.html ], the university banned beer sales at its football stadium. But university police say that drunken behavior at games is worse since the ban, not better, because students know they can't buy beer there and arrive already drunk. Meanwhile, a company sponsoring a Jell-O wrestling tournament in Ft. Collins has canceled plans to donate $100 to a foundation Spady's parents created in her memory. To attract women, promoter Brian Collins promised to provide free alcoholic "Jell-O shots" to the first 100 women who attended. Collins said there was "no harm intended" in tying the event to the Spady foundation. (AP, Denver Rocky Mountain News)...Harm, maybe not. Profiteering, yes.

DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE: Police investigating he cause of a single-vehicle accident in Amherst, N.Y., were perplexed by what they found: both occupants, a husband and wife, were unconscious, and both were in the back seat -- no one was behind the wheel. Officers arrested Tiber L. Csapo Jr., 39, after his wife woke up and told them that he was beating her as he drove. She tried to escape by jumping into the back seat but Csapo followed, and the driverless car then crashed. Csapo was charged with driving while intoxicated, second-degree assault and felony reckless endangerment. (Buffalo News) ...And felony backseat driving.

SWING VOTER: When Debbie Dupeire, 38, of New Oleans, La., showed up to vote in the Presidential election, she was told she couldn't cast her ballot -- election rules prohibit campaigning within 500 feet of a polling place, and she was wearing a pro-Bush t-shirt. "I didn't go there to cause trouble," Dupeire said later, but she wanted to vote. To comply with the rules she pulled the shirt off and voted in her bra. "I just did the fastest thing I could do to vote," she says. (New Orleans Times-Picayune) ...The t-shirt: "Bush or Bust."

FOR THE CONGREGATION ONLY, NOT THE PRIESTS: "Vatican Sex Guide Urges Catholics to Do 'It' More Often" -- London Telegraph headline

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HANDS-ON EDUCATION: "We all call him Dr. Devon now," says Taru Mills of Oakland, Calif. Her son Devon, 5, helped her deliver his baby sister on the stairs of their apartment building when his mother couldn't make it to the hospital. "Devon's eyes were as big as his head, but he didn't panic at all," mom says. Was the boy scared? "Nope," he answered the reporter's question directly. Does he want to be a doctor? "Yep." And does the 5-year-old know where babies come from? "Yep," he said, finally adding some detail: "No storks." (Oakland Tribune) ...Well, that's more than most teens know.

RECESS IS CANCELED: At an assembly of 13-year-olds at St Matthew's High School in Moston, Manchester, England, a teacher told students an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth. The stunned children were told they would be able to leave school early to say their "final farewells" to family members. "Unfortunately a small number of pupils took the story literally," says Headteacher Kevin Hogan -- the end-of-the-world threat was meant as a lesson for students to "live each day to the full." When it became apparent that some of the children were crying, "the head of year visited every year-9 class and again told students that the story was untrue and made every effort to ensure that those students who had been anxious were reassured." (Manchester Evening News) ...Right. Everyone knows doomsday would only come after finals.

ON THE WRONG TRACK: Patricia M. Frankhouser says she was walking along the railroad tracks in Pittsburgh, Penn., when a train passed by and clipped her, injuring her finger. Rather than curse her own stupidity, she sought out a lawyer; Harry F. Smail Jr. filed suit against Norfolk Southern Corp., charging that the railroad failed to put up warning signs to notify pedestrians "of the dangers of walking near train tracks and that the tracks were actively in use" which "negligently provided plaintiff with the belief she was safe in walking near the train tracks." The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $30,000. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) ...And here all her friends thought she was untrainable.

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME: Michael Parks, 49, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, donated some clothing to Age Concern, a charity for the elderly. When he realized that one of the coats in the pile had 1,200 pounds (US$2,250) in a pocket, he asked for the cash to be returned. "They said they had taken legal advice and the money was considered a donation so they were keeping it." A spokeswoman for the charity says they "hope that this isolated incident doesn't deter members of the public from donating to their local Age Concern shop." (AFP) ...The sad part is, she's serious.

ONE DOWN, THOUSANDS TO GO: "Lawyer Going to Jail for Telling Witness to Lie" -- Nashville Tennessean headline

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THIS is TRUE for 5 December 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CONSUME YOUR MERCHANDISE: Bay County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office say John Douglas Sheetz, 18, and Misty Ann Holmes, 17, called them to report a theft -- of their marijuana stash. They let officers search their house for evidence -- and were then arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. "They're America's dumbest criminals," a sheriff's spokesman said. (AP) ...Maybe, but tomorrow's another day.

CANNONBALL RUN: Just 45 minutes after Theresa M. Wilson, 43, of Curtis, Wash., found her boyfriend with another woman, she says, she saw him driving on the road. She rammed his car three times and forced it off

the road, state troopers say. "Oh my God, oh my God, that's not my boyfriend," she allegedly said after the crash -- she had mistaken a stranger's car for her boyfriend's. Wilson was arrested and charged with assault. "We've got an anger management issue," the arresting trooper said. (Olympia Olympian) ...Gee, I can't imagine why her boyfriend wanted to move on.

WHATEVER YOU SAY: After dating for 10 years, Denise Dancer, 37, of Melbourne, Vic., Australia, was finally engaged to marry her boyfriend, Paul Bayliss, 34. But Dancer came home early one day and discovered Bayliss had a girlfriend on the side: Dancer's 18-year-old daughter, Emma. It took Dancer eight weeks to confront the couple, who admitted to an affair, and she canceled the wedding. "He made contact to say he may have made a mistake and he wants to come back," Dancer says, but "I told him he'd made his bed and had to lie on it." Bayliss has now announced his engagement to Emma. (Melbourne Herald Sun) ...Now Dancer knows the meaning of "an unfortunate choice of words."

WEDDED BLISS(TERS): Scott McKie, 23, and Victoria Anderson, 40, were married in Manchester, England, but they didn't make it to their honeymoon. McKie offended his bride with his "drunken toast" to the bridesmaids at the reception, and she hit him over the head with an ashtray. He responded by throwing a hat stand "like a javelin," witnesses say. A melee ensued that took several police officers to calm down, during which time McKie head-butted one constable and socked another in the face. The bride and groom were arrested, and Anderson said she wanted a divorce. Total elapsed marriage time: 90 minutes. (London Telegraph) ...Another 10 minutes and they would have made it to "death do us part."

WE'RE DEFINITELY NOT READY FOR THIS CLOSE-UP: "TV Stations Shun 'Phil the Sore' Syphilis Ad" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE for 12 December 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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LESSON PLAN: A teacher at Holme Elementary School in Philadelphia, Penn., reported something missing, so school officials searched the belongings of several students. They didn't find the item, but they found contraband; Porsche Brown, 10, was pulled out of class, handcuffed, and taken to the police station. Her offense? She had scissors in her book bag. School officials insist they were required to call the police since state law requires zero tolerance for "weapons" on campus, but acknowledged the girl had not threatened anyone. Police released the girl without charging her with any crime, but school officials suspended her for 5 days pending a hearing. "My daughter cried and cried," said her mother, Rose Jackson. Later, she said, the girl pointed out, "Mom, we use scissors in school." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

...The suspension, then, had less to do with unauthorized possession of

scissors than it did with unauthorized possession of common sense.

SPIRITED OFFICE SENSE: Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has issued an advisory in an attempt to reduce the number of injuries sustained at office Christmas parties. Among the various points of advice: "Dancing on desks could do them and you a lot of damage." Ban candles and smoking. And "Resist the temptation to photocopy parts of your anatomy. If the copier breaks, you'll have Christmas with glass in painful places." (Reuters) ...Yes, but such accidents are at least well documented.

UNIQUE WINTER ATTIRE: Police in Halton, Ont., Canada, are looking for a flasher. They say the man exposed himself to girls, and was wearing a bra and thong. "It's semi-weird," says police detective Al Nikitin, "but I've seen weirder." Meanwhile, a high school teacher in Medina Township, Ohio, has been charged with drunk driving. Police say Mark Wurstle, 47, was wearing only a black sweatshirt and women's panties when they pulled him over. They had received a tip from a bartender who said he was in his bar wearing the same outfit. Wurstle has two previous drunk driving arrests. His attorney says he plans to continue to show up for work. (Canadian Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer) ...So he's a masochist, too?

THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE: A spokesman for France's Alstom Chantiers, the company that supplied the Queen Mary II cruise liner with its furniture, has admitted it is having to replace many of the chairs on the luxury liner because they're breaking under the weight of fat passengers. "There are some problems with the chairs because some of our ssengers are heavier than we imagined," the spokesman says. "It's not an English problem," he hastened to add, since the QMII is a British ship. "It's probably more American." Meanwhile, a study by Australia's University of Adelaide has found that the average Australian is heavier than the average American. They found the average Aussie woman wears size 16 and weighs 8 kg (17.6 lbs) more than American women, and the average Aussie man is 3 kg (6.6 lbs) heavier than American men. A doctor for the Australian Medical Association says "we are eating ourselves to death," but University of Adelade Prof. Maciej Henneberg says the "few kilos" of weight is "not a major concern." (London Telegraph, Sydney Telegraph) ...Well, not unless they're planning to go on a cruise anytime soon.

DUDE! IF YOU HAVE TO STUDY IT, YOU DON'T GET IT: "Linguist Deciphers Uses of Word 'Dude'" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 19 December 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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YOU BETTER NOT POUT: An item in the British medical journal "Psychiatric Bulletin" argues children's belief in Santa Claus "encourages their moral development as they believe he knows which children are good or bad." Psychiatrist Lynda Breen says the myth "is a useful ace up a parent's sleeve" and they really don't mind when they find out the truth. "It is actually parents who mourn the loss," she says. (AFP) ...Sure, because it's at that point the kids get uncontrollable.

YOU BETTER NOT CRY: "The imagination which created Father Christmas is being destroyed by a society which holds rationality above anything else," complains London, England, psychiatrist Mark Salter. "Whenever anything goes wrong we hold an inquiry into it. We no longer seem to accept that bad things may happen in our lives." Society's rationality is going to an extreme, he says. "If Santa died, we would hold a serious incident inquiry." (AFP) ...Making him the first shrink to state a preference for an irrational society.

YOU BETTER WATCH OUT: The "world's biggest gathering of Santa Clauses", a charity run of 4,250 people dressed as Father Christmas in Newtown, Wales, took a wrong turn when "a few" of the Kringle-clad gents ducked into a pub. About 30 drunken St. Nicks then engaged in a street brawl that police had to break up with tear gas and truncheons. Five suited suspects were hauled off to the local jail. (London Times) ...The event's theme song: "Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

I'M TELLING YOU WHY: A nativity display at Madame Tussauds wax museum in London, England, has provoked outrage. A wax figure of soccer star David Beckham is cast as Joseph; his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, is cast as the Virgin Mary. One of the Wise Men is portrayed by a wax figure of U.S. President George W. Bush, and another by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. (AP) ...Left up to the reader while trying to picture this: who portrayed the third Wise Man.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN: Beau Carpenter, who works for NASA in Houston, Texas, was designing a glow-in-the-dark jogging suit when he got a better idea: glow-in-the-dark thongs for women. "Being guys, it didn't take us long to gravitate to them," Carpenter says, noting he and his business partners hope to get the product out in time for Christmas. The $50 panty glows for up to 2 hours, and includes a charger. "We're selling attention," Carpenter says. "You kind of feel like Cinderella until the glow runs out." (Houston Chronicle) ...Which has been the lament of women for generations.

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW: "Cocaine Dealer Dreaming of a White Christmas" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE for 26 December 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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NO PRINCIPLES: Chloe Smith, 14, has been expelled from Mustang (Okla.) Middle School after a search of her locker turned up drugs. The school's "zero tolerance" drug policy mandated the expulsion, even though she had a valid prescription for the medication to treat a chronic ovarian disease. "Mustang schools has a very intolerant view toward drug use," explains Superintendent Karl Springer. School policy mandates that any prescription medications be held by school officials. (The Oklahoman) ...Clearly a great policy -- what could possibly go wrong?

DESPERATE PRINCIPALS: Some students at West Middle School in Ypsilanti, Mich., may have been denied prescription medications because Assistant Principal Marcus Burlingame, 33, was allegedly stealing their drugs. Burlingame seems to have had a preference for amphetamines prescribed for kids with attention deficit disorder. He apologized and said he would seek drug rehabilitation treatment. He was put on administrative leave, with pay, but so far no criminal charges have been filed. School policy requires student medicines be kept in the school's office. (Ann Arbor News) ...Parents should have known something was up when the drug locker was labeled "Administrators' Candy Store".

FREE UPGRADE: A shoplifter at a Sam's Club store in Honolulu, Hawaii, turned into a robber after he was confronted by store security, pulled a knife on them, and then ran, police say. He then turned into a carjacker when he jumped into a passing pickup truck to make his getaway, they allege. Bad choice: the driver of the pickup was off duty, but was wearing a shirt with "Federal Police" on it in bright letters. The officer simply drove toward police headquarters, but didn't quite make it as the vehicle was surrounded by pursuing officers. The fed jumped out, taking the keys with him, and the robber was so scared when the cops pulled him out that he fainted. The unidentified man was also charged with kidnaping. (Honolulu Star Bulletin) ..."Not knowing the meaning of the word 'quit'" isn't always a good attribute.

WHY THEY CALL IT "DOPE" -- PART 275: Robert Amato, 42, and Valerie Lawler, 20, stopped by the police station in Milford, Conn., to bail a friend out of jail. As they were getting out of their car a passing police officer couldn't help but notice when Lawler dropped a crack pipe on the ground. The cop searched the vehicle found a bag of cocaine, and arrested the pair for drug possession. Even without the hitch in their plans they wouldn't have gotten their friend out of jail: they had stopped at the wrong police station. (New Haven

Register) ...The worst part: that guy's the only one who would have been willing to bail them out of jail.

SOMEONE HAS A ONE-TRACK MIND: "Toy Maker Equips Train with Condom" -- Reuters headline :o

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THIS is TRUE for 2 January 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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PRIVACY, EH? The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce admits one of its cash machines was distributing fake bills. They were obviously fake, too: they were incentive coupons issued by Canadian Tire Corp. hardware stores that were "contained within a bulk of regular currency," a bank spokesman says. The bank is also reeling from another public relations disaster: a West Virginia junkyard operator sued the bank for clogging up its fax machine -- with confidential information about hundreds of bank customers, which it was apparently sending to the wrong number. The bank lamely whined that the junkyard had violated Canadian privacy laws by revealing the bank's faxing errors. (Reuters) ...No wonder it had to resort to fake bills -- there was a run of customers trying to get their money out in a hurry.

PICTURE YOURSELF IN A CADILLAC: Eric Anthony Greensweight, 35, allegedly stole a $37,000 Cadillac from a dealer's lot in Ukiah, Calif. Dealership employees said Greensweight was a transient who had been sleeping in the parking lot, and raced off in a car that had the keys in it. An employee gave chase, using a cell phone to keep police updated. The Highway Patrol took over the 100-mph pursuit until Greensweight spun out of control. When Greensweight took off in the car, he left a shopping cart full of his belongings behind. (Ukiah Daily Journal) ...Right: that was his trade-in.

A POOR JUDGE OF CHARACTER: A group of people waiting for their court appearances on various traffic violations in Sanford, Fla., were arrested after the judge for their cases got tired of waiting for them to show up. As it happened, they had been told to wait in the wrong courtroom. Judge John R. Sloop ordered seven people arrested one day, and 11 the next, for doing what they were told. They were held for more than eight hours, including one man who was jailed for three days, even after the judge was told what happened. Chief Judge James Perry invalidated all 18 arrests, expunged the records, and relieved Judge Sloop from criminal case duty, assigning him instead to civil court duty. (Orlando Sentinel) ...Now you know why the civil courts are such a mess.

ANOTHER LEADING CONTENDER: Clerks at a gas station in Poulsbo, Wash., called police to report a robbery despite the robber still being inside and threatening them with a knife. The robber tried to cut the phone cord with his knife, but failed. He escaped in a waiting get-away car before police arrived, but clerks called the cops again a short time later when the car pulled in again -- the driver wanted directions out of town. "I guess they got lost," a police spokesman said. "They're not the brightest bulbs in the closet." The alleged robber, Jared Persitz, 22, and the driver, Matthew Barela, 22, not only admitted to the attempted robbery, but also to a burglary earlier in the day. (Central Kitsap Reporter) ...And thus begins the race for the Biggest Idiot of the Year.

AND YOU THINK AMERICAN REALITY SHOWS ARE BAD? "Pig Not Degraded by Televised Sexual Experience, British Watchdog Rules" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 9 January 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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CARELESS: If you are an elderly American with questions about Medicare, ask anyone but the official Medicare toll-free "help" line. "We found that 6 out of 10 calls were answered accurately, 3 out of 10 calls were answered inaccurately and we were not able to get a response for 1 out of 10 calls" says an audit report by the service by the Government Accountability Office. In one example, they asked a question about whether electric wheelchairs are covered by Medicare. The right answer: yes, if a person's "trunk strength" is low enough to require it. The answer they got: "Medicare would cover a power wheelchair only if a beneficiary had adequate space to put it in the trunk of his car." A separate audit of a special line for doctors to call about billing issues was even worse, with complete and accurate information given only 4 percent of the time. (New York Times) ...Where they mostly advised doctors to hide bodies in trunks.

THE EDUCAMATIONAL SYSTEM: A third of all schoolteachers in Florida have failed their certification tests at least once, and many have not even been able to pass the tests they give their students. Students aren't allowed to move to the next grade if they don't pass their standardized tests, but some teachers continue to teach even after failing their own exams and then receiving waivers, according to a review of test scores. Almost 1,400 teachers have failed more than 10 times; more than half-a- million kids suffer with substandard teachers. State Sen. Frederica Wilson decries the report, saying the poor teachers are "destroying the lives and futures of Florida's children." And the bottom-line result, Wilson says, is "The economy is going to suffer. Our tax base is going to suffer." (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) ...Leave it to the politicians: it takes their peculiar mindset to really see the big picture.

WELL-SCHOOLIFIED II: The Broad Street School in Bridgeton, N.J., was evacuated for the third time in an eight-day span when a kindergarten teacher found a stick of dynamite in her classroom. It was not a false alarm; it really was dynamite. The explosive, with no fuse or detonator, was accidentally left behind by the Salem County Sheriff's Department after a multi-agency training exercise with bomb-sniffing dogs. "Whenever they search a building like that, they have to put something out there for the dog to find," explained a spokesman. The first two evacuations were for bomb threats. No bombs were found after either threat. (Bridgeton News) ...Reassuring news, isn't that?

WHEN BOOBS ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE BOOBS: The city council of San Antonio, Texas, has proposed that strippers in the city not only have to get a $50 license, but that they also be required to wear the license while performing. Councilman Chip Haass says that will keep dancers who do something illegal from giving a fake name to escape prosecution. (San Antonio Express-News) ...But the licenses can't be issued until they find a print shop capable of producing the 4- by 6- foot license cards.

HEEEERRRRRE'S JOHNNY! "Police Say Man Sang, Wielded Hatchet During Robbery Attempt" -- Hagerstown (Maryland) Herald-Mail headline

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THIS is TRUE for 16 January 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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MAKE ME ONE WITH EVERYTHING: "We've never seen hot dogs mixed with prostitution before," said Rick Capece, commander of the Nassau County, N.Y., vice squad, but one of his undercover officers busted two alleged hookers working out of what the local newspaper called a "wiener wagon". The sides, they say, were more than mustard and relish. Catherina Scalia, 38, and Rose Skorgy, 34, were charged after propositioning an officer. Capece called the scheme "the most unusual thing I've seen. It was a legitimate business. They were selling hot dogs in there. We don't know how large the clientele was, though." (New York Daily News) ...Not all that large, if they had to pay for it.

SCHNAPPING UP THE AWARDS: Joy Gruttmann is the youngest singer ever to hit the top of Germany's pop music charts. Her ng, "Schnappi, the Little Crocodile", was recorded when she was 4; she's now 7 and is taking her fame in stride. "I recorded the song when I was much younger, and I've learned a lot since then." Her song, which was written by her aunt, was picked up from the family's web site by radio stations, turning it into a smash hit. The girl says she wants to be an architect or fashion designer, but "if the song does really well in the charts, well, maybe I'll just stick with being a rich and famous rock star." (Der Spiegel) ...Since that worked so well for David Hasselhoff.

----------==========**********O**********==========----------

EVER LAUGH SO HARD YOU FARTED?

Read Weeping Willow.

Alone.

http://www.JosephCoaler.com/WeepingWillow.html

----------==========**********O**********==========----------

DOWNHILL GETAWAY: Bank tellers in Pocatello, Idaho, were confronted by a 62-year-old woman using a walker who announced a robbery, adding she had a gun. And "had" was the operative word: she explained that she recently hocked her gun at a pawn shop. Tellers called the police. "There was no money given to her at all," a police spokesman said. "The tellers indicated at the time that they were not in fear of their lives." Police declined to identify the robber, calling her case a "sad deal." (Pocatello Idaho State Journal) ...Yeah, well, that describes half the criminals out there.

LAND OF THE FREE: "How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?" Harvey Kash, 69, asked Carl Lanzisera, 65, as the two were waiting in line to enter the courthouse in Hempstead, N.Y. "His lips are moving!" they said in unison. The men, founders of the group "Americans for Legal Reform", then told another well-practiced joke. A man ahead of them in line turned and "shouted" at them, Kash said, saying "Shut up, I'm a lawyer." The attorney reported them to court personnel, who had the men arrested on disorderly conduct charges. "They were being abusive and they were causing a disturbance," a court officer says. "We were outside on the street," Kash responds. A civil rights attorney has offered to represent the men and fight the charge. (New York Newsday) ...How can you tell when a reform group is successful? When their story gets sympathetic worldwide press coverage.

HE WAS SMUGGLING IT IN HIS LUGGAGE; WHAT DID *YOU* THINK, PERVERT? "Man Fined for Hiding His Salami" -- Australian AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 23 January 2004 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: It was the "jury pool from hell," says Memphis, Tenn., defense attorney Leslie Ballin. When the jury was asked if any of them had been convicted of any crimes, many hands went up. One admitted he was arrested after he "almost shot" his nephew because the boy wouldn't come out from under his bed. Another volunteered, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite" -- and walked out. A third said he was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer on prostitution decoy duty. "I should have known something was up," the man said, since "she had all her teeth." After finally seating a jury, Ballin's client was found not guilty. (AP) ...Though most of the jury was locked up afterward.

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: Antwerp, Belgium, has installed new lights along its waterfront, and they're so bright they're generating complaints -- from hookers. "We had some remarks from the prostitutes that there was too much light, both for them and the clients," says city spokesman Jorn Verbeeck. The city is happy to cooperate. "We are investigating the possibility of lowering the light there," he says. (Reuters) ...And if that doesn't work, they'll try putting red lenses on them.

VIRTUAL COLLECTION PLATE: Police in Edmonton, Alta., Canada, are investigating a man who sells "guaranteed admission into heaven" for C$20 (US$16.35). The man's web site says the certificate works without "need for confessions or penance." It's "obviously a scam," says detective Mark Johnson of the economic crimes unit. (Edmonton Sun) ...Sure, but it'll be interesting to see him try to prove that in court.

UNDERSTATEMENT, DEFINED: Reno, Nev., police report that a man called 911 for help when he couldn't stop the bleeding from an at-home surgery. Castration. That he performed on himself. The unnamed 50-year-old man learned the procedure on the Internet, and he did it to "decrease his libido," a police spokesman says. "The man obviously needs some sort of counseling." (Reno Gazette-Journal) ...Maybe, though he wasn't screaming as much as the cops who found him.

HORROR STORY: "Clinic Asks Politicians to Donate Sperm" -- Reuters headline; "Woman Pregnant with Wrong Sperm Gives Birth" -- Reuters headline, 4 minutes later

JOHNNY CARSON WAS a mentor to me: when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Bush the First cited Johnny with these words: "With decency and style he's made America laugh and think." Not just laugh: laugh *and think*, which has always been my goal with TRUE. It ended up being hard to write this week's issue on Sunday, since I always skim the latest news before I start to write, and one of the first stories I found was the flash that he had died.

I have a several-prong tribute to Johnny that I hope you'll have interest in. First up is a special "Honorary Unsubscribe" entry. People that famous and well-recognized don't normally get featured in HU (that's why it's a special entry, eh?), but when someone dies that had such a personal impact on me, exceptions get made. The "regular" HU is below in its usual spot. Johnny's is available in the HU archive. See below for the URL.

Second, one of the best examples I've seen of the "and think" part of Johnny's well-honed wit. It's from 1991; the Berlin Wall had been down for two years and the Soviet Union was crumbling. His piece to reflect that environment is lled "What Democracy Means to Me". (My favorite line: "Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have to impress people you wish were dead." The whole thing is on my Jumbo Joke site.)

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THIS is TRUE for 30 January 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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INSTITUTIONALIZED BULLYING: Two students at Wyomina Park Elementary School in Ocala, Fla., were caught doodling in class. The 9- and 10- year-old boys had drawn stick figures purportedly showing a classmate being hanged, with other stick figures "holding knives pointed through" his body. The teacher called in the school's dean, who called in the police, who called in the State Attorney's Office for consultation. The boys were arrested, handcuffed and charged with "making a written threat to kill or harm another person," a felony. The mother of the 9- year-old says her son was upset at the boy supposedly in the drawing since that boy had been pushing and shoving him at school. She said her son, a special education student, would not be able to associate the drawing with actual physical violence. (Ocala Star-Banner) ...With him in jail, then, the bullying is complete.

INSTITUTIONAL BULLY II: School officials in Chicago, Ill., say a teacher at Morgan Park School taped shut the mouths and eyes of several second- grade students who were disrupting her class. She gave students a warning first, though: "Sit your a** down!" No charges have been filed, but the school district has started procedures to fire the unnamed teacher. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...Portrait of American Justice: Assault children, no charges. Draw a picture of a bully: felony charges.

EXPANDING KIDS' MINDS: The Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., hosted a "career day" to help students plan for their futures. One of the speakers invited to the assembly was William Fried, a salesman who, in his presentation called "The Secret of a Happy Life", pointed out there's a special career available to girls, especially those with large breasts: stripping. "For every two inches up there, it's another $50,000," he told the very attentive kids. Asked to comment later, Fried stood behind his comments. "Maybe I could have probably spent less time on exotic dancing," he said, "but I think the kids were entertained." Principal Joseph Di Salvo admitted encouraging eighth-grade girls to pursue stripping was "inappropriate," but insisted the controversy was "overblown." (San Francisco Chronicle) ...And you know, the overblown girls can get more like $100,000 extra.

BEE BEEN BANNED: Schools in Lincoln, R.I., have canceled the annual spelling bee competition. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Newman said the decision was unanimous, and was because the "No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards," but a spelling bee is "about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That's contrary to No Child Left Behind." A spelling bee "sends a message that this isn't an all-kids movement" as it leaves "some kids being winners, some kids being losers." That just won't do, she says, since "You have to build positive self-esteem for all kids, so they believe they're all winners." (Woonsocket Call) ...Asinine. A-S-I-N-I-N-E. Asinine.

SOME FRIEND: "Man Blames Crash on Imaginary Friend" -- Hartland (Wisc.) Lake Country Reporter headline

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THIS is TRUE for 6 February 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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HALF PINT: A policeman in Salford, England, spotted a car running at 70 mph in a 30 mph residential area and gave chase. In addition to the speeding, the driver was going the wrong way, in the dark without lights, and drunk (.050 vs a legal limit of .035). He was also just 13 years old, and police caught him when he lost control and crashed. District Judge Jonathon Finestein sentenced the boy to four months in custody, plus a driving ban for four years -- to start when he becomes eligible for a driver's license. Judge Finestein, citing the "exceptional" nature of the case, allowed newspapers to report the boy's identity despite his age: Jon Smee. (London Guardian) ...An obvious deterrent -- that will keep it from ever happening with someone that young again.

ANOTHER HALF PINT: A girl from Berkshire, England, has been convicted of drunk driving and, at 12, she's the youngest on record with that conviction in the country. Police measured her blood alcohol level at .065 against a legal limit of .035 -- for adults. Her name was not released to newspapers. (London Guardian) ...Since that has proven not to be a deterrent.

EMOTIONAL EDUCATION: A group of about 50 parents of students at DeKalb, Ga., schools showed up at a meeting to protest the adoption of an abstinence-only sex education policy, saying kids need more information about contraception and disease prevention. The parents included doctors and infectious disease experts from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of which are in the vicinity. "We feel passionate about the issue of sex education," says parent Tanya Cassingham, an Emory AIDS researcher. "We have tried fear-based programs in the past." Cassingham points out that the programs have not been peer reviewed by qualified researchers to ensure they actually work. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ...Certainly "Just Say No" will work with kids, as Nancy Reagan already proved.

WHAT NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF: Michael Warner, 58, consumed so much alcohol over the years that he couldn't drink any more due to acid reflux and stomach ulcers. "He was told that he could not drink alcohol or that he would die," said a Lake Jackson, Texas, police spokesman. In order for him to still consume it, police say, his wife Tammy Jean Warner, 42, gave him a wine enema. She went overboard, they say, when she anally administered two bottles of fortified sherry, pushing his blood alcohol level to .47 percent, killing him. She has been charged with criminally negligent homicide, and with destroying Michael's will for his $317,000 estate, which she has been fighting his daughter for since his death. She has already received $248,276 in life insurance. (Clute Facts)

..."I'll drink to that," Tammy said. "Bottoms up!"

MASHER! "Mr. Potato Head Goes to the Dark Side" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 13 February 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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WHERE THERE'S SMOKE: Four firefighters in Sacramento, Calif., have been suspended after being caught ...um... engaged in "on-duty consensual sexual misconduct," says Chief Julius Cherry. The four, a male station captain, two male firefighters, and a female firefighter, would have one of the men act as a "lookout" while the others had sex. However, investigators say, the activities did not impair the squad's response to emergency calls. (Sacramento Bee) ...Because most of the calls they got were to report smoke coming out of the fire station's windows.

THERE'S FIRE: An investigation in Florida found that a group of firefighters in Tampa ...uh... participated in a "photo shoot" with two models at their station. Investigators say Capt. Al Suarez, 44, organized the event, hiring strippers "Jamie" and "Heather" to pose on fire trucks wearing, at most, firefighter pants, suspenders and high heels, and usually much less. Suarez was fired, and four firefighters were suspended without pay. (St. Petersburg Times) ...Firefighters are always in heat.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED: A gas station attendant in Euless, Texas, reported that a man stepped in and made a small purchase. When the clerk opened the cash register to get his change, the man sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, grabbed $200 from the register, and then fled. The robber left behind a bit of a clue, however: he left his wallet on the counter. Police waited a few days and then called the wallet's owner and told him someone had found it, and he could come by the police station to claim it. When Joseph Fahnbulleh, 22, arrived for his wallet, he was arrested. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) ...For assault, robbery, and driving without his license.

TRY, TRY AGAIN: A robber who hit a grocery store in Minneapolis, Minn., made the mistake of putting his gun on the counter so he could use both hands to scoop up the $2,000 in cash he got from the heist. As he was stuffing the money into a shopping bag featuring a Smiley Face, the clerk grabbed the gun, pointed it at the robber, and ordered him to leave. The robber did, but came back a few minutes later asking for his gun back. During the ensuing fight the robber's mask came off and he fled a second time, again without his gun. Police arrived just as the robber was leaving. They charged Dantzler L. Thomas, 24, with aggravated robbery. Officers found a left glove in Thomas's car; it matched a right glove left at the store. (Minneapolis Star Tribune) ...And I can't help but picture that glove as being still wrapped around the gun.

TRUST ME, DAHLING -- A SHAR PEI IS SUPPOSED TO BE WRINKLY: "West Hollywood May Ban Cosmetic Surgery for Pets" -- Los Angeles Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 20 February 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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WHAT, NO TIP? A restaurant owner in Calais, Maine, was suspicious when a diner said he was having a heart attack. The man hadn't shown any difficulty before his bill arrived, so the restaurateur called an ambulance and the police. Elias I. Elias, 54, "has 18 convictions" for similar thefts, said the Washington County District Attorney. Elias's court-appointed counsel, Jeffrey Davidson, explained his client's motivation this way: "Even if he didn't have dignity, he wanted to feel like he did." Elias was sentenced to 90 days in jail. (Bangor Daily News) ...And, as usual, someone else is picking up the tab.

ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE: Police in Glendale, Calif., say Juan Manuel Alvarez, 25, splashed gasoline on and in his car and then parked it on a railroad track just as a commuter train was to pass. The train jumped the track and smashed into two other trains, killing 11 people and injuring nearly 200. Alvarez, who was standing outside his car and watched the wreck unfold, told officers that he was trying to commit suicide, but the excuse didn't jibe with investigators, who determined it was an attempt to get attention. "This was a deliberate act perpetrated by Alvarez to gain sympathy from his wife," says Glendale Police Lt. Jon Perkins. Deaths resulting from a criminal act are murder, and in California multiple murders triggers "special circumstances," so prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. (Los Angeles Times) ...So assisted suicide is less an excuse for a prior act, and more a prediction for a future event.

HERE KITTY KITTY: Three men coming home from dinner in the mountains above Boulder, Colo., saw an injured animal in the road. They stopped and picked it up, deciding to take it to a veterinarian. "It looked up as if to say, 'Help me'," said Jason Lee Laird, 21, who decided the animal was a lynx or a bobcat. The cat filled the entire back of the Jeep they were driving, and on the way down the hill they spotted a sheriff's deputy and flagged him down. The deputy was shocked to find a 65-lb. mountain lion cub in the Jeep and called in the Dept. of Wildlife to take care of it. Then Deputy Jeff Canton turned to another matter: he told Laird he smelled marijuana. Laird offered that perhaps that was the smell of mountain lion urine -- maybe the cat peed in the Jeep? "Mountain lions don't smoke marijuana," Canton replied, and cited Laird for drug possession. A DOW spokesman said it may be the largest mountain lion ever rescued by civilians in the state, and that the men were lucky to be alive. The cat was not as lucky: its injuries were so severe it had to be put down. (Boulder Daily Camera) ...DOW officers were surprised to find the cat very docile, addressing them as "Hey, mannn."

STAR SEARCH: The defense's witness list for Michael Jackson's sex abuse trial has been released, and it includes a plethoa of singers, actors and other notables: Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, Jay Leno, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Larry King, Deepak Chopra, Stevie Wonder and more were on the 350-name list. (Los Angeles Times) ...Stevie Wonder is particularly upset at being named. "Yeah I was there," he admits. "But I didn't see anything!"

AN AUTOMATIC FAIL: "Student Runs Over Driver's Ed Teacher" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 27 February 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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STRIKE 1, YOU'RE OUT: Raven Furbert, 12, has four relatives in the military stationed in Iraq, including her uncle. To help her remember them, she wore a patriotic red, white and blue necklace, a Christmas gift. But officials at Mont Pleasant Middle School in Schenectady, N.Y., told her the beaded necklace is contrary to the school's dress code, which bans "gang-related" clothing. They said if she continued to wear it in any visible place, she would be suspended. When they discovered she was wearing the beads hidden -- not visible -- they told her to remove them. Furbert's mother, Katie Grzywna, says the girl was previously a good student, but is now frequently targeted for detention, so she has filed a federal lawsuit against the school. "I'll be really glad when this is all over," Raven says. "I just want to wear them for my uncle" in Iraq. (Albany Times-Union) ...Who, if you asked him, would say he's there to fight for our freedoms.

STRIKE 2, YOU'RE OUT: A drug dog doing a routine sniff of cars at R.E. Lee High School in Staunton, Va., alerted near the car parked by student body president Sam Dungan, 17. Officials demanded he let them search the car but Dungan, the son of a defense attorney, called his dad instead. After all, it was his dad's car, since his own was broken down. His father, James Dungan, arrived at the school and consented to a search, since "I don't smoke marijuana, my wife doesn't smoke marijuana, and my son doesn't smoke marijuana," he told them. Bad idea: the search turned up a rusty Boy Scout knife and a bottle of cream liqueur, left in the car after a Christmas party. Good enough: Sam was suspended for 5 days for "possessing" a "weapon" and alcohol on campus. He also must attend alcohol counseling. (Waynesboro News Virginian) ...On the other hand, he may have a good malpractice case against his attorney.

STRIKE 37, YOU'RE OUT: Susan Bartlett, 34, a teacher at Pine Grove Elementary School in Brooksville, Fla., was "out of control," colleagues say. She allegedly yelled at colleagues, smoked pot at school, "burped loudly" in staff meetings, and called children "stupid" in class. Yet the worst the school would do to her is enter a reprimand in her record -- and extend her contract for another year. School officials finally took action when, in a staff meeting, Bartlett "pulled her pants down and showed her entire bottom to the whole group of teachers in the room," an incident report says. The penalty? She was ordered to take a drug test. Bartlett refused that demand, saying there was a "lack of just cause," and only then was she fired. (St. Petersburg Times) ...The difference between the kids and the teachers: the kids don't have a union.

BAD ADVICE: Randolph J.C. Lacombe, 40, stepped into a bank in Port Alberni, B.C., Canada, and picked up a brochure which asked, "Are you getting the right financial advice?" He turned it over and wrote: "Thes is a holde up, no terx, just geve me the money, no trix, thank you, and no one will gel hert." After getting C$460, he went into a nearby hotel, stepped up to an employee, and "told her he had just robbed a bank, and he asked her to call a cab," prosecutors say. Obviously, he was quickly apprehended, and he pleaded guilty to robbery. (AP) ...Well, at least he finally did something right.

THAT'S NOTHING -- TRY THE 'STRAIN' OF BEING A PASSENGER:"Demands of the Job Strain Airport Screeners, Air Security" -- USA Today headline

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THIS is TRUE for 6 March 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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CHEEKY CRIME: A jailer at the Gwinnett County (Ga.) Jail was suspicious of a prisoner brought in for booking. A pat-down revealed nothing, so the deputy did a strip search. His suspicions were well-founded: deputies say Clifton Alexander Carter, 19, was carrying a loaded pistol -- tucked between his butt cheeks. "I don't now how he was able to conceal the weapon in that area," a sheriff's spokeswoman said. "It is very unusual." Carter was booked on various weapons charges. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ...Cops: they always get you in the end.

CAPED CRUSADER: Anders Mjelle, 22, is studying in Norway to become a pediatrician. While "practicing his signature during a prescription class," he realized his signature "just wasn't as cool as doctor signatures usually are," he says. "So I tried signing with the name to my old hero of heroes, Batman. That was much better." So much better that he has legally changed his middle name to Batman. "I believe being called Batman can definitely be something positive." (Aftenposten) ...Especially when dealing with Joker viruses, Riddler diseases and the inevitable Two Face bureaucrat.

DOGGED DETERMINATION: Girlamo A. Marinello, 38, of Shelby Township, Mich., led an Oakland County Sheriff's deputy on a high speed chase. Once finally cornered, he attacked the deputy -- by swinging a leashed French Poodle at him. Marinello was charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, fleeing and eluding police, carrying a concealed weapon (presumably not the poodle), resisting and obstructing police, and animal cruelty. But Marinello escaped jail by being declared mentally incompetent. (Daily Oakland Press) ...Since anyone in their right mind would know a French Poodle is only a defensive weapon.

DEADLY OMISSION: According to a poll, Brits are tired of the Seven Deadly Sins (anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and pride), which were first outlined by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century. The poll finds people want to replace most of them -- especially lust, though most are OK with greed being listed. The top replacement suggestions: adultery, bigotry, cruelty, dishonesty, hypocrisy and selfishness. (London Times) ...Damn them, they forgot "stupidity" again!

WELL YES, IT WOULD, WOULDN'T IT? "Stuffed Duck Explosion Ends Badly" -- Newton (Mass.) TAB headline

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THIS is TRUE for 13 March 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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GENDER DISCRIMINATION: To call attention to its new line, the Young Designers Emporium of South Africa has a new poster ad campaign in its shop windows. The "Brand Spanking New Fashions" posters feature models in their underwear sporting red marks on their thighs to imply they've been spanked with a paddle. The Law Society of South Africa has expressed outrage over the posters, which go "against the grain of eradicating the trivialization and humiliation of the female body," says Society spokeswoman Nonto Umlaw. "We show a man and woman being spanked," points out YDE Creative Director Sam Coleman. "It is quite surprising that no one said anything about the man." (Pietermaritzburg Witness) ...Well no: obviously he deserved it.

FACE THE MUSIC III: While performing in a musical in a community theater, Jay Meisenhelder "fell in love" with a fellow actress. She is 16. "I'm 53-years-old, and believe me, I know what love is," he wrote her in an e-mail. "I love you as I have only loved two other women in my life." He also met the girl for a candle-lit music session. When his boss found out about the e-mail, apparently sent from work, and the meeting, Meisenhelder was fired from his job -- as the Marion County, Ind., deputy prosecutor and assistant chief of the sex crimes division. Meisenhelder, who is married, insists "nothing I did was illegal." His lawyer agrees: Meisenhelder was just "expressing a fantasy," attorney Roberta Ross says. "What they essentially chose to do was take an excellent eight-year employee who lived and breathed and loved his job and dramatically overreacted." (Indianapolis Star) ...Yes, well, his breathing just got too heavy for the public to stomach.

GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT: Leaders of Colorado's state House of Representatives chided fellow lawmakers for getting into a fight recently. Rep. Bill Cadman called an amendment proposed by Rep. Val Vigil "garbage." When Vigil said Cadman was garbage, Cadman said if Vigil ever said that again, "I'll ram my fist up your a**." Minority Leader Joe Stengel urged, "We need to agree to disagree without being disagreeable." (Denver Rocky Mountain News) ...Agreed.

FEEL SECURE WHILE SHOPPING: A woman who saw her rapist convicted and sent to prison for 10 years just five years ago stopped by a Target store in Chicago, Ill., to make a sales call. The security guard at the store confronted her and demanded to know her name. She immediately recognized him as her rapist. She refused to tell him her name, and the guard followed her around until she jumped in her car to escape; he wrote down her license plate number. She went to the police, who arrested the guard, Andre Johnson, 36, for assault and failure to register as a sex offender. He has been out of prison for at least a year. A Target manager, saying he was "appalled," fired Johnson. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...What was the appalling part? That they didn't do a background check, or that they did and hired him anyway?

OH GREAT, NOW YOU TELL ME: "A Job Interview Is Not a Date" -- New York Newsday headline

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THIS is TRUE for 20 March 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.com

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SPREADING THE NEWS: Jack W. Pacheco, 35, of Chowchilla, Calif., was upset when his small-town newspaper reported he had been arrested on drug charges. He insists the drugs weren't his, but when the newspaper wouldn't pull the story he tried to buy every one of the 700 copies of The Chowchilla News that were printed, and estimates he got as many as 600 of them. "I have a whole garage full of newspapers," he says. There were only three things wrong with his plan: first, the paper also prints 550 copies for subscribers, which weren't intercepted; second, after Pacheco bought up the remaining newsstand copies the newspaper had 500 more printed, and third, Pacheco's tactic was reported on by other area papers -- and the report was picked up and spread internationally by newswire services. (Merced Sun-Star) ..."Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel." --attributed to Mark Twain, American writer (1835-1910)

BUMBLED BROADBAND: "I was a desperate man," says Charles Gonsoulin, 41. Barred from entering Canada due to a 1984 robbery conviction, Gonsoulin decided to sneak across the border by walking from Pembina, N.D., to Winnipeg, Man., Canada, to visit a Canadian woman he met in an Internet chat room. The February walk "was a lot worse than I thought," Gonsoulin says; he lives in sunny Los Angeles. "When I found him, he was babbling and incoherent," said Cpl. Don McKenna of the RCMP. "He didn't know who he was or where he was." In 100 hours of walking through heavy snow, Gonsoulin only traveled 7 km (4-1/3 miles). "I will never regret it. I'm in love," he says, despite never getting to meet his girlfriend, being deported back to the U.S., and losing five toes and all of his fingers to frostbite. (Canadian Press, Winnipeg Sun) ...Well, so much for typing messages in chat rooms.

CATNAP: Maggie Leonard discovered her cat was missing during her 11th birthday party. A neighbor, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., firefighter Christopher Cortes, 32, has been charged with theft after he allegedly admits stealing the cat, driving it about 40 miles to the Everglades, and dumping it there because it had scratched his truck. James Benjamin, Cortes' attorney, says his client did the cat a favor by dropping it off in a rural area, rather than taking it to the pound where it would probably have been killed. "He took it to a safe-looking place where there are a lot of mice," he offered. Nearly two weeks later, the cat arrived back home, having walked back on its own. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) ...Cortes' truck is in real trouble now.

HOW'S THAT AGAIN? After a recommendation by a panel of 15 "eminent theologians and linguists" chaired by Biblical translator Ronald Youngblood, the International Bible Society has reworded its Today's New International Version of the Bible to make it clear that being "stoned" means being beaten to death with rocks. "We wanted to keep it from being confused with drug addiction," Youngblood explained. (London Guardian) ...People don't get confused with "stoned". They get confused over all the "shall nots".

IT'S ONE WAY, ANYWAY: "Conceiving a Way to Get More Babies" -- Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE for 27 March 2005 Copyright www.thisistrue.comwww.thisistrue.com

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CALCULATED: A farmer in Paradise Township, Penn., noticed someone was breaking into his barn at night, so he installed an alarm to alert him. Sure enough, shortly after it was installed it woke him at 3:00 am with an alert, and he went to investigate. Terry Patterson says the intruder was "assaulting" a sheep. The police arrived in time to arrest Bruce Charles Englar, 53. Englar told the officer he was simply petting the sheep. (York Daily Record) ...Very heavy petting.

COMESTIBLE: A man stepped into a London, England, bookmaking office, pointed a weapon at a clerk and screamed,"I want the money or I will effing shoot you!" Clerk Peter Humphrey nearly yawned. "He says he has a gun," he said to a colleague, "but then it might be a banana." Realizing the plastic-wrapped, yellow weapon wasn'tntimidating his victim, the robber fled. Police caught him nearby, still wearing his mask, and even recovered the banana. Robert Downey, 24, saying he had been "desperate" for drugs since he was addicted to cocaine, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possessing an imitation firearm. Since he had already served 5 years for a previous nearly identical offense, this time he got 7 years. (London Guardian) ...Pay attention, kids: this is what happens when you have a monkey on your back.

CHEEP: Farmers in England may shoot at crows and other birds eating their crops, and sportsmen can still hunt birds for food, but only if they give the birds a chance by shouting or employing other "frightening techniques" first, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ruled. Only if the bird ignores it can they blast away. Failure to try to scare the bird before firing is punishable by a 5,000 pound (US$9,350) fine or six months in prison. Meanwhile, Glen Steinhardt, a farmer in Murgon, Qld., Australia, applied for a "damage mitigation permit" from Queensland's Environmental Protection Agency to shoot swarms of birds eating his crops. An estimated 5,000 birds per day are feasting on his sorghum and wheat. The EPA gave him the permit: Steinhardt may shoot a total of 87 birds, but only if he spreads the kills over an 85-day period. Steinhardt says when trucks drive through the swarms of birds when they pass his farm, it's common for them to hit and kill "30 to 60 in one strike," but that sort of killing is considered accidental and not illegal. (London Times, Brisbane Courier Mail) ...So Steinhardt simply needs to soup up his tractor so it will go 80 mph.

CUNNING: In an attempt to take advantage of the U.K.'s new Freedom of Information Act, Angela Wright filed a request with police headquarters in Winchester, England, for the details of "eligible bachelors within Hampshire constabulary between the ages of 35 and 49 and details of their email addresses, salary details and pension values." Officials said that the constabulary has 266 eligible bachelors, but added that any personal information about the officers was exempt from release. (London Guardian) ...Cowards!

COPYCATS: "41% of Parents Skip Truancy Meeting" -- Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE for 3 April 2005 Copyright This Is True

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AND YOU THOUGHT U.S. COURTS WERE BAD: When he was 9 years old, Carl Murphy, now 18, was trespassing at a warehouse near Liverpool, England, and fell through the roof of the building. He fell 40 feet and suffered a massive skull fracture, so he sued the building's owner, claiming that if the site had a better security fence to keep him out, he wouldn't have been injured. The court bought it: he was awarded 567,000 pounds (US$1.06 million). "After all I've been through, I feel I really deserve this money," Murphy says. "The papers just call me a yob and a thug because I've been done for robbery and assault but those were just

silly stupid little things, like." He plans to spend his cash on a "flash car" and "a big house so I have a place to live with me mum when she gets out of jail." (London Telegraph, London Times) ...Tip to Murphy's new neighbors: install a good security fence -- around his house.

EDUCATIONAL TV: After arresting a 14-year-old burglar who ripped off about 10 homes and 90 cars in just over a week, police in Seminole, Fla., asked him how he did it. The unnamed teen said he learned it all by watching "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on TV. "He told us he doesn't watch it for enjoyment," said a detective, "he watches to learn how to commit crimes." (St. Petersburg Times) ...Apparently he didn't watch the end, when the bad guy is always caught.

RAH RAH RAW! Texas State Rep. Al Edwards wants school cheerleaders to cool it. "The way they're moving their bodies, it's not twirling or doing the splits," he complains. "Those majorettes are doing things that are sexual." He has proposed legislation to require cheerleading routines to be "family friendly." Schools who break the rules would have their funding cut. The proposal wasn't welcomed by all. Cheer competition officials say they already mark down suggestive routines, and an Austin newspaper says a new state agency would have to be created in order to monitor the cheerleaders. "We recommend the Texas Booty Regulatory Authority, or BRA, to make those close calls," it said in an editorial. (Austin American-Statesman, wire services) ...To be recruited from Political Authorities Nagging Texas Youth, or PANTY.

SIS BOOM BAH! During the debate over a bill to designate the frontier chuck wagon as the "official state vehicle", Texas State Senators got a bit out of hand. The bill's sponsor, Kel Seliger of Amarillo, was upset that fellow lawmakers weren't taking his bill seriously, interrupting him with silly questions ("Should we call it the Charles Wagon?" and "Can we also designate the low-rider as the official state urban vehicle?") When yet another senator was about to interrupt with his own one-liner, Seliger fumed, "I've already yielded more than a cheerleader at a drive-in!" The entire chamber went silent, not believing he would diss the revered cheerleaders of the state. Seliger later blamed "incipient Tourette's syndrome" for his outburst, and suggested "the next bill I do will be for motherhood." (Austin American-Statesman) ...Isn't that pretty much what already happens when the cheerleaders "yield"?

CAUTION! READ WARNING LABEL! "Candles Recalled Because of Flame Risk" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 10 April 2005 Copyright This Is Truewww.thisistrue.com

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THAT WARM, SECURE FEELING: Auditors for the U.S. Treasury Department tested computer security at the Internal Revenue Service. They called 100 random IRS employees claiming they were from the tax agency's computer help desk to see if the employees would change their passwords to one suggested by the caller. That sort of ruse would allow an identity thief to hack IRS systems and get private taxpayer information. "We were able to convince 35 managers and employees to provide us their username and change their password," auditors said. The audit was a follow-on to a similar test in 2001, when 71 of 100 IRS employees fell for the tactic. (AP) ...What do you expect? They only fired 36 of them in 2001.

THANKS FOR THE MAMMARIES: The New South Wales, Australia, state Health agency issued a report noting that mothers who breast feed produce A$2.2 billion (US$1.7 billion) worth of milk. Thus, it argues, women are food producers and breast pumps should be sold tax-free, just like cow-milking equipment. On hearing the news, a Sydney newspaper dubbed breasts "a treasure chest." (Sydney Morning Herald) ...Which is presumably better than dubbing the women cows.

PAGING STEPHEN KING: Christine Djordjevic calls her car "possessed" because it starts and moves by itself. Police found that explanation fishy after Djordjevic's driverless car crashed into her neighbor's house -- until they saw it for themselves. They discovered she had bought the car with a remote starter installed, but she didn't know how to use it. Apparently, if the car was parked in gear and she pushed the wrong button on her key fob, the car would lurch down the road. Even after it had happened several times, once even taking off with her son inside, Djordjevic did nothing about it. "I don't even know how the stupid thing works," she says. "It usually does it by accident." (Northwest Indiana Times) ..."Usually"?

IMAGE PROBLEM: Trying to counter its reputation as "America's Fattest City", Houston, Texas, put on the "Tour de Houston" bicycle event. The response was staggering: at least 2,300 people showed up, raising $50,000 to upgrade the city's parks and recreational facilities. Organizers didn't time the cyclists, noting it was "recreational, not a race." Another reason for the great turnout: participants were given free beer and tacos. (Houston Chronicle) ...And they didn't even think that was strange, which gives you some insight as to how they became America's Fattest City.

ON-THE-JOB TRAINING: "Beer Truck Driver Charged with Drunken Driving" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 17 April 2005 Copyright this is true.com

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AND YOU THOUGHT U.S. COURTS WERE BAD II: When he was 14 years old, Philip Dederer, now 20, ignored signs posted on a bridge in New South Wales, Australia, prohibiting diving. He dove to the river below and broke his neck. Left paraplegic, he sued the Roads and Traffic Authority and the Great Lakes Shire Council, and was awarded A$1,400,000. The judge reduced the award by one-quarter since Dederer was judged 25 percent at fault, leaving him A$1,050,000 (US$809,000). The basis for the award: the signs didn't say why diving was prohibited, and because kids still dive there. "I wouldn't like to see another person get into the same position as I did," Dederer said. (Australian AP) ...Maybe in return for the taxpayer-supplied windfall, Dederer can spend eight hours a day parked on the bridge to talk to the kids there.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: When Mitch Wyman's Charleston, S.C., home was burgled, one of the things the thief took was his guitar. It was the same one that had been stolen in a burglary at the Wyman home four years before, and "still had the evidence tag" from that case, says Wyman's wife, Theresa. The suspect's name had a familiar ring to it too: Richard Wayne Cook, 44, who was convicted for the first burglary, was arrested at the music store where he allegedly tried to sell the stolen guitar. It was the same store that helped Wyman get it back the first time. "This guy is a moron," Theresa said. Mitch agreed, noting "It's to the point to where we're going to have to get a burglar alarm for one person." (Charleston Post and Courier) ...Or a shotgun.

STINGER STUNG: Canadian Fred Gilliland, 53, allegedly bilked investors out of $29 million in a 1999 investment scam from an office in Florida, and was a U.S. fugitive. He had returned to Canada to live in luxury, allegedly continuing to pull stock scams and avoiding extradition back to the U.S. One of Gilliland's alleged victims ran a sting: he befriended Gilliland, then took him into the U.S. for lunch in Point Roberts, Wash., a tiny spur of U.S. soil accessible by land only via Canada. U.S. authorities had been briefed and let them through without asking for identification. Just over the border Gilliland was arrested and hauled back to the mainland to face trial. What got him to take such a risk? He was promised a 2-for-1 lunch special at a Point Roberts restaurant. Once Gilliland was in custody, "I said, 'Now you have 3,650 free lunches coming to you'," said the victim, whose name was kept secret. (Vancouver Sun) ...There's no such thing as a free lunch.

HOLY SMOKE: Reading Psalm 45, Karen Tosterud of Vermillion, S.D., noted that the Messiah's "robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia" and decided "that gives the formula for Jesus' scent when he returns." So she and her husband are now selling "His Essence" candles that "smell like Jesus." They retail for just $18. Tosterud shrugs off criticism that "we're out to trash Jesus and make a lot of money." Rather, she says, "We're sincere Christians who are practicing a ministry." (Minneapolis Star Tribune) ...Smells like Jesus? To me, it smells more like the money-changers in the temple.

A FOOL FOR A CLIENT: "Man Who Represented Himself Appeals Competence of Attorney" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 24 April 2005 Copyright This Is True

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THE TAXMAN COMETH: The Canada Revenue Agency announced a fine of C$16,232 (US$13,150) against Winnipeg, Man., bookkeeper Audrey Shuster after she was convicted of embezzling more than C$73,000 from her employer over a period of two years. At the time, she was on probation for taking C$129,000 from a local charity. She was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for the second theft, but the tax agency tacked on the fine because she failed to pay income tax on her ill-gotten gains. As long as the fine goes unpaid, interest and penalties will accumulate. "The Income Tax Act doesn't distinguish between illegal and legal activities," explained CRA spokeswoman Emilia Kotris. "It's all earned income." (Winnipeg Sun) ...Or, as the case may be, unearned income.

REFLECTION ON SOCIETY: Economist Kazuhide Uekusa, 44, of Tokyo, Japan, is a well-known commentator on Japanese television. He may be better known now, however, since he has been fined 500,000 yen (US$4,700) after being convicted of attempting to look up a teen girl's skirt with a mirror attached to his shoe. The judge in the case declined to impose a prison sentence recommended by prosecutors, but ordered that Uekusa forfeit the mirror. (Reuters) ..."Caution: Objects in mirror have a greater impact on your personal economics than they might appear."

PAGING RUBE GOLDBERG: Tim Brender was getting ready to move and "knew he needed to start getting things organized," said his wife, Lani. The Madison, Wisc., man went to the basement of his rented townhouse to start packing. He moved a table, which knocked over a can of spray paint, which landed on a hammer on the floor. The can was punctured, and it started to spray wildly, shooting paint into the water heater. The paint fumes were ignited by the pilot light, which ignited a cushion, which spread to stored gunpowder. The ensuing inferno destroyed everything in the home. "You couldn't set up this scenario to happen," Lani said. (Madison Capital Times) ...Fire investigators believed that, since the couple wasn't insured.

BU-GAWK! Uegene Safken says he let his chickens out of their coop outside of Collbran, Colo., and went into his house for a cup of coffee. When he came back, he found one of his birds drowned in a tub of water in the yard. He fished the young chicken out of the water and thought, "what the heck, I'll give it a shot," and gave it mouth-to-beak resuscitation. His girlfriend told him to give it up. "Leave the chicken alone; it's dead," Denise Safford says she told him. But, he said, "I wouldn't let that damn thing die." It worked: the chicken, he says, came back to life and is now fine. It wasn't so bad, he says. "I've kissed worse." (Grand Junction Sentinel) ...Let's just hope he doesn't mean Denise.

OH, NOW THAT SUCKS: "Vacuuming Man Shoots Himself" -- St. Cloud (Minn.) Times headline

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