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THIS is TRUE: 16 March 2008 Copyright This Is True

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THOSE DARN KIDS: An employee at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor called campus police after he spotted 11 suspicious sprouts growing in a student project. The student assignment "was to grow various herbs, vegetables, annuals and perennials, but not marijuana," said a police spokesman. The extracurricular herbs were confiscated. "I've never heard of this happening before and it's definitely unusual, and gutsy," the officer said. (Ann Arbor News) ...Planting them isn't gutsy. Coming back and harvesting them later would be gutsy.

PLEASE HOLD: More than 43,000 patients had to wait outside in ambulances for at least an hour last year before they could be seen in Britain's National Health Service emergency rooms. Standards require that patients must been seen within four hours when they arrive at an emergency room, so when busy, patients must wait outside so the clock doesn't start ticking. A Department of Health spokesman shrugged off the report. "These figures must be seen in the context of the 4.3 million patient journeys undertaken by emergency vehicles," he said. (London Daily Mail) ...Shortage of emergency room staff, obvious. Excess of ambulance crews, less obvious.

AUTHORITIES PUT THEIR FOOT DOWN: After two right feet were found washed ashore in Canada's Strait of Georgia off Vancouver Island [This is True, week of 30 September 2007], both wearing size-12 sneakers, authorities called it a "million to one" occurrence. A third foot has now been found, also a right, also wearing a sneaker. "It is unusual," said an RCMP spokeswoman, "and of course we will not enter into speculation." But an expert on ocean currents says the feet could possibly have floated in from as far away as Japan. (Victoria Times Colonist) ...Typical: give them three feet, and they want 3,000 miles.

NEXT TIME, DON'T DO THAT: Amanda Rouse, 15, a student at Marina High School in Seaside, Calif., felt ill on the bus on the way to school. She asked another bus driver for a ride back toward home. But as the driver rounded a turn, "We hit a bump," Rouse said, and the driver "fell off the seat and down the stairs." The driver had hit her head; the bus was out of control. Rouse, who was sitting behind the driver, "had the quick thinking to jump forward and pull the parking brake" just as the bus careened into two parked cars, a Highway Patrol officer said. None of the 40 or so elementary school students on the bus was injured; the driver was taken to a hospital. For her punishment, Rouse must serve a day of Saturday detention. Wait: why punish a hero? School procedure requires that an ill student must call in sick, but Rouse hadn't. (Monterey Herald, Salinas Californian) ...And because zero tolerance only applies to students, the driver won't be fired for causing the accident by failing to wear her seat belt.

WELL SURE: "John Denver Karaoke Sparks Thai Killing Spree" -- London Telegraph headline

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THIS is TRUE: 23 March 2008 Copyright This Is True

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AT LAST, AN HONEST POLITICIAN: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's political career was built on cleaning up corruption, including busting prostitution rings. Spitzer resigned last week after it was revealed he has spent $80,000 on prostitutes since being elected governor, and his office went to Lt. Gov. David Paterson. In his first press conference as governor, Paterson -- who recently admitted to extramarital affairs -- was asked by a cautious reporter if he, too, had patronized any prostitutes. "Only the lobbyists," Paterson replied. (New York Times) ...OK. He'll do.

THE SMELL OF FAILURE: An employee of a video store in Akron, Ohio, was standing outside talking with an employee of a nearby tanning salon when a man approached them. The man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a scarf covering his face; he indicated he had a gun in his pocket and ordered the two men to go inside. When the video employee turned to go in, the tanning employee jumped the robber. In the resulting fight, the robber's "gun" broke; it was a bottle of Stetson cologne, blackened with a permanent marker. The contents spilled all over the robber, who the two employees held until police arrived. Michael Kaminski, 41, was charged with aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon -- a knife. (Akron Beacon Journal) ...He's not completely incompetent: he knew which weapon was more deadly.

EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY: Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, the mayor of Arlington, Ore., was indignant that local residents found a photo she posted on her MySpace page. It shows the very fit politician wearing only a black bra and panties standing by one of the town's fire trucks. Why did she expect privacy online? "That's my space," she said. "That's why they call it MySpace." Voters recalled her from office, 142 to 139, with virtually all of the town's registered voters casting a vote. (Pendleton East Oregonian) ...It's not often that voters object to a politician proving she has nothing to hide.

FAR AND AWAY A BAD IDEA: Lefkos Hajji, 28, of Hackney, London, England, had an inspiration for a unique proposal to his girlfriend: he put her 6,000 pound (US$11,895) diamond engagement ring in a balloon -- a helium-filled balloon -- so she could prick it with a pin and "pop the question," he said. Naturally, the moment he took it outside a "gust of wind" snatched it from his hand and it floated off, taking the ring with it. He chased the bundle for two hours before giving it up as lost. "I felt like such a plonker," he told reporters. Leanne, 26, is furious, and has demanded a new ring. (London Telegraph) ...If he was smart, he'd tell her to dive in the North Sea to look for the first one. But he's not smart.

IT'S OFFICIAL: "Official Statistics Say Don't Trust Official Statistics" -- Lancashire (England) Evening Post headline

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THIS is TRUE: 30 March 2008 Copyright This Is True

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WAKE-UP CALL: In what will probably become the iconic TV ad of the 2008 presidential campaign, a little girl is shown sleeping as the "phone rings at 3:00 a.m. in the White House." The spot, for Hillary Clinton, is meant to convey that she is "ready on day one" to handle crises -- and imply opponent Barack Obama isn't. The little girl featured in the ad is now 17; the footage had been sold to a stock house, and was used by the Clinton campaign without bothering to learn who it was. It was Casey Knowles of Bonney Lake, Wash. She turns 18 well before the election, and she has already been working for a presidential campaign: Barack Obama's. (Tacoma News Tribune) ...When called to comment on this crisis, Hillary refused to answer the phone.

WAKE-UP CALL II: Emergency operators in Peterborough, Ont., Canada, received a 3:00 a.m. 911 call from a man asking if they would give him a wake-up call in the morning. No, they replied; 911 is for emergency calls only. Minutes later he called the police non-emergency line to repeat his request. By then, dispatchers had checked his name in their computers, and found Donald Archie Baker, 51, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest on theft charges. Officers responded to his home and arrested him. (Peterborough Examiner) ...And no doubt ensured he was up in time for his court appearance.

SORRY, BUT YOU FLUNKED YOUR URINE TEST: Afraid that her court-ordered urine test would show drug use, Krystal Evans, 26, and a friend allegedly flagged down a courier van in rural Del Norte County, Calif., and tried to steal the lab sample back. When the driver moved to call police, the women fled empty-handed. County District Attorney Mike Riese said the robbery attempt, and an alleged attempted burglary of the probation department before the courier picked up the tests, was "somewhat inept." The urine test Evans allegedly tried to steal came back negative, but a test immediately after her arrest showed methamphetamine use. She was imprisoned for three years for probation violation. Her friend, who was also on probation, also faces charges in the case. (Eureka Times-Standard) ...Just "somewhat inept"? I'd like to hear about some of Riese's "totally inept" criminal cases.

ON-THE-JOB HAZARD: Nathaniel King, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., firefighter, was required to certify as a paramedic as a job requirement, but the sight of needles makes him woozy. When he tried to give an injection during training, he fainted. "During several of these incidents, [he] fell to the floor, striking parts of his body on furniture, people, etc. on the way down," a court filing notes. King even tried hypnosis to overcome the problem, but it didn't work. Unable to complete training, he was fired. King is suing the fire department demanding reinstatement and back pay. (Schenectady Daily Gazette) ...Needles make him faint? Wait'll he sees the inside of a courtroom.

SIS BOOM BAAAAAA! "High-Speed Chase: Supersonic Sheep Impresses Police Pursuers" -- Der Spiegel (Germany) headline

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THIS is TRUE: 6 April 2008 Copyright This Is True

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THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL: Lauren Newton, 28, had been getting her hair cut by Monique Reed, 38, "for years" and was at Reed's house in Washington, Penn., for a $150 style job. "When I told her I wasn't satisfied, she went ballistic and told me to get out of her house," Newton said. "But as I was going, she attacked me from behind and pulled me into her kitchen." That's when Reed pulled out a gun and shot her in the lower back, she said. "It could have been so much worse," Newton said after she was released from the hospital. "There are worse things in life than walking around for the rest of your life with a bullet in your butt." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) ...Like, say, having to pay $150 for a haircut?

HOW THINK DO YOU DRUNK I AM? A policeman in Cunnamulla, Qld., Australia, was called to duty unexpectedly. He performed his duty at a hotel -- despite having drunk "at least" 18 "mid-strength" beers beforehand. When Senior Constable Adam Reedy was done with his task, he stopped at the hotel's bar and had two more drinks, then got into a fight with a woman who was also drinking at the bar. She knocked him unconscious when he tried to arrest her. "At this time the Queensland Police Service has not received any complaint about the matter," said a police spokesman. Reedy was not only not disciplined, he has been promoted. And why was he called to duty? Fellow officers needed him to conduct an alcohol breath test. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) ...Sounds like he's an expert at it.

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: When Roland Scott was confronted by a robber, the Baltimore, Md., man didn't stand for it, even though the robber was pointing a sawed-off shotgun at him. Scott grabbed the man's gun and got it away from him, and turned the tables. The robber, now looking down the business end of his own gun, was ordered to strip, and to hand over his money. The robber took off his clothes, and handed over $800. That apparently didn't satisfy Scott: he started beating the man. "He is beating him with the butt of a sawed-off shotgun," said detective Sgt. Dennis Rafferty Jr. While Scott was beating the man, the shotgun discharged -- shooting Scott in the stomach. He was killed; a witness corroborated the robber's story, and investigators are ruling Scott's death accidental. "You can't make this up. You just can't," Rafferty said. "It is sort of like one for the books." (Baltimore Sun) ...Mine, for sure -- Volume 14.

HIT AND RUN: A shoplifter in Kerkrade, Holland, was so intent on his escape that when he grabbed a hunk of meat and ran from a supermarket, he left something important behind: his 12-year-old son. Police called the 45-year-old man at a number provided by the boy, but the unnamed man refused to return to the store for him, saying they should call the boy's mother instead. (London Metro) ...Not very smart: he should be more afraid of her than the police.

SPOILSPORTS! "Police Bust Party in Man's Pants" -- Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 13 April 2008 Copyright This Is True

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VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR: Garrett A. Dalton, 41, of Naugatuck, Conn., put in a claim for worker's compensation. The corrections officer said he hurt his back lifting a case of toilet paper at the prison where he worked. He collected $5,227 in benefits and then returned to work after five months of recuperation. But during his time off, he was photographed participating in a stunt sponsored by a radio station: he ran a 40-yard dash wearing a woman's dress and high heels while carrying an egg on a spoon. Dalton was competing for tickets to a Hannah Montana concert. He didn't win, but the photo appeared in a newspaper, and prison officials saw it and recognized him. Dalton was arrested and charged with workers' compensation fraud, and faces up to 20 years in prison. (Waterbury Republican-American) ...As a law enforcement officer, he should have known drag racing could get him in trouble.

SOOOO SLOWWWW: Police in Franklin, Tenn., spotted a car wanted in a reported injury hit-and-run accident. The officer got behind the white Suburban and tried to pull the driver over, but "He was so impaired he didn't even know police were behind him," said Sgt. David Prather. David F. Vanhousin, 33, was so high on cocaine he didn't realize he was going 30 mph below the speed limit, either, Prather added. "We were probably doing 5 miles per hour." Prather was able to get out of his car and walk up to the Suburban, reach in the open window, and turn off the ignition to end the pursuit. In addition to hit and run, Vanhousin was charged with impaired driving, and the theft of the Suburban. (Nashville Tennessean) ...Luckily this didn't happen in California, where the most serious charge would have been delaying traffic.

WANTED POSTER: A teen boy and two girls stopped in at Tony's Old Time Portrait Studio in Victoria, B.C., Canada, where clients can dress up in period costumes for photos. Tony's staff spent 40 minutes dressing the kids up for their photos. They sat for the portraits, looked at them, and then "took off like a bat out of hell" without paying their C$84 (US$82) sitting fee, owner Tony Bohanan said. Bohanan didn't get mad, he got even: he released the portraits and asked the public to help identify the thieves. Once the photographic evidence hit the media, the three teens turned themselves in to police; one of the girls also paid the fee, and apologized to Bohanan. "We saw our pictures plastered all over the place and it made me feel like a crook," she told him. The boy's father brought him in to apologize too. Bohanan, 79, said he's waiting to hear from the third desperado. (Victoria Times Colonist) ...Bohanan didn't make her feel like a crook. Her actions did.

EXPOSE YOURSELF TO ART: The Hampton Roads, Va., Virginian-Pilot newspaper held its 36th annual "Student Gallery", an art contest for area students. The judges included the director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary, and a director from the Chrysler Museum of Art. But their winning choice was rejected by the newspaper as "inappropriate" -- the 17-year-old girl who painted the portrait posed for it herself -- without clothing. "There's nothing showing!" complained a Chrysler Museum official, but the newspaper liaison sniffed the paper is "thinking about the audience, and all the kids and the younger siblings who will see these pieces." The painting did not violate the rules of the contest. OK, so on to the second choice of the judges, a sculpture. It was rejected by the newspaper too, for the same reason. Two "judges" from the newspaper awarded the $1,000 first prize to a third student. Chrysler Museum officials were so bothered by the rejection that they raised $1,000 to give to the judges' first choice, Nancy "Beth" Reid, a senior at Churchland High School in Portsmouth. Her painting is still hanging at the Chrysler. (Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot) ...The ultimate victory: the Pilot had to report on its staff's own stupidity.

SINCE FOREVER, FOR FOREVER: "Teens Have Sex but Don't Have the Facts" -- Chicago (Ill.) Tribune headline

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THIS is TRUE: 20 April 2008 Copyright This Is True

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GOOD CLEAN FUN: The Purple Door, a lap dancing club in Newcastle, England, has applied for a permit to install a shower -- on its stage. City Councillor Geoff O'Brien is against the shower, claiming it "pushes the boundaries" of decency. "I have never heard of any other clubs with shower booths in the country," O'Brien complained. "It begs the question what we will get next?" (South Shields Gazette) ...Scantily-clad dancers on stage: fine and dandy entertainment. Scantily-clad dancers in the shower on stage: the end of decency as we know it.

LEGAL BRIEFS: Female lawyers in London, England, are upset that local firms are banning wearing fishnet stockings, calling them "unprofessional" attire. "My male partners openly coo when I'm wearing Jimmy Choos, short skirts and nicely cut tops," complained one on an online forum, since it helps display "the quality of bird they've attracted to the partnership." Another posted that she wondered if "I detect a hint of jealousy among the frumps that can't get away with it?" And a partner at another firm asked, "Why is everyone getting their knickers in such a twist over this?" (London Daily Mail) ...Getting their knickers in a twist isn't the problem. It's when everyone can see they're twisted that it's a problem.

GOOOOD MOOOOD: Rob Taverner, who runs a farm just outside Exeter, Devon, England, has taught his cows tai chi. "I want to make sure I am as relaxed and focused as possible," the organic farmer said. "As organic farmers we believe happier cows produce better milk." (Exeter Express & Echo) ...And if you think that's good, just wait until you taste the tai cheese!

SURPRISE PACKAGE: A man in Illovo, Johannesburg, South Africa, picked up a prostitute and took her to a hotel. The hooker refused to strip, so the man grabbed her. "Let's just say that when he touched her he realized he wasn't touching a woman," said police Inspector Moses Maphakela. "The man realized the prostitute was strong, so he paid 300 Rand (US$51) and told him to get out," the police inspector said. Police got involved when the man realized his cell phone was missing and reported the theft to police. While he was at the station the hooker arrived to file an assault complaint. The prosecutor declared the two even and dropped both charges. Still, the police inspector was impressed by the transvestite. "The prostitute was wearing a tiny skirt and wore so much make-up, there was no way you could tell it was a man," he said. (South Africa Independent) ...That depends on how tight his skirt was.

YEAH, THAT'LL WORK: "Sex Offender Runs for Mayor, Hopes Voters Overlook Arrest" -- Austin (Texas) American Statesman headline

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THIS is TRUE: 27 April 2008 Copyright This Is True

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THE BIG ONES THAT GOT AWAY: Smokin' Em Charters, a fishing charter service in Port St. Lucie, Fla., has been kicked out of the marina owned by Fort Pierce City. "We had no idea this was going on," said marina manager Dean Kubitschek. The city says Kathi and Harold Coombes were going too far with their service: the mates on the boats are young women. For a $100 charge, they wear bikinis. For $150, they remove their tops. The girls don't undress until well away from the marina, and no touching is allowed, Mrs. Coombes said. "They're doing everything a regular mate would do." (Palm Beach Post) ...Well make up your mind!

SURFIN' USA: "I've never seen anything like this in 22 years," said West Reading, Penn., police Detective Joseph M. Brown. At the start of the afternoon rush hour, a driver climbed out his window and climbed on the top of his minivan, and rode it down the highway until it careened across all four lanes of traffic. It then crashed, "catapulting" him off. Witnesses "were shocked when he got back onto the road" after climbing up an embankment, Brown said. The man then stripped off his clothes and ran along the highway, bleeding from a foot-long gash on his torso. Multiple motorists called 911, but the man wouldn't stop for officers. They shot him with a Taser three times without effect, they said, and finally tackled him so he could be taken to a hospital, where he was reported in critical condition from the accident. The newspaper said it is withholding the 38-year-old victim's name "because he has not been charged." (Reading Eagle) ...So, they're saying the Taser was defective?

ANTIBIOTIC: Steven Kurtz, a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York, was arrested after emergency workers, called to aid his wife, saw bacteria cultures in his house. Kurtz explained the bacteria were for an art project to protest government food policies, but he was indicted in federal court as "a bioterrorist," his lawyer says, adding the charges were retaliation over Kurtz's criticism of the government. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara agreed: he ruled that the indictment "is insufficient on its face" and dismissed the charges. Total time from discovery of the cultures to dismissal of charges: three years, 11 months. (Buffalo News) ...We call that "justice at the speed of bureaucracy".

PAGING SISTER BERTRILLE: People in Paranagua, Parana, Brazil, watched as a Roman Catholic Priest ascended toward heaven. No, really: Fr. Adelir Antonio de Carli filled 1,000 balloons with helium and, dressed in a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute, and carrying a GPS receiver and a satellite phone, headed skyward in an attempt to break the 19-hour record for staying aloft with party balloons. He was declared missing eight hours later when he failed to check in by phone, and was judged to be off course -- and 30 miles out to sea. A search found some of the balloons, but there has been no sign of the 41-year-old flying priest. "We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean," said a spokeswoman for his parish. But the London Telegraph newspaper reported that "hopes are fading" for the priest. "The priest's death would make him an immediate contender for the annual Darwin Award," the paper said, "named honour of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, and 'commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.'" (AP, London Telegraph) ...A hell of a thing to say about a guy who pledged celibacy.

STATE AGENCY FIGURES OUT HOW TO STAY IN BUSINESS FOREVER: "State Regulators Look at Car Dealer Accused of Lying to Customers" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 4 May 2008 Copyright This Is True

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LEARN 'EM GOOD: Michelle Droelle, 33, a teacher at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Va., claims she got out of the escort business before she became a teacher. But, a local newspaper found, at least one escort agency uses her home address as its headquarters, and lists her as the owner. The umbrella company operates at least 20 different services, the paper says, including Exotic Playmates, Sinful Seductions, and Party Girls, which advertise "1-on-1 encounters ... fetishes [and] light domination." (Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot) ...Two out of three of which are helpful skills when teaching high school.

HE NEARLY BLEW HIS BRAINS OUT: A 20-year-old man in Yakima, Wash., told police he was the victim of a "drive-by shooting." But officers doubted the story: the injuries to the man's groin appeared to be the result of a point-blank shot. After a brief investigation the truth came out: the man, apparently a gang member, had jammed a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun into his waistband, and managed to discharge both barrels into his pants. Officers described the result as "massive groin damage," but the man was hospitalized in "satisfactory" condition. (Yakima Herald-Republic) ...Of course, most men would describe a pellet gun wound there as "massive groin damage."

IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL: Llewellyn Werner, a developer based in Los Angeles, Calif., has big plans for a $500 million amusement park -- in Baghdad, Iraq. The 50-acre Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience will completely surround the existing Baghdad Zoo, where only 35 of its 700 animals survived the invasion and war. The complex is outside the American-protected "Green Zone", but Werner isn't worried about attacks by insurgents. "They'll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they're Shia or Sunni," he says. "They'll say their kids deserve a place to play and they'll leave it alone." The first phase of the development, a skateboard park, is already under construction. (London Times) ...There's one skateboard park where there will be no problem convincing riders to wear a helmet.

FAIR ENOUGH: Mike Krusee, 49, of Austin, Texas, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. If convicted, Krusee faces 180 days in jail and a $4,000 fine -- including at least $1,000 in surcharges that are part of the state's "driver responsibility program" that calls for extra fines for first-time drunk drivers. The law was written by Krusee; he is the chairman of the Texas House Transportation Committee and a member of the Texas House Judiciary Committee. (Austin American- Statesman) ...The most amazing part of this story: he didn't include an exemption for elected officials.

HOT HOT HOT: "Taser Shock Triggers Fire in Man's Pants" -- Hamilton (Ont., Canada) Spectator headline

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THIS is TRUE: 11 May 2008 Copyright This Is True

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WHAT, ME STUPID? After a student at San Diego State University died from a cocaine overdose, San Diego, Calif., police launched an undercover investigation into drug sales at the school. They found so much evidence that federal investigators joined the case. After a full year of gathering evidence, teams arrested 96 people, including 75 students. Officers confiscated $100,000 worth of drugs, $60,000 in cash, plus firearms and other evidence. Among those arrested were one who was about to graduate with a master's degree in Homeland Security, and another majoring in criminal justice. "When one of these individuals was arrested, he inquired as to whether or not his arrest and incarceration would have an effect on his becoming a federal law enforcement officer," said an incredulous Ralph Partridge, special agent-in-charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration. (San Diego Union-Tribune) ...There's one student who wasn't paying attention in class.

FOWL PLAY: "He was like the neighborhood alarm clock," said one resident in St. Petersburg, Fla., referring to a rooster that roamed the neighborhood and crowed at sunup. But not a recent morning; instead, neighbors heard gunshots. "I got him!" a man called out after 4-5 shots. Sheriff deputies say they found Eric Nicastro, 30, in the street with his .45 caliber pistol in a carrying case. They say he chased the fowl into a neighbor's yard and shot it, and then tossed the bullet- riddled chicken into a creek. Nicastro was not arrested, but deputies "recommended" that the state attorney's office charge him with "improper exhibition of a firearm". (St. Petersburg Times) ..."Improper exhibition of a firearm" means he had it in the wrong kind of display case. Maybe they're looking for "careless discharge of a firearm within city limits"?

BEND OVER AND SMILE: After a bank robbery in Cromwell, New Zealand, police were still investigating when another call came in. Witnesses called for officers after they saw a man take off all of his clothes, put them in a pile, and light them on fire. It was the robber, trying to destroy evidence. When officers arrived, Michael Geoffrey Linn, 36, claimed he had given the robbery proceeds to an accomplice, but then police "noticed some rustling sounds from Linn's bottom area." Linn had hidden the loot -- NZ$2,000 (US$1,525) -- in his rectum. Once Linn's trial is over, the cash will be destroyed. (Southland Times) ...Some would say it already has been.

DOES HALLMARK HAVE A CARD TO SOOTHE THE EASILY OFFENDED? "Hallmark made an irresponsible decision to create this card," complains Cyndi Desrosiers of Portsmouth, N.H. (Cover: two hands holding glasses of wine and the caption, "Pardon me..." Inside: "Care for some liquid clothes remover?") The problem? "The target audience, in my opinion, is young adults," she says, ignoring the fact that wine cannot be legally sold to anyone under 21. She has complained to Hallmark, and says others should, too. "I feel it's our responsibility as adults." (Portsmouth Herald) ...I thought our "responsibility as adults" was to demonstrate maturity, rather than run to the media stomping our feet like children.

UNANSWERED PRAYERS: "Pray-In at San Francisco Gas Station Asks God to Lower Prices" -- San Francisco (Calif.) Chronicle headline

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THIS is TRUE: 18 May 2008 Copyright This Is True

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ANOTHER MASTER OF HIS OWN DOMAIN: Bungee jump master Carl Dionisio, 37, had a great idea for a specialized bungee jump: he'd make his bungee ropes out of condoms. It took four months to make the rope. "It was difficult as the condoms are slippery," said Dionisio, of Durban, South Africa. "When we tied knots they would just slip out." Still, he said, "latex is latex" and, after four months and 18,500 rubbers, he was "99 percent sure that it would work." Luckily, it did. (South Africa Independent) ...The only problem: it could only be used once.

SELF SERVICE: Agustin De Jesus, 47, keeps a cot in the back of his restaurant in Lutz, Fla., so he can stay the night if he's too sleepy for his half-hour drive home after his 17-hour days. He was sleeping on the cot at 4:00 a.m. when he heard a noise. He got up to find a man breaking into his cash drawer. That's when he noticed the back door had been forced open, and a truck was sitting just outside it, idling. De Jesus dashed out the door, jumped into the burglar's waiting truck, and drove off. The police got two calls: the first was from Leonard Levy, 55, who wanted to report his pickup truck had been stolen. The second was from De Jesus, reporting the burglary. De Jesus waited for officers to arrive, then returned to identify the burglar. Levy, who has at least 20 arrests on his record, whined, "Well, that's the guy who stole my truck!" Police arrested Levy, whom they suspect is involved in several area burglaries, but levied no charges against De Jesus. (St. Petersburg Times) ...When it comes to crime, turnabout is fair play.

MALEVOLENT MINDSET: After being fired from the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Orlando, Fla., Jason Davis, 21, went back to beg for his job back. The manager refused, so Davis allegedly threw his backpack on the floor and said it was a bomb. The restaurant was evacuated. There was no bomb, and Davis was arrested for making a bomb threat. Why did he do it? "I think I'm the devil," he said. "I have a mindset as a devil." Davis may be a bit unclear on the topic: "I'm a good guy trying to make the world a better place," he said. "I scared a lot of people but I think I did it for the better good." (Ft. Meyers News-Press) ...That's a lie -- the part where he said he "thinks".

SOMEHOW, THEY REMINDED HIM OF MOM: Dancers at a strip club in Tampa, Fla., called the sheriff about a customer. "It was the way he was acting," one said -- not just that he was intoxicated, but it was the baby. "I asked, 'Where's the mom?'," the dancer said, but the man was "evasive" about why he had the 6-month-old, and what he was doing with it. Finally, the man blurted out his plan: "I need someone to watch the baby for a week or two," he told the dancer, Minouche Eliasin. "I'll come back," he promised. "You guys are so nice. Thanks, I appreciate it." By then deputies had arrived and charged Robert Hancock, 44, with child neglect. (Tampa Tribune) ...Look, pal: it's a strip joint, not a baby-sitting service -- unless of course you count their regular clients.

PUNISHMENT, OR REWARD? "Priest Who Was Chaplain Gets 4 Years for Sex with Inmates" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 25 May 2008 Copyright This Is True

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YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL: Denville, N.J., city councilwoman Pat Valva was outraged that mayor Ted Hussa had parked in a handicapped spot at a local church for a function they both attended. "This is all part of the effort to defame," Hussa said of the accusation, noting he was only in the spot for a "few minutes" to unload packages, and besides, the "borrowed" vehicle he was driving had a disabled parking placard. "You can't do that," Valva said. "It's not fair for people who are handicapped." She said Hussa was parked there for at least three hours, and suggested that he and ask the police to issue him a citation. He refused. Police Chief Christopher Wagner said he couldn't issue a ticket unless someone filed a complaint, so Jeannemarie Ahrens, who is disabled and read about the case in the newspaper, filed one. But despite Hussa's statements in the record at the city council meeting, in court he testified that he "realized later" that he had not parked in a handicapped spot, but rather next to it. The judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence. Councilwoman Valva resigned over the incident. (Parsippany Daily Record) ...Figures: the wrong politician resigned again.

ME, SKEPTICAL? I TRUST YOU HAVE PROOF: For the seventh time in as many years, an internal study by the Los Angeles, Calif., Police Department has found that none of the complaints against officers over racial profiling is valid. In the latest study, there were 320 such accusations, and again none of them were found to be true. "In my mind, there is no such thing as a perfect institution," said suspicious Police Commissioner John Mack. "I find it baffling that we have these zeros." But Police Chief William Bratton had an explanation: "This is not a racist department," he said. (Los Angeles Times) ...Well then: that settles that.

THEY SAVED A LOT OF PAPERWORK, TOO: An irate man tried to enter a grocery store in West Palm Beach, Fla., through the exit, and manager Marino Hernandez ordered him to leave. The intruder pulled a gun; both Hernandez and his assistant manager had guns, and both pulled them to protect the numerous customers inside. The intruder saw the defense and backed out -- and started shooting. But "When I saw the first bullet hit high," Hernandez said, "right away I knew I was dealing with someone that was not a good shooter," and Hernandez and the assistant manager decided not to shoot back. The gunman fired four shots, but no one was injured. Police arrived and arrested Marshall Hugo Grant, 73, on numerous charges, including attempted murder. (Palm Beach Post) ...The most effective gun control is knowing when not to shoot, even if justified.

POOR GUN CONTROL: David W. Walls, 57, was trying to control bees in Frankstown Township, Penn., with a .22 revolver loaded with buck shot, state police say. It's unclear whether he killed any of the bees, but he managed to shoot himself in the hand. Police say he had been drinking. Meanwhile, Jorge Espinal, 44, was drinking beer and playing poker in his Ft. Worth, Texas, home when he had an itch on his back. Espinal "grabbed the first thing he could get a hold of," a police spokesman said, "which was a revolver." Sure enough, he shot himself in the back. His poker partners called for an ambulance, and police said Espinal's injuries were not life-threatening. (Altoona Mirror, Dallas Morning News) ...The humiliation level, however, may be.

THE FINE FOR THAT WILL SURELY COST HIM AN ARM AND A...: "Port St. Lucie Man Accused of Ripping Wife's Prosthetic Leg off During Fight" -- Port St. Lucie (Florida) News

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THIS is TRUE: 1 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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HALF BAKED: "Only a crazy person would put their child in an oven," says Tiffany Fraser, 26, of Airmont, N.Y. "I don't know why my son said that. I never put him in the oven." But indeed Fraser is charged with assault and child endangerment for allegedly putting her 7-year-old in her kitchen oven as punishment for losing his cell phone. (White Plains Journal News) ...In other news, we learn that 7-year-olds have some sort of need for their own cell phones.

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: Angelique R. Vandeburg, 28, of Sheboygan, Wisc., faces up to three years in prison for intentional child abuse after a school counselor called police to report an injury the girl showed her. Vandeburg allegedly shot her 8-year-old daughter in the leg with a BB gun to win a "bet" with her boyfriend. The girl told police her mother and mother's boyfriend had been drinking heavily before the event, and the wound hurt so much she could hardly walk. Vandeburg says the child is lying to get her in trouble, but District Attorney Joe DeCecco says he believes the girl. "Even if a kid's upset with her parent, why would she make up a story of a BB being shot at her?" he asked. However, DeCecco says, the boyfriend will not be charged since it would be impossible to prove his intent with the bet, which was for $1. (Sheboygan Press) ...I'll bet $1 the boyfriend was sweating bullets until DeCecco said that.

MISS MARY JANE, PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY TELEPHONE FOR AN URGENT MESSAGE: A Japanese customs officer exercising his sniffer dog at Tokyo's Narita airport put a 142g (5 oz) bag of marijuana into an unsuspecting traveler's suitcase after it arrived from Hong Kong. "The dog couldn't find it," a customs spokeswoman admitted. Worse, "the officer also forgot which bag he put it in" and it was delivered to baggage claim. Using a real customer's luggage to train drug dogs is against regulations, the spokeswoman explained, and the officer has been reprimanded. "If by some chance passengers find it in their suitcase, we're asking them to return it," she added. Customs officials valued the missing pot at 1 million yen (US$9,500). (London Times) ...$2,000 an ounce? The cops always have the best stuff.

RIGHT BACK AT YA, PAL: Two police officers in Copiague, N.Y., saw a man on a motorcycle who "raised his middle finger in their direction, brought the motorcycle up onto the back wheel, a maneuver often referred to as a 'wheelie', and took off southbound at a high rate of speed," their report says. The two cops jumped in their car to give chase, but before they could catch up with the biker he had crashed -- into another police car. Frank Patti, 26, was charged with unlawfully fleeing police, resisting arrest, and numerous traffic violations. (New York Newsday) ...The best part: the cops didn't even have to lift a finger to catch him.

TEN WORDS CAN BE MORE POWERFUL THAN A PHOTO: "It's Hell down Here, and the Devil Has a Microphone" -- Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald headline

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THIS is TRUE: 8 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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DUBIOUS QUALIFICATIONS: Carrollton, Texas, Mayor Becky Miller's interesting list of claimed accomplishments was investigated when she ran for reelection. Her campaign materials say she went to Western Kentucky University, but the university has no record of her. She said she was a backup singer for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, and was engaged to Eagles singer Don Henley. When all said they didn't know Miller, she claimed they were mistaken. "Maybe I was going by a different name," she said. "Did you think about that?" Miller has said she had a brother who was killed in the Vietnam war. After her father said that his son is still alive, and never fought in Vietnam, Miller claimed her father has Alzheimer's and "He can't remember tomorrow." Reporters found her brother, but he refused to comment. Miller then explained the brother she was referring to was "not my blood brother," and refused to provide his name. Voters weren't impressed with her denials and explanations: Miller was defeated in her reelection bid. (Dallas Morning News) ...Wait! It sounds like she has mastered the primary attribute of the career politician!

DON'T TRY TO UNDERSTAND 'EM; JUST ROPE, THROW, AND BRAND 'EM: "This is an all-American sport, and we are all-American people," says Jen Vrana, president and founder of the Liberty Gay Rodeo Association. The Association was formed to show that gay people are just like anyone else, and can be just as macho as straights. In this year's contest, held in Devon, Penn., participants did steer riding, calf roping, and goat dressing. Not familiar with the latter? In that event, contestants compete to "put hot-pink underwear on the hind quarters of an uncooperative goat in the shortest time." Which, Vrana says, "proves that we are normal." (Reuters) ...And that, dear readers, is how you piss off a cowboy.

IMBSTD: A substitute music teacher in Dallas, Texas, was arrested for allegedly being drunk at Parkhill Junior High School. Thomas Brownlee, 56, "had slurred speech, breath smelling of an alcoholic beverage and bloodshot eyes," the police report says. The officer started a field sobriety test, but the teacher "was so intoxicated that all further testings had to be stopped for [brownlee's] safety." Brownlee admits to drinking wine at lunch, but says he wasn't drunk. A reporter asked Brownlee about his car's vanity license plate, "IMBLZT" -- is that supposed to mean "I'm blitzed" (drunk)? No no no, Brownlee said -- he's also a minister, he explained, and to him it means "I'm blessed." (Dallas Morning News) ...One way or another, he was under the influence of a spirit that day.

HEY, GET A ROOM: A parishioner at a Roman Catholic church in Italy's Cesena-Sarsina diocese called police after hearing "rustling and groaning" in a confession booth. Inside was a "goth-rock couple" engaged in sex. The 31-year-old man and his 32-year-old schoolteacher partner reportedly explained that they were atheists, "and for us, having sex in church is like doing it any other place." Police charged them with an unspecified crime. Bishop Antonio Lanfranchi called the desecration "an outrage of notable proportions which bespeaks unutterable squalor," and said a purification rite would have to be held before the confessional could be used again. (Italian National Associated Press Agency) ...It could have been worse: they could have been using a condom.

FOLLOW YOUR NOSE: "Scientists Isolate Animal Fart Gene" -- Southland Times (Invercargill, New Zealand) headline

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THIS is TRUE: 15 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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THAT'S NOT A NAME, THAT'S A BRAND IDENTITY: School bus driver and amateur artist Steve Kreuscher, 57, of Zion, Ill., petitioned to change his name. "I want this with all my heart," said Kreuscher, who described himself as a Christian who "gave up" on organized religion 20 years ago. His desired new name: "We Trust" for his surname, and "In God" for his given name. He said he looked forward to signing his artwork with his new name. "'In God We Trust' fully expresses who I am as an artist and a person," he said. "You don't know how bad I want this." Lake County Circuit Judge David Hall approved the name change. Kreuscher ...er... We Trust typically puts $20,000 to $50,000 price tags on his work. (Arlington Heights Daily Herald) ...In God he trusts; all others pay cash.

A PRICKLY SITUATION: "I am so stupid," said Christopher Psomas, 38, crying in the emergency room as the staff worked on him. Psomas allegedly tried to pass a forged check at a business in Phoenix, Ariz. The store called the police, and Psomas sped off, with friend Ashley Strahan, 20, by his side. Psomas ran red lights, drove against traffic, and tried to drive across the desert to escape, police say. And when his car broke down in the sand, Psomas and Stahan got out and ran -- and "rolled" through several cholla cactuses. Psomas was booked for felony evading; Strahan was not charged with any crime, but was also hospitalized. "This is what I get for trying to run from the police," Psomas said. (Arizona Republic) ...More accurately, that's what he gets for not knowing when to give up.

MINNESOTA NICE: A tree-trimming crew was working in Roseville, Minn., and noticed a man was hanging around while they worked. They warned him to stay away. After 15-20 minutes of this, Josh Thompson was 13 feet up a ladder when he saw the man running toward them. Thompson leapt to the ground and hit the kill switch on their tree trimmer, which can grind up a 21-inch tree trunk in seconds. Sure enough, the man dove in head first. The unnamed 20-year-old man's arm was caught in the machinery as it wound down, but he lived. "A split-second later, and it would've been over," said a spokesman for the tree service. Recalling the 1996 movie that ended in a wood-chipper murder scene, a witness to the attempted suicide asked, "Have you ever seen the movie 'Fargo'?" (St. Paul Pioneer Press) ...Yah, you betcha.

THE SMELL OF FAILURE: The Colorado State Lottery has introduced a new feature for its scratch-off game: the ticket is printed with a "scratch and sniff" odor. The first smell will be coffee, and will be followed in subsequent games with flowers and chocolate. (Loveland Reporter-Herald) ...Good idea: that will cover up the scent of the players' burning money.

THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: The other half of this issue included the story of the arsonist who accidentally set fire to himself, then asked the police, "Why doesn't anybody like me?" Airline pilot and a flight attendant fined after clothes-free romp in the woods -- "On a public service note," her lawyer adds, "this is what alcohol can do." Tourism space flight provider says they've been "inundated" with calls by people wanting to have sex in space. Special supplies airlifted to Antarctic research station just in time for winter. AND June Tagline Challenge results. You can still read all of these stories in the full -- "Premium" -- version of TRUE: just ask for your upgrade to start with the 15 June edition. http://thisistrue.com/upgrade.html

THERE'S ALWAYS A CATCH: "Don't like Your Lawyer? Slugging Him Won't Help" -- St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press headline

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THIS is TRUE: 22 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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THE SPIRIT WAS WILLING: St. Lucie County, Fla., sheriff's deputies arrived at a car crash to find that the couple inside were ...uh... unclothed at the time of the crash. Megan Marie Douglas, 18, admitted to deputies that she and the 27-year-old man in the car had just had sex, "but not while the vehicle was in motion," the resulting accident report notes. Douglas was arrested and charged with drunk driving, possession of alcohol by a minor, and possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Her MySpace page notes her occupation as "Sunday school teacher". (Palm Beach Post) ...I guess it wasn't Sunday.

THE FLESH WAS WEAK: Yet again, a man has been arrested for soliciting sex with an underage girl, only to find that the object of his lust was an undercover police officer. In this case, police say, Joe Barron, 52, drove his wife's car from Plano, Texas, to Bryan with a box of condoms to meet the "13-year-old" girl after "weeks" of "sexually explicit" chats online and via cell phone. Officers arrested Barron, who immediately broke into tears and "said he was feeling guilt and shame and grief," a Bryan police spokesman said. Barron now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and has been asked to resign from his job -- as a minister at the Prestonwood Baptist Church, a "megachurch" in Plano that's so large, its 140-acre campus is known to more profane locals as "Six Flags Over Jesus". After his release on bail, police searched Barron's computer and found he was courting other teens, and arrested him again on six more charges. (Dallas Morning News) ...Pastoral tip No. 2641: When trying to "save wayward girls," don't try to save them all for yourself.

FLUNKED: After a kindergartner at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, Fla., acted up in class, the teacher called the 5-year-old boy in front of his peers and asked the kids to tell him what they thought of his behavior. When they were done, teacher Wendy Portillo had the kids vote on whether the boy should be kicked out of class. He lost: 14 to 2. "I feel sad," Alex Barton told his teacher. Less than a week after Alex was kicked out, tests for autism came back positive; his teacher knew he was being tested. The Barton family has hired a lawyer to sue the school, and the state's attorney general's office is investigating. (Port St. Lucie News) ...All this time I thought teachers were supposed to stop bullies, not model bullying so kids can learn how.

VISIONARY: Colleen Leduc, 38, of Barrie, Ont., Canada, had already picked up her 11-year-old autistic daughter, Victoria, from Terry Fox Elementary School, when the girl's teacher called. "The teacher said you have to come back to school right away -- it's urgent," Leduc said. She raced back to the school, where the teacher and principal were waiting. The teacher told Leduc that a special education aide had consulted a psychic, who said that a girl whose name started with "V" is being sexually abused. On that "evidence", the principal said, the school had already filed a sexual abuse report with the Children's Aid Society. Once the local CAS office realized the case was based on a psychic reading, they closed it. The Child Welfare League of Canada acknowledges that there is a "zero tolerance" policy in place regarding child abuse, but says "there is still room for common sense under zero tolerance." Leduc said the school has not apologized for the outrageously false report. (National Post) ...I have a vision -- of a massive lawsuit against the school. Hey: this psychic stuff is easy!

POLLY WANTS A TAXI: "Lost Parrot Tells Veterinarian His Address" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE: 29 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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ONE STRANGE FETISH: A student studying in the library at Ohio's University of Cincinnati noticed a suspicious man near her. She went

back to her studying until she felt something cold on her foot. She looked under the library table to see the same man there. "When I looked down, the person was on his knee with the syringe," she told police -- the man had apparently used it to spray a liquid on her foot. Campus police apprehended a suspect: Dwight Pannell, 43, who "admitted taking pictures of her feet," a spokesman said. "He said he was doing so because it was a new camera." Pannell was arrested eight years ago, too -- on charges of assaulting a woman in a university library with a syringe. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...Yeah, but that was the old camera.

BRAVO: "It certainly beats sending up a flare," said a mountain rescue spokesman after a woman escaped death in the Bavarian Alps, in Germany near the Austrian border. They had just about given up the search for Jessica Bruinsma, 24, visiting from Colorado Springs, Colo. She had fallen about 20 feet during a solo hike and had broken several ribs and injured her leg. She noticed a supply line used to haul equipment, but for two days it hadn't moved. On the third day, when it moved, she hooked her bra to the line. When it arrived at a logging camp below, a logger who heard reports of a missing woman called rescue crews with the clue. A helicopter followed the line and found Bruinsma, who is reported to be in good condition following her rescue. (Rocky Mountain News) ...Huh: I thought that only worked in the Tetons.

A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS: Scott Mitchinson, 30, of Barnes, Sunderland, England, was killed in Bangkok, Thailand, in a freak accident. He was walking to his hotel when he stepped on a frayed cable and was electrocuted. "He was a wonderful son, a brilliant son. I will miss him so much," said his father, John, 72, who noted the news "came as a massive shock." (Sunderland Echo) ...This is why newspapers need editors who pay attention.

HE SAID THE SHERIFF IS NEAR! Corvallis, Ore., isn't exactly known for its ethnic diversity. Jeff Oliver, 21, wants to "promote understanding, break stereotypes and perhaps even provide a comedic moment" to people attending the local farmer's market: he opened his own booth with a sign noting people could "Meet a Black Guy". Many stopped to chat or get their picture taken with him, but some didn't like the idea. "I think it's degrading," said Ron Naasko, who added he wouldn't set up a booth for people to meet someone in a wheelchair -- such as himself. (Corvallis Gazette-Times) ...Too bad: that would probably open up some minds -- including his.

DON'T TELL ME ANYONE WAS SURPRISED? "Man Borrows Car to Buy Crack, Steals Car" -- Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News headline

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THIS is TRUE: 6 June 2008 Copyright This Is True

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SPACE CASE: Security officers at a mall in Spokane, Wash., became concerned when they noticed that the door of a family restroom was locked from the inside for over an hour. Once they got the man inside to open the door, the security officer saw a color copier sitting on the floor and called in sheriff's deputies, who found sheets of uncut $10 bills in the trash. Calvin Robinson, 19, allegedly admitted he bought the copier for $100, and set up a counterfeit operation in the restroom because that was the only place he could find with a power outlet and a locking door. The original of the $10 bill was found in his pocket. Deputies say Robinson, who said he is homeless, told them he wanted to copy the money to buy $90 worth of marijuana. "I don't believe he's going to be recruited by NASA," a sheriff's spokesman said. (Spokane Spokesman Review) ...Not when chimps are so much more intelligent.

HOME ALONE: Kyle Hausmann, 24, spent the evening in a bar in Brooklyn, N.Y. He stayed until closing, straggled when others left at 4:00 a.m., then decided to visit the restroom before he left. He stayed in there quite a while, he said, and when he finally emerged the lights were out, no one was in the bar, and he was locked in by a security gate. "I thought, 'I guess I'm going to be late for work'," he said. The Harvard-graduate paralegal was, but resisted the temptation to pour himself free drinks. He found a laptop and searched Google for "what to do if you get locked in a bar," but "Google did not have any good answers," he said. Meanwhile, he had plenty of time to think. "My working theory was that I had gone down a wormhole," he said. "Someone pointed out that perhaps I had gone to Narnia. But I would've remembered Narnia. So it must've been a wormhole." (New York Times) ...I'm just going to guess Hausmann drinks more than he lets on.

AND HE'S COUNTING ON YOUR VOTE: Special Olympics champion Virgil Taylor, 34, has Down's Syndrome. He has a job cleaning up after parish councillors in the town hall restaurant in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England -- wiping tables, setting up trolleys, washing councillors' dishes. The government-subsidized adult care program for challenged citizens makes the job possible, which "makes him feel useful and he is so proud when he puts his uniform on," his mother said. But budget cuts have hit the program: Taylor is not only not paid for his work, which he has done for 17 years, but has now been told he has to pay 2.50 pounds (US$5) per day to work there. And if he misses work, he'll still owe the fee. "The introduction of the fees was the result of the review we carried out after we won the elections last May," shrugged Councillor Ian Peddlesden. "I believe most people receive other allowances that would cover these charges." (London Evening Standard) ...Which is known in the trade as a rob Peter to pay Paul with Public money scheme.

COUNTING ON SOMEONE'S (ANYONE'S!) VOTE: The town of Pillsbury, N.D., held its primary election last month. The mayor and a couple of alderman were running for re-election, but no one voted. Not even Mayor Darrel Brudevold. "Everybody has got a job, and they're busy," Brudevold said. "It just worked out that nobody seemed to go down there to the polls." His wife, who was running for alderman, also runs the town's beauty shop, and is the town postmaster. She had too many customers to get away to vote. The mayor's excuse: "I had crops to spray before the rains came," and "assumed" someone else would vote. The county auditor says those in office can appoint someone for the jobs -- including themselves. "I presume things will stay the same," Brudevold said. "We're just a little village, and when you're elected to one of those jobs, well, once you get it, you got it." (AP) ...And hey: if the voters "get it," they deserve it!

AND STAY OFF MY LAWN, PUNKS! "Cat-Eating Students Shooed off Facebook" Copenhagen (Denmark) Post headline

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THIS is TRUE: 13 July 2008 Copyright This Is True

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POINT, SET AND MATCH: Boston, Mass., based Legal Sea Foods rolled out a new ad campaign touting how "fresh" its seafood is. Ads in mass transit trains feature cartoon fish saying "fresh" things, which has led to complaints -- by mass transit train conductors. "We should have never, ever said, 'This conductor has a face like a halibut'," admitted restaurant CEO Roger Berkowitz, "when the truth is, most conductors don't look anything at all like halibuts. Some look more like groupers or flounders." MBTA nibbled at the bait. "We don't think his fish is as fresh as he is," whined Stephan MacDougall, president of the MBTA's union, calling for his members to boycott the chain. "He's misguided and misdirected. He is suffering from elitism and needs to do some self-examination." (Boston Globe) ...With a face like his, you'd think MacDougall would realize he was looking in a mirror.

SOUND MEDICAL ADVICE: Rain was coming in the kitchen window, so BreAnna Helsel, 16, of Blanchard, Mich., went over to close it. That's when a bolt of lightning hit, jolting through her body. Her fingers were blackened where the current exited, and her worried mother took her to the emergency room. Doctors found no serious injuries. "Everyone said I'm really lucky," Helsel said. So much so, hospital employees told her she should buy a lottery ticket. She did. "And we won $20," her mother said. (Greenville News) ...Hand the ticket over to the hospital and tell them you're even.

ANYTHING FOR A BUCK: A donation box in the lobby of the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, Ky., sported some fake bills to help seed the idea that it wanted contributors to be generous. Proceeds were slated to restore the theater's Wurlitzer organ, but the fake bills were too tempting for thieves, who broke into the box -- but probably didn't get any real cash since it had recently been emptied. The donation box was destroyed in the attempt. "It's sad when idiots can't tell fake money from the real thing," noted Steve Brown, president of Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Project, which is leading the restoration. (Lexington Herald-Leader) ...Actually, I prefer all crooks to be that stupid.

CLEAN AND JERK: A window washer in Gold Coast, Qld., Australia, was working nine storeys up when he fell about 25 meters (82 ft) before his safety harness kicked in, bringing him to a quick stop. The 20-year-old man was hospitalized for three injuries: a fractured arm, a fractured pelvis, and what he described to co-workers as "a big wedgie". A co-worker said "He's lucky to be alive. We have no idea how this happened." (Courier Mail) ...Well, see, his underwear was pulled sharply in the vertical direction, and....

HOPING TO FIND BEST BREED TO INTIMIDATE LARGE, UPPITY SUSPECTS: "City Police Looking for Small, Uppity Dog" -- Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal headline

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THIS is TRUE: 20 July 2008 Copyright This is True

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HALT IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: Ed Clark, the mayor of Greeley, Colo., saw a teen boy riding a dirt bike on city streets. Clark told him to stop -- it was illegal because the boy was both unlicensed and riding an off- road vehicle. When the boy refused to get off, witnesses say, Clark, an ex-cop, grabbed the 15-year-old, threw him to the ground, and held him down with his arms behind his back. The boy's father, Tim Stitt, didn't just get mad, he got even: he filed for a restraining order against Clark, forcing him to stay 100 feet away from the boy and anywhere he might be, including his house and his school. A judge granted the order. Clark says he merely stopped the boy "for his own safety." Prosecutors refused to file assault charges against him due to lack of evidence. (Greeley Tribune) ...Witnesses: not as valuable as they used to be.

PETTY POLITICKING: The day the family of a boy allegedly assaulted by Greeley, Colo., mayor Ed Clark received a restraining order against him, the family got five late night calls from what appeared to be Clark's phone number. The district attorney is investigating. The calls actually came from Greeley businessman Tom Roche's cell phone, and were placed through a web site that allows the Caller-ID information to be spoofed. The service account was registered to Roche, paid for with one of his credit cards, and the calls used the optional voice disguise service. Roche had run for mayor against Clark, and was considering a second bid. It's unclear if he was trying to make Clark look bad in order to improve his chances in the next election. (Greeley Tribune) ...There's plenty of "looking bad" in Greeley politics to go around.

COUCH MEAT AND POTATOES: Police in Columbia, Mo., responded to a report of a house fire. They arrived to smoke -- and screams for help. The four officers used their batons to help smash through the front door, and rescued a victim inside while keeping the flames at bay with fire extinguishers from their cars. Manuel Douglas, 56, explained that he had been cooking a pork steak in the deep fryer he has next to his living room couch, and fell asleep. The fryer set the room on fire. (Columbia Tribune) ...What, and he couldn't spray beer on it from the tap next to the easy chair?

THE DARK KNIGHT: "It looked very snug in there and I thought how mean I was for disturbing it," says Abbie Hawkins, 19. The "it" was a bat; "in there" was her bra: she found the critter tucked in a fold of her dainties five hours after she got dressed. The Norwich, England, woman had felt it moving earlier, but dismissed the sensation. "When I was driving to work I felt a slight vibration but I thought it was just my mobile phone in my jacket pocket," she said. (London Telegraph) ...She probably figured it was just some Joker calling.

THIN MINTS: $4; BROWNIES: $40: "Pot Grown on Girl Scout Land" -- Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette headline

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THIS is TRUE: 27 July 2008 Copyright This is True

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I'LL DRINK TO THAT: A woman stopped in a liquor store in Norwalk, Calif. She plowed through the front window in her Cadillac, making it about half-way through the store, police said. The speechless clerk behind the counter watched as the driver stepped out of the car, walked over to the beer cooler, and pulled out a six pack. "I don't know how she managed to walk," the clerk said, but she made it to the counter. When he refused to sell the beer to the woman, she assaulted him, and he called police. Unsurprisingly, Lynne Rice, 74, was arrested on drunk driving charges. (Long Beach Press Telegram) ...He waited until she brought the beer up to the counter before he called 911? He really was speechless.

THE ROAD TO FREEDOM: Corrections officer Deborah Barron didn't normally transport prisoners to court, but she missed the hand-off of a prisoner heading for a court appearance. Barron decided to take him there herself from a prison in Jessup, Md., to Baltimore. The jail van she drove didn't have a cage for prisoners, so she put Marcus Anderson, 22, who is 6'3" and 220 pounds, in the front seat next to her. Barron, who has 19 years of experience, didn't have handcuffs, either, so Anderson's hands were free. Anderson, who was serving a three-year sentence on a drug conviction, was heading for his trial on weapons charges. When Barron stopped for a red light, Anderson opened the door and "leaped out" of the van. Barron couldn't call for help: the van didn't have a radio, and she didn't have a cell phone. "There was nothing for me to do but proceed," she told the judge. "I had a green light. Vehicles were blowing their horns." Judge Charles Bernstein buried his head in his hands, asking her, "Did you give him bus tokens, too?" Bernstein ordered that the trial continue anyway, and Anderson was convicted in absentia. He faces up to eight more years in prison, plus escape charges. (Baltimore Sun) ...With time off for exposing the Prison Guard Moron of the Year.

GOT A LIGHT? Scientists in Argentina say methane holds in 23 times more heat than carbon dioxide, and is a neglected culprit in global warming. To try to quantify how much the country's 55 million head of cattle contribute to the problem, the researchers have mounted fart collection tanks on the backs of cows to measure the gas they emit (no, really!). Early results from the Argentine National Institute of Agricultural Technology and the Argentine National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations show that the average cow blows out 800 to 1,000 liters of the flammable gas per day, and that feeding them clover and alfalfa instead of grain reduces emissions by about 25 percent. (London Telegraph) ...So the mythical cow didn't so much "jump over the moon" as it was rocket propelled.

POLITICAL STATEMENT: Voters in San Francisco, Calif., have a chance to rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant, now that a proposal has qualified for the November ballot. "It's typical San Francisco crazies," grumped the chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco, which proposed the name change, also suggests that residents served by the plant perform a "synchronized flush" as a "fitting monument to this president's work." (San Francisco Chronicle) ...Actually, the word they actually used only sounded like "fitting".

IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD...: "Fire Destroys Truck Full of Extinguishers" -- Lancaster (Penn.) Intelligencer Journal headline

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THIS is TRUE: 3 August 2008 Copyright This is True

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JUNIOR'S FIRST WORDS WERE "POLITICALLY CORRECT": Britain's National Children's Bureau has issued an alert that teachers must watch children as young as three, and even babies, for signs of racism. Indications of racist attitudes, according to the bureau's 366-page guide, include "name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships," and such "racist" behavior should be reported, the bureau says. Specific verboten behaviors include referring to others as "those people", saying someone "smells", or toddlers who "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'." (London Telegraph) ...Yuk: those nanny state people smell.

BURNING MONEY: The state lottery in Florida has an alluring twist in its "Summer Cash" game: first prize is $250,000, but some players say they would prefer the second prize: free gasoline for life. There is, of course, a catch: the second-place winner gets 26 gas cards per year, each valid for $100 worth of gas, until they die. To exceed the $250,000 first prize, they would have to live more than 96 years, and that doesn't even count the interest they could get on the $250,000 in cash. (New York Times) ...Well, we already know lottery players are no good at math.

TRAINING WHEELS: "I'm not sure why he wasn't more upset," said Galesburg, Ill., fire department Capt. Dan Foley. He spotted a man in a wheelchair, which was stuck in the railroad tracks at a crossing. Everyone could hear a train coming, especially Maurice Fox, who was sitting in the chair. "It was a bad situation," Fox said afterward, "knowing that my daughter just got hit by a train not too long ago." His daughter was killed in that accident. Fox was on his way to a grocery store to get a few things, but Foley, a passing sheriff's deputy, and a passerby managed to get him free before the train arrived, and Fox rolled onward. On his way home from the store, he got stuck again in the exact same spot. (Galesburg Register-Mail) ...And as soon as we hear the train, we'll be over to help you.

HEAD OUT FOR DINNER: A woman driving in Limestone County, Ala., saw a dog and a goat on the side of the road, and stopped to see if they were injured. They weren't, but she grabbed the goat and called for the sheriff anyway. "When our deputy arrived on the scene she had a hold of him and he was standing on the car," said Sheriff Mike Blakely. The deputy knew how to handle a goat: he grabbed it by the horns and escorted it to the back of his patrol car. The dog then jumped up on the seat next to the animal, and the deputy "brought them both back here to the jail," Blakely said. "He said he got some weird looks from people who noticed this goat in the back seat of his patrol car." The dog was housed in the county pound, but as for the goat, "No one has called yet to claim him," the sheriff said. "If we don't get a call on it, we are going to eat that goat." (Athens News Courier) ...To commemorate the Beijing Olympics, maybe he should serve it with a side of dog.

JOB SECURITY: "Fire Ignited By -- Smoke Detector" -- Hackensack (N.J.) Record headline

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THIS is TRUE: 10 August 2008 Copyright This is True

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WHEN THE MOON HITS YOUR EYE LIKE A BIG PIZZA PIE THAT'S ...A FELONY:

Stephanie Martinez was at work, at a pizza parlor in Denton, Texas, when a robber burst in. The gunman was impatient, and slapped a clerk to hurry him up. The clerk hit the robber back, stunning the robber and knocking his disguise off. "I dropped the money," Martinez remembers. "I said, 'Don't hit him again! That's my dad!" The robber ran out and jumped into a pickup truck where two accomplices were waiting. Police say Benjamin Ramirez, 41, was driven away from the scene by Sonia Palacios, 38, and Jose Miguel Martinez, 26 -- Stephanie's mother and stepfather; Ramirez is her father. All three were arrested. Police don't believe Stephanie Martinez was involved in the crime, or knew her employer would be a target. (Denton Record-Chronicle) ...Ramirez told police he chose the place because he heard Stephanie say many times that it "had tons of dough."

POLITE POLICE: New rules for police in the United Kingdom include special guidelines for handlers of police dogs. Officers should consider whether the dogs might trigger allergies or panic attacks in criminal suspects, which could lead to "costly compensation claims." Officers are incensed by the rules. "The whole point of police dogs is to frighten people rigid," complained one anonymous sergeant. "They should have considered the mental trauma and possible allergic reaction caused by 60lbs of foaming Alsatian clamping its teeth to their extremities before embarking on their criminal escapade." Another anonymous officer asked, "What's next? Sparing people custody because they have a fear of enclosed spaces?" (London Telegraph) ...That would save quite a bit of money too, actually.

HOW DARE YOU STEAL MY STOLEN VEHICLE! Edward Bishop, 33, told police in Salinas, Calif., that he had stolen a Chevy pickup truck. Hours later he was sitting at a convenience store when a man jumped into the seat, pointed a gun at his head, and told him to drive. Bishop jumped out of the car -- and called police to report the carjacking. After a chase ending in a crash, Jomo Sexton, 34, was caught and charged with kidnapping, carjacking, reckless driving, driving under the influence, unlicensed driving, hit and run, and violation of parole. Bishop was charged with vehicle theft. "You couldn't make up something stranger than this," a police commander said. (Salinas Californian) ...Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.

SMACKDOWN: The morning crew at radio station CFOX in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, wanted to show just how easy it was to buy drugs on city streets. "Captain Scotty" went to a specific street corner dressed in a beaver costume carrying a sign saying he wanted to buy heroin. The deal was completed "within minutes," live on the air. Two police officers in the area were listening to the show on their car radio and headed for the scene. The dealer was long gone, but "Scotty" was easy to spot -- he was apparently the only one on the corner in a beaver suit. "They found him, intervened and took a small amount of heroin from him," a police spokeswoman said. The stunt was meant to "highlight the ridiculous nature" of how easy it is to find drugs, the station's program director said. "Even a man in a beaver costume could do so." A spokeswoman for the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users wasn't impressed with the effort. "It sounds like a stunt to me," she said. (Toronto Globe and Mail) ...High, or just stupid? You be the judge.

HOW YOU KNOW GAS PRICES ARE TOO HIGH: "2 Shot in Bicycle Drive-by Outside South Los Angeles House" -- Los Angeles (Calif.) Times headline

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THIS is TRUE: 24 August 2008 Copyright This is True

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ROBBERY HOW-NOT-TO II: When the Superior Bank in Elkmont, Ala., was robbed, Limestone County sheriff's deputies quickly spotted the suspect and gave chase. The alleged robber was caught, treated at a hospital, and then jailed. Sheriff Mike Blakely recognized the man: he had arrested Timothy Lynn Wallace, 38, 13 years ago -- for robbing the very same bank. He was convicted in that case and sentenced to 12 years inprison. Blakely remembers that the first time it took three or four hours to catch Wallace after the robbery. This time, it only took minutes. "I don't know if we're getting better or he's getting worse," Blakely said. (Huntsville Times, Athens News-Courier) ...Police procedural rule No. 278: If you don't take credit, the other guy gets it by default.

HARD AT WORK: A police officer in Beaumont, Texas, has gone to court to contest his suspension for having sex with prostitutes on duty. Officer Keith Breiner, one of four officers suspended by the department, says he was ordered to have sex in a prostitution sting case on at least five occasions, and his wife testified she knew what was going on and approved. But "There does not appear to me to be a logical, work-related reason to have repeated sex with prostitutes in order to make a misdemeanor case," testified Beaumont Police Chief Frank Coffin. Breiner's lawyer said his client had an exemplary record, reading from one evaluation that Breiner "eagerly completes all assignments given to him and offers to help other officers." (Beaumont Enterprise) ...And that's supposed to help his case?

JUST THOUGHT I'D DROP IN: "I was sitting in the rocker across from the front door when I heard a loud roar," said Beverly Rodrigue of Chackbay, La. "I could tell it was a wreck" by the sound, and when she went outside she found the crashed car, but no one was in it. "I told my neighbor I couldn't find anybody, and she said to look on the roof. And there he was." Sure enough, Darrell Favorite, 39, was ejected in the crash, and landed on Rodrigue's roof. His injuries were so minor that he did not need hospital treatment. State troopers cited him for drunk driving -- and not wearing a seat belt. (Houma Courier) ...And "flight to avoid prosecution."

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY: The Butler County, Ky., sheriff had a warrant for the arrest of Joe Oros III, wanted for jumping bail on a drunk driving charge, and they got word that Oros was being held in California. Sheriff Joe Gaddie told California authorities he'd come out to get him. Gaddie and a deputy drove a squad car for the 4,100-mile trip to collect their prisoner, who insisted he was not wanted in Kentucky. "Every convict has a story," Gaddie said, dismissing the claim. But upon arriving in Kentucky, they discovered Oros was the victim of identity theft, and they really did have the wrong guy. Oros was flown back to California, and is considering suing the county. His lawyer notes that if Gaddie had simply brought a mug shot of the wanted man, he would have immediately realized the mistaken identity. Meanwhile, Oros said he liked Kentucky: "It's so green, and the people are so nice," he said. "I just might move there." (Louisville Courier-Journal)...Maybe for the settlement, Gaddie will help him move.

BA-GAWK! "Police: Man Arrested after Chicken Was Found in Pants" -- Palm Springs (Calif.) Desert Sun headline

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THIS is TRUE: 31 August 2008 Copyright This Is True

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OH, WHAT THE HECK: In an interview on CNBC months before being picked as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate, Alaska's first-term governor Sarah Palin seemingly had no idea what the job might entail. Asked then whether she would consider an offer to be vice president, Palin replied, "I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day." (Los Angeles Times) ...Of course, most Americans wonder exactly the same thing.

SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE: Wellston, Mo., police chief Robert Cossia was demoted by the city to assistant chief, and Brian Gillmore was named to replace him. A few days later, the two men ran into each other and had a "discussion" in city hall. It became heated and, Gillmore says, Cossia shoved and choked him. Both men drew their guns, but no shots were fired. Cossia has been dismissed from the department, and faces assault charges. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) ..."Anybody can become angry; that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way -- that is not within everybody's power; that is not easy." --Aristotle.

INTERCEPTED! For the football game against McNeese State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had a special stunt planned: two men would parachute into the stadium to deliver the game ball. But as officials scanned the sky, nothing came: the skydivers had instead landed at the Wallace Wade Stadium eight miles away, where Duke was getting ready to play James Madison University. "In about five years, maybe this will be funny," groaned UNC associate athletic director Rick Steinbacher. (Raleigh News & Observer) ...No, it was funny immediately.

WOMAN, SCORNED: A woman only identified as "Anna" in Queensland, Australia, says she came home and found a pair of women's panties at the foot of her bed -- and they're not hers. She put a photograph of the "offending knickers" -- and an empty condom wrapper -- up for sale on eBay. She noted the underpants are "size humongous" and the condom, "size small". The auction notes she had been married to her "soon-to-be ex-husband" for 22 years. Anna had to settle for selling a photo since eBay has a policy against selling used underwear. "eBay does connect colorful buyers with colorful sellers," an eBay spokeswoman said, "and I wouldn't be surprised if someone did buy these items." The auction started at 69 cents, and ended at A$353 (US$303). (Brisbane Courier Mail) ...The world's only marriage to end in a photo finish.

THAT'S WHAT I WOULD DO: "Drunk in Court? Blame it on Karaoke" -- Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner headline

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THIS is TRUE: 7 September 2008 Copyright This is True

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HOW EMBARRBUTTING! Web sites that import news feeds, but then automatically censor "objectionable" words, are sometimes committing "Clbuttic Mistakes". The term was coined when a site changed the word "classic" to "clbuttic" on the theory the word "butt" (for instance) is less objectionable than "a**". Prior to the 2008 Olympics, the American Family Association's news site automatically replaced a word in articles about sprinter Tyson Gay: "Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue," they reported, "sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has." Other mangled language has included "consbreastution", an article on "What did the British Embbutty do for this British National Overseas pbuttport holder," and a "series of previously secret Central Intelligence Agency plots to buttbuttinate foreign leaders." (London Telegraph) ...As if such urinevish buttaults on our language could protect anyone's chasbreasty.

STEP RIGHT UP: "Operation Scheduled Departure", a pilot program by the Homeland Security Department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, was launched in five cities in hopes that some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would deport themselves. An estimated 457,000 illegals were targeted: those who had been ordered to leave, but had not done so. If they volunteered to self-deport under the new program, they wouldn't be prosecuted for staying. During the three-week pilot phase, only eight people volunteered to be deported. "I don't consider the program a failure," said Jim Hayes, in charge of ICE's deportation unit, since the $41,000 effort proved that such programs are ineffective. (New York Times) ...Yep, it's a government program all right.

BACKDRAFT: Firefighters were called to Tipton, West Midlands, England, for an unnamed 12-year-old boy who "had been pranking around in the garden having a competition with his cousin, when they were breaking wind and lighting it," fire department watch commander Paul Harpin said. Unfortunately, "Right behind him was a petrol can and that just flashed" into flame. The boy was burned on the backs of both legs, and was hospitalized. But, Harpin said, "I think he must have won the competition." (London Telegraph) ...So stop calling him a loser!

FREEZE, MAGGOT! After Leda Smith, 85, arrived at her Springhill Township, Penn., home after church, she saw a burglar. "I just walked right on past him to the bedroom and got my gun," she said, which she put next to her bed after another burglary nearby. She then went and found the burglar, who was hiding, and ordered him to the phone. She had him dial 911 for her, and held him at gunpoint while she waited for the police. "He just kept saying he didn't do it," Smith said. "It was exciting. I just hope I broke up the ring because they have been hitting a lot of places around here." (Uniontown Herald-Standard) ...Old and wise beats young and stupid just about every time.

WHAT A KEENER, EH? "Canada Remains Happily Mediocre" -- Calgary (Alta.) Herald headline

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