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THIS is TRUE: 16 April 2006 Copyright This Is True

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WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM: Normally, Scranton, Penn., TV station WNEP televises the season opener for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons minor league baseball team. But this year it refused to televise the game because it was scheduled on the Friday before Easter. "Good Friday is not an appropriate day for us to do that," explained C. Lou Kirchen, WNEP's president and general manager. So what aired in its place? Local news, the tabloid show "Inside Edition", "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", and "Primetime", featuring a story about children being abducted and forced into prostitution. (Allentown Morning Call) ...Making the most "appropriate" move being to turn off the TV.

DADDY DEAREST: Christopher Greg Killion, 31, was arrested in Tulsa, Okla., and charged with "encouraging a minor child to be in need of supervision" after allegedly leaving his young son in the car while Killion was entertained in a strip club. The boy waited in the car, parked in the rain, for 30 minutes before wandering into the club looking for his dad. Why did the boy, estimated to be 3 or 4 years old, wait that long? Police reports say he told the boy that if he got out of the car, "monsters would eat him." (AP) ...The weirdly worded charge being used because arresting officers felt "indoctrinating an unnatural fear of strip clubs in a minor male" just wouldn't stick in a Bible Belt state.

MORON OF THE WEEK #618: An unnamed 17-year-old boy stealing gasoline from a car in Gillette, Wyo., managed to spray some on his clothes. It was 3:00 a.m., so he couldn't see how bad the damage was. His only available light: a cigarette lighter. Sure enough, he managed to set himself on fire. To add irony to injury, the car was owned by a firefighter. To add insult to injury, the boy claimed to police that he was attacked at a local gas station called "Common Cents", but investigators quickly got the truth out of him, and charged him and a 16-year-old accomplice with theft. (Gillette News-Record) ...Since they could immediately tell the kids didn't have a lick of common "cents".

RUNNER-UP: James Earl Clark Jr., 37, of Weirton, W.V., had allegedly just set fire to a car outside an apartment building when police drove up. Officers say Clark admitted the act, saying the car belonged to Dustin Sager, and he had set the fire "to pay him back for hitting me." A license check found the car, which was totally destroyed, didn't belong to Sager. Clark was charged with third-degree arson. (Wheeling Intelligencer) ...When he gets out of jail, police have promised to teach him the difference between a white Oldsmobile sedan and a blue Ford pickup.

THEM'S FIGHTING WORDS: "Moscow Man Throws Typewriter at Passing Ukrainian" -- Moscow (Russia) News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 23 April 2006 Copyright This Is True

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MORON OF THE WEEK #619: While taking a class in Valparaiso, Ind., Teresa Prenderville, 32, allegedly became irate when another student asked if the seat next to her was taken. Prenderville allegedly told the man, "I'm going to put a cap in you and send you to heaven" with such intensity, the man started crying. Prenderville then stormed out to the school's lobby, broke a display case, and then punched a door so hard she bent its frame, police say, noting she was so agitated they had to restrain her after her arrest for intimidation and criminal mischief. The class? You guessed it: Anger Management. (Northwest Indiana Times) ...It could be worse: the class could have been Mothering Skills.

MOTHERING SKILLS, ADVANCED DIVISION: Harry Ogieva and Janet Florita Pereira were separated, pending divorce. After visitation with their children, aged 10 and 12, Pereira insisted that Ogieva drop them off away from their Ajax, Ont., Canada, home, but one day he missed the rendezvous and went by the house. To his shock, he found his family didn't live there anymore: Pereira, a mortgage broker, allegedly had sold it; her brother-in-law, police say, impersonated Ogieva to sign all the papers, after which Pereira used the proceeds to buy a new house in her own name. Pereira and her brother-in-law have been charged with fraud and forgery. And the kids? "They obviously kept the secret," said a detective on the case. (Toronto Star) ...If the buyers got their mortgage from Pereira, they better think "refinance" and soon.

THE STORY IN THIS SPACE cannot be e-mailed due to its "adult" nature (a particular word in it will trip many spam filters). To read it see http://thisistrue.com/smothering_skills_go...ision_9296.html You are of course welcome to send the URL around to others.

BWAH HAH HAH! Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may not have had "weapons of mass destruction" in his final days in power, but as American soldiers flooded in he did have plans for a secret weapon: "camels of mass destruction" -- dromedaries packed with explosives which would be herded toward invading armies. The plan was discovered in a recently translated document released by the Pentagon. The plan says the camels would be "provided by the Directory of General Military Intelligence" while the explosives would come from the "Directory of Military Engineering." To assist, the document continued, weapons would be provided by the "Department of Armament and Equipping" and "religious sermons that emphasize jihad" by the "Directory of Political Orientation and the Religious Scholars." (London Telegraph) ...So now we know what is really behind Saddam's fall: a bureaucracy rivaling what we have in the U.S.

MR. PEANUT, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: "Member of Notorious Nut Cases Gang Found Guilty" -- San Francisco Chronicle headline

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THIS is TRUE: 30 April 2006 Copyright This Is True

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POLITICS MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: "People in Mehlville are looking for a change," said Micheal Ocello during his run for School Board in Mehlville, Mo. "There's not any one of the candidates who would argue," he said, that "this district is in trouble." Ocello's candidacy was controversial in the town, since he's the president of a company that owns strip clubs in several states. Yet he easily won the election. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) ...Change indeed: Career Day in Mehlville schools is going to be much more interesting from now on.

POLITICAL BEDFELLOWS II: Dale Sparks, 55, is mayor of Federal Heights, Colo., a suburb of Denver. Being mayor doesn't pay well, and his barbecue restaurant wasn't doing well either, so he took a night job to help make ends meet. As a doorman at Bare Essence, a local strip club. He was on duty when police raided the joint, arresting several dancers on various charges, including prostitution. Sparks, who says he always stayed at the door, was questioned but released. "I didn't know any of this was going on," he insists. "I don't know what goes on back there." Sparks said he will quit his job, and notes as mayor "I don't want a house of ill repute in our city, period." (Rocky Mountain News) ...Unless they give him an awfully big raise.

IT'S JUST A COUPLE OF INCHES! Three men from Singapore went on a trek to Japan to seek out a karate expert to appease one of the men's dying father. But the trio, aged 25 to 50, had to be rescued from Mt. Iwaki in Japan after they called for help: none of them were wearing appropriate clothing for a mountain trek. "Japan looked so small on the world map that we thought we would be able to find him straight away," one of the men said. (Reuters) ...Unlike how gigantic Singapore is.

GET A BANG OUT OF YOUR JOB: A sheriff's deputy in Victorville, Calif., pulled over a pickup truck driver after he made an illegal turn -- and called in the bomb squad when he saw a 500-lb. bomb in the back of the truck. Deputy James Momjian was pretty sure it was a 500-lb. bomb: "It's actually written right on there: '500 pound bomb'. It's stamped on there," he said. The bomb turned out to be a dummy used for practice, but other, live explosives were found in the truck. The 43- year-old driver was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license and possession of explosive devices. His name? David S. Bangs. (Victorville Daily Press) ...Which is how they knew there was more than one device in there.

IT'S ALSO APPARENTLY SLOW NEWS DAY: "It's National Hairball Awareness Day" -- Philadelphia Inquirer headline

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THIS is TRUE: 7 May 2006 Copyright This Is True

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COULDN'T SEE THIS COMING: The Australian Federal Police has admitted it suspended a "senior officer" for consulting a psychic who specializes in "reading auras" and "past-life energies" about death threats against Prime Minister John Howard. The officer in question revealed classified information in order to get the psychic's advice. The psychic involved, Elizabeth Walker, was shocked that a local newspaper discovered the consultation. "How did you find out about this?" she demanded before refusing to discuss the matter. "I don't divulge any of the stuff I do. I've done lots of people. I've done political people, famous people, but I don't talk about who's been in. I don't even discuss it with my husband." (Sydney Morning Herald) ...Considering how many people she's "doing," no wonder she doesn't tell her husband.

COULDN'T SEE THIS COMING EITHER: "They should not have dismissed me for what I believed," said trial court judge Florentino Floro. So what does the judge from Malabon, a suburb of Manila, the Philippines, believe? That he could see into the future, and that three mystic dwarfs -- Armand, Luis, and Angel -- advised him. When the country's Supreme Court heard of Floro's methods, they conducted a three-year investigation, then fined him 40,000 pesos (US$780) and fired him. But it didn't go so far as to say Floro was insane, noting the court didn't have the expertise to make such a conclusion. (Reuters) ...There's a fine line between psychic and psychosis.

LET AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT: Alan Bethell, 62, pleaded guilty to assault on a police officer. Bethell, of Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, "crashed" his son's New Year's Eve party, where he "attempted to recapture his youth" by trying to kiss one of the young women attending, and dancing wearing nothing but a leopard-print thong. Police tried to break things up, but Bethell slugged one of them with a partly full soda bottle. His defense lawyer blamed the antics on mixing prescription medication with alcohol and "trying to be a teenager again." Bethell was fined C$805 (US$725). He has made up with his wife, but not his son. (Victoria Times Colonist) ...Certainly not: his dad got farther with his girl than he did.

OVERDRAWN AND OVERWROUGHT: After Adrian Rumney, a financial analyst from Wellington, New Zealand, ordered a new debit card from his bank, he stopped to buy some groceries with it. The card was declined. He called the bank to see what was wrong; he was told his account was overdrawn by NZ$12.18 million (US$7.71 million). Had he not recorded some of his transactions? he was asked by the bank. But what really happened was the bank overcharged him for his debit card: it was supposed to cost NZ$9.95, but the bank had accidentally charged him the millions instead. Worse, no one at the bank had the authority to reverse a transaction that large, so Rumney had to cool his heels while the bank figured out what to do. Meanwhile, the bank was charging NZ$9,000 per day in interest on his overdraft. "We are very apologetic," said a National Bank spokesman. "The key thing for us is to talk to our customer and see what's going to make it right for him." (Wellington Dominion Post) ...Easy: put $13 million back into his account.

BRING A FEW MILLION FRIENDS: "Free Tickets for City's Genocide Event" -- Glendale (Calif.) News Press headline

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THIS is TRUE: 14 May 2006 Copyright This Is True

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YOU'RE ON THE AIR: When Apple Computer won a trademark infringement case filed by Apple Corps, The Beatles' holding company, the BBC in London, England, grabbed online expert Guy Kewney from the lobby, slapped a microphone on him, shoved him in front of a camera and went on the air live. The man had a shocked look on his face, but went on with the interview despite the fact that he wasn't Guy Kewney, but rather a cab driver who was apparently there to drive Kewney home after the gig. The still unidentified black man with a French accent was not a close match for the real Kewney, who's white. Worse, the driver "didn't seem to know much about Apple, online music or The Beatles," Kewney said afterward. He watched from a monitor in another waiting room, adding the cabbie "seemed as baffled as I felt." (London Daily Mail) ...Cabbie, online expert -- either way we're talking about a hack.

THIS IS A RECORDING: Every three seconds, the electronic sign on a GO Transit train in Toronto, Ont., Canada, repeated the message about Canada's Prime Minister: "Stephen Harper Eats Babies. Stephen Harper Eats Babies. Stephen Harper Eats Babies." A hacker had reprogrammed the sign in at least five train cars, explained a transit spokesman. Gerry Nicholls, vice president of the National Citizens Coalition, which used to be headed by Harper, said he was a witness to the sign's message. "I worked with Stephen Harper for five years," Nicholls said, "and never once did he in that time eat a baby." (Toronto Star) ...Well, not that Nicholls witnessed, anyway.

CALL FOR HELP: A robber hit a cell phone store in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The robber pulled a parang -- a type of machete -- on the shop's owner, who ran. The thief grabbed a stack of phones and headed out the door, but the owner returned with a baseball bat and whacked the robber in the head. An accomplice helped him to a motorcycle driven by a third man, and the victim again started whacking them with his bat, causing the bike to crash. Passersby detained the men for police. Their take from the crime? Several dummy cell phone display units. (New Straits Times) ...You are what you steal.

FOR THE RECORD: Evan Savoie, 15, is standing trial for the murder of a 13-year-old playmate in Ephrata, Wash. Because she's a witness in the case, Lisa Sorger, the victim's mother, is not allowed to attend trial sessions when she isn't testifying. Therefore, the judge has appointed an attorney to ensure the victim's family's interests are properly represented in court -- to cheers from victims' rights groups. But Randy Smith, one of the lawyers for the accused, is fuming over the decision. "It's a sad state of affairs when you raise victims' rights to the same level as the constitutional rights of the accused," he said. (AP) ...No, sir, it's a sad state of affairs that such a thing is considered unusual.

OF COURSE, THEY COULD BE LYING ABOUT THAT: "Teen Sex Survey Reveals Lying Is Rampant in Teen Sex Surveys" -- Boston Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 21 May 2006 Copyright This Is True

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WHO CONTROLS THE CONTROLLERS? "Due to circumstances that I deeply regret," said Teresa L. Kaiser, 56, she resigned as the executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. What sort of circumstances? While driving -- not in a state car, her deputy was quick to point out -- she swerved into oncoming traffic, causing a crash with injuries, and was arrested after her blood alcohol was shown by a breath test to be double the legal limit. Kaiser told police she had only drunk two glasses of wine over several hours, but a chart released by her own agency notes that a person of her weight would have to consume six drinks in one hour to achieve a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent. (Portland Oregonian) ...If cops got a dollar for every driver who "only had two," we wouldn't have to pay them.

DOUBLE DELIVERY: Police in Lower Southampton, Penn., stopped William Bethel Jr., 24. He was driving a mortuary body delivery service van, yet when they pulled him over he was in the middle of several deliveries for Domino's Pizza. Bethel admitted he was using the same vehicle for pizza and bodies since he was able to get an extra shift doing pizza delivery, and his car was in the shop. But, he said, he wasn't transporting dead bodies and pizza at the same time. When the mortuary service heard of the transgression, Bethel was fired. Bethel, who admitted he shouldn't have been driving at all since his license was suspended, was cited for driving a commercial vehicle without a current inspection certificate, and driving with a suspended license. He said he hopes to be a mortician some day. (Bucks County Courier Times) ...Bodies delivered in 20 minutes or less or your embalming is free.

HEY, HERE'S AN IDEA: A student at Winona (Texas) High School, with the approval of a physics teacher, was setting up a "cannon" involving gunpowder and a metal tube. "It's like a small little tube," said school Superintendent Rodney Fausett. "It shoots a little projectile in the air." As the 11th-grader packed the powder in, it exploded. The "small little tube" went "through the wall of the building -- a metal wall -- so it had a pretty good oomph to it," said an investigator from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The explosion tore off the 17-year-old student's entire hand. "This is just an isolated accident," Superintendent Fausett explained. Parents told investigators they had expressed concern over the project before the explosion, but school officials ignored their complaints. (Dallas Morning News) ...Showing once again "zero tolerance" should apply to school officials, not the students.

ZERO TOLERANCE IN REAL LIFE, EMERGENCY SERVICES DIVISION: Bedford Park, Ill., Fire Inspector Ronald Michalowicz was given only a 27 percent chance to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer. After getting the mayor's approval, two colleagues did a fund-raiser to help pay their friend's mounting medical bills. They raised about $25,000 to help pay for chemotherapy and "brutal" radiation treatment. Michalowicz lost 107 pounds, but the treatments pushed his cancer into remission. Once he finally returned to work, Michalowicz was notified by the fire chief he was being investigated for having "accepted gifts of cash and/or property from businesses or individuals associated with businesses that are subject to fire inspection," and was fired. He was one year from retirement. Michalowicz has sued the city, demanding reinstatement. (Chicago Sun-Times) ...This will continue to get worse until enough citizens say "STOP!"

FIRST PROOF OF ILL HEALTH REVEALED: "Castro Healthy Enough to Live till 140 Years Old: Doctor" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 28 May 2006 Copyright This Is True

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KEEP ROLLIN' ON: The County of San Bernardino, Calif., received an injury claim from a woman who said she's a paraplegic, and an uneven sidewalk caused her wheelchair to tip over, breaking her arm. "She claimed to be an activist for the disabled and threatened to organize protests against the county unless her case was promptly settled," said a county spokesman. The supporting records she supplied, officials say, are fake: the records say they're from "San Bernadino" Community Hospital. Officials found she had filed similar claims in three other nearby cities; Riverside and Long Beach had denied the claims, and South Pasadena had paid her $6,200. When Laura Lee Medley, 35, was arrested in Las Vegas, Nev., on the resulting fraud warrant, police took her to a hospital for an exam. "That's where the great miracle occurred," the spokesman said: she jumped out of her wheelchair and ran, but she was caught and returned to California. (Pasadena Star-News, Riverside Press-Enterprise) ...One way or another, she's definitely lame.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR: A woman walking her dog in Bristol, England, was accosted by a robber. "Give me your bags," the ruffian demanded. When she handed them over, "the victim told him twice what it was and he dropped them and ran off," prosecutors say. The bags were full of droppings from her dog, which she had dutifully picked up for disposal. Police were able to apprehend David Carlisle, 32, who was convicted of attempted robbery and sent to prison for four years. (PA) ...Plus six months for littering.

LOCKED INTO AN IDEA: Kealing Middle School in East Austin, Texas, is about to get a $9 million facelift. Included in the budget: new student lockers. But the lockers have been sitting empty for 10 years: school officials banned their use because they were being used to hide contraband, and students were using locker visits as an excuse for being late to class. Even though the lockers still won't be used after the renovation, they'll be upgraded anyway at a cost of $60,000. Appeals by taxpayers to spend the money on something else that would actually be used have been denied. "The educational specifications were developed to provide a model for consistency across the district," said a school district official. (Austin American-Statesman) ...Translation: the stupidity of the administrators is consistent throughout the district.

LET'S CALL IT SASK.: Brad Wall of the Saskatchewan Party wants to be the Canadian province's new Premier, but he's spending a lot of his campaigning time explaining why the party makes so many spelling errors. "Saskatchwan" read a campaign ad; the "goverment" was bashed in a press release. In a video the name of the current Premier, Lorne Calvert, was spelled "Clavert". Their platform referred to the "Saskatchean Libeals" when they meant Saskatchewan Liberals, and had yet another spelling of the province: "Saskatcheawn". Wall said that there are "instances when all the proofreading in the world still doesn't catch everything." (Canadian Press) ...Translation: Canuck schools are about as good as U.S. schools.

WHICH ONE OF THEM FOUND THE ANSWER FIRST? "Philosopher, Scientist, Farmer Crack Chicken-Egg Question" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 4 June 2006 Copyright This Is True

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TO PROTECT AND TO SWERVE: Constable Scott Warburton was driving his Lancashire, England, police car at a high rate of speed, even though he was not on an emergency call. Then he spotted a speed camera, and knew he'd get caught speeding if he didn't do something. "He braked sharply, lost control and hit two signs," said prosecutor Malcolm Isherwood. Warburton had reached "a peak speed of 91 miles per hour approximately 10 seconds before the accident." He was charged with driving "without due care and attention" and faced a possible driving ban, but instead was fined 200 pounds (US$376) plus court costs. (Lancashire Evening Post) ...Does 200 pounds even cover the cost of replacing the two signs?

CELEBRATE DIVERSITY: When officials at Upper Darby (Penn.) High School discovered a 10th-grader had posted "highly inappropriate" messages on her personal MySpace.com web page, administrators suspended her for two days. The student wasn't identified, but her father, William Scantling, said that no students were threatened in the postings. He has punished her himself, he said, but objected to the school's also meting out punishment since the postings were made from her home computer. He said the school had no business censoring her speech, and has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union for help in fighting the suspension. "It's under review," said assistant Superintendent Lou DeVlieger. "We are a district that celebrates diversity," he said. "When we hear comments that do not celebrate it we find it very unsettling." (Delaware County Times) ...Exactly: her opinion was diverse from his. So let's celebrate!

DUDE -- THE GOVERNMENT SAYS SHUSH! A 17-year-old student posted on his Xanga.com web page from his home computer that he was being bullied and threatened by the Plainfield School District in Joliet, Ill., where he goes to school. "He is saying, 'You can't bully people and we have a right to object'," said his attorney, Carl Buck, "and 'you can't throw people out of school for voicing their opinions'." The unnamed student was right about the bullying part, at least: the school found out about the postings and suspended him for 10 days for "inappropriate comments and vague threats," his mother says, and he now faces expulsion from school. "The district is going to take away the student's education for exercising his freedom of speech," Buck said. The web site he posts on, Buck notes, isn't even accessible via school computers. Plainfield School Superintendent John Harper defended the action. "It is our responsibility to educate kids and help them work through some of these issues," he said. (Joliet Herald News) ...Right: by expelling them.

BACCALAUREATE BRATS: For a "senior prank" a few days before graduation, several students at Huntsville (Ala.) High School paid a homeless man to walk through the school without his pants. School officials reacted by taking the man out for lunch. The students found to be responsible were suspended, which means they'll miss the senior picnic and graduation ceremonies. There's more. "We're going to hold their diplomas until they do 100 hours of community service connected to the homeless community," said Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore. Parents support the school; two already had their involved kids work at a homeless shelter; another requested their son's graduation gifts be sent to a homeless charity. (Huntsville Times) ...An appropriate, learning-enhanced punishment? What will schools think of next?!

AS A LOW-COST ALTERNATIVE, YOU CAN JUST PRETEND YOU HAVE ONE: "Cordless Jump-rope Can Help the Clumsy" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 11 June 2006 Copyright This Is True

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NOT TO MENTION THEY'RE GOING BLIND: Keith Bakker, the director of the Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants clinic in Amsterdam, Holland, says he is expanding his practice to include a new addiction as difficult to break as drugs: video games. "We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the last three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," Bakker said, adding he has seen signs of video game addiction in kids as young as 8. The in-house treatment, notes an Associated Press reporter, is "for people who can't leave their joysticks alone." (AP) ...Oh, then it's really nothing new at all.

THIS IS ONLY A TEST: "The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," confirms a zoo official in Kiev, Ukraine. The lion enclosure is on an isolated "animal island", and the zoo was "packed" with visitors. "A lioness went straight for him," the official continued, "knocked him down and severed his carotid artery." The man, who was not named, was killed almost instantly. (Reuters) ...Oh, you want a name? I think it was Daniel Wannabe.

SPARE THE ROD: After a 12-year-old girl in Elgin, Ill., told her mother that she had been molested by an older man, the woman took her daughter to see Daryl Bujak, the pastor of the First Missionary Baptist Church. The minister, the unnamed mother says, said the girl was lying and tried to get the girl to recant by beating her buttocks with a three-foot wooden stick, the mother says. The girl's beatings continued for several months until the mother finally decided she must be telling the truth and went to police. Investigators say DNA evidence proves the girl's allegations. Bujak has been charged with battery; Matthew E. Resh, 33, the alleged perpetrator, was charged with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault. The mother says she went along with the beatings because Bujak was a "man of faith" and a former police officer. Bujak, who is still being backed by church members, wrote on the church's web site that the Bible is "pure, perfect, inerrant and infallible." (Chicago Tribune, Elgin Courier News) ...Which of course doesn't necessary mean Bujak is.

SPOIL THE CHILD: David L. Reasby, 51, the pastor of the Lighthouse Full Gospel Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, allegedly told a 14-year-old mentally disabled boy who attended a child-care facility in his home to stop knocking on his door. When the boy did it again, police say, Reasby opened the door and shot the boy twice in the buttocks with a BB gun. He has been charged with assault with a weapon. Reasby was a police officer in Des Moines but left the department two years ago -- after he was "involved" in a different assault incident. (Des Moines Register) ...They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear." --Psalm 64:3-4

ARGUABLY ABSURD: "Man Stabbed after Argument over Arguments" -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE: 18 June 2006 Copyright This Is True

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ROUND AND ROUND THEY GO: Two teen-aged girls enjoying rides at a festival in Greenwood, Ind., figured out they could get a ride operator to let them keep going on the ride if they flashed their breasts at him at regular intervals. More than 20 minutes later a police officer working security at the festival put an end to the fun. The girls were not charged with any crime, but were asked to leave the Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church festival and not come back. "It's a shame these young women didn't know the great gift and beauty they have as a woman," said the church's priest, Fr. Jonathan Meyer. (Indianapolis Star) ...On the contrary, sir: they proved that they did.

ALL WET: The mayor of Waldron, Ark., has been arrested after allegedly offering to pay outstanding water bills for a woman if she has sex with him. Then another woman came forward and admitted she had been having sex with the mayor, who is also a candidate for county judge, for eight to 10 years, for $25 per session plus free water. Troy Anderson, 72, was charged with two felony counts of abuse of public trust, plus four misdemeanor counts of patronizing a prostitute. But the city council has rejected a citizen's petition to ask the mayor to resign. Such an action is "completely premature," said city attorney Ronald Gene Killion, since there is "the matter of presumption of innocence." (Fort Smith Times Record) ...Sure, but in the meantime maybe they can turn the hose on him.

BROKEBACK MOUNTIES: "This is a first for us," said a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, two Mounties are getting married. Const. Jason Tree, 27, and Const. David Connors, 28, work in different divisions of the RCMP, but have known each other since college. And, they say, they've gotten terrific support from their co-workers. "I've never had a single problem" from fellow Mounties, Tree said. (Halifax Chronicle Herald) ...The Mounties always get their man.

HOME EC -- NO LONGER JUST COOKING AND SEWING: Two students at Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, have been suspended after having sex during home economics class. The encounter became known because other students in the class made a movie of the coupling with a cell phone camera, which showed the girl straddling the boy from "several angles." The students who made the movie will be counseled, school officials say, and a presentation will be made to all 1,650 students on the seriousness of the incident. "We're concerned not just with punitive action but more with support for all students involved," a spokeswoman said. A sex educator at the school notes she sees used condoms scattered around campus on a regular basis. (Virgin Islands Daily News) ...And such is life in the No-Longer-a-Virgin Islands.

ANOTHER CRIMINAL PEDDLER: "Defendant Stole Bicycle to Get to Court on Time" -- London Guardian headline

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THIS is TRUE: 25 June 2006 Copyright This Is True

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UNARMED AND DANGEROUS: Off-duty Edison, N.J., police officer Ioannis Mpletsakis, 26, was driving home after swimming at a friend's house. To avoid getting the seat of his BMW wet, he took off his swim shorts. Then he got into an accident, and his shorts ended up wedged under his crumpled dash board. With a crowd gathering, Mpletsakis feared if he got out of his car he could be charged with public lewdness, so he drove off instead. A fellow officer found him hiding in some bushes and took him home to get dressed. Municipal Court Judge John Leonard, who called it "the most singular and most bizarre hit-and-run case since Henry Ford built his first car," scolded Mpletsakis for leaving the accident, but dismissed hit-and-run charges because he returned after he got his clothes on. He was convicted, however, of hindering his apprehension and faces being fired from his police job. (Edison Sentinel) ...Which is exactly what he was apprehensive about.

SEND OUT THE CLOWNS: Circus clowns in England have been told that mandatory water restrictions apply to them, so they cannot continue their "slosh shows" where they throw buckets of water on each other. "Deliberate" violations of the water restriction orders are punishable by a 5,000-pound (US$9,100) fine. "No one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other," said a Sutton and East Surrey Water spokesman, "so why should the clowns?" (AFP) ...They could get around the ban by simply setting each other on fire first.

UPBEAT, BEAT UP, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? Mike Mungoven was jogging in Homer, Alaska, with his dogs and "looked up at this huge bear standing just two feet in front of me, the sun shining off its golden-brown fur." More went through his mind: "Oh boy," he remembers thinking, "this is going to hurt." He was right: the surprised bear attacked. Mungoven survived, he said, by playing dead. He's not upset by the multiple paw swipes and bites, though."I really think the bear actually showed quite a bit of kindness in the way she mauled me," he said. (Homer Tribune) ...I guess she was smiling.

BEARCAT: Suzanne Giovanetti of West Milford, N.J., was sitting reading when her husband said there was a bear in their back yard. She grabbed her camera and ran out on her deck to find the bear had been treed -- by the neighbor's tabby cat, Jack. After 10-15 minutes the bear finally jumped out of the tree and ran, with Jack in hot pursuit. It escaped by climbing another tree. "He doesn't want anybody in his yard," Jack's owner said. (Newark Star-Ledger) ...Yeah, but the bear doesn't know Jack.

SURPRISING RESULTS OF CAREFUL STUDY: "Falling Japan Birth Rate Due to Lack of Sex" -- Reuters headline 10_1_17[1].gif

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THIS is TRUE: 2 July 2006 Copyright This Is True

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ZERO TOLERANCE -- THE NEXT STEP: The Waterbury, Conn., Board of Education has announced plans to crack down on student absences. Only proof of a "serious chronic illness" would suffice to excuse a child from school under its new plan. "We now are looking for school to be the priority," said Kennedy High School assistant principal Michael Yamin, who served on a committee to draft the new regulations. "I think we need a policy with some teeth in it," said Walsh School Principal Erik Brown. Try this on for size: even a letter from a doctor would not be enough to excuse an absence, the new policy says, and appeals by parents for any absence ruled "unexcused" would be limited to one each for elementary, middle and high school. A fine of $25 per absence would be enforced by sending police officers along on home visits by attendance monitors. (Waterbury Republican-American) ...One guess as to whether this policy applies to teachers, school administrators, and School Board members.

MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell, presiding over a lawsuit in Tampa, Fla., was sick of petty disagreements between lawyers in the case. The legal teams for Avista Management and Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co. couldn't even agree on where a deposition should be held, so Presnell ordered the lawyers to meet on the courthouse steps later that month. "At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one game of 'rock, paper, scissors'," Presnell ordered. "The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the ... deposition." The order brought so much media attention that the lawyers were able to agree on a location by the next day, and begged in writing that the judge rescind the order so they wouldn't have to play the game in front of TV cameras. The judge agreed, and lifted his order. (St Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune) ...It would have been a tie anyway: lawyers always respond with paper.

CLEVER GIRL: "My intentions were good," said Chen Dan, an on-air host of the Women's Channel for China's Changsha TV. "I hoped to draw people's attention to women's health," she said, "but because the format was inappropriate it caused a huge backlash." She was suspended from her job. The advertising she posed for was to support the Shangmei Gynecology Hospital in Changsha. The "format" was topless photos with the caption, "Clever Girls Love Themselves More". Thanks to strategically posed hair, Chen didn't actually reveal much, but the Xinhua news agency editorialized it was "a shame breasts have become the leading actor." (Reuters) ...Just like in the rest of the world.

WHERE'S THE BEEF? School textbooks in India have been censored, and "Historians should unite against this cowardly move" by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, said Calcutta historian Ashish Bose. "NCERT has committed a mistake by dropping those facts from the textbooks" under pressure from "Hindu fundamentalists." In India, it's not evolution vs. "creation science" but that ancient Hindus used to eat beef. The fact has been included in Indian history books for over a century, but NCERT, which is responsible for textbook editing, agreed to cut long-established information out of the textbooks after a multi-year campaign by offended religious fundamentalists "who have lodged a misinformation campaign," Bose said. (Toronto Star) ...Just like in the rest of the world.

LET'S SHOW THEM WHAT HE'S MADE OF: "Saddam [Hussein] Ends Hunger Strike

after Missing One Meal" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE: 9 July 2006 Copyright This Is True

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GET A BANG OUT OF LIFE: Two men attending a bachelor party in rural Tasmania, Australia, perhaps thought there were not enough festivities. "It appears they were trying to liven up the party with a bit of loud explosion," a police spokesman said. The men were carrying some sort of explosive device toward the party when it "exploded in their faces." The party site was so remote a rescue helicopter took two-and-a-half hours to arrive. A hospital spokeswoman in Hobart who was asked about the men's condition noted, "They were stupid fools as far as I am concerned." (Australian AP) ...Actually, we were curious about their condition AFTER the explosion.

STRAWBERRIES AND EXCLUSIVELY MULLER-BRAND CREAM: Marilyn Still, 57, of Brighton, England, arrived at the All England Club to watch the tennis tournament at Wimbledon. But she was stopped over her contraband. Drugs? Weapons? No: two tubs of yogurt. They were the wrong brand; Muller was the "official" yogurt of the games, she was told. "I couldn't believe it," Still said. A Club spokesman called the practice "common policy across sports events" since "companies pay for the privilege to be associated with these events. It is not right that a potential competitor should be allowed to use the television coverage to push their own brand." Still should consider herself lucky: at the World Cup match, several thousand Dutch fans had their orange lederhosen emblazoned with the logo of a Dutch brewer confiscated; they watched the game sitting in their underwear. (London Daily Mail) ...Rah rah raw!

DRINKS ON THE LINKS: Police in Cottage Grove, Minn., say Adam Douglas Thompson, 38, spent the day golfing and drinking, and that led to him taking a turn too fast while driving his golf cart, which led to an accident injuring his golf partner. Anthony Arthur Savage, 37, was pinned under the toppled cart and was hospitalized with head injuries. Thompson's blood alcohol measured 0.248 percent, and he was charged with criminal vehicular operation, punishable by up to three years in prison. Thompson has a prior conviction for drunk driving, presumably on the streets. His lawyer, H. Alan Kantrud, doesn't dispute the facts of the police case, but decries the criminal charges. "Put yourself in his shoes," he said. "It's a good friend of his who doesn't even blame him, and the state wants to step in and make him a felon." (St. Paul Pioneer Press) ...If you drink, don't drive. Heck, you shouldn't even try to putt.

ABSURD LAWYER STATEMENTS, PART II: Otis Joseph, 29, a gospel singer and music teacher who worked in various Baptist churches around Philadelphia, Pa., has been convicted of the rape and/or sexual assault of at least five girls aged 5 to 17. One 14-year-old victim attempted suicide after his attack. As the judge started adding up his sentence, which totaled 33-1/3 to 67 years, Joseph "hunched over into a blubbering heap at the defense table," a reporter in the courtroom said, while a supporter in the gallery repeated "Jesus" over and over. "I'm not the monster that people paint me," Joseph wailed, "I'm just hurt." Defense attorney Tariq El-Shabazz promises an appeal. "We're talking about a talented young man," El-Shabazz said. "He has touched a lot of people." (Philadelphia Daily News) ...Especially girls aged 5-17.

OH, NOW THERE'S A BIG SURPRISE: "Much of the Adult Population Are Poor Role Models" -- Edinburgh (Scotland) Evening News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 16 July 2006 Copyright This Is True

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LET'S TAKE A POLE: Dougie Freeman, owner of the West End Salon & Spa in Provincetown, Mass., had a great idea for a summer promotion: he installed a dancing pole, and any customer who danced at the pole would get $1 off for each minute danced, up to five. No go, said town officials. "Dancing is construed as entertainment," said the licensing bureau, ordering Freeman to take down the pole and end his "Dancing for Discounts" program. "This is actually a wholesome activity," Freeman complained, noting there was no stripping involved. "I feel kind of like an artist who's been nailed to a cross." (Boston Herald) ...Cassingham's Law: the moment you compare yourself to Christ, you've lost the high ground.

ART FOR ART'S SAKE: Sculptor David Hensel of Sussex, England, submitted a piece to the Royal Academy of Art. A judge praised the "minimalist" piece: a bone on a stone. When Hensel arrived, he was surprised: the artwork he submitted wasn't on display. He had sent them a bronze head, propped up on a stone base with a bone-shaped support -- they were displaying the mount for his artwork, rather than the artwork. When he inquired about the bronze head, he discovered it was looked at separately by the judges -- and rejected. The bronze head was priced at 3,640 pounds (US$6,685); the bone on stone was expected to sell for "far more." (Manchester Guardian) ...You don't understand art? Don't worry: obviously the artists don't either.

TEACHER, TEACHER, I DECLARE! After the school's annual yearbook was printed, officials at Phillipsburg (N.J.) High School noticed that a photo of a girl sitting at a desk showed "a small portion" of her underwear. "We spoke to the student and her parents and they said it wasn't a problem," said Superintendent Gordon Pethick, but school officials tore the page out anyway before handing the books out to students. No one would admit to giving the order for the destruction of the page of the $80 books. Students were angry that the books they had already paid for were damaged, and school officials promise to replace the page -- minus the photo. School Board President Paul Rummerfield says the problem wasn't handled well, and notes some of the books were handed out before the photo was discovered. (Easton Express-Times) ...Ah, then a copy of the photo will show up on the Internet in 3... 2... 1....

I SEE SOMEONE'S UNDERWEAR! Police in Suffolk, England, have published a magazine for young women warning about binge drinking. The articles are written in a "gossipy, tongue-in-cheek style" in hopes the gals will pay attention. On one page, a photo of a girl in a mini skirt is captioned, "If you've got it, don't flaunt it." On another page, an article illustrated with a photo of a woman collapsed on the floor notes, "If you fall over or pass out, remember your skirt or dress may ride up. You could show off more than you intended -- for all our sakes, please make sure you're wearing nice [panties] and that you've recently had a wax." (London Telegraph) ...Silly cops! They think girls still wear panties.

SHE'S SUNK: "Woman Flunks Driver's Test When Car Goes into Pompano Canal" -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE: 24 July 2006 Copyright This Is True

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DUH CAR: William Mellema, 41, was driving near Irondequoit, N.Y., when a state trooper tried to pull him over. Mellema took off, driving at up to 90 mph and going the wrong way on the freeway, then jumping out of his car and running. He was caught by local police. A drug smuggler? An escaped murder? Nope: the trooper was stopping Mellema because his car bore an expired inspection sticker. Mellema was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal contempt, and a host of traffic violations. He told Irondequoit Town Justice Joseph Genier he was on his way to get his car inspected when the trooper tried to pull him over. "I'm stupid. I'm an idiot," Mellema said. "I don't know what makes me do stupid things." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) ...It's just a guess, but maybe it's stupidity.

SURE, FELLA: Newspaper carrier Bobby Kish was making his rounds in Pottstown, Pa., when he popped to the nearby police station to report that he had seen an alligator. An alligator? In Pennsylvania? the dispatcher asked, probably trying to assess Kish's sobriety. Sure enough, when officers arrived where Kish directed them, they found a 4- foot gator, apparently an abandoned pet. Police Cpl. Jamie O'Neill used a technique he saw on "The Crocodile Hunter" to grab and subdue the reptile. He took it to the station and stuck it in a jail cell under the name "Al E. Gator". (Philadelphia Inquirer) ...His cell mate: Pink L. Ephant.

SPIRITED POLITICAL CAMPAIGN: John Jacob expected a tough campaign in his effort to unseat five-term Utah congressman Chris Cannon. First, plans to put together a good war chest failed. "You know, you plan, you organize, you put your budget together and when you have 10 things fall through, not just one, there's some other-- something else that is happening," Jacob said. Like what? "It's the devil is what it is," Jacob claimed, adding "I don't want you to print that." The paper did, and he lost the primary. (Salt Lake Tribune) ...You can't blame the reporter: the devil made him do it.

YOU'RE PUTIN ME ON: Once Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to do an Internet-broadcast interview, Russian online users lined up to suggest more than 162,000 questions for him. He answered about 40. In the webcast he declared the United States is "one of our main partners in the world," but apparently dodged questions about when he lost his virginity, whether he'll legalize marijuana, and 3,000 people who wanted to know when Cthulhu, a fictional monster octopus that lives on the ocean bottom, might re-awaken. (Moscow News) ...Giving Putin the idea that quite a lot of Russians are using more than enough marijuana already.

ON THE OTHER HAND, WE REALLY CAN'T BE SURE: "AAA Says Record Gas Price Predictions May or May Not Come True" -- Kingsport (Tenn.) Times-News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 30 July 2006 Copyright This Is True

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COPS' COLLATERAL CAREERS III: An unidentified police officer in Auckland, New Zealand, has been "censured" after superiors discovered she was moonlighting at another job without prior department approval, which she would not have gotten because "that type of work is inappropriate and incompatible with policing," said Deputy Commissioner Lyn Provost. A police spokesman confirmed the officer had worked "for a limited time" as a prostitute, where she made as much as NZ$500 (US$300) per night. Prostitution is legal in New Zealand. She will get to keep her police job. (New Zealand Herald) ...Supervisors especially appreciate her "fantastic undercover abilities."

MISS CONGENIALITY: In 2001, Katherine Knight of New South Wales, Australia, pleaded guilty to charges she stabbed John Price, her common law husband, 37 times. Police found his skin hanging from a meat hook, his head cooking on the stove, and discovered she had fed slices of his roasted buttocks to his children. The judge, noting her history of violent assault against domestic partners and her "coolness of planning" of the murder, sentenced her to life in prison. But now, defense attorneys complain a life sentence is "too harsh," and such a penalty should be reserved only for "the worst category of murder." Prosecutors oppose the appeal, noting evidence showed Knight enjoyed mutilating Price. Her defense lawyer retorts Knight, now 50, has a "personality disorder" that wasn't taken into account during her sentencing. (Brisbane Courier Mail) ...What happened to the old notion that all premeditated violent killers had a "personality disorder"?

SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP: More and more schools are banning traditional playground games, including touch football and soccer, saying they're too "dangerous." Tag is banned at Freedom Elementary School in Cheyenne, Wyo., because it "progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching," said Principal Cindy Farwell. "You're taking away the physical development of the children," complains Prof. Joe Frost of the University of Texas-Austin, a specialist in childhood education. "Having time for play is essential for children to keep their weight under control." (USA Today) ...If it weren't for all the sex they're having with their teachers, some kids wouldn't get any exercise at all.

WHEN YOU FAIL TO PLAN YOU PLAN TO FAIL: When an entire safe was stolen from a gym in Florence, Ky., police had an easy time finding the culprits. Jennifer L. Perriman, 21, an employee at the gym, and Stacey N. True, also 21, stopped by at 12:30 a.m. but were surprised to find a cleaning crew inside. Perriman asked when they would be leaving, but apparently got tired of waiting. "That's when they asked if [the crew] could help them put the safe in their car," a police investigator said. The cleaners agreed to help, but left a note for management which included Perriman's license plate number in case it wasn't allowed. When officers got to her house, "there were drag marks along the sidewalk and bits of broken concrete where they'd bounced the safe off the steps." Perriman and her accomplice were arrested and confessed to burglary. The safe was recovered -- still locked, since the women apparently had no clue how to open it. (Cincinnati Post) ...Of course, we could just stop at "no clue."

BOLD AFTER-THE-ACCIDENT CONCLUSION: "Fatal Tour Boat Unsafe" -- Albany (N.Y.) Times Union headline

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THIS is TRUE: 6 August 2006 Copyright This Is True

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THIS SPACE FOR RENT: "I was getting sick and tired of advertising everywhere," said Raoul Balai, a design student in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He didn't want to "preach" about the evils of ads, he said, and "thought satire would work better." Balai set up a fake ad agency; its web site offered exciting new places to advertise, such as the sides of animals at the Amsterdam Zoo, and on prostitutes' thighs and cleavage. The zoo threatened to sue him, but sure enough the bogus agency started getting calls from companies wanting space. Anyone who called was kept on hold forever, with a recording making incessant sales pitches. (Reuters) ...Oh, so it's like a real company after all.

DUH CLIFF II: "While finding a place to relieve himself" late at night, camper Jerry Mersereau, 23, "walked off the unguarded and unprotected cliff falling approximately 20 to 30 feet to the creek bed below" in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon. No, that's not a quote from a death report; it's from Mersereau's lawsuit against the U.S. Government. Mersereau claims the government "should have known the cliff posed a danger to campers" and posted a warning sign. By not doing so, it's the government's fault he suffered "mental anguish" from his ordeal. It was not reported how much he's seeking in the suit.

(Portland Oregonian) ...How about 10 bucks so the moron can buy a flashlight?

DUH DRIVER: An unidentified couple in Alice Springs, N.T., Australia, were in bed asleep at 2:00 a.m. when a car plowed through their wall and crashed into their bed. The man was cuddled up with the woman on her side of the bed, their landlord said, and his pillow was found under the car. "If he had slept like he normally did he'd be dead." The 32-year-old driver, who was also not identified, took a look around and declared, "I'd better have another beer." He opened a beer and guzzled it, and then assessed the situation again: "I'm going to jail for sure," he said. Police charged the man with "doing an act causing potential danger" and released him on bail. (Northern Territory News) ...He'll do it again for sure.

DUH DRUGGIES: The Missouri Highway Patrol says Joseph Seidl, 39, and Michael Sullivan, 41, thought up a great method to ditch a cargo of illegal drugs in case they got pulled over: a 4-foot rocket. The device, the police agency said, was packed with two pounds of methamphetamine and set up in the trunk of their car. It was wired to a switch in front; when activated, the trunk would pop open and the rocket would move to a vertical position and take off with the criminal evidence. Sure enough, trooper Tommy Wally pulled the pair over in Callaway County. They flipped the switch -- but nothing happened: the drug-dealing duo forgot to plug the rocket in to the car's power. Seidl and Sullivan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and face up to life in prison and $8 million in fines. What brought them to the attention of the trooper in the first place? They were speeding. (Columbia Tribune) ...Obviously they're no rocket scientists.

ANYTHING YOU DO CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU IN A COURT OF LAW: "Man Robs Judge at Own Trial" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE: 13 August 2006 Copyright This Is True

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WHY LAWYERS HAVE BAD REPUTATIONS, PART 635: Police in Milan, Mich., say Stephen Humphrey, 39, and his wife, Brenda, 34, got into an argument at a bar. He got in his pickup to leave as she reached in to grab her cell phone. Her arm was caught in the seatbelt, but he kept going; her arm was torn off just below the elbow. Humphrey's lawyer, John Gonta, decried the felony charges against his client. Because Humphrey stopped and took his wife to the hospital after the accident, "he's a hero," Gonta said. "He saved her life." Gonta says Humphrey can't remember the incident. "Not because he was drunk or incoherent, but because he was in shock," Gonta argued. "Who wouldn't be shocked by such a horrific thing?" Tests taken five hours after the accident showed Humphrey's blood alcohol level was still .03 percent, plus showed a measurable amount of marijuana. In exchange for prosecutors dropping a third- offense drunk driving charge, Humphrey pleaded no contest to causing serious injury while driving with a suspended license, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He faces up to five years in prison on each charge. (Detroit Free Press, Milan News-Leader, Monroe News) ...Enough time for Brenda to get a divorce. Unfortunately, she needs a lawyer for that.

OF COURSE THEY'RE LOUSY -- THEY'RE HOLDING STOPWATCHES: "British 'Better Lovers than We Thought"' trumpeted the headline. The story: a survey by Men's Health magazine found British men were great at foreplay, spending more time on it than any other nationality: 17.44 minutes. "But, rather disappointingly for women," the article admitted, it is followed by an average of just 1.2 minutes of sex. (Manchester Evening News) ...Easy come, easy go.

YOU KNOW, LIKE THIS: State employees in the Australian Capital Territory have been warned they face jail if they leak confidential information to the media. "Put simply, it is a criminal offence to disclose confidential information and carries a substantial fine, or jail, or both," said a memo from ACT Public Service Chief Mike Harris, adding he was disappointed by the numerous "unprofessional" and "inappropriate" leaks. Newspapers were able to quote the memo exactly since it was leaked to them the same day it was issued. (Australian AP) ...So there!

YOU'RE SOAKING IN IT: David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corp. in Louisville, Ky., had a goal: keep people out of the fountains. Earlier, city officials had found that the water in the fountains had unhealthy levels of bacteria from homeless people bathing in them, and children wading around wearing dirty diapers. Warning signs didn't work, so Karem had some new ones made: "DANGER! Water Contains High Levels of Hydrogen. KEEP OUT". Water, of course, is two- thirds hydrogen atoms, but the sign worked well enough that bacteria levels have plummeted. The local newspaper complained Karem was "treat(ing) Louisvillians as fools," and noted the signs weren't "exactly tourist-friendly." (Louisville Courier-Journal) ...Ah, don't listen to them, David: they're full of hot air.

ROOM SERVICE: "Asheville Corrections Official Sent to Prison for Sex with Inmate" -- Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal headline

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THIS is TRUE: 20 August 2006 Copyright This Is True

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GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS: Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Kevin Brown reportedly got in a bit of a tussle with his Macon, Ga., neighbor, Michael Haws. Haws says Brown threw grass clippings over the 4-foot fence between their yards. When Haws complained, they got into an argument during which he told Brown, "I should take you out right now!" Brown responded by pulling a gun, but didn't point it at him. Haws called the sheriff, and reportedly admitted to responding deputies that the grass clippings were actually from his own mower -- he had thrown them over the fence first, and Brown had merely tossed them back. Neither man wanted to press charges; Brown told deputies he'd build a taller fence, and Haws said he'd buy a mulching mower. "I told police I was in the wrong," Haws said. "Luckily nobody got arrested and nobody got shot." (Macon Telegraph) ...By "nobody", of course, he means him.

WHATCHOO LOOKIN' AT? Police in Davenport, Iowa, had set up a perimeter in a search for a robbery suspect. A detective was standing in the street keeping an eye on things when McCory J. Slemmons, 26, stepped up, accused the officer of having a "staring problem" and "looking at his wife," the resulting police report says. Then, the officer notes, Slemmons pulled out a pair of nunchucks and challenged the plainclothes cop to a fight. The officer showed Slemmons his badge, drew his handgun, and ordered Slemmons to drop the weapon. Instead, he turned and walked away, and the officer grabbed him and arrested him on charges of assault while displaying a weapon and (yep!) public intoxication. (Davenport Quad-City Times) ...Nunchuks, numbskull -- what's the difference?

FOR REVENGE, LET'S CALL HIM "POLITICIAN": Dr. Ian Gibson, a Member of Parliament representing Norfolk, England, was asked by a reporter about a study which found children in his county suffered double the incidence of type 1 diabetes than expected. Gibson, whose doctorate is in genetics and is the former chairman of the Commons science committee, theorized, "I would imagine it is linked to the fact that people in Norfolk are quite inbred." The reporter asked if people might be offended by such a comment. "Probably," he said, "but they are inbred." Outrage quickly spread when the comment was published, so Gibson went on a radio show to explain. "Words like inbreeding and outbreeding are very professional, genetic terms," he said. "We use them all the time but to the public that has connotations which they don't understand, or feel that it demeans them and I understand that, and that is why I apologize." (London Guardian) ...What a moron -- but I mean that in a colloquial context, not a "professional, genetic" context.

PROGRESS: Hasbro has released a new version of the Monopoly board game in Britain. "We started looking at what Monopoly would look like if we designed it today," said Chris Weatherhead, a Hasbro spokesman in the U.K. "We noticed consumers are using debit cards, carrying around cash a lot less." Thus, the new version, dubbed "Monopoly Here & Now", won't come with any money, but rather Visa-branded debit cards and a terminal for the banker. Rather than earning 200 pounds for passing "Go", players will now get 2 million pounds. The new rent for Mayfair (the British equivalent for Boardwalk) was not reported. (AP) ...Boy, if you think fast food clerks these days can't count out change, just wait.

NEWSPAPER REPORTERS FINALLY START TO CATCH ON: "TV Watchers Watch TV" -- Toronto Star headline

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THIS is TRUE: 27 August 2006 Copyright This Is True

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POLICE CONSTABLE, POLITICALLY CORRECT -- WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? After a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses interrupted their Christmas dinner to proselytize 32 years ago, Gordon and Jean Grove put up a sign in the yard of their Bursledon, Hants., England home: "Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses". In the 32 years since, no one has complained about the sign, not even Jehovah's Witnesses, says Jean, now 77. The sign worked, too: the Witnesses stopped calling on the house. But then the police called. The bobbies declared the sign "distressing, offensive and inappropriate," and insisted she take it down. Once the officers left, however, she put it back up. (London Telegraph) ...So what are the police going to do when area residents tell them it's "distressing, offensive and inappropriate" to harass a pensioner?

U.K. P.C. II: Artur Boruc, 26, a goalkeeper for the Celtics Football Club, was playing in a soccer match against the Rangers in Glasgow, Scotland. At the start of the second half Boruc, who is Polish and signed with the Celtics a year ago, crossed himself as he took his position. The Strathclyde Police was called in, and their report was passed to prosecutors. The Crown Office ruled that in the "charged atmosphere" of a football match, the act of crossing himself "provoked alarm and crowd trouble and as such constituted a breach of the peace." Boruc received a formal caution, leaving him with a criminal record. "It is worrying some spectators saw fit to complain," said a spokesman for Scotland's Catholic Church, "but even more so that police felt it merited investigation. This decision could lead us down a very intolerant road." (Glasgow Daily Record, PA) ...Let's just hope the road is not marked "One Way -- No U-Turn".

U.K. P.C. III: During her lunch hour, Jane Edwards, a doctor in Sheffield, England, stopped at the Post Office to renew her daughter's passport since the family was planning a trip to France. Nothing doing, she was told: 5-year-old Heather was wearing a sleeveless dress, and her resulting exposed skin "might prove unacceptable" if the girl went to a Muslim country. "I followed the instructions on the passport form to the letter and it was still rejected," Edwards fumed. "It is just officialdom pandering to political correctness." A spokesman for the U.K. Passport Service said he was not aware of any rules against girls showing skin in passport photos. (London Daily Mail) ...Political Correctness: a system of thinking where it's OK to offend someone right in front of you by enforcing a made-up rule to stop a theoretical offense to an unknown person later when you aren't even going to be there.

THE FORGOTTEN ART OF LETTER WRITING: "Just when you think you'd seen it all, a case like Mr. Bilby's comes along," said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. Donald Ray Bilby, 30, sent letters to the FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Post Office, and two banks threatening bombings unless he was paid $20,000. In one, he enclosed white powder and said it was anthrax. Bilby, who signed his own name to the letters, asked for the money to be deposited into the Somerset County (N.J.) Jail in his name -- Bilby is an inmate in the jail, serving time for auto theft. He thoughtfully included his inmate number to aid the transactions. Bilby, who pleaded guilty in the case, explained he needed the money to pay his bail. "I think it's fair to say we were not dealing with a great criminal mind here," Christie concluded. (Bridgewater Courier News) ...I think it's even fairer to say Bilby thinks the federal pen would be a lot nicer than the county jail.

AND THIS WAS SURPRISING ...WHY? "Explosions Rock Louisiana Bomb Recycling Plant" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 3 September 2006 Copyright This Is True

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DESIGNATED DRIVER: Police near Carlisle, Pa., stopped a weaving car. When it pulled over, the man sitting in the driver's seat, Lucas Enbacker, was eating a giant sandwich with both hands. The man sitting in the passenger's seat, Derek R. Pittman, 26, told the officer sorry, but the weaving was his fault since he was steering while his buddy was eating. The officer gave Pittman a field sobriety test: He failed, and later his blood alcohol was measured at .237 percent, nearly triple the legal limit. Since he admitted he was in charge of the vehicle, Pittman was charged with driving under the influence. Enbacker, who passed his field sobriety test, was not charged. Prosecutors allowed Pittman to enter an "alternative rehabilitative disposition program" to avoid a criminal record. (Carlisle Sentinel, Harrisburg Patriot-News) ...Enbacker got off too easy: Every American should be capable of eating and talking on a cell phone while driving.

THE NANNY STATE: When a new fire station was built in Greenbank, Plymouth, England, it was built without the traditional pole for firefighters to get from the upstairs squad room to the trucks. Senior fire officials ordered the change claiming safety concerns, since firefighters could twist their ankles when they land. The station chief calls the omission "ludicrous" and says it will delay response times. Worse, he notes, running down two flights of stairs is more dangerous than using the pole. (London Telegraph) ...If petite strippers can manage a pole, surely stout firefighters can too.

THE POLICE STATE: The Lincolnshire, England, Christian Police Association has set up "Prayer Watch" -- a "spiritual twist on the Neighbourhood Watch scheme." Christian officers will ask the public to pray for a reduction in crime, sending out e-mail alerts to ask for specific prayers. The CPA is "a support group," said Lincolnshire Police spokesman Dick Holmes, "a bit like the black or gay associations." Not all local residents like the idea. "Churches can pray for whatever they like," said one man, "but if God does exist are you telling me he doesn't know about little old ladies being attacked?" (Lincolnshire Echo) ...It's only fair: the criminals have been preying all along.

WATER SPORTS: More than 400 "sportsmen" competed in the annual Bubble Baba Challenge, a "fun and difficult" water tournament where participants race on inflatable sex dolls as rafts in the Vuoksa river near St. Petersburg, Russia. Igor Osipov, 40, was first across the finish line, but judges disqualified him due to "signs of recent sexual activity on the swimmer's doll." (Moscow News) ...A clear case of premature exultation.

WHAT THE HELL? "It's a Dying Shame: 'Newly Revised Guidelines' Issued by the Catholic Church Take the Fun out of Funerals" -- Toronto Sun headline

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THIS is TRUE: 10 September 2006 Copyright This Is True

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SIX HOURS? BUT HE'S BRITISH! Tracy Harper, 37, a prostitute in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, negotiated a 120-pound-per-hour (US$225) fee for her services, and Matthew Bushell, 33, spent six hours in bed with her -- then skipped out on the bill. Harper called the police, and Bushell was charged with "dishonestly obtaining sexual favours by deception." He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 65 pounds in court costs plus two years of probation, but the court didn't order any restitution for Harper. She said she hopes the case will "warn other girls who possibly think the escort industry isn't all about sex. Well, it is, and it's not worth it." (London Telegraph) ...At least not when you don't get paid.

LIVE FROM THE LOO: CNN's "Live From" show carried a speech by President George W. Bush live. It was a great opportunity for the show's host, Kyra Phillips, to pop into the restroom. She was still wearing her wireless microphone, and the show's audio technician apparently didn't notice Phillips' trip to the loo was carried live. "My husband is handsome," she boasted to an unidentified stall mate, overriding the president's words. Her brother is great too, she said, but "His wife is just a control freak." Finally, someone alerted her that her words were going out on the air and she turned her mic off. CNN issued an apology, while Phillips went on the "Late Night with David Letterman" show to give her "Top 10 Excuses" for the gaffe. (AP) ...My guess: her words will be remembered far longer than the president's -- at least by her sister-in-law.

WHAT WE MUST NOW GIVE UP TO AIRLINE SECURITY: New Zealand's Kate Horan was on her way to the IPC Athletics World Championships in the Netherlands from London. The well-known Paralympic athlete runs using a specially built artificial leg, which she normally keeps with her in carry-on luggage. But due to air security scares, British Airways insisted she must check her NZ$10,000 (US$6,400) leg as baggage. It took more than a week to find the case in BA's warehouse, which holds about 20,000 pieces of lost luggage. Airline officials found it just a few days before the competition started. (Wellington Dominion Post) ...The shocking part: all that time she was still armed.

JUDGE THYSELF: Steve Keo Teang had been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter after shooting Tino Patricelli outside a bar in Tacoma, Wash. It was time for sentencing, and as Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant started the sentencing hearing, she had something to say to the 100 or so people in the courtroom, mostly Teang and Patricelli family members. "Before you sit down, and I know this is rather unusual," Judge Grant told the spectators, "but we have a great football team today and I just wanted you to give one holler for the Seahawks. So, let's say, 'Go, Seahawks'." After a half-hearted cheer she ruled, "You can do better than that! Let's try it again. One, two, three: 'Go, Seahawks!"' Apparently satisfied with the second try, she went on with the hearing. But after learning that the game she was trying to get the courtroom to cheer for was played on the one-year anniversary of Patricelli's killing, Judge Grant not only apologized but made a formal complaint about her own conduct to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, and has accepted its formal admonishment. (Tacoma News Tribune) ...Your task: decide whether she's to be loathed or admired.

THAT'S THE FIRST THING I ALWAYS THINK OF: "Hidden Bodies Often a Signpost of Fraud" -- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review headline

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THIS is TRUE: 17 September 2006 Copyright This Is True

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JOCK JOKE: Several boys from Kenton (Ohio) High School stole a life-sized

deer decoy and put it on a dark road to see what would happen. A car

drove up and swerved to miss it -- and rolled over. Two teens in the

car were severely injured, one nearly losing his leg and left

permanently disabled, the other receiving brain damage. Dailyn

Campbell, 16, and Jesse Howard, 17, both popular athletes at the

school, pleaded no contest to various criminal charges in the prank,

and Judge Gary F. McKinley sentenced them to 60 days in juvenile

detention -- to start after they play out the school's football season.

They must also pay a fine, serve six months of house arrest, perform

community service and write an essay on "Why I should think before I

act." The local Board of Education sided with the judge, and also

allowed the boys to play out the football season. (Columbus Dispatch)

...Now the judge and the school board need to write that same essay.

WHO SAID THAT? "Numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the

prediction that 'what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed

from the housetops," argued two lawyers in 1890, which led to the

modern concept of the "right to privacy." With the Internet, that's

starting to come true, says David Holtzman, author of the book "Privacy

Lost: How Technology is Endangering your Privacy". "Our whole lives are

up for review online," just like politicians' records have been

scrutinized before elections, Holtzman argues, thanks to Internet

search engines and online archives. "We are all," he says, "now

becoming like politicians." (Reuters) ...All right, NOW it's time to

panic.

PHOTO FINISH: Craig Moore, 28, was driving in Manchester, England, when

he was flashed by a speed camera. Afraid he would get a speeding

ticket, which could push him over the limit of points on his license

and trigger a driving ban which would cost him his job, he returned

with explosives and destroyed the camera in an attempt to destroy the

evidence. But because he didn't wreck the recording device in the base,

the camera got evidence of him setting up the charge, which caused

11,700 pounds (US$22,000) in damage. Moore was sentenced to four months

in jail, but wasn't banned from driving: the camera was just a warning

device that tried to get motorists to slow down by flashing them,

rather than one used to send out traffic citations. And even if it was,

judges rarely will issue a driving ban if it means the defendant will

lose his job. But based on his admission of guilt, Moore's boss

demanded he resign. (London Times, Manchester Evening News) ...Well

sure: who wants someone that dumb driving a company vehicle?

DRIVING ON THE LEFT II: A policeman in Oldbury, West Midlands, England,

pulled over a weaving car. "I attempted to speak to the driver, who

appeared to be fumbling around with the controls," said the constable.

"At that point the passenger leaned across and stated, 'He's blind'."

Sure enough the driver, Omed Aziz, 31, had lost both eyes and three

fingers in a bomb blast in his native Iraq, and his passenger was

giving him directions so he could steer. Aziz denied charges of

dangerous driving, but was convicted and given a three-month prison

sentence, which was suspended, plus a three year driving ban. (London

Times) ...Apparently the judge thinks that should be long enough to

grow new eyes.

MORE ACCURATELY, SHE INSISTS, THE DOG CRASHED: "Woman Crashes When

Teaching Dog to Drive" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 24 September Copyright This Is True

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PROGRESS IN AMERICAN EDUCATION: Only 42 percent of American adults can name their own country's three branches of government, but 73 percent can name the Three Stooges, a poll has found. Sixty percent could name Krypton as Superman's home planet, but only 37 percent know what planet is closest to our own sun. "I don't think it's saying we're a nation of idiots," says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at New York's Syracuse University, who helped design the survey. Rather, he says, it means that "we're a nation of pop-culture geniuses." (Denver Post) ...The bastardization of English continues: a "genius" is now a type of idiot.

F SEEKS M: Sarah DiMuro, 29, says she's a virgin, and doesn't want to be one when she turns 30. She says she didn't have her first kiss until 23, said she'd be "totally willing" to undergo a medical exam to prove her virginity. "I would be thrilled, actually," she said. "Well, don't say 'thrilled.' Say I would be comfortable with that." Thus, the Manhattan, N.Y., Catholic blonde is letting a local magazine find her the man of her dreams. The magazine has about eight weeks to find someone before her deadline. (New York Daily News) ...So she's not so much looking for Mr. Right as she is Mr. Right Now.

LAND OF THE FREE: In 2003, Californian Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez was pulled over in Nebraska. State troopers searched his car and found $124,700 in cash in a cooler in the back seat. Gonzolez said he had tried to buy a truck with the cash, but it was sold by the time he got there, and he had hidden it in the cooler to avoid robbery. But a police dog detected traces of drugs on the money, so police confiscated it. Gonzolez was not found in possession of any drugs, and he was not charged with any crime. A federal court ruled police had to return the cash, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned that decision, saying that because the money "may have been" the proceeds of a drug deal, the police could keep it. (Associated Press) ..."Equality Before the Law" --Nebraska's state motto.

HOME OF THE BRAVE: In 2003, the Pitchfork Records store in Concord, N.H., was raided by police. Owner Michael Cohen was arrested. The charge: pirating music; 500 CDs were confiscated. But disk after disk turned out to be legitimate, and he was eventually tried on only one charge of piracy. He was acquitted when the judge determined even that CD was legal. Yet prosecutors refused to return the confiscated CDs. Cohen appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the state government can proceed with destroying Cohen's legal property. (Manchester Union Leader) ..."Live Free or Die" --New Hampshire's state motto.

AS A BOY, THE DOG ATE HIS HOMEWORK: "Burglar Steals Preacher's Sermon" -- Macon (Ga.) Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 1 October 2006 Copyright This Is True

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EXPOSE YOURSELF TO ART: A 5th grade class at Fisher Elementary School in Frisco, Texas, got a rare treat: a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Art teacher Sydney McGee, a 28-year veteran, got parental permission slips and discussed with museum staff what she wanted the kids to see. But after they got back, Principal Nancy Lawson reprimanded McGee because one of the students caught sight of a nude statue during the visit, and the student's parent complained. Due to the "hostility" she experienced after the incident, McGee asked to be transferred to another school, but school administrators and the local school board refused that request. Instead, McGee has been suspended with pay until her contract runs out, and then she will be fired. District Superintendent Rick Reedy backs the action. "You have to start somewhere when you've seen things you don't believe are in the best interest of the students," he said. (Dallas Morning News) ...Right, like electing a new school board, and hiring a new superintendent and principal.

THE FRIENDLY SKIES: After visiting her son in Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada, Hetwig Strohmeier, 87, flew home to her native Germany. But security screeners at Toronto's Pearson Airport wouldn't let her get on the plane until it had confiscated her heart medication -- which she must take every four hours. "What did they think were in the pill bottles with my mother's name on them," demanded her son, Helmut. "Dynamite?" By the time she arrived in Germany 12 hours later, he said, she was in "bad shape." A Canadian Air Transport Security Authority spokesman said the great-grandmother didn't file a complaint. (Canadian Press) ...Of course not. Every time she tried she was told "Ich spreche nicht Deutsches."

CANUCK AVIATION ACTIVITIES II: The pilot of an Air Canada Jazz flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg stepped out 20 minutes from Winnipeg to go to the restroom. When he finished, he found he was locked out of the cockpit and couldn't get back in to land the plane. Passengers watched as the captain banged on the cockpit door for 10 minutes, but apparently neither the first officer nor the flight attendant in the cockpit with him could get the door open. The pilot finally took the door off its hinges in time to land the plane. Air Canada admitted the incident did occur, but said that a pilot lockout is a "non-reportable incident" that doesn't have to be reported to Transport Canada. (Ottawa Citizen) ...Don't worry: the next terrorist that tries taking the cockpit door off its hinges won't bother to report it either.

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE: A man who stepped out of a bank in Orlando, Fla., looked suspicious to passersby. "Witnesses said they could see smoke coming out of his pants," a police spokeswoman said. Sure enough, the bank had just been robbed, and the thief had stuffed the loot down his pants. Included with the bills was a dye pack, which exploded shortly after he went out the door. Police stopped Kenneth Ray Brooks, 42, and were pretty sure they had the right guy: his crotch was still smoldering and his hands were dyed bright red. "The suspect was taken to a local hospital as a result of possible burning injuries to his person," the arrest report noted. (Orlando Sentinel) ...Not to mention impact injuries from trying to beat out the fire.

SINCE, OBVIOUSLY, HE'S NOT GAINFULLY EMPLOYED: "Politician Wins Alimony from Ex-Wife" -- Reuters headline

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