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THIS is TRUE for 1 May 2005 Copyright This is True

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THE LONGEST TWO YEARS EVER RECORDED: In 1981, when Marion County, Ind., needed a new sports stadium for Indianapolis, a temporary 1 percent tax was put on restaurant food. The Hoosier Dome was built -- and now plans call for it to be torn down to make room for a new stadium. But that's fine, right? The tax passed in large part because it had a two-year "sunset" clause, since that's all that would be necessary to pay off the $77 million stadium. But even though the tax has raised more than $250 million so far, it's still on the books. Politicians say that's because the tax is "co-mingled" with others and has been used to pay for other things, like an expansion of the convention center. In fact, so many things have been charged toward the tax that it must stay on the books until at least 2030 to pay it all off; nearly a half-billion dollars remain to be paid. So how will Indiana pay for the replacement for the Hoosier Dome? Politicians have proposed an additional 1 percent tax on restaurant food. (Indianapolis Star) ..."Temporary" (adj.): The period of time between a political promise and the date the last politician who supported it dies. --This is True Political Dictionary

TRADE YOUR CELL FOR A CELL: Sheriff's deputies in Rogersville, Tenn., say that as Jason Anthony Arnold, 29, and James Keith Benton, 38, planned out a burglary, a snitch was relaying every word to police dispatchers. The snitch: Arnold's cell phone. "Apparently with this type of phone if you hold down the number nine it automatically dials 911," Detective Eve Jackson explained. It was in Arnold's pocket. At some point the phone dialed the emergency number "and Central dispatch heard everything they said." Deputies did a stakeout on the target car dealership and swooped in once the late-night burglary started. "You can imagine their surprise," Jackson said. (Kingsport Times-News) ...It likely wasn't any more of a surprise than any other criminal feels when busted. Don't they all figure they'll get away with it?

O.K., JUST TRY TO GUESS THE WOMEN'S PROFESSION: Three unidentified women in Columbia, S.C., reported to police that an acquaintance stopped by their residence saying he couldn't find his cell phone. They told him they hadn't seen it, but say the man said "there was going to be a blood bath in here" if the phone wasn't found. He pulled a gun and ordered all three women, aged 39, 28 and 21, to strip so he could see if any of them was hiding it. The 39-year-old suggested he call the phone to see if it rang. He did, and when someone else answered it he left. The women told officers they only knew the man as "Fat Daddy". (Columbia State) ...Gee, he sounds a lot more like Fat Head.

THAT SINKING FEELING: A shortage of "H-1B" visas for foreign technical employees is making things hard for U.S. employers. And Americans are unhappy that jobs are being outsourced to India and other countries, and some of the companies doing it are unhappy with the long-distance employees. Both problems could be fixed via a new scheme being promoted by software entrepreneur Roger Green and former ship captain David Cook. Their new business, "SeaCode", proposes anchoring a retrofitted cruise ship in international waters off the California coast manned by 600 foreign software engineers linked to the mainland by a broadband Internet connection. "There are some major problems with managing something that is halfway around the world," says Green, such as executives having to go "on three-week trips to Third World countries" to check on them. And what's in it for the workers, besides having a job? "Do you remember the Love Boat?" asked Cook. "That's the kind of facility we're talking about." (Boston Globe) ...Isaac and Doc are

ready to rock.

OH, NOW THERE'S A SHOCK: "Hotties Make More Money, Study Says" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 8 May 2005 Copyright This is True

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LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Florida state Sen. Mandy Dawson wanted to join fellow legislators on a trip to Africa. The others paid their own ways, but Dawson ordered an aide to solicit donations for the trip from lobbyists. When her aide told her that was against the law, she ordered the aide to do it anyway. Dawson was previously in trouble for altering a prescription to get extra painkillers, but avoided prison by going to drug rehab. This time, for soliciting and accepting cash, she was reprimanded in public by the Senate -- and kicked off the Senate ethics committee. "I hope you will accept my humble and sincere apology if my actions have in any way compromised the integrity of this body," she said. (Miami Herald) ..."If"?

FOR EXAMPLE II: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has not upgraded equipment at many airports because it can't afford it all. The TSA says that's why its screeners sometimes miss guns, knives and other items passengers carry through security checkpoints. Yet TSA employees at a new operations center in Herndon, Va., spent $500,000 on artwork and silk plants for their offices, a government auditor says. The building and its furnishings, which houses just 79 employees, cost $19 million, including a $350,000 gym, seven kitchens with restaurant-grade appliances, and $63,099 worth of cable-fed TVs. Even "low level" employees have large private offices. David Stone, the center's manager, says the new building and its decorations are "worth every dollar spent." (Washington Post) ...To whom?

GNASHED: When Jean Collop of Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, heard a prowler outside her home late at night, she went to confront him herself. "I politely told him not to move," she said, and "grabbed the first thing that came to hand" to defend herself. Which was? "One of my garden gnomes." The man apparently didn't hold still: she "hurled" the gnome "and hit him," she said, then retreated inside. There she grabbed another weapon -- a rolling pin -- which she preferred since she "didn't want to break another gnome." (London Telegraph) ...Neither the garden statue nor the burglar.

SHOCKING CRIME: A resident in Inverness, Fla., confronted a burglar who was wearing only a sheet. The victim shot the man with a Taser, but the burglar seemed to like it: he asked to be shocked some more. When that wasn't forthcoming, witnesses say, the man grabbed a lamp off a table, unscrewed the bulb and jammed his fingers in the socket. Sheriff's deputies arrived as the man ran out of the house. Shyne Harris Phelps, 39, was booked on charges of kidnaping, burglary, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with intent to commit a felony, resisting arrest, battery and criminal mischief. (St. Petersburg Times) ...Well sure he had to be charged with battery.

YEAH, RIGHT, LIKE ANYONE BELIEVES THAT: "Pessimism Raises Dementia Risk, Study Finds" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE for 15 May 2005 Copyright This is True

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NO SHIRT, NO PANTS, BIG PROBLEM: A man in Peachtree, Ga., was arrested after skinny-dipping in a pond at a city park with a woman. Michael R. Stevens, 37, who runs a company offering golf cart tours, allegedly fled from a police officer on a golf cart with the unnamed woman, leaving his clothing behind. When officers caught up with the duo, they asked Stevens if he had been drinking. He allegedly replied, "Not enough." He was charged with driving under the influence, resisting an officer, public indecency, public intoxication, reckless driving, being in the park after hours, and other infractions. The woman was not charged. Stevens's tour company is called "Big Mike's Adventures". (Fayette Citizen News) ...No charge for the woman? Apparently some of Stevens's "adventures" are not as "big" as advertised.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: Customs officials in Bangladesh were suspicious of a cargo container being shipped by rail through Dhaka. The contents were declared to be scrap metal, but actually contained a Mercedes and other luxury cars, big-screen TVs and high-end kitchen appliances. The National Board of Revenue brought in bulldozers to shred it all into scrap. (Reuters) ...And, one hopes, they then packed it all back into the container and sent it on its way.

DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO -- PART 7,147: The city of Jonesboro, Ark., rented a vacant fire station to the "advocacy" group Northeast Arkansans for Animals. But after the group moved out the city had a hard time ridding the building of terrible smells. Then city workers figured out why: the group had accidentally left a freezer behind. Inside were three trash bags filled with dead animals. NAFA Executive Director Wannda Turner blamed the city for the problem. "I am shocked the city did not inform us that the freezer was still there," she told reporters. Turner defended putting the bodies in the freezer. "Freezing them is the most humane thing you can do," she said. "We didn't want to just leave them in the road to be run over." After all, she added, "You can't just put them in your trash." The animals were kept in the freezer until they could be hauled to the dump, but "there just hasn't been anyone to take them" to the dump since "we're all just volunteers." (Jonesboro Sun) ...That's the best ad promoting the spaying and neutering of pets I've ever seen.

READY... AIM... CLICK! Texas has not yet been able to implement a ban on Internet-based hunting (This is True, 5 December 2004), but it's still working on it since John Lockwood of Rocksprings, Texas, is going ahead with his online hunting plan, which allows people to shoot animals on his ranch with the click of a mouse. "It's not hunting," says executive vice president Kirby L. Brown of the Texas Wildlife Association, which represents hunters. "It falls off of the end of the ethical chart." Dale Jamieson, a philosophy professor at New York University, takes it further. "Of course the next step in this is that people start killing people over the Internet," he says. "That's the worry." (Los Angeles Times) ...No worries: we'll only target spammers. Really. We promise.

ROYALTIES TO BE PAID WITH INVISIBLE MONEY: "Inventor Creates Soundless Sound System" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 22 May 2005 Copyright This Is True

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INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT: The Chinese are upset by a new Japanese school history textbook which, they say, whitewashes Japanese crimes during WWII. But photos of a little Japanese girl are helping to melt Chinese hearts. Saaya Irie is "pacifying a certain segment of China's population" with her photos, especially those showing her in a bikini. The 11-year-old budding actress fills an F-cup bra, and her photos have swept Chinese web sites. A message with the photos, surely not written by the girl, begs the Chinese to "stop these anti-Japanese hijinks" since "if you don't, I won't like you anymore." But if people "unite for the sake of China's democracy," the message says, her breasts will "rise up." The unlikely propaganda is working. "This is one Japanese import I won't be boycotting," said one Chinese man. The girl's agent says she's a "bit frightened" by the attention, but she says she "would like to see good relations between Japan and China." (Japan Times) ...At 11, let's hope she doesn't understand exactly what sort of relations the guys really want.

NAILED: An unnamed 11-year-old boy at Rawlinson Road Middle School in Rock Hill, S.C., was stopped by Assistant Principal Dianne McCray, who asked what was jingling in his pocket. He handed over ten 3.5" nails, left over from a Boy Scout trip. The administrator turned the boy over to the school police officer, who arrested the boy for possession of "weapons" at school. "Is a pencil a weapon?" demanded the boy's father. Apparently so: state law says anything "that can be construed or used as a weapon on school grounds can be classified as unlawful," says a police spokesman. (Rock Hill Herald) ..."Can" doesn't mean a rational person would do so, sir.

TIME TRAVELER: Prosecutors told the Winchester Crown Court in southern England that Jaswinder Bains, 45, was "blatantly dishonest" on the time cards for his job as a social worker on at least 24 occasions. In one instance, Bains allegedly claimed he worked 23 hours in one day on 29 case files, even though his credit card records show he was on a shopping spree in Paris that day. Bains testified that he did not falsify his work hour records. "I was working very long hours without sleep," he said. "I do not need a lot of sleep." He didn't explain what was behind his records on another day, when he claimed he worked 28 hours. (AFP) ...Yeah, only a lawyer can pull that off.

KEEP ON TRUCKIN': Wayne Keith, 57, doesn't really care that gasoline prices are skyrocketing: his pickup truck runs on wood. He uses a bit of gas to get the truck going when it's cold, but the Springville, Ala., man converted his truck to run on hydrogen, which is generated by burning wood in the truck's bed. "It takes about 20 pounds of wood to do what one gallon of gas will do," Keith says. There's no need for spark plug changes, but he does have to empty out the ashes every 1,000 miles or so. (Birmingham News) ...It can drive cross-country with ease, as long as he sticks to forest roads.

UNFORTUNATELY THE SAME CANNOT BE SAID OF ITS INHABITANTS: "Earth Has Become Brighter, but No One Is Sure Why" -- New York Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 29 May 2005 Copyright This Is True

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SUICIDE IS PAINLESS: The province of Prince Edward Island, Canada, announced a great idea to save tax money: the health minister announced a plan to reduce the hours of operation of the provincial suicide prevention hotline to business hours: 9:00 to 5:00. The hotline only got 50 calls from suicidal people last year, costing taxpayers C$30,000 (US$24,000). "One of the things I was hearing is the government felt there weren't enough suicide-related calls," said Joan Wright, executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. After an outcry, Health Minister Chester Gillan announced a change of heart, but said the turnabout wasn't for political reasons. "We did not obviously do it for how I look... or how the government looks," he said. (Reuters, Charlottetown Guardian) ...Rather, he simply realized he might need the number himself after seeing the results of the next election.

SUICIDE IS PAINFUL: After his conviction of having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl for over a year, Franklin E. Carver, 67, of Godfrey, Ill., was apparently intent on committing suicide. He shot himself in the head with a .22 handgun, but didn't die. Two more shots to the head and two to his chest didn't do the trick, either, so Carver drove 10 minutes to a bridge over the Mississippi River and threw himself off. He was later found drowned. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) ...Just as the girl's father suspected from the start, Carver had no brains and no heart.

THE KINGZ INGLISH: Britain's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has decreed that secondary students must not be penalized for misspellings when taking an important hour-long test -- on English proficiency. The spelling standard was loosened when only 71 percent of 14-year-old students managed to "reach the level expected in English" against a target of 75 percent. (London Telegraph) ...Nt srprsng thx 2 txt msgs.

NAME GAME: Ian Macfarlane, 44, a lawyer specializing in conveyances in Dorset, England, opened a bank account in the name of "Ian Revue" and, when it came time to pay taxes for clients, wrote out checks using his firm's account to "I. Revue" so that it looked like he was making payment to the Inland Revenue department. He then deposited the checks into the account he opened. He managed to rake in more than 825,000 pounds (US$1.5 million) over seven years before being caught by a suspicious member of his own firm. (London Times) ...Who understood the importance of proper spelling.

WHY? "Chicken Ticketed for Crossing the Road" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 5 June 2005 Copyright This Is True

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AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: A salesman at an electronics store in Colorado Springs, Colo., says a man walked by toward the door, doing a poor job of hiding a $1,300 wide-screen LCD television under his jacket. He told the man he couldn't just take the TV. The man pulled a knife, asking "Can you give me a 10-second delay before calling the cops?" No head starts, the salesman decided: he called the police. Officers found Ashanti Black, 22, and the TV, a block away. (Colorado Springs Gazette) ...Sadly they confiscated the TV, so Black was not able to watch himself on the news that night.

CANADA'S MOST WANTED: Donald Johnson, a defense attorney in Cornwall, Ont., Canada, woke up in the middle of the night to noises from another bedroom in his house. His wife called police while he chased after the burglar. He tackled the intruder, disarmed him of a knife, and then realized he knew the man: it was one of his own clients. "I guess he didn't know it was my house," Johnson said. After booking, police asked Scott Best, 34, if he'd like to call a lawyer. He asked if he could call Johnson, but officers apparently convinced him to call someone else. Johnson agreed it "wouldn't have been a good idea" to call him. (Canadian Press) ...On the other hand, he was already up.

BRITAIN'S MOST WANTED: Police in Humberside, England, received a tip that a prison escapee was living in Hull. Sure enough, Lee Barnes, 28, had been living in his own home for 18 months. Police never checked the house for the escapee because the prison in West Yorkshire never reported his escape. (Hull Daily Mail) ...Sometimes it's nice to not be wanted.

THE HIGH PRICE OF GAS: Police in Tyngsboro, Mass., say Michael Corbett, 20, was stealing gas from a truck with a syphon but couldn't see well, so he pulled out his cigarette lighter. He of course set fire to the truck -- and himself. He was able to drive himself to the hospital for treatment of burns to his arms, and then turned himself in to police when he was released from the hospital the next day. Meanwhile, Glen B. Germain Jr., 19, of Glen Falls, N.Y., was allegedly stealing gas from a forklift when he decided to see how full his gas can was getting. His cigarette lighter of course set fire to the forklift -- and himself. "He panicked and couldn't put out the fire so he fled the scene," an investigator said. He escaped with relatively minor burns, plus a theft charge. Police say it's the second time he had been arrested for gas theft in the last week. (Lowell Sun, Glens Falls Post-Star) ...Once burned, twice the shyster.

GETTING DEADER ALL THE TIME: "For Dead Sea, a Slow and Seemingly Inexorable Death" -- Washington Post headline

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THIS is TRUE for 12 June 2005 Copyright This Is True.com

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GIVE THEM NO QUARTER: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Colorado Gov. Bill Owens are having a "playful fight" about the design of their respective state commemorative quarters -- each state gets to design the tails side of a 25-cent piece. "Would you ask [Pawlenty] what's going on with his quarter?" Owens said. "That's one ugly quarter" due to the "big mosquitoes on it." Pawlenty countered that Colorado's quarter had "some subliminal messaging ... depicting Gov. Owens in the buff." Owens replied that he was "surprised Tim Pawlenty could say the word 'subliminal'." (Minneapolis Star Tribune) ...Typical two-bit politicians.

OUI OUI P.C.: A re-enactment of Britain's Battle of Trafalgar will be a bit different from the real thing. Organizers have declared that rather than faithfully depicting Lord Nelson's battle against the French and Spanish navies, the faux fight will be between the "Red Fleet" and the "Blue Fleet" to keep from offending the French. France was decimated in the 1805 battle. The re-enactment "will not be a French-bashing opportunity" said a Royal Navy spokeswoman, but rather "theatre on water." (London Times) ...Theatre on water, watered-down theatre, what's the difference?

INSIDE JOB: A squad of newly trained police dogs in Victoria, Australia, have been taken out of service after handlers discovered a training problem. The dogs had been taught to track cocaine checked out of police evidence lockers, but only after training did police realize that someone had stolen the real cocaine before they got there and replaced it with talcum powder. In tests, the dogs ignored real cocaine "but showed unusual prowess in tracking baby powder." Police are now trying to figure out who stole the drugs. (Sydney Australian) ..."We could track them down," detectives said, "if only...."

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY: Cathy Gallagher of Bethesda, Md., thinks greeting card publishers are missing out on a huge market: married people having affairs. She has thus introduced the "Secret Lover Collection" for philanderers. (Sample holiday card: "As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you.") "People who are involved in affairs are not bad people," she says, defending her business model, since "a lot of people meet the right person at the wrong time." Gallagher, who is married and writes the cards herself, says she has never had an affair. "You don't have to be a murderer to write a murder mystery," she says. The artwork on Gallagher's cards is done by a good friend's husband. (Gaithersburg Gazette) ...And darn it, they just can't help it if they have to work late on new cards all the time.

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THIS is TRUE for 19 June 2005 Copyright This Is True

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TRUNK TRICKS: A motorist saw a woman stuff two children into her car's trunk and called police. The California Highway Patrol pulled over Lavern Dunlap, 35, and found six passengers in the car -- plus the two kids in the trunk. They were headed toward Palmdale, 60 miles from their Glendora home. None of the nine occupants was wearing a seat belt; Dunlap was arrested and charged with child cruelty. Meanwhile, a police officer in Thurmont, Md., watched a woman load three young children into her trunk at a mall and drive off. "Did I do something wrong?" asked Lanora Adele Lucas, 37, when he pulled her over. "Yes, you did," Sgt. Shawn Tyler replied. "I don't think so," a feisty Lucas said. But when Tyler asked, "What about the three children you have in the trunk of your car?" she started to "visibly shake," he said. Lucas was charged with reckless endangerment. (Los Angeles Daily News, Washington Post) ...If you love your kids, belt them.

SITH SENSE: Inspired by the Star Wars film "Revenge Of The Sith", Mark Webb, 20, and Shelley Mandiville, 17, decided to get a video of their own "light saber" duel. Not having access to Hollywood special effects, the couple from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, filled two fluorescent light tubes with gasoline and lit them on fire. Burn unit doctors say they have a 50 percent chance of survival, and police are trying to find the cameraman to learn more about what happened. (London Evening Standard) ...Seeing as he was the only one smart enough to leave.

BLEAK HOUSE: The opening argument in a British civil trial against the Bank of England lasted a record-breaking 80 days as the barrister set out the Bank of Credit & Commerce International's 850 million pound (US$1.55 billion) case against the bank. Finally, defense barrister Nicholas Stadlen got a chance to make his own opening remarks. "After six months," he warned the court, "the empire strikes back." He easily broke the plaintiff attorney's record, taking 119 days to lay out his defense. (London Guardian) ...Once again we see the Darth side of the law.

WARNING! HEED THIS WARNING LABEL: To help combat door-to-door sales

scams, police in Warwickshire, England, gave out stickers to residents to put on their front doors proclaiming, "We don't buy from the doorstep." All was well and good until door-to-door sales squads told residents that the stickers were no longer legal and had to be replaced with new ones -- for a small fee. Police warn the replacement campaign is a scam, and that the free stickers are still available. (Birmingham

Post) ...American stickers are more effective: "Resident armed with shotgun. Go ahead: ring the bell."

CONCLUDED ONLY AFTER EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATION: "Crash Plane Was below Correct Height" -- Australian AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 26 June 2005 Copyright Thisistrue.com

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LET'S POSE THE QUESTION: Parents are upset with the staff at Shawsheen (Mass.) School over a scrapbook they made for a retiring colleague. The staff posed for photos dressed only in towels. "I don't think there will be any parents who think it's cute to see half naked teachers sprawled out on a desk at an elementary school," complained one parent. Principal Moira O'Brien can't be expected to crack down on the staff since she's "featured" in the book. School superintendent Claudia Bach says the bad publicity over the scrapbook is the result of a "smear campaign" by two teachers O'Brien had fired; they are suing the district claiming discrimination. (Andover Townsman) ...Yes, well, who posed for the photos?

PASSING IT ALONG: School officials in Victoria, Australia, say it's too hard for students to calculate equations using the constant 9.8 meters/second/second -- the acceleration of gravity at Earth's surface -- so it's changing the Year 12 physics exam for the Victorian Certificate of Education to use a rounded-off figure of 10 m/s/s. Close enough? No: "The difference could cause a parachutist or bungie jumper to plummet into the ground, or the launching of a rocket to fail," say people who actually understand physics. After hearing the criticism the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority announced that it would not penalize students who used the correct figure. (Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia) ...No penalty for wrong answers, no penalty for the right ones -- modern education in a nutshell.

TAKING BACK THE SCHOOLS: Principal Dan Doerhoff of East Lynne School in Kansas City, Mo., decided a fitting punishment for an unnamed fourth- grade girl in lieu of suspension was to make her pick up rocks along the road in front of the school for three days. Alone. Teachers thought the girl's punishment was too harsh and dangerous, and during their free periods several went out to help her and watch after her. The mini revolt was led by teacher Christa Price, so Doerhoff not only ordered Price fired for "failing to support the administration," he refused to do the final sign-off on her teaching credential, which she needs to get another teaching job. Seven other teachers quit to show support for Price, leaving only two teachers at the school. Parents are fighting back too: they gathered 177 signatures on a petition demanding Doerhoff's resignation, and are campaigning to vote out any school board members who support him. Meanwhile, district officials say they'll sign Price's certificate so she can get a new job. (Kansas City Star) ...No matter how old you get, it can still be satisfying to say "nyah nyah nyah" to the principal.

ANOTHER SYMPTOM OF THE SAME DISEASE: An editorial in the British Medical Journal has a vital, urgent suggestion for the improvement of public health: pointy kitchen knives must be banned to "reduce knife crime." Laws must be passed, the authors say, to require blunt, rounded knife tips because of a recent rise in stabbings. In the U.S., even the most rabid gun-control advocates ridiculed the proposal. "Can sharp stick control be far behind?" sneered a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But the editorial's authors are serious. They say they polled 10 English chefs and "none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential." (New York Times) ...Insert obligatory joke about the inability of the English to cook.

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD: "Human Cannonball Fired over His Fear of Flying" -- London Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 3 July 2005 Copyright This Is True

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EASY COME, EASY GO: Trent Budgen, 41, says the reason he is being evicted from his flat in Croydon, England, is ridiculous. "It's been said that I was keeping people up by having sex every night," he says. "Obviously I'm a man, but from what they've been saying you would think I was superhuman." Budgen worries where he'll end up. "I'll have to live on the streets," he predicts. Luckily, his children won't suffer that fate. He has 12 of them, aged 1 to 24, but none of them live with him. (Croydon Guardian) ...Heck no. They can't stand the noise.

RUFFLED FEATHERS: Sheila M. Bajus, 40, was driving down the freeway near Janesville, Wisc., and spotted a duck leading her ducklings across the highway. She stopped to try to save them. As she ran down the shoulder, Walter J. Perepechko, 74, spotted the ducks in the road. He swerved to miss them -- by moving over to the shoulder. He hit Bajus, throwing her 60 feet, causing her only a minor leg injury. But at least four ducklings were killed. "The harm's way that you're putting yourself into is probably not worth it," said investigating Trooper Andrew Emmel, who recommended not stopping to help wildlife on the freeway. "If they get hit, unfortunately that's life." (Janesville Gazette) ...Or, more accurately, death.

I DON'T THINK SO: A man walked into a convenience store in Morganton, N.C., pointed a gun at the clerk, and demanded money. She pulled out her own gun and "I told him, 'I'll shoot you too'," Bonnie Christie said. "I think he tried to get a bullet in the chamber of his gun but the bullet jammed." He then ran. The suspected robber and his getaway driver were captured nearby. "It happened so fast," Christie said later. "I didn't have time to think. But after I think about it for a while, I wonder what was I thinking." (Marion McDowell News) ...Sometimes you can think too much. I think.

PLEASE NOTE THE TERM 'POLITICALLY INCORRECT' IS NOW CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE TO POLITICIANS: No more brainstorming is allowed at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Belfast, Ireland. While staffers maybe, just maybe, will be allowed to think in groups, they can't call it "brainstorming" anymore "on the grounds that it may be deemed pejorative," a DETI spokeswoman says. How's that? The word, they figure, might, just perhaps, be somehow offensive to people with various brain disorders. Employees have been ordered to use the term "thought-shower" instead. (London Observer) ...Sounds reasonable, since apparently several managers there have a brain disorder.

LEAVING THE HOMELESS ...um... HOMELESS: "Homeless Evicted from Temecula Camp" -- Escondido (Calif.) North County Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 10 July 2005 Copyright This is True

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WATERFALL: "He was really lucky," said a witness of the accident which injured Steven Newell of London, Ont., Canada. "He could have been hit in the head by the balcony." Newell had been on the balcony when it collapsed. The failure of the structure may have had something to do with what Newell had installed on his second-floor terrace: a portable swimming pool. The 8-foot pool had 19-20 inches of water in it, which would weigh more than 3,000 pounds. (London Free Press) ...Actually, "really lucky" would mean it wouldn't take him standing there to make it collapse.

WHY, I OTTA! A memorial golf tournament in Sarasota, Fla., was delayed when the opening ceremony went awry. Skydiver Jim Madison, 62, landed in a tree and then slammed into the ground, breaking his left leg in multiple places, while the crowd attending the event watched. Still, he was able to hand over the special item he was carrying for the mother of the man being memorialized: a Three Stooges golf ball. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) ...Whoop whoop whoop whoops!

BREAST OF SHOW: "We're kinda at our wits' end, so it's come to this," says Sheba Love, a protestor from "Breasts Not Bombs" who dropped her top in San Francisco, Calif., to get attention to her message. To help get her message across, she declared herself a size 40D. "But it blows me away that all we have to do is bare our skin and we can cause such a snit," she says. Onlookers were hardly in a snit. "I think it's great!" declared one woman. Police were standing by to ensure the protest was peaceful. Co-protestor Sherry Glaser, size 40DDD, didn't think there would be any problem. "Boobies never hurt anyone," she said. (San Francisco Chronicle) ...Though if they could, a couple of 40DDDs would do it.

CUT AND CURL: The staff and students at Blalock's Beauty College in Shreveport, La., were confronted by a man with a gun announcing a holdup. He grabbed whatever money he could and was running for the door when manager Dianne Mitchell, 53, stuck out her leg and tripped him, sending him to the floor and the gun flying. "Get that sucker!" she yelled to the 20 victims, who responded with curling irons and a table leg to beat on the robber. By the time police arrived he was well bloodied, had wet his pants and was crying. Jared Gipson, 24, was charged with armed robbery, but his booking into jail awaits his release from the hospital. (Shreveport Times) ...And that, class, is what we call an "extreme makeover."

CAUSE AND EFFECT? "U.S. Losing Lead in Science and Engineering --Study" -- Reuters headline; "Allegations of Fake Research Hit New High" -- AP headline, two days later

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THIS is TRUE for 17 July 2005 Copyright This Is True

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DING-A-LING: Denell Heller was watching out her New Berlin, Wisc., window and commenting on the irritating tune spewing from an ice cream truck as it drove by: "Pop Goes the Weasel". When she saw the driver toss something on her lawn she called the police. "I told them I don't want him in my neighborhood if he's going to litter," she said. An officer stopped by and picked up the object -- an empty malt liquor can -- and tracked down the treat vendor nearby. David A. Blundell, 43, admitted tossing the can, but insisted he had only drunk one beer, for

breakfast, two hours before. Police say Blundell, a registered sex offender, failed a field sobriety test and blew .23 percent on a Breathalyzer test. He was charged with drunk driving -- and littering -- and released on bail. When he didn't show up for court to face the charges, a warrant was issued for his arrest. (Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel) ...And when the police catch up with him, they'll pop the weasel.

WAR GAMES: Gary McKinnon, 39, of London, England, faces extradition to the United States, which says he perpetrated the "biggest military

computer hack of all time." McKinnon admits he penetrated U.S. military and NASA computers trying to get information on UFOs -- and learned all sorts of secrets. Like what?, a reporter asked him. "I found a list of officers' names, under the heading 'Non-Terrestrial Officers'," plus "a list of ship names. I looked them up. They weren't U.S. Navy ships. What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-

planet." What sort of names did the ships have? "I can't remember. I was smoking a lot of dope at the time." (London Guardian) ...What sort of names did the ships have? Maui Wowie, Amsterdam Skunk, and Piccadilly Puff.

WORD UP: The U.K.'s High Court has upheld the ruling of a court in Leicestershire, England, that OKs racial abuse -- sort of. The case stems from messages that Leslie Collins of Leicester left on the answering machine of his MP. Judges ruled that while the messages were clearly offensive since epithets such as "wog", "pakis" and "black bastard" were included, no one from the identified minorities were likely to hear the words, and thus could not be offended by them. Office workers who played the recordings said they were upset at hearing them, but both courts ruled that no crime was committed because those workers were not minorities. (London Telegraph) ...In a later development, several London newspapers were charged with crimes for reporting the story.

"ETHICAL" DEFINED: After more than 100 dead dogs were dumped in a trash dumpster over four weeks, police in Ahoskie, N.C., kept an eye on the trash receptacle behind a supermarket. Sure enough, a van drove up and officers watched the occupants throw in heavy plastic bags. They detained the two people in the van and found 18 dead dogs in plastic bags in the dumpster, including puppies; 13 more dead dogs were still in the van. Police say the van is registered to the headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the two occupants, Andrew B. Cook, 24, and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, identified themselves as PETA employees. An autopsy performed on one of the dogs found it was healthy before it was killed. Police say PETA has been picking up the animals -- alive -- from North Carolina animal shelters, promising to find them good homes. Cook and Hinkle have been charged with 62 felony counts of animal cruelty. In response to the arrests PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said it's against the group's policy for employees to dump animals in the trash, but "that for some animals in North Carolina, there is no kinder option than euthanasia." (Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald) ...Oops, my mistake: that's "Playing God" Defined.

NOT EVEN! "County Gives Suckers a Break" -- Grand Junction (Colo.) Sentinel headline

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THIS is TRUE for 24 July 2005 Copyright This is True

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IN GOD'S NAME: The Jackson, Miss., chapter of adoption agency Bethany Christian Services refused to allow Catholics to adopt children. "It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Jackson BCS Director Karen Stewart told a Catholic couple. Other Catholic couples reported similar stories. The policy became a political issue when local newspapers noted that BCS is partly funded by the anti-abortion "Choose Life" Mississippi auto license plate. "If it's OK to accept our money" from license plates, "it should be OK to open your home to us as a family," complained one Catholic woman who was turned down by the agency. After an uproar, BCS voted to change its policy. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger) ...The deal: they'll take Catholics as long as no one asks about their Mormon policy.

STOMP IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: Michael D. Allen, 18, called the sheriff in New Scotland, N.Y., to say he had just witnessed a burglary next door to his house. A deputy found the neighbor's front door was kicked in; a large sneaker print was clearly visible. A police dog followed a scent trail -- right to Allen's garage. The investigating officer asked to see Allen's shoes, and sure enough they matched the print on the door. Allen was arrested for burglary. "He wasn't all that forthcoming as to why he did it," the sheriff said. (Albany Times Union) ...An easy crime to solve: the footprint on the door matched the footprint in Allen's mouth.

GOTCHA: After a year-long court battle, Elizabeth Book of Daytona Beach, Fla., won a ruling that she was within her rights to go topless in public during a political protest. She immediately announced a demonstration. "I will be as top-free as the statues"-- statues she would pose with in her protest of "ordinances and statutes aimed at the American woman's breasts." Daytona officials urged caution. "She should probably save her exuberance for a time when all the appeals have ended," said Assistant City Attorney Greg McDole. But Book dropped top as promised -- and was immediately arrested. Not for indecent exposure, but for disorderly conduct since her demonstration "caused a traffic jam (approximately seven vehicles) at the intersection" and "corrupted the public morals and outraged the sense of public decency ... in a tourist area." (Orlando Sentinel, Daytona Beach News-Journal) ...But isn't that what the tourists were there to see?

GOTCHA TOO: A group of parents is complaining that the local high school has gone way overboard by calling in police in a case of computer tampering. In a pilot program, Kutztown (Penn.) Area High School gave students laptop computers, each equipped with software to limit access to the Internet. But parents say the password for the software was "widely-known" and "distributed early in the school year" to students. "At no time was the security of the server breached," said a parent spokesman, "and I don't know that [the tampering] has cost the taxpayers any money." Still, 13 students, mostly freshmen, who opened up the nannyware to download music and "inappropriate images" from the Internet, have been charged with felony "computer trespass." School Superintendent Brenda Winkler shrugs off parental criticism. "We continue to collaborate with police," she said, noting the program to issue laptops to students will continue since it has been "a learning experience." (Kutztown Area Patriot) ...Maybe if the school tried "collaborating" with students and parents instead, the kids would have a more uplifting "learning experience."

THAT'S JUST NUTS: "Squirrel Fires Regular Occurrence in Canadian Border Town" -- AP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 31 July 2005 Copyright This Is True

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HONEY, I'M HOME: Dorothea Thomas, 39, had let her ex-boyfriend into her Jacksonville, N.C., apartment, but jumped off her second-storey balcony, she says, when he pulled a gun. She broke her foot when she landed, and "he was standing right over me shooting," she said. Tyrone Burks, 45, allegedly shot her six times, and was charged with attempted murder. The day after returning home from the hospital, Thomas's landlord posted an eviction notice on her door, claiming she had broken her lease terms by causing a commotion in her attempts to escape being killed. That disturbed "our normally peaceful and quiet environment," said apartment manager Peggy Piche. "I'm here with two bullets still in me, and they are telling me that I have to be out in four days," said Thomas from her bed. She has lived in the apartment for nearly 10 years. (Jacksonville Daily News) ...That "blame the victim" clause will get you every time.

"GUILTY," HE SAID IN UNISON: State law in Ohio requires convicted felons to submit a DNA sample for a data base used to help solve crimes. But Elijah Walker, 35, balked at providing a sample after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. "I don't know what you're going to do with it," he complained to the judge in the case. His main fear: the state could use it to clone him. (Cincinnati Enquirer) ...Since everyone knows the one thing society needs is more cokeheads.

WHO'S THE IDIOT? New York State Assemblyman Willis Stephens has apologized to an Internet discussion group after accidentally sending a message to their entire e-mail list of 285 members. Stephens, who is also an attorney, had meant to send the message to an aide. He says he normally doesn't post messages himself since he prefers to monitor the group, which he described in his e-mail as "watching the idiots pontificate." Group member Peter Hansen, 51, objected to the term "pontificating idiots" since it's an oxymoron, he says, "sort of like an honest politician or an ethical attorney." (White Plains Journal News) ...If Hansen is a typical group member, he's at least proved they're not idiots.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT "DOPE"? Before a scheduled court appearance in Stamford, Conn., Daniel Garcia, 21, allegedly stashed $1,500 worth of marijuana under a rock -- 100 feet from police headquarters, and under the windows of the Stamford Police narcotics squad. Two hours later he returned to the spot, but the pot was gone. In its place was a note: "You're under arrest. Look up at the police station." Garcia looked up to see two police officers watching him through the window. "He read the note and looked very startled," said Lt. Jon Fontneau, commander of the narcotics division. The officers stepped out to arrest him on drug charges. His father, Armando Garcia, was chagrined at the charge. "I did not train him to be this dumb," he said. (Stamford Advocate) ...Well, how dumb did you train him to be?

NO WONDER THEY'RE HAVING TROUBLE -- THEIR ACCOUNTING SYSTEM WAS INSTALLED BACKWARDS: "United [Airlines'] Losses Blamed on Bankruptcy" -- Denver Post headline

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THIS is TRUE for 7 August 2005 Copyright This Is True

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THEIR REPUTATION IS INTACT: In an attempt to change their reputation for being brutal and corrupt, federal police in Mexico offered a summer camp for 3,000 children as young as 6. TV stations covered the camp activities, and even made national broadcasts of the children singing a song the police taught them: "I never had a father, and now I never will, the only one I had, I killed," the kids chanted. Second verse: "I never had a mother, and now I never will, the only one I had, I put into a home." And the third: "I never had a sister, and now I never will, the only one I had, I threw into a ditch." (Reuters) ...But hey: in Spanish it all rhymes really nicely.

LEAVE... ME... ALONE! A week after 14 people were sickened by salmonella after eating allegedly tainted "Cake Batter" ice cream, Cold Stone Creamery unveiled its new ad campaign. New billboards in Boston, Mass., proclaimed, "Once tasted, never forgotten." (Boston Herald) ...Sometimes "truth in advertising" isn't really a good thing.

DESPERATE EXCUSES: Douglas Kelly, 39, called police in Slidell, La., to report he had been robbed and kidnaped. He had stopped at a gas station to buy dog food, and robbers locked him in his trunk, he said. Luckily, he told the cops, he escaped thanks to a release lever in the trunk. But the gas station doesn't sell dog food, police found, and Kelly's car's trunk doesn't have a release lever. It took an hour to break him down: he made up the story, they say he admitted, because he didn't want to admit to his girlfriend where he really was. The alternate story was "to insulate himself from the wrath of his pregnant girlfriend finding out" he had gotten drunk and spent $500 at a strip club, the investigating detective said. He was charged with falsifying a police report, which carries a $500 fine. (New Orleans Times- Picayune) ...I can hardly wait to hear his explanation for that.

DESPERATE EXCUSES II: Teddy Claire Akin, 28, told sheriff's investigators in Ocala, Fla., that he had killed a hitchhiker and buried him. He turned over the victim's wallet as evidence, and police searched unsuccessfully for the body. The story came unraveled when the supposed victim turned up alive. Then "he started telling different versions of what happened," a police spokesman said. Police say Akin was having trouble with his wife, and hoped that the thought of being married to a murderer would be too much to bear and she'd leave him. He has been charged with making a false report, plus the theft of the wallet, which he had found. (Ocala Star-Banner) ...His sentence: 10 more years with his wife.

HUH? "Men Do Have Trouble Hearing Women, Scientists Find" -- AFP headline

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THIS is TRUE for 14 August 2005 Copyright This Is True

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HARD BOILED CRIMINAL: "He was kidnaped," says Diana Fuller of Indian Shores, Fla. "We're waiting for a ransom demand." She's not talking about her son, but rather a 3-foot tall, 60-pound bronzed statue of Humpty Dumpty that sat on her garden wall. Fuller and her husband paid $5,112 for the statue, and someone unbolted it from the wall and ran off with it. "There's always one bad egg who spoils it for everyone else," she said. (St. Petersburg Times) ...Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Now his kidnaper's in for the fall.

LIKE THESE TACTICS WOULD WORK WITH A MAN: Debra Lafave, a 24-year-old middle school teacher in Temple Terrace, Fla., has rejected a plea bargain agreement because it would have resulted in "significant prison time," her lawyer says. She stands accused of multiple counts of unlawful sex with one of her 14-year-old students, including once in her classroom. Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, isn't protesting her innocence. Rather, he says, his blonde client is just too pretty for prison. "To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole," he says, "is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions." The case will now go to trial, and she faces up to 15 years in prison on each count. Fitzgibbons plans an insanity defense. (Tampa Tribune) ...After all, not firing her lawyer pretty much proves she's insane.

MAKE A NOTE OF IT: Women shopping at various stores in Osceola County, Fla., reported that they found notes stuck into their doors (or, if the door was locked, on their car seats) that told them to undress. "If you fail to listen to me I will get you. I know you are here all the time.... I'm watching you... you will be so sorry," the note warned, if they failed to comply. None of the women were dumb enough to disrobe for the unseen man. After multiple cases over five years, sheriff deputies staked out several parking lots and arrested Nicholas Lee Koger, 27, charging him with six felony counts of written threats to kill or do bodily injury. (Orlando Sentinel) ..."We're watching you," the officers said in their arrest warrant. "We know you are here all the time. You will be so sorry once you're indicted."

EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION: Britain's Home Office Scientific Development Branch has been testing several non-lethal weapons for police to use to control rioting, but the results to date aren't promising. A goo gun that shot out a sticky, "toffee-like" foam was ruled out since "the goo was very hard to remove and was a health risk to the target as the foam could block up airways," potentially suffocating the target, the HOSDB reported. A gun that shot tennis balls was rejected as "highly inaccurate." And a "portable water cannon," which was worn by officers like a backpack that shot out "lumps" of water to knock down protestors, was rejected because the recoil also knocked down the officers who used it. (Cheshire Chronicle) ...This new breed of cop just doesn't know how to take their lumps.

COME ON, FOCUS! "Psychic's Crystal Ball Burns Down His Flat in Unforeseen Blaze" -- London Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 21 August 2005 Copyright This is True

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EEK! IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD! "I don't see the sporting necessity of having Maria Sharapova's breasts falling out of her top," says Prof. Richard Powers, who teaches sports marketing at Canada's University of Toronto. "Boy, oh, boy, what are they selling here?" he asks, commenting on a banner-sized photo of 18-year-old tennis star Sharapova created by Tennis Canada to hang at the Rogers Cup tournament. "I don't think it's in good taste," Powers concludes. Yet her breasts are hardly popping out of her top, which is so high as to not even show cleavage. So what's the fuss? Eagle-eyed viewers can see a little bulge in her tennis dress made by her nipple. Tennis Canada quickly printed a new banner with the offending body detail airbrushed out. Meanwhile, Sharapova pulled out of the tournament, citing an inflamed muscle -- in her chest. (Toronto Star) ...And here you thought the U.S.A. was the most hung up nation on the planet.

MY LEFT FOOT: "I've got my foot back," says Ezekiel Rubottom, 21, of Lawrence, Kan. "That's all I wanted." After it was amputated due to a bone infection, Rubottom kept his left foot in a bucket of formaldehyde on his front porch, but police confiscated it because "We had to make sure that no crime had been committed," a police spokesman said. But they returned it after "verifying" it was his by looking at his medical records, which noted his recent amputation. (Lawrence Journal-World) ...You'd think it would have been easier to "verify" it was his by looking at the end of his leg.

STUPID, SOME ARE: Police in Janesville, Wisc., responded to a report of an armed robber at the Ramada Inn hotel. Witnesses pointed to the suspect: a man wearing a "Star Wars" Stormtrooper costume. But he wasn't trying to rob the place; he was a vendor at a science fiction convention, which is held annually at the hotel. "Apparently some people who saw him felt there was a threat," an police spokesman said. (Janesville Gazette) ...These aren't the droids you're looking for.

REAL NICE: To help raise money to pay the medical bills for Hungarian Olympic legend Ferenc Puskas, now 78 and suffering from an Alzheimer's- like disease, Real Madrid played the Puskas All-Stars in a benefit soccer match in Budapest. The match grossed 421 million forints (US$2.21 million). But that was before Real Madrid collected their 320 million forint appearance fee, plus 25.5 million forints for hotels and other expenses. The expense of putting on the game pushed the total expenses to 424 million forints, leaving the fund-raiser with a 3 million forint (US$17,000) deficit. (Reuters) ...Funny, the organizers said the same thing Puskas did: "What fund-raiser?"

CULTIVATING A RELATIONSHIP: "Farmer Writes Personal Ad in Giant Corn-stalk Letters" -- New York Newsday headline

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THIS is TRUE for 28 August 2005 Copyright This Is True

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ALL IN THE FAMILY: Lincoln, Ill., police Cpl. Diana R. Short, 46, and her husband, paramedic John T. Short, 41, were charged with several drug

felonies, including growing marijuana in their home for distribution, plus charges of illegal weapons possession. Several months later Diana's daughter, Brianna D. Strohl, 24, was charged with conspiracy for allegedly arranging to make a batch of methamphetamine to sell to raise money for her mother's bail. Diana Short allegedly made those plans with her daughter via phone calls. From a jail phone. Which were recorded. Diana Short has pleaded not guilty; she faces 18-90 years in prison. Her lawyer has begged the court to allow him to withdraw from the case, but the judge won't let him. Short's husband has already accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to six years. The daughter faces 6-30 years. (Lincoln Courier) ...Either this is one big conspiracy against Short, or she is the stupidest cop ever.

LOOK STRAIGHT INTO THE LENS: The victim of a grab-and-run theft in Manchester, England, was almost happy about the crime: it sparked "the biggest boost to business imaginable," said David Arathoon, who runs a security camera shop. The thief managed to get his face recorded by multiple cameras, and the resulting images were so clear that several people came forward to identify the thief as Michael Adams, 20. "Everyone calls him by a nickname because he's stupid," said one friend who came forward. What nickname, then? "Mr. Stupid." Adams, who has eight prior convictions, was quickly arrested and confessed to the crime. He was sentenced to one year of probation. (Manchester Evening News) ...On the other hand, he was smart enough to get back on the street almost immediately.

FEELING A BIT SHEEPISH: An unnamed 19-year-old man in Wanaka, New Zealand, called police in the middle of the night. "He said he had woken up to find a sheep sleeping in his bed," says Sr. Constable Ian Henderson, "and he was sure it was pregnant." Police stopped by the house, but "there certainly wasn't any dags, wool or hoof marks in the bed," Henderson says. Officers never asked the man why he thought the sheep was pregnant. (New Zealand Press Association) ...Mainly because they were afraid he'd say that he was the father.

OPTIMISM, DEFINED: Laura Ingalls Wilder Michele, 23, of Brighton, Mass., was sick and tired of her name: she was named after the character in Little House on the Prairie. It "just didn't fit" her, she says, so she legally changed her name -- to Anakin Steuart Michele. She says she was using the name before the Star Wars movie series revealed that Darth Vader's "real" name is Anakin. "In a couple of years the whole 'Star Wars' thing will blow over" and people will stop associating her name with the dark lord, she says. (Boston Herald) ...Sure, dear -- Little House didn't blow over, but Star Wars will.

CUCKOO FOR COCOA PUFFS: "Armed Man Enters Home, Eats Bowl of Cereal, Police Say" -- Reno Gazette-Journal headline

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THIS is TRUE for 4 September 2005 Copyright This Is True

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SKIRMISHES IN THE DRUG WAR: "There's no other way to explain pulling the same person over three different times in three different vehicles other than profiling," complained Kyette Peele to the Henderson, N.C., City Council. Peele said he was "not doing anything wrong" when he got pulled over by the cops, and that the city police should be punished for racial profiling. He said the fact that the same officers who pulled him over had seized 15.7 pounds of marijuana from the car he was driving on the first occasion, resulting in several felony charges, was beside the point since he was "innocent until proven guilty." An indignant Peele demanded to know, "At what point does it stop?" (Henderson Dispatch) ...It's just a guess, but I'll bet it will stop the moment he goes to prison.

SKIRMISH II: Tyrone D. McMillian, 33, of Albany, N.Y., was driving his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old cousin to cheerleading practice when he spotted a police car. "I started thinking I need to take the kids home because I knew I was going back to jail" for parole violation on drug charges, he said. When officers tried to pull him over, he sped off, the two girls screaming at him to slow down. He finally dumped them out and sped off again, saying later "I knew the police would pick them up." Why did he think he could lose the cops? "I've been playing a lot of 'Grand Theft Auto' and 'NASCAR' on PlayStation," he allegedly told police, and "I thought I could get away." He didn't: he was arrested on multiple felony, misdemeanor and traffic charges -- in addition to a warrant for parole violation. (Albany Times Union) ...He's not the first one to mistake PlayStation games for real life.

SKIRMISH III: Marvin Williams thought it would be "funny" to use a flashing dashboard light to make a traffic stop on a car in Tampa, Fla. "The joke was on him," said a police spokeswoman. "His victims turned out to be police officers" in an unmarked car. They returned the favor and pulled Williams over. He ran from the car, police say, perhaps because of the 7 grams of cocaine he allegedly left behind. He was caught and charged with cocaine possession, impersonating a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. (AP) ...It helps to know what the punch line is before you start a joke.

FINAL SKIRMISH: Anthony A. Diotaiuto, 23, was sitting in his Sunrise, Fla., home when suddenly someone broke down the door without any warning and rushed in. Diotaiuto, who has a gun permit, grabbed his gun to defend himself -- and was shot about 10 times by police doing a drug raid. He was killed. Friends say Diotaiuto was a "casual" pot smoker who did not sell drugs. A search of the home found just two ounces of marijuana. Officers identified themselves as police when they "walked" into the home and ordered him to "freeze," said police spokesman Lt. Robert Voss. "It was his choice not to follow orders." (Miami Herald) ...When the "war on drugs" means the government vs. its own people, it's not surprising to learn that simple possession can become a death penalty offense.

ARIA OK WITH THAT? "Singing Lesbians to Rescue Opera House" -- London Times headline

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THIS is TRUE for 11 September 2005 Copyright This is true.com

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THE AMERICAN TALIBAN, ALIVE AND WELL: American evangelist preacher Pat Robertson has backed off his suggestion that the U.S. government should assassinate Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war," he said on his religious TV show, the "700 Club". "We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability." But after an international outcry, Robertson backpedaled. "I said our special forces could take him out," he said on a later broadcast. "There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted." (New York Times, Reuters) ..."Thou shalt not bear false witness." --the Ninth Commandment

LOVIN' IT: Ken Sinchar, 41, had met Lori Sherbondy, 42, at the drive- through at a McDonald's restaurant in Pittsburgh, Penn., so the couple thought it was fitting to get married there. Sherbondy took up her familiar position at the drive-through window and Sinchar sat in his minivan outside as they said their vows. A judge performed the ceremony as the couple held hands through the window and her parents sat inside. "It's really meant for us," the blushing bride said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) ...Afterward, the guests pelted the couple with cold french fries.

RELOADED: In an effort to attract more young men into the priesthood, the Roman Catholic Church unveiled a new recruitment poster at the Catholic World Youth Day festival in Cologne, Germany. The poster depicts Fr. Jonathan Meyer, wearing sunglasses and a black cassock, replicating the look and style of Keanu Reeves' pose in the poster for the movie, "The Matrix". The result "has been a complete success," Meyer says, and he notes it's also working for girls. "I know I am hanging in a few girls' bedrooms." (Reuters) ...Attracting kids to sexy looking priests -- what could possibly go wrong?

A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SORT OF HALL OF SHAME: Refugees from Hurricane Katrina are not welcome in the Majestic Oaks neighborhood in Ocala, Fla. The subdivision's homeowner's association issued a flier saying that HOA rules prohibit the 500 homeowners from letting other families live with them. Residents called the action "disgraceful" and "embarrassing," but the HOA vowed it would not back down. HOA President Bob Watson says he feels "damn bad" about the restriction, but homeowners protesting the rule are "talking about their feelings, not using common sense." Two HOA board members have resigned in protest, and homeowners are moving to recall the others. (Ocala Star-Banner) ...It's a good thing that Florida doesn't have to worry about destructive hurricanes.

BE SAFE! NEVER SAY NO: "Stripper Stabs Man Who Refused Lap Dance" -- Reuters headline

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THIS is TRUE for 18 September 2005 Copyright This Is True

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WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FIRE: Scott Robinson, 42, says he wasn't drunk or high when he set fire to his own house in Harrison County, Ky., which completely destroyed it. He did, however, admit he had drunk "four or five shots" of scotch first, and had used methamphetamine in the days before the fire. Meanwhile, a woman in Zuelpich, Germany, was trying to kill some spiders in her garage. Hair spray didn't kill them, so she tried to burn them with a lighter. That ignited the hair spray, and the fire swept through her house. "It's now uninhabitable," a police spokesman says, adding the spiders are gone too. Last, three men in Waipukurau, New Zealand, were trying to steal fuel from a farm. Their car wouldn't start, police say: they had put diesel into their gasoline-engine car. They "examined" the fuel pipe, says police spokesman Ross Gilbert, with a lighter, which naturally set fire to the car. It was a total loss. They were charged with theft but nothing else, he says -- "there is no criminal charge for stupidity." (Louisville Courier-Journal, Reuters, Reuters) ...More's the pity.

DRUG PROBLEM: The U.S. Senate has approved a bill to "substantially reduce the number of local labs that are out there because it throttles the ability of the cooks to get the pseudoephedrine that they need to make the methamphetamine," said Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, co-sponsor of the bill with Calif. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The proposed law would require that cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that's a primary ingredient in meth, to be kept behind the pharmacist's counter. It would also require purchasers to show a photo ID, sign for the drug, and be limited in how much they could buy in a 30-day period. The limit would be enforced by computer tracking via a data base linking all stores that sell such drugs as Sudafed and Nyquil. (AP) ...Thus finally making it harder to buy cold medicine than meth.

I DUNNO, WHAT DO YOU WANNA DO? Naouful Drauchi, 30, and Abdel Kotiba, 25, were taking turns pointing a .357 magnum revolver at each other's head and pulling the trigger. The gun was loaded with one shell. Kotiba lost, police said, adding that Drauchi told them it was an "accident" that he killed his cousin. "Russian roulette? That's crazy," said a neighbor when he heard about the shooting. "That's stuff you see in the movies or hear about in the suburbs, not here in the 'hood." (New York Daily News) ...Right: in the 'hood they usually use semiautomatics.

ONE DOWN, THOUSANDS TO GO: Tennessee State Rep. Chris Newton has pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribery and extortion while in office, agreeing to sponsor a bill for a company for a $3,500 payment in a sting orchestrated by the FBI. Newton, who faces up to 25 years in prison, says he was caught up in "business as usual" on Capitol Hill. He served for 11 years as a representative and said he will resign in November, which means he'll continue in office until then, drawing full pay and benefits. (Nashville Tennessean) ...Oh, then it really is business as usual on Capitol Hill.

TOO LATE: "Girlie Mags must Stay Abreast of the Net" -- London Observer headline

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THIS is TRUE for 25 September 2005 Copyright This is True

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GLIDE SLOPE: Witnesses say a man at a popular diving area at a lake near Diana, N.Y., didn't use the usual spot to dive into the water, but rather a much higher spot. It was also farther from the water. When Alexander Chappell, 21, jumped he hit the rocks at the edge of the lake. He was killed. Chappell was a senior in mechanical engineering at Clarkson University. (AP) ...Declared a major, studied the course material -- what's the difference?

CHARISMATIC, STIGMATIC -- WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? Parents are upset with a priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Corn Hill, Texas, after he called about 15 children up to the altar during mass. The lesson: how Jesus suffered during crucifixion. His method: pricking the children's hands with a pin. "What I was trying to teach them is that suffering is a part of life," said Fr. Arthur Michalka, 78. One parent says the wounds, made with an unsterilized pin, drew blood from her child, but the priest says that's not true. "I did not intend it to go very deep," he said. "I didn't think it was that big a deal." (Austin American- Statesman) ...Watch out for next week's participatory lesson, "Casting the first stone."

SIMPLIFY THE DECISION: Tennessee State Driving Examiner Laurie Holden was just finishing up giving a driving test to Osman Salah, 25, of Nashville, and was trying to decide whether to give him a passing or a failing grade. As they pulled into the Rutherford County Driver License Station in Murfreesboro, she told him "to stop as we pulled up to the building," she remembers, and "the next thing I knew it was raining bricks all around us." Salah had crashed into the building, injuring two people inside waiting in line. She gave him a failing grade. (Nashville Tennessean) ...Since you have to injure at least five to pass.

BLOWHARD: When Kim Horn, 42, showed up in Mason, Mich., saying she was a refugee from Hurricane Katrina and had lost all of her belongings, area residents responded in force. They provided a free house, completely furnished with donated items, including a TV and DVD player and even a bicycle for her 6-year-old daughter. But when an article about the donations ran in the local newspaper, people who knew Horn had arrived in town well before the hurricane hit blew the whistle. Horn was arrested and charged with felony larceny under false pretenses and faces up to five years in prison. (Lansing State Journal) ...Either way, she gets housing at someone else's expense.

DUCT TAPE BEWARE! "Terror Leader in Iraq Declares War on Tape" -- AP headline

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THE DRUG-DRIVEN LIFE: After Brian Nichols grabbed a deputy's gun and shot

his way out of the courthouse in Fulton County, Ga., killing four

people, Ashley Smith was hailed as a hero. Smith, who Nichols took

hostage in her own apartment after his rampage, told police how she

convinced him to surrender by talking about God and reading aloud from

the book, "The Purpose-Driven Life". Now, Smith is putting out her own

book which details how she really got Nichols to cooperate: she gave

him her supply of crystal methamphetamine. Smith admits she was a meth

addict and had used the drug hours before she was taken hostage. "Do

you smoke it? How do you do it?" Nichols asked her when she handed her

stash over. She prepared the drug for him so he could snort it. "You

gave him drugs, Ashley," she said to herself at the time, but, she says

now, "God led me to do that." Smith received $70,000 in rewards for

capturing Nichols, and says she no longer takes drugs. (Atlanta

Journal-Constitution) ...Someday, maybe we'll revere people who

succeeded without ever getting addicted to drugs, rather than people

who overcame them after being showered with money and fame.

WHAT TELEVISION IS FOR: "Supermodel" Tyra Banks is "really tired of this

rumor," she says. "It's something that's followed me forever." What's

that? A "rumor that I have fake breasts. But I just want to show you

something," she said on her TV show as she reached under her shirt and

removed her bra. "This is the natural me," she declared. "But this

probably isn't enough for some people, so I'm going to take it a step

further." She had a plastic surgeon come on stage and perform a live

sonogram of her breasts to prove there were no implants. "Tyra Banks

has natural breasts," concluded Dr. Garth Fisher. (Miami Herald)

...With that important crisis averted, we can now turn to trivial

things like war and hurricane recovery.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Sumter County, S.C., sheriff's deputy Jay Follin, 27, has

been fired by his department after an internal investigation found he

was not divorced from his first wife when he married his second. He

also may be charged with bigamy. The situation came to the department's

attention when Kelly McLeod, Follin's second wife's first husband,

complained to investigators that his wife had married Follin even

though McLeod was still married to her. (Columbia State) ...Hey: at

least they're all demonstrating their regard for the sanctity of

marriage.

MORE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE: Charles Edward Hicks, 61, was charged with

bigamy in Fairfax County, Va., after a string of marriages. Hicks has

married seven times over the past 40 years, and remains married to two

women, prosecutors say. Here's where it gets complicated: when Hicks

married wife No. 7, they say, he was still married to No. 6. But his

marriage to No. 6 may not have been a legal marriage because he was

still married to No. 5 at the time. He was granted a divorce from No. 5

three weeks later, and now wife No. 6 has asked prosecutors to charge

him with bigamy in that case as well. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney

Katie Swart has dropped all charges until she can sort it all out.

(Washington Post) ...Which motion she made to the judge by saying, "Not

now -- I have a headache."

THIS COULD EXPLAIN YOUR STOCK MARKET INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE: "Psychopaths

Could Be Best Financial Traders --Research" -- Reuters headline

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HEE YAH! Ten-year-old twin girls in Vienna, Va., were awakened after midnight by an intruder. It was a masked man who broke into their family home and went straight to their bedroom, police say. He grabbed one of the girls and tried to gag her, which woke up her sister. The two girls, who have been taking martial arts lessons for self defense, "responded the way they were instructed to," said a police spokesman: they beat on him. The ruckus awoke their parents, and their father quickly arrived and beat the man with a table lamp, but he escaped. Their mother recognized the man's voice: it was the girls' Tae Kwan Do instructor, she said. Police went to the home of instructor Andrew M. Jacobs, 42, and arrested him after he admitted he was the burglar. Police noted he had bruises on his face. (Vienna Connection, Washington Post) ...The good news is, he's not all that good at Tae Kwan Do. The better news is, he teaches it really well.

HER 15 MINUTES OF FRAME: "N.Y.'s No. 1 Escort Reveals All" trumpeted the cover story in New York Magazine. Inside it told the story of Natalie McLennan, 25, who boasted of her career as a prostitute in the Big Apple. She told of how she earned $2,000 per hour, with a two-hour minimum. Then she hit the talk show circuit in hopes of getting her own TV show. The police saw her publicity blitz too: McLennan was arrested and charged with money laundering, prostitution and promoting prostitution. She faces 15 years in prison. (New York Times) ...So much for her best-laid plans.

IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUNDING: An auditor for a bank in Swansea, Wales, opened the safe at a branch and found three empty cash boxes -- and a note reading "I have borrowed 7m pounds from the Halifax," signed Graham Price. Price, 58, was the branch manager, who disappeared when the theft was discovered. The audit found more like 10 million pounds (US$17.6 million) had gone missing over four years. Price was tracked down and pleaded guilty to 43 charges of theft, and suggested prosecutors might like to look into 263 other counts. He says he spent all the cash on horse races; he is so broke that he had to get his attorney from the legal aid society. (London Times) ...You'd think his bookie would be rich enough by now to make a donation toward his defense.

FLY ME: Marc Tacchi of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, saw a special being offered by Air Canada: a North America Unlimited Pass for C$3,500 per month (US$3,000) that not only allows unlimited flights, but also gives him frequent flier miles. "I was in Miami on Monday, I think," Tacchi said, but mostly he's flying back and forth between Vancouver and Victoria, since he gets a minimum of 500 miles credited per flight, and that flight only takes 15 minutes each way. Plus, as a "super elite" frequent flier, he not only gets free upgrades to business class so he can get plenty of sleep on his longer, overnight flights, but he also earns 2.75 times his actual flight miles, so he racks up about 19,000 mile credits per day. He plans on hitting a million miles in less than two months so he has enough credits to fly free for several years. But what about work? No problem: he sleeps enough onboard that he can put in his usual time at his job. He's a Boeing 767 cargo pilot. (Canadian Press) ...At least he now knows how his cargo feels.

WE CAN FIGHT ALL NIGHT LONG: "Two Accused of Bringing Stolen Coffee Maker to White Plains Brawl" -- White Plains Journal News headline

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POLITICIANS -- THEY'RE BETTER THAN YOU: Georgia state senator David Graves, 47, says that because his drinking was part of an "official legislative function," the state's constitution protects him from an arrest for drunk driving, his second offense within 13 months. Cobb County State Court Judge Irma B. Glover ruled the constitutional provision doesn't exempt Graves from prosecution, so his lawyer, William "Bubba" Head (yes, really), appealed to the state's Supreme Court. Its ruling is still pending. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ...Because they can't stop laughing.

OH MY GOD: A British Christian charity has spent 200,000 pounds (US$350,000) to produce a film and distribute it to 26,000 primary schools in the U.K. to teach children about Jesus. "There are over 12 million children in the U.K. and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly," said the animated film's creator, Steve Legg. "That leaves a staggering number who don't and are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching." He said he came up with the idea for the movie to teach kids Bible basics "when I heard about the boy asking why Jesus Christ was named after a swear word." (Manchester Evening News) ...Let he who is without sin cast the first cake of soap to wash out his mouth with.

CRUD: Officials in Cheshire, Conn., are working on sewage treatment options for the town since the current facility is nearing capacity. They wanted to put in a new treatment plant, but found state law restricted where it could go, sending them back to the drawing board. The area's Water Pollution Control Authority announced it has disbanded its official Subcommittee Handling Interim Treatment, and will decide whether to expand the treatment plant or figure out another alternative. (Meriden Record-Journal) ...Considering its acronym, the subcommittee was destined to be flushed anyway.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU? When Darrell Brown, 48, called IBM customer support for help with a balky laptop computer, the tech entered the serial number of the machine and up flashed a note that the computer had been reported stolen in a burglary. The tech notified police in Lincoln, Neb., and gave them the man's address. Police executed a search warrant, recovered the stolen laptop and a gun reported stolen 16 years ago, and arrested Brown on suspicion of burglary. (Lincoln Journal Star) ...Proving that customer support will do anything it can to avoid actually repairing busted laptops.

AMAZING SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY REVEALED: "Arctic Ice Melts Faster as it Gets Warmer" -- AP headline

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