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June 2005


1 June 2005

The Reverend Keith Kimber of St. John's Rectory church in Wales decided that 'the church has to move with the times'. To this end, British Telecom has installed a Wi-Fi wireless network access point in the church. Kimber said: 'I have no problem with people quietly sending an email or surfing the Internet in church, as long as they respect the church'.

Police in Japan said a Buddhist monk, 28-year-old Rei Takahashi, handed a clerk at a Sapporo post office a hold-up note in which he claimed to have a bomb in his bag. The morning after the robbery, the monk rang the post office five times, explaining that he had been a nuisance and wanted a chance to apologise. He provided his contact details, which were passed on to the police. During questioning, Takahashi explained that the theft was for the sake of a woman whose affections he desired. He said: 'I needed money because this woman I'd already lent several hundred thousand yen had wasted it all and wanted more'.

Also in Japan, Kanagawa police arrested a 63-year-old man for ignoring warnings that he should improve the living conditions of his dogs. For years, the man had been living in his van with his 10 dogs and five puppies. For most of that time, local residents had been complaining to the police about the smell and the animals' barking.
The man's arrest was on a charge of unlicensed driving. He said he would sue if the local government decided to euthanise the dogs on account of their skin diseases and other ailments. The police have not released the man's name, according to Mainichi Shimbun.

Now living in Rialto, California, former Beverly Hills mayor Charlotte Spadaro had been involved in animal rescue for three years when the police responded to a neighbour's complaints about a stench. Authorities found a rotting Great Dane corpse in Spadaro's malfunctioning freezer. As a result, a city inspection was scheduled for 2 February. On 1 February, Spadaro filled a hired van with 900 kilos of animal carcasses and left it on the street in another town, where the smell attracted officials' attention a few days later. Last Thursday, a search warrant was finally obtained for Spadaro's home. Shortly thereafter, authorities removed 135 dogs and 30 cats from the excrement-encrusted dwelling, all of them at least alive.
Spadaro says she runs a legitimate kennel for rescued cats and dogs, and that 'I think Rialto has been persecuting me, frankly'.

A Massachusetts appeals court has ruled that a woman isn't liable for injuries her boyfriend suffered while having sex with her in 1994. A three-judge panel said the woman was not, in fact, negligent in landing awkwardly on the man and fracturing his penis as a result. In the decision on the John Doe case, which was first filed in 1997, Justice Joseph Trainor wrote: 'In the absence of a consensus of community values or customs defining normal consensual conduct, a jury or judge cannot be expected to resolve a claim that certain consensual sexual conduct is undertaken without reasonable care'. The man's attorney, John Greenwood, argued that the fact 'some behavior was agreed to by the parties doesn't mean all behavior was agreed to by the parties'.
The ruling specifically does not apply to cases of knowingly infecting someone with a sexually transmitted disease.

Clarence Stowers, described in the 11 May Clippings as refusing to give doctors a severed fingertip he found in his chocolate custard, has in the wake of media attention changed his mind, according to his attorney. He has offered to return the fingertip. Stowers was informed at the time that there was a six-hour window in which reattachment could reasonably be attempted.

In April, Nicole Bernard of Columbus, Ohio, contacted the FBI to report that she had fled Louisiana out of fear for her child. She described satanic ceremonies involving paedophilia that were held on an ongoing basis at Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Following up her leads, sheriff's deputies prepared to make a series of arrests, among them that of the church's former pastor, Louis Lamonica.
Before they made the arrests, Lamonica approached the police himself and confessed to involvement in occult blood ceremonies including sexual activity with at least 15 children and a dog. Among those he named as heavily involved was Bernard. After she was arrested for crimes including aggravated rape, she directed authorities to her storage unit, containing videotapes and nine bin liners full of masks and robes for use in the ceremonies. Also, she described performing oral sex on her infant daughter as part of the child's dedication. Questioned by authorities, Bernard's five-year-old child reported being sexually abused from infancy.

Jacqueline Nobles might have been happier if her son had been pictured in his Florida high school's yearbook under the caption 'Most likely to become President'. Instead, she was outraged. Her son, Robert Richards, had been elected 'Most whipped', referring to the control his girlfriend had over him. In the accompanying photograph, which was the couple's idea, Robert (who is black) was on a lead, with Melissa Finley, who is white, holding the other end.
Nobles said: 'I don't want this to be the memory any student has of my son. Just like these books went into circulation, they can come back out.' The school agreed and stopped distribution of the yearbooks.
Richards, 19, said of his mother's worries: 'Kunta Kinte? That was over 300 years ago', and that he and his peers aren't as conscious of race as his mother is.

In Colorado's yearbook-related news, about 100 Mesa Ridge High School yearbooks had been distributed before someone complained about the photo caption 'most likely to assassinate President Bush'. The Secret Service stepped in, with Special Agent Lon Garner explaining that all threats against the President must be investigated. He said: 'That's our mission. That's what we do.' School staff drew a thick line in black marker through the caption under one student's picture, and life apparently continued as normal.

On Friday, Junior Allen was released from the Orange County, North Carolina, prison. In 1970, he was given a life sentence for second-degree burglary after stealing a black-and-white television set from an unlocked home. The maximum sentence for second-degree burglary has since been changed to three years. After his release, Allen said: 'I've done too much time for what I did. I won't be truly happy until I see a sign that says I'm outside of North Carolina.'

Three teenagers boarded a Staten Island, New York, bus, and used a cigarette lighter to ignite a plastic bag of books that was hanging from the back of a disabled Vietnam veteran's motorised wheelchair. When the fire spread to his jacket, the 57-year-old Francis Abrams shouted for water. A nursing mother used a bottle of freshly pumped breast milk to put out the fire, with a friend helping out with a bottle of water. When bus driver Deborah Thompson pulled over and rang emergency services, the 15-year-old miscreants fled the scene. However, they were quickly caught. Their names were not released, on account of their age.

An 86-year-old North Carolina woman rang 911 dispatchers to complain that a pizza purveyor wouldn't deliver to her home. Apparently, the operator didn't provide a satisfactory response, for she rang again. In total, in a little over half an hour, Dorothy Densmore placed 20 911 calls concerning her pizza emergency. One of her complaints was that someone at the pizza shop should be arrested for calling her a 'crazy old coot'. In the end, an arrest was indeed made, for abuse of the 911 system. Officer Mandy Giannini said the five-foot-tall Densmore attacked the arresting officer, adding resisting arrest to her rap sheet.

Shannon Berthiaume was frustrated that her children had been bullied by other students since being their transfer to Philadelphia's Huey Elementary School in December. Her solution was to drive her minivan into the front of the school. Neither the vehicle nor the school suffered much damage, and Berthiaume's three children, who were in the SUV at the time, were unharmed. In explanation for the incident, the frustrated mother said she 'wanted to be heard - nobody was doing nothing'.

Jerry Adams, who manages the Tennessee state budget was working late on Sunday at the state capitol building when he stepped into a lift that promptly stranded him between floors. The telephone in the lift didn't work, because the invoice had been misaddressed to the Department of Human Services, who had no record of the line and thus didn't pay for it. Adams was unable to alert anyone by pressing the alarm button. About 13 hours later, the morning cleaning crew heard sounds coming from the lift and summoned rescue crews. Adams said 'it was not the way I wanted to spend a Sunday evening'.

Before an evening of drinking, Jeff Foran of Foreman, Arkansas, asked friend Jerry Glenn Nelson to serve as designated driver. Trooper Jamie Gravier said that the 38-year-old Foran was extremely intoxicated when he began smoking a cigarette in the car at the end of the evening. When the cigarette was blown through the passenger's-side window of the moving vehicle, Foran leapt from the vehicle after it. The car was travelling at about 35 km/h. Foran suffered trauma to his nose, eyes, and chin.

Victoria, Australia, Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans said authorities have discovered that seven drug-sniffing dogs failed to detect cocaine at Australian customs stations. The sample used to train them over the last three months was talcum powder, which had been substituted for cocaine in what Evans described as an administrative error. Summarising the situation, he said 'I'm sure our dogs have got very soft, nice-smelling noses at the moment, but they are in fact trained in detecting talcum powder so that means that they will have to be retrained in detecting cocaine'. An internal investigation has been launched.

Vienna Online reports that councillor Manfred Juraczka wants the city to register the DNA of all dogs in the area, as part of a plan to punish the owners of animals that defecate in streets and on public walkways. Campaigns to persuade owners to clean up their dogs' droppings have been unsuccessful for the most part. Under the current system, fines may be imposed only if a pet is caught in the act. Juraczka explained in a statement that the dogs' owners 'must count on being caught'.
Vienna's ruling party said the proposal would create a police state if given final approval.

A 28-year-old mother in San Antonio, Texas, said she sent nude photos of her 13-year-old daughter to Pasadena's Erik Hull, 35, so he could sell them. Hull was visiting the family on Saturday when the girl called to her grandmother for help, saying he had raped her. The girl's mother rang the police and held Hull at knifepoint until officers arrived. Hull told the police that he woke up with the girl on top of him and couldn't remember what had happened. He was arrested anyway. The mother was arrested as well, for promotion of child pornography. Child Protective Services spokeswoman Mary Walker said the girl is in the care of relatives.

The Reverend Creighton Lovelace of North Carolina's Danieltown Baptist Church drew ire for proclaiming on a signboard outside the church: 'The Koran needs to be flushed!' This followed on the heels of a Newsweek story alleging that US interrogators in Guantanamo Bay flushed the Koran down a toilet in order to unsettle Islamic prisoners. The latter story has since been retracted. Lovelace has issued his own retraction of sorts. He said he didn't mean to insult Muslims and that his intent was to affirm and exalt the Bible.

Indiana's Elkhart Truth reports that police officer Mike Swygart was drinking a cup of coffee while on break in a shop when a man told him that, in Swygart's words, 'two males were in front of the store making a drug deal. ... they were now parked next to my squad car splitting up the drugs.' Swygart said he went outside to investigate after the man convinced him this wasn't a joke. Swygart said he opened the passenger's-side door of the two men's vehicle and shouted 'Police! Don't move!', whereupon each of the men dropped a bag of marijuana on the seat. Officers detained Daniel S. Little, 25, and Bryan A. Revella, 19 on drugs charges.

Awiey 'Chucky' Hernandez, 20, walked into a New York police station to enquire about the status of Hoquan 'Guns' Gavin, who had been arrested a few hours earlier. On the wall was a 'wanted' poster bearing Hernandez's picture alongside that of Gavin. 'Obviously, he did not notice it, but we did,' said Sgt. Norman Horowitz. Allegedly, Hernandez and Gavin had carried out two taxicab robberies together.

Reuters reports that a court found the nine members of Thailand's National Counter Corruption Commission guilty of corruption, for illegally awarding themselves the equivalent of an extra 400 euros or so per month. The court opted against sending the men to jail for two years, in consideration of the good work they had done in the past. It was not clear whether the commissioners, who maintained their innocence, would lose their jobs.

Illinois's 46-year-old Dean Craig apparently asked two visitors to leave his home but they refused. In response, he allegedly doused the floors with rubbing alcohol and set light to the house, which is owned by his mother. Authorities extinguished the blaze, and Craig and his guests were unharmed. He is being held in the Kane County Jail.

The New York Post reports that doctors told Brooklyn's Jennifer Walters that there was little they could do to diagnose her back and leg pain, as her 185-kilo frame couldn't fit inside hospital MRI machines. The bedridden woman said that some doctors even referred her to the Bronx zoo so that she could be scanned by the MRI machine used for elephants and hippos. She said 'it was like I was an animal.'
The newspaper reported that the Bronx Zoo's Alison Power claims the zoo receives about six such calls a year, mostly from physicians, but that it doesn't have such facilities.

Currently being tested at the University of Singapore, the 'Touchy Internet' system is 'the first human--poultry interaction system every developed', according to Professor David Cheok, who has spent the last two years developing the technology. Users touch a chicken-shaped doll, which imitates the movements of a real remote chicken via a Webcam link. Sensors in the doll relay tactile information to a computer near the chicken. The bird's jacket contains small motors that vibrate to mimic the user's touch. The wider significance described by the developers is allowing people who are allergic to cats and dogs to 'touch' their pets, and use in zoos.

Mexico's El Sol de Tampico reports that police officers in Puerto Progresso, Mexico, took 28-year-old Roger Sagundo into custody after he attempted to steal six bottles of vodka from a supermarket by hiding them in his one-year-old son's pram. After being stopped by security personnel, both Sagundos were arrested, reported Trinidad Martinez, commander of the local police guard. Police archives state that the child was the youngest person with a police record for being an accomplice in a criminal act. After some hours, the child was transferred from prison to the custody of his mother.

Cathy Gallagher of Bethesda, Maryland, has tapped into the extramarital dalliance market by launching a collection of greeting cards for the adulterous. Gallagher sees the cards as helping the many people who 'meet the right person at the wrong time' to express their feelings. Her 'Secret Lover' collection is to be given a discreet label in shops. One holiday card for pairs who are both cheating on their spouses says: 'As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you', and an office romance card states: 'I used to look forward to the weekends, but since we met they now seem like an eternity'.

The BBC reports that Star Wars fans Mark Webb, 20, and Shelley Mandiville, 17, decided to re-enact a Revenge of the Sith lightsaber duel in a woodland in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. For the futuristic weapons, they are believed to have filled fluorescent light tubes with petrol and lit it. During the duel, one of the tubes exploded and set light to the pair's clothing. Webb suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body. A third person, who had apparently been videotaping the action and fled the scene in a panic, has been questioned.

A four-year-old boy was playing at a family gathering near Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, when something went wrong. The family and friends didn't notice that the boy was standing behind one of the paper targets they were using for shooting practice. Wearing camouflage trousers, he was apparently difficult to see against the foliage behind him. A 40-year-old friend of the family hit the target, hitting the boy in the chest and killing him. Sgt. James McKenzie of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said the family 'thought they had the kids under control' before this 'pretty straightforward accident'.

Apparently, someone in Belgium thought spelling mistakes on the country's identity cards would help fool forgers. In addition to saying 'Belguim' in English and 'Belgine' rather than 'Belgien' in German, other errors are included, according to official Luc Vanneste, who said a similar system had worked well in the United States. A commentary in the Times Online says that the system might frustrate forgers 'until you tell them about it, I suppose'.

21 June 2005

In Glens Falls, New York, 25-year-old Jason McClaskey was on house arrest when the tracking device on his ankle signalled to authorities that it had sustained damage. McClaskey was found in his bedroom with most of his clothing burned off. There was lighter fluid on his leg. Police Chief Richard Carey said the police were dubious about McClaskey's story of an attempt to light a barbeque, in part because there was no charcoal on the grill. McClaskey suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body.

Elsewhere in New York, the Warren County Sheriff's Department reported that Glen Germain Junior was syphoning fuel from someone else's dump truck when he decided to see how full the container was. It was dark, so Germain flicked his cigarette lighter. The ensuing fire destroyed a nearby forklift truck and caused minor burns to Germain's face and hands.

Jeff Skuza of the Fargo, North Dakota, police department reports that DeAnn Miller-Boschert, 45, wanted her husband to stop snoring so she poured water on him. When that didn't wake him up, she stabbed him in the arm twice with a pen. Skuza said that 'after he went back to sleep after the pen thing, she woke him up again with a workout weight' to the head. The man, who was not seriously injured by the dumbbell, rang the police from a convenience store and then returned home. 'I assume he went back to sleep', said Skuza. DeAnn was charged with simple battery.

Harrison, Arkansas, police chief Lyle Smith said that 'this is a trusting community, and, if you're a stranger who needs to use a phone, nine out of 10 residents will let you into their homes'. Indeed, when Thomas Ernest Smith, 19, asked to use a resident's telephone, this is what happened. Smith then allegedly proceeded to grab $100 from the Good Samaritan's wallet and hit him several times in the face. When the police arrived, there were two wallets there - one of which was Smith's, which had been dropped during the scuffle. Smith has not yet been located.

In Orem, Utah, Derrick L. Sundquist, 24, feared that he was having a heart attack and raced to the local hospital. En route, his vehicle hit a fence and, in a second collision, a light pole. In a third accident, he hit a Timpanogos Regional Hospital sign. Police Lt. Doug Edwards said that when Sundquist reached his destination 'he ran into the ER and told them what he'd been taking'. Medics quickly determined that Sundquist wasn't having heart trouble but experiencing normal symptoms of being under the influence of these illegal drugs. He had been arrested on drugs charges in the past and promptly added to his police record the crimes of leaving the scene of three accidents, driving without a licence, and having no automobile insurance.

Some motorists in Chicago were surprised when they returned to their cars to find parking tickets - and parking meters that hadn't been there earlier. Speaking for the city's revenue department, Efrat Dallal said a few vehicles were parked in an area where the meters had been removed for street construction work. She said the meters were put back and the cars in front of them ticketed. One of the motorists involved, lawyer Vince Tessitore, said 'Chicago gets plenty of revenue ticketing people by legal means without having to be deceptive'. Dallal has now said that none of those receiving the tickets have to pay the associated fine.

The identity of those behind three cross-burnings that occurred on 25 May in Durham, North Carolina, remains a mystery, but several state and local groups have pledged funds to reward anyone who comes forward with information leading to the arrest of those responsible. Among those organisations is the Ku Klux Klan. Although pamphlets making what police described as pro-Klan statements were left at one of the cross-burning sites, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Thomas Robb denied the involvement of any of the organisation's members. The KKK's donation is $100.

Rafael Diaz, 40, and his friends decided to flee Cuba for the US, in a taxicab. To be more precise, they converted a 1949 blue American taxi into a boat. Diaz's aunt, who lives in Miami, said the weeks of work involved welding shut the taxi's doors and using mastic compound to reinforce the seals. A prow-shaped buoyancy tank was welded to the front of the vehicle and empty oil drums put in the boot for further buoyancy. The front wheels provided basic directional control, and an outboard motor was attached to the rear bumper. The thirteen would-be immigrants were intercepted about 30 km off the coast of Florida.

Oregon's Cody Charles Carllson, 18, was arrested on charges of stabbing someone in the back with a pair of pruning shears. As the handcuffed Carllson was being placed in a Forest Grove police car, he fled and attempted to vault an iron fence at the police station. Failing to clear the fence, he impaled himself. Thanks to a hydraulic cutter, he and a small section of the fence were transported to a Portland hospital. Carllson was taken straight to jail upon his release.

Investigators say George Metalaris, 29, stole two trays of cookies from a bakery in Larnaca, Cyprus, and drove off. Apparently as part of an attempt to evade capture, he drove onto the runway at the nearby airport shortly thereafter. Air traffic controllers watched him weave among parked aircraft. Other planes were in motion and had to slam on their brakes. After about 20 minutes of this, the car was intercepted, and Metalaris and his passenger, a seven-year-old nephew, were taken into custody. Considering how Metalaris was able to enter such a 'secure' area, Communications Minister Haris Thrassou said there's 'a general issue of who's in charge of security at the airports'.

When Marcelle Lieberman and Harriet Lieberman Mellow went to visit their mother's niche at a Texas mausoleum, they quickly noticed that the cedar chest containing her ashes was missing. Behind the locked glass door was a can of sour-cream-and-onion crisps instead. A locksmith opened the door, and police took custody of the crisps. The two women have filed suit against Congregation Beth Israel and two funeral businesses. All three parties deny responsibility and contest the women's claim that each company intentionally inflicted emotional distress. The ashes are still missing.

Maureen Faibish told her 12-year-old son Nicholas not to leave the basement while she was out running errands but, 'typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me'. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, when the child left the basement, he was mauled by at least one of the family's two pit bulls, who live in the house. Maureen said it was simply her son's time to go. This was a 'freak accident', she said, explaining that the family had seen no violent tendencies in either dog. As to what could have triggered the mauling, she said the male dog saw it as a threat when anyone else approached the female, who was unwilling to be mounted and 'get it over with'.

Krishna Rajanna's abortion clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, has been closed down by the state as the result of a hygiene investigation prompted by staff complaints. Investigators found foetuses being kept in styrofoam cups in Rajanna's refrigerator alongside food and drink. One employee accused the doctor of microwaving one of these foetuses and stirring it into his own lunch. Rajanna allegedly took home all biohazard and medical waste for residential rubbish collection, except for the human waste that was flushed down the blood-caked toilet.
The clinic first came to law enforcement attention in September of 2003, by making claims of employee theft. Det. William Howard said: 'I thought I had heard and seen every vile, disgusting crime scene but was in for a new shock when I started this investigation' - he was unwilling to even sit down anywhere in the facility. The detective's partner found the dried blood and general condition of the procedure room to be 'nasty'.
Rajanna claims he should have been given more opportunities to correct the faults. He had previously been fined for the clinic's condition and disciplined for not labelling medicines correctly.

A bartender at Iowa's Checkered Flag Bar & Grill found good fortune in a French fry. Of the 20-cm chip, Mindy Marland said: 'A waitress was walking by and I saw it sitting right on top of a plate she was getting ready to serve - I was intrigued by it and took it off the plate' to keep. The 29-year-old Marland decided to sell the piece of potato on eBay and was surprised when it sold for $197.50.

Alderwoman Juany Garza of Aurora, Illinois, is tired of seeing Christmas decorations remain on display long after the holiday season. She recently left letters asking residents downtown to take down the displays. While there is no city ordinance against untimely holiday decorations, Mayor Tom Weisner said that one could be passed if residents don't comply with Garza's request. Opinions are divided on the issue. Retired school principal Roy Anderson said the decorations look tacky and 'it's June and July, and you don't need Christmas decorations up', while resident Rolando Velasquez said 'you're going to have to put them up again; just leave them up'.

Florida's St. Petersburg Times reports that Molly Beavers was discharged from her Sam's Club job in 2003 for not smiling enough at customers and co-workers. Early in her 19-year career, her face was partially paralysed in surgery related to her achrondroplastic dwarfism. She can curl her right cheek upward slightly, but this causes painful muscle spasms. The 49-year-old Beavers, who collected shopping trolleys and gave out food samples, said she reminded the store manager of her condition when he told her she was fired. He allegedly said 'that's no excuse'. Beavers has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint in an attempt to get an apology and some unemployment compensation. She is also part of a class-action lawsuit related to parent company Wal-Mart's alleged refusal to acknowledge work-related injuries or pay for their treatment.

Suspecting a resident of selling drugs, federal agents and police in Nampa, Idaho, threw a flash-and-bang device through the house's window and then waited outside with guns at the ready. Inside, Vietnam veteran John Simpson hit the floor, taking his wife down with him. He then grabbed the first thing he could find - a hoover hose - and ran outside to defend himself against whomever might be attacking. The police then realised they had selected the wrong half of the semi-detached house for the drug raid. The window was promptly repaired, and Simpson's 20-year-old neighbour was arrested for allegedly possessing four ounces of marijuana with intent to deliver.
'I guess we're going to have to seek psychological help. ... I'm not nuts or anything, but I'm still shaking - put a shotgun next to your ear and pull the trigger to get an idea of the noise', Simpson said.

Sometimes a single vote does make a difference. Wisconsin's Randy Way filed a petition requesting a referendum concerning the village of Oregon's annexation of 80 acres of land from the town of Oregon. As Way was the only person living in the area in question, he was the only one who could have filed the petition. Similarly, he was the only one who could vote in the referendum, which he approved in a landslide after the village agreed to discussions. Three paid poll workers were required to be on duty for 13 hours for the election, although Way voted 17 minutes after the poll opened at 7am. He bought pizza for the poll workers' supper in thanks for their effort.

James Kerr of Ukiah, California, gave his tenants written permission to grow medical marijuana. Later, Kerr, who himself is a member of the state's medical marijuana programme, said he didn't realise when drafting the rental agreement that his tenants would be growing 100 plants. He also said he didn't know what the drug smells like when ripe and that he only discovered the odour issue after the supply he had planted for himself had begun to mature. Kerr sued the tenants and was awarded over $1600 in damages for having to live next to a nuisance.

Andre Boutros and Kurtis Pamsers of Sudbury, Ontario, said they came up with an idea while stoned. The two men decided to pose as workers for electricity company Sudbury Hydro. They picked a house and told the homeowner they had arrived to check the fuse box for a 'low voltage problem'. After the pair had been in the home 10 minutes, the homeowner's daughter arrived. She told the pair: 'I work at Sudbury Hydro and I don't recognize you two' - and the pair realised their prank might not have been a good idea. Boutros, 27, and Pamsers, 26, have pleaded guilty to unlawful presence in a dwelling. 'I never thought it would turn out like this', said Boutros.

Our next story takes us to North Carolina, where it has been revealed that about 3,000 patients at two hospitals were operated on last year with surgical instruments washed in hydraulic fluid rather than detergent. Apparently, a lift company drained hydraulic fluid into empty detergent barrels and the detergent company redistributed the fluid for Duke University Health System use. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, medical staff had complained for weeks about slick instruments before the problem was fixed and this resulted in jeopardy to patients' health.

Chicago's Erin Sarandah allowed her 11-year-old son to drive the family minivan the two blocks to school. She and her daughter were passengers as the boy failed to make the corner by the school and ploughed into a 'school zone' sign. The boy has been expelled from school. Police spokesman Pat Camden said that Sarandah, who had a driving licence, was cited for damage to property and allowing an unauthorised person to drive.

Surrey Online reports that Trading Standards officers saw more than expected after setting up a hidden camera in a Leatherhead home to catch plumbers who would charge exorbitantly for fixing an easily repaired fault. Guildford Crown Court heard on Tuesday that plumber Roy Williams sent his apprentice to fetch spare parts from the van and then urinated into a vase, pouring the contents into the home's hot water tank. He then rinsed the vase in the cold-water tank. Williams was also accused of attempted deception and making false statements.

President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono probably thought it was a good publicity ploy to ask citizens tangling with bureaucracy to contact him directly. In a live broadcast of a meeting with Javanese farmers and fishermen, he announced his mobile number for this purpose. A day later, he had received more text messages than he'd expected; spokesman Andi Alfian Mallarangeng said 'the number of the messages reached thousands'. Most dealt with salary payment delays, insufficient services, corruption, and traffic issues. Mallarangeng said his telephone was overloaded and that he and his staff are working to develop a proper hotline.

The police in Port Wentworth, Georgia, said that a 16-year-old boy who was mowing his grass wanted to protect his dogs from a snake that was moving toward them. The teenager grabbed a pistol from inside the home. According to Police Sgt. Loren Scholes, the boy went back outside and saw the snake at his feet so hastily fired. He shot himself in the calf. The snake was apparently unharmed.
Scholes said he didn't know what type of snake was involved but 'from what he described, it sounded as big as a freight train'.

A Pennsylvania family on holiday in Atlantic City had an exciting time on an amusement ride. The log flume ride was called 'The Big Splash', but no splash occurred. The family's log went down an incline into a basin that didn't actually contain any water. The father was thrown from the log and was taken to hospital. The mother and three children were treated for minor injuries. An investigation is being conducted.

The police in Gastonia, North Carolina, sent a patrol car driven by Officer J.C. May to respond to a 911 call concerning a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. Arriving on the scene, May was blinded by the high-beam headlights of a parked car and didn't see the victim. The police car ran over the victim. According to Tom Robinson of the county sheriff's department, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. It was unclear whether he was dead after being hit the first time. May is on administrative leave.

The China Daily reports that attempted theft of power lines for scrap left 80,000 people without electricity recently. When high-tension wire was cut in Huayin, northern Shaanxi province, 'the fallen wire was caught on a passing tanker truck, pulling down seven steel towers', said local official Zhao Zhimin. The newspaper said that traffic was at a standstill for nine hours. It was not reported whether any charges have been filed in connection with the incident.

Wendy Cobb, 38, was collecting aluminium cans from dustbins in Framingham, Massachusetts, when a sanitation worker emptied the private bin she was checking. She was dumped into the back of the worker's truck. Before the driver could push the compacting button, a worker installing carpet nearby alerted him to Cobb's screams. After the incident, in which Cobb suffered an ankle injury and lost a mobile telephone, she explained that she thought the bin had a low risk of being emptied since it was nearly empty.

Jeff Anthony Prince, a 19-year-old Australian, admitted to stealing $132,000 from a bank while visiting a Colorado ski resort. He and friend Luke Carroll, also 19, photographed themselves with the stolen money, some of which they attempted to send back to Australia by post. They also visited a jewellery shop in Denver, where they tried to buy a $30,000 Rolex watch with five-dollar notes. The pair were caught on their way to Mexico two days after the robbery. Prince has admitted his guilt.

Yesterday, about 30 British potato farmers demonstrated outside Parliament, demanding the removal of the term 'couch potato' from the Oxford English Dictionary. During the rally, and a similar one held in Oxford, the farmers explained that the term should be banned outright since it harms the image of what is a healthful food. The British Potato Council wants the term 'couch slouch' to be used instead by those who want to describe someone who sits around passively. Kathryn Race, the group's head of marketing, said the Oxford English Dictionary had not yet replied to the council's letter.
John Simpson, chief editor of the OED, said that 'inclusion is based on currency of the term rather than on the basis of what people want us to put in the dictionary'.


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