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THIS is TRUE: 1 April 2007 Copyright This Is True

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A THEORY OF JUSTICE: Police in Palmer, Alaska, "chased off" Brian Tanner, 21, who was sitting in his car outside the public library, after it was closed. Tanner's crime? He was playing games on his laptop computer, using the library's free wireless Internet access. The next evening, police spotted him there again. "It was kind of like, 'Well gee whiz, come on'," said police Lt. Tom Remaley. Police confiscated Tanner's computer and threatened him with criminal charges, but were thwarted: "I think I finally understand from the library that they don't charge for it," Remaley said. "They don't have a time limit. That means there's no theft." But, Remaley said, Tanner may still face charges such as trespassing or criminal mischief, since a police officer had told him "You can't do that. Go away." (Anchorage Daily News) ...Something that's not a crime becomes one when an ignorant cop says it is? I think they call places like that a "Police State".

INVISIBLE MAN: Leszek Szwerowski, 61, of Warsaw, Poland, is suing a video producer of an ...uh... adult event DVD where three women had sex with as many men as possible during the film. "I was told that the faces of the participants would be blurred on the computer on which the film was saved," he said. "But this was not the case." Szwerowski's young nephew saw the film and spotted his uncle in line, and told the rest of the family, leaving the man embarrassed. He is demanding 15,000 Zlotys (US$5,000). (PA) ...And the spanking of a lifetime for his nephew.

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: Underground explosions in Waterbury, Conn., "could" be having a negative effect on local businesses, says a spokesman for Main Street Waterbury, a group trying to revitalize the city's downtown. The most recent explosion killed an electrical worker; it was the sixth in less than two years. "You take two steps forward by doing things like building up a farmer's market downtown, and then something like this happens," complains the spokesman, who also laments smaller-than-expected crowds for last fall's "Marti Gross" festival. "People who come downtown may soon start saying 'Look, there's a manhole. Am I going to get clobbered?'," he said. The spokesman's name: Ken Killer. (New Haven Register, AP) ...Why do I have the feeling he's the one who came up with the Marti Gross festival?

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND: Paul Hellyer, 83, a former Canadian defense minister, is calling for technology to solve the world's woes. "Climate change is the number-one problem facing the world today," Hellyer says, and "We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know." Er, about what? Alien technology, he says. Surely governments have picked up various technologies from crashed UFOs, and they "could be a way to save our planet." (Ottawa Citizen) ...Sadly, deus ex machina is a technique for fiction, not real life.

ATLAS SHRUGGED: "Harlequin Books Seeks 'Real Men' for Covers" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE: 8 April 2007 Copyright This Is True

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THE RABBIT IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON: Residents of Walnut Creek, Calif., are outraged that the city, in its Spring celebrations, is referring to the Easter Bunny as the "Spring Bunny", who presides over

city-sponsored "Spring Egg Hunts". Yet city spokesman Brad Rovanpera is perplexed by the protests: "This will be the fifth year we are doing it that way," he said, adding there have been no previous complaints. "First people can't wish 'Merry Christmas' at a store," complains a town resident, "and now they've taken Easter away from the Easter Bunny." (San Francisco Chronicle) ...Idiot! Doesn't he know Easter is really about the eggs?

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY TRY AGAIN: Somerfield, a chain of supermarkets in the U.K., decided to lecture shoppers about Easter. "Brits are set to spend a massive 520 million pounds [uS$1.02 billion] on Easter eggs this year," it said in a press release, "but many young people don't even know what Easter's all about." It then went on to tell everyone: "the birth of Jesus." A hasty revision, which made reference to "Britons' mounting ignorance regarding Easter," changed the references to "rebirth" before a third version was released to use the word "resurrection" after it had "consultations" with the Church of England. (London Times) ...Well, they were right about the ignorance part.

CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON: Guns have been banned in Britain for years, so now swords are getting to be a menace. "Imitation" samurai swords have been identified as a weapon of choice in various attacks, so the Home Office has announced it wants to ban the weapons by the end of the year as part of a "wider crackdown" on knives and other bladed weapons. "Samurai sword crime is low in volume but high in profile," a Home Office spokesman said. "It is already illegal to have a samurai sword in a public place but I want to restrict the number of dangerous weapons in circulation." Those caught with swords, whether used in an assault or not, would face up to six months in jail and a 5,000-pound (US$9,800) fine. (London Telegraph) ...The ultimate conclusion: half of all Brits will be sentenced to break rocks into sand so the other half can't throw them.

THE DAUPHIN: Lawyer Balthazar Napoleon de Bourbon, 48, of Bhopal, India, has always loved France, and even gave his children French names. And, he has recently learned, he may be first in line as king of France. His lineage has been traced to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and apparently also the Bourbon king of Spain. He is willing to take a DNA test to confirm the link. (London Guardian) ...You know, this "outsourcing" thing is really getting out of hand.

WHY SHOULD IT BE DIFFERENT FROM EVERYTHING ELSE? "Ignorance of the Good Book Reaches Biblical Proportions" -- Sacramento Bee headline

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THIS is TRUE: 15 April 2007 Copyright This Is True

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THERE HE GOES, SHOOTING HIS MOUTH OFF AGAIN: Joseph Kopera, 61, head of Maryland State Police's firearms unit, was often called on to give expert testimony in court cases. To establish his credentials for the jury, he would rattle off the list of his college degrees. "He's one of the most compelling experts I've seen in a courtroom," said defense attorney Roland Walker, who has worked on at least 50 cases Kopera was involved in. There's only one minor problem: Kopera's college degrees were made up, according to investigators from The Innocence Project, which works to free people who are wrongly convicted of crimes. In fact, Kopera had no college degrees at all, and was only a high school graduate. Once confronted with this fact, Kopera immediately retired from his 37-year career and went home -- where he killed himself with a gunshot to the head. (Baltimore Sun) ...That's one way to show he had some level of expertise.

CALL IF YOU NEED ME: Durant, Okla., narcotics detective Lt. Mike Woodruff gave his cell phone number to a young man. The boy then told his mother "that if she ever needed help with anything to give me a call," Woodruff said. "I think she misunderstood. She mistook my number for her son's drug dealer's number." Sure enough, the woman called Woodruff to say she wanted to buy some cocaine. He set up a meeting, and the unnamed woman and her husband showed up -- and were arrested. "I told you we were not getting that for us," the woman complained. "It was for someone else." Thus the police have recommended to prosecutors that the charges be upgraded to possession of drugs with intent to distribute. (Durant Democrat) ...Good call.

AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO, BRITISH DIVISION: "The day is designed to make farmers take health and safety matters more seriously," said Britain's Health and Safety Executive agricultural inspector Tony Trenear, announcing a special safety demonstration in Churton, England. "An alarming number of incidents take place in this industry, many of which could be avoided with a few sensible precautions." More than 200 farmers attended, including Tania Foster, 45. During the demonstration, Foster was injured when she fell into an uncovered drain. A spokesman said the safety officials were aware of the open drain, but decided it was "unlikely to be a risk," noting "It emphasizes the need to be vigilant at all times." (London Telegraph) ...Therefore, "Warning -- Government safety experts aren't as expert as you think."

A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK: Acting on a tip, police in McHenry, Ill., investigated William G. Gersch, 58, since the man was trying to hire a hit man. An undercover cop contacted Gersch, who allegedly offered to hire him to kill his son, William J. Gersch, 35, saying the younger man, who lives on the same block, was responsible for the failure of his marriage and kept him from seeing his grandchildren. "There's been a longtime family feud," a sheriff's investigator said. The senior Gersch was arrested on charges of soliciting murder and faces up to 40 years in prison. Meanwhile, officers realized that the younger Gersch was also under investigation by a different set of detectives. The next day, William J. was also arrested -- on charges possession of pot and cocaine with intent to deliver. "The timing was just really by coincidence," the investigator said. (Crystal Lake Northwest Herald) ...But putting them in the same cell block won't be.

HOW ENTICING: "[Houston Independent School District] Hopes Offer of Bonuses Earlier Entices New Hires" -- Houston (Texas) Chronicle headline; "99 Teachers Told to Repay Part of Bonus; HISD Blames a Computer Glitch for Overpayments" -- Houston Chronicle headline, four days later.

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THIS is TRUE: 22 April 2007 Copyright This Is True

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MYTHINFORMATION: When arrested for drunk driving after a crash in Billings, Mont., Phillip Carston Holliday Jr., 42, claimed he wasn't at fault, newspapers reported, because the unicorn was driving. But "That did not happen," a senior prosecutor said after the reports of the unicorn wheel man went out on national news wires. County Attorney Dennis Paxinos said the mix-up was the result of a deputy prosecutor not understanding lawyer humor. Some call it the "SEDI defense" -- someone else did it. Others call it the "unicorn defense" -- some "mythical person" did it. The unicorn bit is a "code" that prosecutors use, Paxinos said, "and the code was misinterpreted." Holliday had actually said a woman was driving, but police found no evidence of another driver at the crash. (Billings Gazette) ...It's much more likely he swerved to avoid hitting the unicorn anyway.

DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT: A burglar in Moenchengladbach, Germany, was identified after he attempted to break into a neighbor's flat. "He tried to copy what he'd seen them do on television," said a police spokesman -- using a credit card on the lock -- but his card broke in half and he couldn't get the important half out of the door. "The victim called up and read us the details off the card," the spokesman said. "When we got around to the burglar's house, the other half of his credit card was sitting on his kitchen table." Meanwhile, after a burglary in Bettendorf, Iowa, police looked for Robert Alan Fry, 43. Fry is from Illinois, and had recently been released from prison there on a burglary charge. How did they know Fry was their man? The burglar had used a card from his wallet to jimmy the lock on an apartment door -- and left it behind. The card was Fry's prisoner ID card. He was found staying in a nearby motel. (Reuters, Rochester Post-Bulletin) ...If you're going to do it as a career, you need to get the right tools for the job.

BEING A POLITICIAN IS NICE WORK, WHEN YOU CAN STEAL IT: Politicians in Queensland, Australia, have voted themselves a new "resettlement allowance" for when they're voted out of office. MPs will continue to be paid their full salaries for two months after leaving office, which is about A$17,000 (US$14,200). The perk is in addition to an already standard two airline tickets home, as well as unlimited rail travel anywhere in the country. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle endorsed the extra compensation, saying it was akin to unemployment benefits. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) ...Angry voters considered voting them all out of office, but....

PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU: After pleading guilty to voyeurism after sneaking up to a window and watching a woman through a crack in her curtains, Stephen Cooper, 24, has been ordered to wear a fluorescent jacket anytime he is outside at night. Cooper is already on Britain's Sex Offenders Register from an earlier conviction. The order by Judge Peter Dedman of the Southend Crown Court in Essex is "tantamount to asking him to walk around wearing a sign saying, 'I'm a sex offender'," said barrister Lesley Bates. (London Daily Mail) ...Yeah, and...?

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: "Global Warming Rally Cut Short by Cold Weather" -- AP headline; "Rain Cancels Drought Advisory Council Meeting" -- AP headline later the same week

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THIS is TRUE: 29 April 2007 Copyright This Is True

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RIGHT TOOL, WRONG JOB: William T. McGuire of Woodbridge, N.J., was murdered, his dismembered body found stuffed into three suitcases fished out of the Chesapeake Bay. Investigators focused on his wife, Melanie, 34, a nurse. Her computer was impounded, and her search history found that in the days before the murder Melanie had searched Google and other search engines for terms including "how to commit murder", "instant poisons" and "undetectable poisons". She also researched gun laws. Ten days later, William was shot to death after being incapacitated by a sedative. The drug was purchased at a Walgreen's store; the computer had recorded a visit to the Walgreen's web site's store locator. Melanie has been convicted of murder, and faces at least 30 years in prison. (Parsippany Daily Record) ...That's what happens when you Google "how to commit murder" instead of "how to get away with murder".

RIGHT TOOL, WRONG JOB II: After a bank robbery in Norwich, Conn., a woman called police to say she recognized the man in the resulting surveillance photos. Nicole Quimby, 24, told officers that she had met Kevin Fitzpatrick on the Internet, and that he had recently come to town and asked her for a place to stay. She noticed that Fitzpatrick had used her computer for several searches, including "how not to rob a bank". Norwich police have to wait their turn: Fitzpatrick is wanted in Massachusetts for a similar robbery, and is already being held in New York on a third crime. (Norwich Bulletin) ...Then again, people who know how to get away with crimes aren't the ones putting up how-to web sites.

OOPS, MY BAD: Once the last patron had left the Cuckoo restaurant in Olinda, Vic., Australia, two robbers walked in. The first, a man, pointed a shotgun and demanded the bag an employee was holding; the man quickly complied. But the nervous robber then fired -- he didn't hit the employee, but rather the other robber, a woman. After staggering outside, "she dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes," said the restaurant manager, Horst Lantzsch. The woman robber is expected to survive; the gunman was captured. Neither was identified, but the contents of the bag was: leftover bread that the employee was taking home. (Australian AP) ...Robbing "the man" of "his bread"? What is this, the 1960s?

DON'T TRY THIS WHILE CHEWING GUM: Martin Johnson, the acting deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, a teachers' union in Britain, says the national school curriculum is "totalitarian" because it focuses on academics. What should schools teach, then? "Other" types of knowledge, he said. Like what? Like learning how to walk properly. "There's a lot to learn about how to walk. If you were going out for a Sunday afternoon stroll you might walk one way," he says. "If you're trying to catch a train you might walk in another way and if you are doing a cliff walk you might walk in another way." (London Guardian) ...And if you're thinking of sending your kids to ATL-led schools, run!

TAKE A BITE OUT OF CRIME: "Palm Beach County Man Arrested for Making False Teeth Without a License" -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE: 6 May 2007 Copyright This Is True

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PUBLIC HUMILIATION IN THE INTERNET ERA: Visitors at a park in Mason, Ohio, called police after an apparently drunk man climbed into his pickup truck and started driving around, including near the children's play area. When an officer arrived, "I observed [the suspect] to be wearing a very skimpy woman's ... bikini with two tan water balloons taped to the top to simulate two woman's breasts and a pair of pink Speedo flip-flop sandals," Officer Scott Miller said in his report. Steven S. Cole, 46, a volunteer firefighter who had emergency lights on his truck, was also wearing a blond wig, and allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .174 percent. He explained he was on his way to a contest at a "gay bar"; police found more wigs, a pair of silver go-go boots, beer, and other items in his truck. Cole was charged with drunken driving, having an open container, public indecency and disorderly conduct. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...But since police released his booking photos and they're all over the web, they really need to drop the charges to avoid Double Jeopardy.

THE NEVERENDING WAR: A participant in the Confederate side in the reenactment of the Civil War Battle of Anderson County in South Carolina has been injured in the mock battle. "It's a freak accident," said reenactment commander Allen Ashley. "This is the first time this has happened." The man received a cut and a gunpowder burn, apparently because someone from the Union side didn't follow proper procedures. "In close combat, you have to raise your gun up and go over their heads," another reenactor explained. In the real Battle of Anderson County, which was fought on May 1, 1865, no Confederates were injured. (Columbia State) ...Then this was hardly a faithful reenactment.

TRUE LOVE: Whenever a "No Trespassing" sign is put up at Machan's Rock in a remote section of Tuscarawas County, Ohio, someone tears it down. But people, especially kids, have been climbing all over it for years, locals say, so it's doubtful a sign would have kept Arthur Lewis, 21, away. His father, Scott, remembers climbing on it when he was a kid. Arthur had climbed on the rock to spray-paint "Art loves Kaylee" on it when he fell 25-30 feet to his death after only doing the "Ka" part of Kaylee, his girlfriend of three years. "He was trying [to] reach out further to get her name done," said a friend who was there with him and witnessed the accident. "He kept saying her name was too long. He tried to reach out further and he slipped." (Massillon Independent, AP) ..."That will teach him to break up with me," said Art's former girlfriend, Jo.

DO I KNOW YOU? Louisiana State Police pulled over a car driving at about 100 mph even though it had flashing lights and a siren. It wasn't a police car or an ambulance, but rather New Orleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. "She yelled at me, 'Do you know who I am?'," Trooper Anthony Calagna wrote in his report. "'What the hell are you stopping me for?' She proceeded to exclaim to me that she had the authority to 'do what I wanted' and that she had a badge and was late for a meeting." Unsure what to do, the officer let her go. (New Orleans Times-Picayune) ...Next time just remember Cassingham's Second Law: Anyone who screams "Do you know who I am?" is a nobody.

BORN TO GET BLOOD OUT OF ANYONE: "IRS Commissioner Named to Lead Red Cross" -- Washington Post headline

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THIS is TRUE: 20 May 2007 Copyright This Is True

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CONTINUING ED: There's a new trend on college campuses: creating mausoleums for the alma mater. Indiana's University of Notre Dame, for instance, has announced it will sell crypts for as much as $11,000 in its "Coming Home" mausoleum, which even offers themed urns and caskets -- for a price, of course. It's all a way for schools to cash in on alumni nostalgia. "People look back on their college years and say, 'Those were the best days of my life'," says cemetery consultant Mel Malkoff. "Why not spend eternity there?" (Los Angeles Times) ...I've had nightmares like that.

FLUSHED WITH PRIDE: Toto, Japan's leading toilet manufacturer, has confirmed it will provide free repairs to 180,000 bidet toilets because they have a tendency to catch fire. "Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets" when they burst into flame, apparently due to problems with wiring in a heating unit, a Toto spokesman said. "The fire would have been just under your buttocks." (AP) ...Sort of like what happens when you eat chilies.

THAT'S WHERE I KEEP MY FAVORITE FOODS: Merv Bontrager, a semi truck driver, flipped his rig near Minot, N.D., spilling his load of seed. "I just looked down briefly on the floor where I had thrown a couple of doughnuts I was going to eat later, to see where they had landed," Bontrager said. When he looked up he noticed he was tipping and "I couldn't bring it back [upright]." (AP) ...So calling him a "semi driver" is really pretty accurate.

FAVORITE FOODS II: A couple from Wellington, New Zealand, is upset with a McDonald's restaurant there after taking their granddaughter in for a Happy Meal. Grandmother Suzanne Hatch checked the contents and found the toy packed inside was a condom. "I was pretty horrified really," said her husband, Rowan Hatch. "It would be difficult to explain, she's only seven." The couple of course removed the item before handing the meal over. A McDonald's spokeswoman said the condom was meant for a different promotion and was "somehow" accidentally included in the child's meal. (Wellington Dominion Post) ...A different promotion? That must be the new adult menu item, the Very Happy Meal.

A DREAM COME TRUE: "Australia Finds a New Power Source -- Beer" -- London Times headline

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THIS is TRUE: 27 May 2007 Copyright This Is True

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PRETTY DUMB: The security camera footage from a convenience store in Mobile, Ala., tells the story. Eric Burns Overstreet, 42, "clearly appeared to be under the influence of something other than good sense," the prosecutor said, when he got himself a large soda from the fountain, and then spilled it on the floor. He got a mop and cleaned it up himself -- but managed to spill his second and third drinks too. After cleaning those up, he started to leave the store with a firm grip on his fourth soda when the clerk stopped him -- he had to pay for it, he was told. Overstreet allegedly responded that he had a gun and would "blow him up." Circuit Judge Rick Stout sentenced Overstreet to a year in jail and said he hoped the soda was good. "I should've had a V-8," he snapped back. (Mobile Press-Register) ...Rum goes better in Coke.

DUMB QUESTION: "Don't you know who I am?" demanded Governor's Councilor Marilyn P. Devaney when a clerk at a store in Waltham, Mass., wouldn't accept her check. Devaney pointed out her state car and state ID badge, but the clerk said store policy was that a driver's license is required for identification. The exasperated 69-year-old governor's aide then allegedly struck the clerk with the item she was trying to buy, a curling iron. She was arrested and charged with felony "assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (curling iron)" and has pleaded not guilty, saying she'll be exonerated when she gets a chance to tell her side of the story. (Boston Globe) ..."It wasn't hot."

DUMB ANSWER: Canadian Member of Parliament Mike Lake says the sasquatch should be protected as an endangered species. He presented a petition from his constituents asking "to establish immediate, comprehensive legislation to effect immediate protection of Bigfoot." Lake agrees that Bigfoot should be added under Canada's Species at Risk Act. (Vancouver Province) ...That's hardly necessary: their population count is exactly the same as it always has been.

JUST PLAIN DUMB: After a food fight in the cafeteria at Markham Intermediate School on Staten Island, N.Y., the dean sent a letter to parents to announce the entire eighth grade class would be punished for the mess. Dean Michael Levy declared the fight in the "caferteria" to be "unexcecpable" and that parents must sign the letter or their children will be excluded from "all senior activates" such as the prom. One student noted that "even some of the teachers were laughing" at the dean's poor spelling and grammar. Principal Emma Della Rocca said the dean didn't have her permission to send the letter, and she countermanded the collective punishment. (Staten Island Advance) ...Since Dean Levy thinks punishments should be public, why doesn't the principal announce his?

YOU JUST CAN'T WIN: "Doctors: Thin People May be Fat on the Inside" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 3 June 2007 Copyright This Is True

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TEACHER TEACHER I DECLARE! The Lyndonville (N.Y.) Central School District won't identify a teacher who says students found her cell phone in her desk and stole copies of photos she took with the phone's camera. "It's a fair statement to say she is embarrassed" by the leak, says Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, since one of the photos shows the teacher topless. Deane-Williams said the teacher's actions are not a violation of district policy, but the students involved are subject to suspension. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) ...When I was a kid, I always wondered what the teacher hid in her desk. Silly me: I thought it was booze.

WWWOEFULLY BEHIND THE TIMES: Judge Peter Openshaw, presiding over the trial of three alleged Islamist terrorists in London, England, interrupted the proceedings because he didn't understand a point the prosecutor made. "The trouble is I don't understand the language," he said. "I don't really understand what a Web site is." The point is critical, since the suspects allegedly used web sites to communicate terror plans. The patient prosecutor gave the judge an explanation, to which the judge replied, "I haven't quite grasped the concepts." The Reuters dispatch notes that "the trial continues." (Reuters) ...Well yeah -- at this rate it could take years.

CONSIDER YOURSELF SPURRED: Michelle Incanno says she was a Starbucks addict, buying beans and coffee drinks frequently. The Springboro, Ohio, woman recently got a cup of joe at her neighborhood outlet when she noticed something new on her cup: a quotation that, Starbucks says, is designed to "collect different viewpoints and spur discussion." The company invites replies on its web site. The quote on Incanno's cup read: "Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure." Incanno was outraged. "I was so offended by that," she said. "I just want coffee." She says she won't return to Starbucks. (Dayton Daily News) ...But if she does, she might want to consider switching to decaf.

FROM A PROUD TOWER IN THE TOWN; DEATH LOOKS GIGANTICALLY DOWN: A cemetery vandal knocked down tombstones in Merrillville, Ind., causing more than $8,000 in damage. Michael David Schreiber, 22, was arrested and faces charges of criminal trespassing, criminal mischief and public intoxication. Police are pretty sure Schreiber is the one responsible for the desecration: he was found trapped under one of the toppled tombstones, the 1,000-pound slab pinning him to the ground. "The letter V -- in the family name [on the tombstone] -- left an imprint on Schreiber's thigh," the investigating officer noted. (Northwest Indiana Times) ...If there's any justice, it'll be permanent.

THE CITY JUST ISN'T TRYING HARD ENOUGH: "No Clear Reason for Lack of Murders" -- Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 10 June 2007 Copyright This Is True

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SOMETHING'S DEFINITELY HOLLOW HERE: A "small band of believers" is planning a trip to the Canadian Arctic for "the greatest geological expedition in history," they say. They believe there's a "fog-shrouded hole" in the Arctic Ocean that's the start of a passageway to the hollow center of the earth. "Everest has been climbed a hundred times," says the group's leader, Kentucky physicist and futurist Brooks Agnew. He plans to hire a Russian icebreaker to take him and his followers to, and into, the hole to explore Inner Earth. "This is the first and only expedition to the North Pole opening ever attempted." (Canada National Post) ...Well, not counting Arne Saknussemm's.

FACE LIFT: Denver, Colo., will host the Democratic National Convention in 2008, and the city is anxious to put its "best foot forward" for the visiting delegates (and scads of camera-equipped reporters). "[Homeless] shelters will be open the entire time to make certain everyone can go inside and that the outreach folks have a place to take any person from the streets," promises Roxane White, the city's manager of human services. White is quick to add that it's not just a face-saving move for the city to get the homeless out of sight, but more to address "security concerns." The city normally opens emergency shelters during the winter; the convention will be in August. (Denver Rocky Mountain News) ...Of course once the convention is over so will be the "security concerns" -- and they can dump the homeless back into the streets.

GOT WHEELS? "You are not going to believe this," said a 911 caller to the Michigan State Police, reporting that "there is a semi pushing a guy in a wheelchair on Red Arrow Highway" in Paw Paw, Mich. Sure enough, responding troopers found that a truck driver had hit a man in a wheelchair; the handles on his chair got stuck in his front grille. The driver, completely unaware of the man stuck to the front of his truck, drove about two miles at up to 50 mph before reaching his destination. Ben Carpenter, 21, who was seat-belted to his chair, was not only not injured, he found the experience downright fun. "It was like a ride at a fair," Carpenter said later. (South Bend Tribune) ...Except he didn't have to wait in line for half an hour.

FLUSHED WITH PRIDE: The State of New Mexico has ordered a new electronic device to remind men not to drive drunk. The "Wizmark Interactive Urinal Communicator", disguised as a deodorizing urinal tablet, is activated by a motion detector. "Hey there, big guy," the urinal cake says to no one in particular with a recorded female voice. "Having a few drinks? It's time to call a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride home." The state will hand out the device to bars and restaurants. "There is no more captive audience than a guy standing at a urinal," says inventor Richard Deutsch. The devices cost $21 each, and last about three months. (Santa Fe New Mexican) ...That's not an innovative product. One that tests urine and says "You are too drunk to drive -- I'm calling the cops and I have your DNA!" would be.

SHORTAGE OF ROAD KILL IN ALABAMA? "Pets: To Cook, or Not" -- Birmingham News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 17 June 2007 Copyright This Is True

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WEDLOCK: Sheriff deputies were called out to a wedding in Lawrence, Kan., after a stunt went awry. An off-duty police officer who was a guest at the wedding had handcuffed the couple together as a joke -- and then realized he didn't have the key. "We came and unhandcuffed the bride and groom," a sheriff's spokeswoman said, adding "We didn't take a report because there was no criminal act." (Lawrence Journal-World) ...Not to mention it's not all that unusual, except normally they're called in to do it the morning after.

TICK TOCK: While beach walking in Pensacola, Fla., Stacy Cook, 45, found a "cool artifact" and brought it home. She took a photo with her cell phone camera and sent it to her boyfriend. "He called me back a few minutes later and said, 'That looks like a bomb'," Cook said; he advised her to call the Navy immediately. "I called the Navy and they said, 'Can you call back tomorrow?' And I said, 'I really don't think so."' She called the police, who evacuated her condo building before disposing of the World War II-era practice bomb. Cook says she'll be more careful when walking on the beach now. "I'm not picking up a Diet Coke can," she said. (Pensacola News) ...The contents of which are even more dangerous than the bomb.

HALF COCKED: A man singing at a karaoke bar in San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines, was so off-key that the security guard at the bar pulled

his service revolver and shot him in the chest. Romy Baligula, 29, was killed. Security officer Robilito Ortega, 43, was arrested by police

officers who happened to be nearby and heard the shot. (Philippine Star) ...Which ought to be ample warning for Simon Cowell.

BEMOCKED: "Please pardon my typo," said U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's press secretary, Steve Wymer. The Colorado senator's office issued a press release announcing Allard's bill to designate September 25 as "National First Responder Appreciation Day", and the "typo" referred to this passage in the release: "First responders in Colorado have recently provided critical services in the face of blizzards and tornados. Since I don't think first responders have really done anything significant in comparison to their counterparts who have dealt with real natural disasters, I have no idea what else to say here." Wymer said he was "joking around" with office staff and sent out the wrong version of the release. (Denver Rocky Mountain News) ...Hey, I meant to vote for Allard, but I dropped the wrong version of my ballot into the box.

FORMER JOCK, NOW IN THE DOCK: "Upset with Wife's Online Chats, Man Shoots Computer" -- Scranton (Penn.) Times-Tribune headline

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THIS is TRUE: 24 June 2007 Copyright This is True

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WHEN SALARIES AND BENEFITS JUST AREN'T ENOUGH: The Kanawha County (W.Va.) School Board has voted to give teachers a bonus if they'll simply show up for work. Teacher absence has grown so much the district pays $4.9 million per year for substitute teachers. "Don't get me wrong, our substitutes do a good job," Board president Jim Crawford said. "But this gives people an opportunity to come to school on a regular basis and be rewarded for it." Teachers would get a maximum of a $1,050 bonus if they used none of their 15 allotted sick days each year. The school system treasurer said that if more than half of the eligible employees qualified for the bonus, the scheme would cost more than it saves. (Charleston Daily Mail) ...Worse, think of the precedent: now the kids will want diplomas just for showing up.

BLOODY WELL RIGHT: Louise Casey, the "respect tsar" for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's "Respect Task Force", thinks it's time for Britons to be more polite. "There's a public service responsibility to try to uphold certain standards of decency," she said, and everyone should do a good deed every day. "It's important to help old ladies across the road," she said as an example. "I'd love London buses to have announcements telling passengers to give up their seats to pregnant women." (London Telegraph) ...Whereas I'd prefer a society that did that without being told.

TESTING HIS METTLE: Shiv Charan Yadav has failed his high school final exams. Again. Yadav, who lives in the village of Kohari in Rajasthan, India, had vowed that he would not marry until he passed high school. This year's exam try was his 38th, and he is 73 years old; he has been taking the exam each year since he was 35, and plans to try again next year. "Once I pass I want to get married to a girl who's under 30," he said. (Reuters) ...But no doubt, he'll fail her exam.

NOT FIT FOR A DOG: British MP Mike Penning claims the reason military food is so bad is because it's worse than dog food. He says his research shows the military spends 1.51 pounds (US$3.00) per day on food for troops, but at least 2.63 pounds (US$5.25) per day on food for military dogs. Prison food averages 1.87 pounds (US$3.75) a day, and a school lunch averages 1.55 pounds (US$3.10). A Ministry of Defense spokesman disputed the figures, noting the dog food doesn't cost that much. (London Daily Mail) ...Well, so much for their recruiting drive for the canine corps.

OH BALONEY! "Kiwi-Flavoured Sausage One of the Wurst Imaginable" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE: 1 July 2007 Copyright This Is True

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READY FOR HER CLOSE-UP: After noticing a red flickering light in a black sphere on the ceiling of her bathroom, an unnamed 20-year-old woman student at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur pulled it off the ceiling to see what it was. It was a camera, pointed at the shower. She said the landlord would stop by for the rent every month, and each time would spend 10 to 15 minutes in each of the three bathrooms in the house. "He also gave us strange advice, like where to stand in the shower area while we are bathing and which angles to face," another student said. The house was rented by 19 women, all students at the university. Police found cameras in the other bathrooms, too, and arrested the landlord. (New Straits Times) ...Maybe the university should schedule "Life in the Real World" as a first-year class.

VIOLATED: The Huntington, W.Va., Municipal Parking Board thought it could save some money by replacing the electric carts its parking enforcement officers used with tiny gasoline-powered trucks. But they were perplexed when city police officers started pulling the meter maids over and ticketing them -- the trucks aren't street legal. Not having to stop mid-shift for a two-hour recharge has made parking enforcement more efficient, the Board said, but its appeal to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles was denied. "Our profit margin increased about $5,000 during the month that we used the trucks," complained Parking Board Executive Director Johnette Nelson. (Huntington Herald-Dispatch) ...When parking enforcement is ruled by "profit margins" over the public good, don't whine about following the rules.

POSSESSION IS 9/10 OF THE LAW: Police in Cape Town, South Africa, are conducting a "high-level investigation" into the conduct of officers who recovered a stolen bakkie (pickup truck). An officer had pulled the truck over, and the driver ran. The truck was impounded -- and then stolen from the police impound lot. But the thieves were so nervous they crashed the truck, and security guards were able to get it back. Hours later it was stolen again from the yard; one of the thieves waved at a security guard as they drove away. The investigation will probably prove to be difficult: no one at the impound lot ever bothered to write down the truck's license number. (Cape Town Argus) ..."CHARMED".

COME BACK FOR THE MEETING TONIGHT: Police in Fond du Lac, Mich., were called to the Gratitude Club, which is used to house meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, to investigate a break-in. Officers found the unnamed 20-year-old suspect nearby, bleeding profusely because he cut himself during the break-in. "I did it. I broke into that building," the man told the cops. "I'm drunk and it was stupid." Investigators said nothing was missing. "It doesn't sound like he was able to remove anything," a police spokesman said. (Fond du Lac Reporter) ...Not counting his inhibitions.

YOU'RE IN A HEAP OF TROUBLE, GIRL: "Text-Messaging Driver Hits Parked Patrol Car" -- Arizona Republic headline

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THIS is TRUE: 8 July 2007 Copyright This Is True

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WATCHING THE WATCHERS: Residents of the Fairground neighborhood in St. Louis, Mo., have long complained that local police are abusive, so the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has been training residents in "Know Your Rights" workshops -- and teaching them how to safely and legally videotape the actions of police officers. "Project Vigilant levels the playing field," said an ACLU spokeswoman. "Police officers who know their misconduct will be reported and probably filmed might be less likely to abuse their authority." A police spokesman confirmed such tapings would be legal, and said he expected the videos would show the police acting professionally. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) ...As long as it isn't like "professional" wrestling, that'll be great.

WATCHING THE WATCHERS II: For Brian D. Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, Penn., making videos is a hobby. But when a pickup truck he was riding in was pulled over by Carlisle police, the officer noticed Kelly was taping him with his camcorder. The officer ordered him to turn it off; Kelly did, but he was still arrested. The charge: felony wiretapping, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000. State law specifies no one's voice can be recorded without their consent, but the officer had a camera in his car recording everything too -- an exception specifically allowed by the law. Kelly was jailed until his mother was able to put up her house as security for his bail. After a national uproar following publicity in the case, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed dropped the charges. "When police are audio- and video-recording traffic stops with notice to the subjects," Freed said, "similar actions by citizens, even if done in secret, will not result in criminal charges." Freed decreed that this would be the policy for such cases from now on in his department. (Harrisburg Patriot-News) ...Thus giving the legal finger to "zero tolerance".

SPARE PARTS: Michelle Eather, 37, of Woodbridge, Tas., Australia, discovered she was a perfect match for a U.S. man who needs a kidney transplant, so she agreed to donate her left kidney to the man, whom she has never met. But when news of her donation broke, she started getting calls from people wanting her other kidney -- or other organs. "There have probably been more than 2,000 inquiries," Eather said. "Some people email me twice a day." (Hobart Mercury) ...Do something nice and everybody wants a piece of you.

CAN'T CATCH ME: Officer Keith Mouliere was on patrol in Alexandria, La., when a car went by the other way. It was 1:00 a.m., and he could hear the car's stereo blasting. He turned around to pull it over, but the car sped off, leading a pursuit at speeds of up to 80 mph through town. The driver missed a turn and crashed, then ran on foot -- right in front of Mouliere's car. Mouliere hit the man, but the suspect was able to get up, grab a brown pouch he had dropped, and run off again -- with Mouliere right behind. The foot chase didn't last long because "he fell as his trousers fell down around his knees," Mouliere noted in his report. The brown pouch, police say, contained 332 grams of cocaine with a street value of over $33,000. Roderick Dewayne Lowe, 29, was charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute, aggravated flight from a police officer and other charges -- including the original loud stereo charge. (Alexandria Town Talk) ...And on the way to the station, the officer just couldn't help but turn up his radio when "Hit the Road Jack" came on.

JUST HOW DRUNK DOES ONE HAVE TO BE TO...: "Man Mistakes Straw Bale for Stricken Woman, Gives it CPR" -- Hilton Head (S.C.) Island Packet headline

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THIS is TRUE: 15 July 2007 Copyright This Is True

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PEACE TALKS: During a barbecue in the back yard of a Capitol Hill home in Washington, DC, a man came into the yard, grabbed a 14-year-old guest, and put a gun to her head. "Give me your money or I'll start shooting," he threatened. "We were just finishing dinner," replied another guest, Cristina Rowan, 43. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?" She held out a glass, and the gunman took it. "Damn, that's good wine," the intruder said of the Chateau Malescot St-Exupery, a French vintage that runs about $60 a bottle. He took another sip to wash down a bite of cheese. "I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said, putting away his gun. "I'm sorry. Can I get a hug?" Each of the five adult guests hugged him, but the gunman asked for more: "Can we have a group hug?" Everyone surrounded him and complied. He then departed, taking the glass of wine with him. The glass was found in an alley by police, but the gunman hasn't been found. "They should have squeezed him," said District Police Cmdr. Diane Groomes, "and held onto him for us." (Washington Post) ...First they wanted the rest of the bottle "as evidence" and now they blame the victims?

WITH THIS POP TOP I THEE WED: Not content with Wal-Mart hogging the spotlight with its summer wedding promotion [This is True, 24 June], the 99-Cent Only store in Lewisville, Texas, is offering an alternative. For just 99 cents, couples can get married in its store. "The whole idea is to draw attention to the ludicrousness of the extravagance of weddings," said bargain shopping maven Sue Goldstein, who helped the store develop the service. (Dallas Morning News) ...A 99-cent wedding? Big deal. What the world really needs is a 99-cent divorce.

DAMNED: Mircea Pavel, 40, is serving 20 years in prison in Romania for murder. But that didn't keep him from filing suit in a Timisoara court accusing "the defendant God, who lives in the heavens and is represented in Romania by the Orthodox Church," of "fraud, betrayal of trust, corruption and influence peddling." Pavel claims that "At my christening, I made a deal with the defendant aimed at freeing me from evil. But the latter has not respected that agreement until now, although he received from me various assets and numerous prayers." But the court threw out the suit, noting that "God is not subject to law and does not have an address." (AFP) ...Not bad, considering God doesn't have any lawyers up there to defend Him.

GOOGLE -- WHAT CAN'T IT DO? Security cameras at Bigg City, a family amusement business in Colorado Springs, Colo., show the two burglars as they enter the facility with a key. They even apparently had the combinations to the safes inside, but even with those they couldn't get the three safes open. The security footage goes on for an hour and 15 minutes until one of the burglars got an idea: he stepped to a running computer and searched Google for "how to open a safe" to get help. With detailed instructions from an online site (spin the dial a couple of times first!), they got the safes open and escaped with about $12,000 in cash, a laptop computer, and a PlayStation video game console. "They're not professional safe people," said Colorado Springs police detective Chuck Ackerman. "No, they're not." (Colorado Springs Gazette) ...With reasoning ability like that, you can see why he was promoted to detective.

NOW THAT THE NEWCASTLE COAL CONCESSION HAS DRIED UP: "Aussies Sell Sand to Saudis" -- Sydney Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 22 July 2007 Copyright This Is True

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HEAL, HEEL -- WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? A German psychotherapist has been accused of criminal misconduct for taking advantage of a patient with multiple personality disorder. Monika Mirte, 44, who also has personalities named Kathrin, Finja, and Leonie, went to see Dr. Peter Blaeker, 43, who, she says, used "Kathrin for sex and Finja to do the shopping and pay for it, while Leonie gave him money to travel on holidays to Mallorca and Sylt." When Mirte realized what was going on she confronted Blaeker, but he told her that he had a "duty of confidentiality" to her other personalities. Blaeker faces up to five years in prison. (London Evening Standard) ...I'm guessing he charged them all for treatment, too.

AT LEAST IT'S PROVED YOU CAN GET OUT OF THIS WITH A 9 IRON: Bruce Burger, 50, of Lenore City, Tenn., was vacationing in Florida and went out for a round on the Lake Venice Golf Course. On the sixth hole he ended up in a water hazard, and reached in to retrieve his ball when something reached back from the water. "Help! Help! I've been bitten by a gator!" he screamed, witnesses say. Sure enough, an 11-footer had clamped on to his right arm and was pulling him in. He beat the beast with his free hand and escaped. The pond at the sixth hole even has a "Beware of Alligator" sign. "If your ball goes down there, you let it go," said a regular at the course. "Unfortunately, that's part of Florida," said golf course Manager Rod Parry. (Sarasota Herald Tribune) ..."Unfortunately"? Most vacation destinations would love a tourist- eating monster!

TRIED TO GET OUT OF IT WITH DIFFERENT IRON: When Michael Moylan, 45, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., awoke with a terrible headache, his wife drove him to the emergency room. Doctors quickly diagnosed the cause: he had been shot in the head. By the time deputies arrived at the hospital, April Moylan had gone home; officers got a search warrant for the house and found the gun, as well as bloody rags. Neither she nor Michael is allowed to own a gun, since both are felons, but April, 39, admitted "accidentally" shooting her husband. April was arrested on charges of a felon in possession of a firearm, and it wasn't until Michael tried to bail her out that he discovered she had let their business collapse, running them out of money. After being released from the hospital with the bullet still lodged in his head, Michael said he confronted April, and she admitted she shot him on purpose, so he banished her to the couch for the night. But when she begged him to let her sleep with him, he gave in. Investigators upgraded the charges to attempted murder, alleging she tried to kill him to cover up the business collapse. (Palm Beach Post) ...Summary: the combined total of what the couple have in their heads is one bullet.

THE HELL YOU SAY: A man in Melbourne, Vic., Australia, tried to register his 5-year-old son at St. Peter the Apostle School, but, he says, they refused to admit the boy unless he changed his name. It's not that the name Max is a problem, it's his last name: the family's surname is Hell (German for "bright"), and Alex Hell, 45, refuses to change it. The embarrassed parish priest relented and offered space for the boy, but "why would you want to go there after being victimized?" Alex asks, especially when the school only relented after he went to the media with the story. Mr. Hell, a Catholic, is looking to move his family so they can be close to a different Catholic school. (Australian AP) ...Considering the average hellion attending schools these days, it could hardly have been a problem.

BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE: "Toronto's Population Ages" -- Canadian Press headline

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THIS is TRUE: 29 July 2007 Copyright This Is True

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LOW BROW, HIGH TECH: Two employees of a restaurant outside New Castle, Del., went into the office after closing and found a man inside. The man ran out the back door, but was caught by police nearby. Police identified him as Branden M. Tingey, 28, who was a manager at the restaurant three years ago, but was fired. "This was a burglary," said police Cpl. Joseph DiStefano. "He meant to rob the safe." The problem was, he didn't know how. Investigators checked a computer in the office and found Tingey was trying to get instructions over the Internet. "The [current restaurant] manager moved the mouse on the darkened screen" for investigators, DiStefano said, "and 'How to Crack a Safe' came up on the screen on the Yahoo page." (Wilmington News Journal) ...Remember, kids: successful safe robbers choose Google.

LOW BROW, LOW TECH: Elijah Horne, 13, says when he went into a friend's bedroom, it was already messy. When his friend saw the mess, he accused Horne of doing it. "He just came in kind of crazy," Horne said, and pulled a gun from under the bed. "You don't think I'll shoot you," the boy said, accusing Horne of making the mess. Horne said he didn't -- and was shot. The bullet remains in his neck, doctors say efforts to remove it will do more harm than good. The teen shooter, a 15-year-old who wasn't identified because he's a juvenile criminal suspect, is awaiting a hearing to determine whether he should be tried as an adult. The gun has not been found. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...Wow: I guess the room really is messy.

WHAT A BUNCH OF GARBAGE: While waiting for a restaurant to cook his order, an unidentified man in Wellington, New Zealand, decided to clean out his car. He dropped his trash in a public trash can, got his food order, and left. But city officials sifted through the trash and determined it was "domestic" rubbish, tracked him down since his name and address was on a letter in the bin, and sent him a citation demanding NZ$100 (US$76.50) in fines. "I assumed, incorrectly as it turns out, that as it was a litter bin I was able to put litter in it," the man said. "I was unaware that domestic and non-domestic rubbish were categorized differently." He decided to pay the fine since "lack of knowledge of the law is no excuse. I have learned my lesson: When throwing rubbish in those green bins, do not include any incriminating correspondence." (Wellington Dominion Post) ...And now you know why he didn't want to be identified.

NOW SHOWING: The first multiplex theater in the state of Michigan and, perhaps, the nation, the Wyandotte Theater was a point of pride for the city of Wyandotte. So much so that when it came up on the auction block, the city itself decided to buy it. It was the only bidder, but city officials managed to pay $802,000 for the 69-year-old building -- 82 percent of the city's redevelopment budget and $130,000 more than the building's assessed value. They now know why it's been closed for 17 years: remodeling estimates have come in at $9-11 million -- much more than a brand new building would cost. City officials have thus decided to spend $100,000 to raze it, and they have no plans for the resulting vacant lot. "Financially does it make sense?" asks Todd Drysdale, the city's director of finance and administration. "In the short term, it's hard to get your hands around. But 10 to 15 years from now, this might have been the best decision we've ever made." (Detroit News) ...Could be, but I doubt he's willing to bet his pension on it.

EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CRITIC: "Churchgoer Stabs 5 after Listening to Sermon" -- Philippines Daily Inquirer headline

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THIS is TRUE: 5 August 2007 Copyright This Is True

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THROW THE BOOK AT HER: Mary K. Barber, 41, a bookkeeper in Clarksville, Tenn., has pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud and income tax evasion charges after embezzling $224,946.88 from her clients -- and then failing to report the ill-gotten gains on her own tax return, thus evading $64,342 in income taxes. Now that the federal investigation is over, she faces state charges for her crimes. Barber did her bookkeeping services under the trade name Nunya Business. (Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle) ...A wholly owned subsidiary of MYOB Inc.

WHO'S CALLING, PLEASE? Doctors at the Policlinico Juan D. Peron, the main hospital in Villa Mercedes in San Luis province, Argentina, had a patient on the operating table when the power went out. "The generator, which should have been working correctly, didn't work," a hospital spokesman said, so "a family member got some cell phones together from people in the hallway and took them in to provide light." The surgeons were able to finish the emergency appendectomy thanks to the cell phones' backlit screens. (Reuters) ...Can you see me now?

WRECKED: Crane operator Robby L. Boring, 28, was working at Allegheny College in Meadville, Penn., Pelletier Library where he was using a wrecking ball to demolish part of the old library. As the 1,500-lb. ball swung back to take another whack at the building, it broke off its cable and started rolling toward town. It bounced back and forth from curb to curb, hitting nine parked cars until it crashed into Alex Habay, 20, a student at the college who was sitting at a red light. His car was destroyed, but he escaped with a only sore neck and a headache. The investigating police officer called it a "straightforward case," not counting the "whole bunch of paperwork" involved. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) ...Pish. You should see how much paperwork Mr. Boring has to do.

ZERO TOLERANCE, UNLESS...: The Vernonia (Ore.) School District has long had a tough anti-drug policy. Its rule requiring drug testing of student athletes was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court -- and the school district won. But when elementary school principal Aaron Miller, 41, was caught by a sheriff's deputy smoking pot in a state park, district officials decided to invoke a double standard. "It was an unfortunate mistake and a poor choice to make," declared Vernonia Schools Superintendent Kenneth Cox. "But I've had a meeting with Mr. Miller, and he's planning on making things better, making things right." Miller won't be fired because "he's one of our best administrators," Cox explained. "We'd be shooting ourselves in the foot if we said, 'Well, you made this mistake, and we're going to find someone else'," he said. "He has my full support. He has the support from the majority of the school board." (Portland Oregonian) ...Your vocabulary words this week are "hypocrite", "role model", "fired" and, for extra credit, "school board recall election".

THERE OUGHT TO BE AN ORDNANCE AGAINST BAD PUNS: "Cannon Thief Was Gunning for Trouble" -- Kingston (N.Y.) Daily Freeman headline

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THIS is TRUE: 12 August 2007 Copyright This Is True

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WE DELIVER: A woman drove her car through the front window of Papa Murphy's Pizza in Carson City, Nev., hitting a customer who was reading the menu. She then backed out and drove off, witnesses say, and then crashed broadside into another car. After she left that accident, too, police say, a passenger decided she had enough and bailed out of the car, rolling to a stop in a parking lot. Police finally pulled the car over and Nicole Andrews, 23, blew a blood alcohol reading of .264 percent -- more than three times the legal limit. "Please don't let this go on my insurance," she begged of the officer when she heard the reading. "I'll be in a lot of trouble." She was charged with felony hit-and-run causing injury, drunk driving, and other charges. A Papa Murphy's spokesman said he knows Andrews -- she used to work at the store she crashed into. But, Donn Leyba said, he had to fire her -- "for drinking on the job." (Nevada Appeal) ...Sometimes they really do return to the scene of the crime.

THE COMPUTER'S FINAL CRASH: Police in Hanover, Germany, were summoned to a house after neighbors were awakened by a loud noise. They found the unnamed 51-year-old resident of the home had become so frustrated with his computer that he threw it through his window. Officers asked the man to clean up the mess, but declined to press any charges since "Who hasn't felt like doing that?" a police spokesman said. (Reuters) ...A precedent that could really shake up Michael Dell.

LEGALLY BLONDE: Two teen girls broke into a tattoo parlor in Fairfield, Maine. But first, they had to get past the alarm system. "They used hair spray" to do that, said Deputy Police Chief Steve Trahan. "They wanted to spray it so the fog would come out and they could see the beam from the alarm system, apparently so they could walk over it or avoid it or crawl under it." They didn't come up with the idea themselves. "They said they saw it on TV." But it didn't work: the hair spray is actually what set off the alarm, bringing officers in for the arrest. Brittany Blow, 18, and her unnamed juvenile accomplice were charged with burglary. (Waterville Morning Sentinel) ...What they don't tell you on TV: television shows are fiction.

YOU'RE GONNA PAY, PAL: Christopher Prentice, 34, of Thonotosassa, Fla., was short on cash to pay his car insurance, so he says he borrowed $200 from "a friend of a friend," Lewis Davis, promising to pay Davis $250 by the end of the week. But on the day it was due, Prentice couldn't pay, so he sent a text message to Davis saying he needed another week. The next morning Prentice was sitting in his car when Davis showed up. When Prentice saw he had a gun in his hand, he took off. Racing from highway to highway, driving his car "as fast as it would go," Prentice couldn't shake Davis. "I was jumping curbs, going the wrong way, blowing red lights, anything I could do" to get away. "How he kept up with me, I have no idea," so he called 911 from his cell phone to ask for police help. Then "several" shots rang out, one blowing off his side mirror. The chase ended in a parking lot, the gun recovered from a trash can -- behind an insurance agency -- and Davis under arrest. (St. Petersburg Times) ...Luckily, Prentice has insurance to take care of the bullet holes.

BOY, ARE THEY STRICT! "Student May Be Suspended for Strangling His Teacher" -- Malaysia Star headline

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THIS is TRUE: 19 August 2007 Copyright This Is True

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DISHARMONY: During a celebration of its National Day, Belgium's new prime minister, Yves Leterme, was asked to sing the country's national anthem. He stood up to the microphone and began singing the Marseillaise -- France's national anthem. The resulting video is

getting hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. But his day of gaffes wasn't over yet: When asked what Belgium's National Day commemorates, Leterme confidently answered, "The proclamation of the constitution." Nope: it is to remember the day that Leopold I became King in 1831. (London Times) ...Although in the future, it will be better known as the day to commemorate the cluelessness of elected officials.

MORE DISHARMONY: Rev. Robert Nichols, 49, has been an anger management counselor for several years in Gary, Ind. Courts there often order people charged with domestic battery to see him. But that won't be happening any more, said Gary City Court Judge Deidre Monroe. "It's our policy that anyone working in the court system can't have criminal charges," she said, and Nichols has been arrested and charged with domestic battery after allegedly beating up his wife. (Merrillville Post-Tribune) ...Who do you see to help deal with that?

YOU MADE YOUR BED, NOW LIE IN IT: Girlguiding UK, polled over 1,000 Girl Guides to discover what they think they need to know to survive in the modern world. Girls aged 10-15 said they needed to know how to cook a healthy meal, pitch a tent, and stand up to boys. Guides 16 and up had slightly different needs: how to manage debt, reduce their carbon footprint, have safe sex, and how to assemble furniture. While some news reports focused on the sex part, the girls seemed more interested in the assembling furniture part. "We all need furniture," one 19-year- old said. "No one wants to live out of cardboard boxes." (London Times) ...Though notice most teens don't seem to mind eating out of cardboard boxes.

MORON OF THE MONTH: During a robbery at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Gloucester, Mass., the clerk grabbed a hammer and fought back, hitting the robber several times, causing several wounds. The robber ran off, but left a dog behind. Police simply let the dog go and followed it home. Its owner said his roommate, who had recently gotten out of jail after serving time for robbery, had taken it for a walk. The officers returned to the store and spotted a bloody man trying to hide; the store clerk identified him as the robber. Police were able to identify the bloodied man as Ricci Marshall Jr., 27, which wasn't a terribly difficult task. "He was just out of jail," a police spokesman said. "He still had his [jail] ID on him when we got him." (Gloucester Daily Times) ...It's a good thing he's used to wearing that.

THAT'LL TEACH HIM: "East Naples Woman Backs over Man Teaching Her How to Drive" -- Naples (Fla.) News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 26 August 2007 Copyright This Is True

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STRIKE ONE: Jeff Goza, 37, was driving his pest control truck in Gurnee, Ill., when he accidentally cut off another driver behind the wheel of a Volvo. The Volvo driver was clearly angry, he said, and started to "aggressively" follow him until deciding to get back at him by cutting him off too. But the Volvo driver lost control and hit the curb, which caused him to flip at least four times before coming to a stop on its roof. But he wasn't done yet: the bloodied man crawled out and tried to pick a fight with Goza, who had stopped to render aid. Goza is at least five inches taller than the Volvo driver, and outweighed him by about 100 pounds, so he let the guy take out his frustration. "I wasn't going to hit him back," he said. "I was just afraid that I was going to be implemented in all of this." Police let Goza go, but charged the Volvo driver, Steven Stankovitch, 47, with reckless driving and battery. (Lake County News-Sun) ...It may sound impressive, but after all, Goza is a pest-control professional.

STRIKE TWO: Bryan Hilferty of Alexandria, Va., was the umpire for his son's Little League game, but wasn't sure how to call a play. He asked to see the league's official rule book, but no one had a copy. In fact, he couldn't find one available on the league's web site, either, so he called headquarters. He was told that not "just anyone" could get the rules, since the league was tired of being sued by players' parents. "I have a secret clearance," said Hilferty, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. "I work in the E-ring of the Pentagon, but I don't have clearance for the Little League rules." Little League officials were not moved. "There is no way we can give special treatment to someone just because they are in the Pentagon," sniffed spokesman Lance Van Auken. "We don't give preferential treatment. Everybody has to abide by the same rules." (Washington Post) ...Though naturally, no one is allowed to see what they are.

STRIKE THREE: After miserably failing an audit of employee computer security measures in 2005 [This is True, 10 April 2005], the Internal Revenue Service has again tested to see if it was easy to anonymously call tax agency employees to talk them out of their computer passwords. In 2005, 35 percent gave up their passwords; in the more recent test, 61 percent did so, says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration -- nearly back to the 71 percent level of the 2001 audit. "This is especially disturbing because the IRS has taken many steps to raise employee awareness of the importance of protecting their computers and passwords," said Inspector General J. Russell George. The audit report says that the lax password security allows the caller to access taxpayer records. (AP) ...Fortunately, little truthful information is at risk.

BOY, YOU MAKE ONE LITTLE MISTAKE: "It shows that their system has huge flaws that have to be fixed," grumped Greg Henry of Calgary, Alta., Canada. The man had put his 7-year-old son on a WestJet flight to Vancouver Island, B.C., to visit his grandmother, but the airline lost the boy, despite a special tag hanging around his neck declaring him an unaccompanied minor. The airline's policies require a flight attendant to escort such passengers off the plane. "We realize how important our children are," said a WestJet spokeswoman, who promised the airline would "take steps to address the issue." (Calgary Sun) ...But hey: at least the kid's suitcase got there OK.

NOW THAT REALLY IS NEWS: "Normal Man Die of Natural Causes in Florida" -- Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 2 September 2007 Copyright This Is True

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DON'T LOOK NOW: The "Butt Cam" is a success. A new service at a clothing store in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Butt Cam allows shoppers trying on clothes to see what they look like from behind. "A lot of people dread trying on jeans and so any more entertaining you can make it the better," explains shop owner Tom Simon. "We're even thinking of doing a 'best of' and putting it on DVD," he said. "'Best Butts of '08' or whatever, yeah." (Arizona Republic) ...Yep: if there was one way to kill this idea, it would be to make customers fear they were being recorded.

MAKE A NOTE OF THIS: A tip after a $34,000 bank robbery in Callahan, Fla., led the FBI to Barbara S. Joyner, 59. They went out to have a chat with her. The robber had driven off in a yellow car; Joyner had one. A search of the car found a notepad of the type used for the holdup note. And in Joyner's purse they found several holdup notes, written on the same pad. In her house, they found bundles of cash still in bank wrappers. Yet Joyner insisted that she had not robbed the bank, even though she admitted writing the holdup notes for "practice". She was arrested and charged with bank robbery. (Jacksonville Times-Union) ...Sometimes practice doesn't make perfect.

THAT'S MY BOY: When Pat and Sheena Wheaton of New Zealand saw their unborn son in an ultrasound, they knew he was "for real". Thus, after he was born they registered his name as 4Real Wheaton, which Pat admits is "a little bit cheeky." But Brian Clarke, the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, rejected the registration, saying the dictionary definition of "name" is "a sequence of characters" -- no digits allowed. The Wheatons say that if their 4Real appeal fails, they'll still call him 4Real, but will register his name as "Superman". (New Zealand Herald) ...What we have here is most definitely a sequence of characters.

OR ARE YOU GLAD TO SEE ME? A robber succeeded in escaping with 613 pounds (US$1,236) from a bookmaker's shop in Leicester, England. The clerks there assumed he had a gun hidden in a bag he pointed at them, but it wasn't. "In fact, what was contained within the carrier bag was the defendant's girlfriend's vibrator," the prosecutor told the judge. Nicki Jex, 27, admitted to the crime and was sentenced to five years in prison. (Press Association) ...Plus a lifetime of being known as the Rampant Rabbit Robber.

THAT'S THE WAY IT ALWAYS HAPPENS: "Man Married, Sentenced on Same Day" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 9 September 2007 Copyright This is True

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THE TIME HAS COME: The image of the Angel of Death -- the skeletal man wearing a black cloak and carrying a scythe -- shouldn't be so scary, argue worshipers from the Santa Muerte sanctuary in Mexico City, Mexico. And it's not a man, they say. The church, which split off from the Roman Catholic Church, worships the Grim Reaper. Archbishop David Romo says a worshiper was told in a dream to commission a new image of Death as a woman in a flowing, golden dress holding a rose. "This image is one of justice, of freedom, but above all one that reveals the face of God," says Romo, who denies the announcement is a publicity stunt to help regain official government status as a legal church, which was lost when they split from the Catholics. "Everyone still loves the skeleton," said one parishioner, and with the new softer, gentler image, "there will be no reason to criticize" the personification of Death. (AP) ...Criticize Death? Not me. The thought never entered my mind. Let's quickly move on to the next story.

PEEK-A-BOO: A private security guard working at the federal courthouse in Spokane, Wash., got a lot of use out of the complex's roof-top security cameras, prosecutors allege. Rather than strictly keeping an eye on security risks, Darin Earl Wanless, 32, zoomed in on a condominium building and a hotel to watch women undress through their windows. Wanless was turned in by a fellow guard after zooming in on a woman and exclaiming, "We've got boobies!", federal prosecutors allege. The high- powered cameras are automatically recorded, and at least 22 recordings of women have been found, prosecutors say. Wanless is charged with multiple counts of felony voyeurism and faces prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty. (Spokane Spokesman Review) ...You'd think the neighbors could expect a little "homeland security".

CAN I BORROW A PEN? Galveston County (Texas) District Court Judge David Garner says Bryan Connelly, 34, is the sort of defendant who can "think outside the box." Connelly, who had been convicted of forgery last year, allegedly wrote letters to two men asking them to kill people involved in his case. The intended victims: his prosecutor and Judge Garner. The two he wanted as hit men: his attorney and Judge Garner. When confronted, Connelly admitted writing the letters. He only had 11 months left to serve on his forgery conviction, but now he is charged with two counts of attempted solicitation of capital murder. (Houston Chronicle) ...He may think outside the box, but he'll be in one for many more years to come.

LOVE, DEMONSTRATED: A teen girl at a Christian "boot camp" in Banquete, Texas, was ordered to jog. When Siobahn McClintock, 15, ran out of steam, she says, camp director Charles Eugene Flowers, 46, who holds the title of "Commandant", told training assistant Stephanie Bassitt, 20, to hold her down while he tied her up. He then tied the rope to the camp's van and dragged the girl behind it. McClintock was treated in a hospital, but camp officials wouldn't let her call her mother, who had signed the required consent form. The form states: "I realize that Christian Boot Camp is a strenous [sic] and highly intense program. I further realize that the possibility of accident, injury or even fatality to my child does exist." That doesn't exonerate Bassitt or Flowers, the pastor of a San Antonio church: they were charged with aggravated assault and face up to 20 years in prison. The camp is run by Love Demonstrated Ministries to "reinstill the values that have been lost in our society." (San Antonio News-Express) ...One of the "values" we've "lost" in our society is locking criminals in stocks so passers-by can abuse them. Shall we "reinstill" that?

WHAT'S IMPORTANT IN AUSTRALIA THIS WEEK? "City Besieged, but the Beer Must Get Through" -- Sydney Morning Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 16 September 2007 Copyright This is True

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WELL THERE'S YOUR PROBLEM! After a 4:00 a.m. blackout, electrical system workers went to a substation in Youngstown, Ohio, to diagnose the problem. They found it: a man had cut through the security fence, climbed up a ladder, and cut a 23,000-volt line to steal the copper wire. The surge through his body quick-fried him, and he then fell 20- 25 feet, investigators say. His body was still smoking when it was found; a pair of bolt cutters was welded to his neck by the shock. Police identified the man as James Leach, 50, and said that he had been arrested in an electrical substation last month, and had been released from custody the two days before on another theft charge. Detective Kenneth Centorame found the death surprising. "He ought to know better than that," he said. (Warren Tribune Chronicle) ...He does now.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL: State troopers in Michigan were called out to a home in Westland. The caller "wanted us to be on guard," Trooper Rocco Daversa said, because a party at the home could "get out of hand." Thecaller, Geraldine, was the birthday girl; the "home" was a senior citizen center -- Geraldine was turning 92. Daversa made a stop on the way to pick up a birthday card. "It was just such a cute story when the dispatcher told me, I had to go out there and drop off a card," he said. When he arrived he found that Geraldine was even more confused than he thought: the party wasn't scheduled until the next week. (Detroit News) ...She didn't really want a cop. She wanted a stripper dressed as a cop.

YOUR CALL WILL BE ANSWERED IN THE ORDER RECEIVED: Hannah King, 51, of Milford Haven, Wales, had a problem with her new telephone installation, so she called British Telecom to complain. After waiting on hold for 8 hours she gave up and tried again the next day. She waited on hold for another 8 hours, and then 4 more hours the next day -- but still didn't get to the top of the queue. "I was so frustrated and angry I broke down in tears," King said. "The problem is that if something goes wrong you have no other point of contact." A spokeswoman said "BT would like to apologize for the length of time this customer was left on the phone." (London Times) ...And they'll happily deliver that apology the next time she calls.

BY HOOK OR BY CROOK: "From what I understand, two guys were out fishing on Friday night," reported Massillon (Ohio) Police Sgt. J.J. DiLoreto. But instead of catching a fish, they caught a snapping turtle. "I think they were planning to eat it," he said, so the fishermen decided to shoot the turtle. But "his foot got in the way," DiLoreto said. "He shot himself in the foot" with a 9mm pistol. The unnamed victim may face a misdemeanor charge of illegal firearms discharge. And in all the resulting confusion, "I think the turtle got away." (Massilon Independent) ...The "big one" always does.

OVERKILL: "Orlando Police Ask for Guns, Get Missile Launcher" -- Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE: 23 September 2007 Copyright This Is True

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WE WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED: When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe didn't visit a Shinto war shrine on the anniversary of Japan's surrender of World War II, Yoshihiro Tanjo, 54, who heads a "right- wing" political group, was incensed. Abe had avoided the shrine in an attempt to improve relations with China and South Korea, but Tanjo protested by cutting off his little finger and sending it to the Prime Minister. Included in the package: a DVD with "very graphic images of him chopping off a part of his finger, which he had filmed himself," said a Kurashiki police spokesman. Tanjo was arrested and charged with intimidation. (AFP) ...In the U.S. we often give the finger to politicians -- but it's just a brief loan.

TURF BATTLE: "We're not only in the business of paying claims," said a spokeswoman for AIG Private Client Group, which specializes in insuring homes valued at more than $1 million, "we're in the business of preventing them." So when a wildfire outside Ketchum, Idaho, threatened a number of homes the company insures, it sent a private fire crew to the area to protect them. The U.S. Forest Service had no problem with the contract firefighters ensuring homes were not lost, but local police did. "That sounds ridiculous to me," said Ketchum Police Department spokesman Kim Rogers. "I mean, this is a Forest Service fire, not a private fire." No homes -- protected by AIG or not -- were lost in the fire, which consumed nearly 50,000 acres. (Twin Falls Times-News) ...Mistake #1: Forgetting what the goal is. Mistake #2: Forgetting that civilians, who have more at stake than bureaucrats, can be part of the team.

BRAZEN JUVENILE DELINQUENTS: Austin Perkins, 17, a senior at Golden Gate High School in Naples, Fla., was one of several students sent to the office for violating the school's dress code. "This was a group of students who had been talked to before," said Principal Bob Spano. "Because there was a group of them, it sort of brought more attention to it." The violation: the students wore coats and ties to school. The school dress code "says 'business dress'," Perkins said. "A coat and tie are business dress." All the boys received in-school suspensions for "exceeding" the school's dress code. (Naples News) ...And what, exactly, does Spano wear to work?

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: Police in southern Germany said they had found "Skippi" -- a kangaroo that had been reported missing from a petting zoo in Bad Wurzach. The 'roo had been hit by a car near Krumbach and killed, police said. "I don't think it was a deliberate suicide," a police spokesman added. "He was just hopping about." But Skippi's owner insisted it couldn't have been Skippi, and refused to come to identify the body. Police responded that the marsupial "matched the description" -- and no other kangaroos had been reported missing. Several days later the owner was proved right: a very-much-alive Skippi was captured near Ravensburg and returned to the zoo. (Reuters, AP) ...Identification of the decoy kangaroo is apparently still pending.

SEVEN-YEAR ITCH: "German Politician Proposes Seven-year Limit on Marriages" -- AFP headline

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