by Kyle Lehman
Check this week's collection of odd news happenings and find out what shots of liquid morphine and iPods have in common.
Curses, Foiled Again
Two men tried to rob a man coming out of a convenience store in Medford, Ore., but fled when their intended victim ran back inside the store to call police. Officers arrived and were investigating, when the would-be robbers returned in time for witnesses to point them out. Police arrested two suspects, 19 and 20 years old.
Police looking for a man who stole two phones from a convenience store in Orem, Utah, apprehended suspect John White after he flagged down the investigating officers to ask for directions. They noticed that White matched the description given them by the store clerk and said the address he asked about was the same as that on a slip of paper the thief had left behind.
War Is Hell
The U.S. military command in Afghanistan is shutting down fast-food outlets at Kandahar Airfield, claiming that Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius and T.G.I. Friday’s use valuable resources, like water and electricity that are needed to run an efficient military operation. “This is a war zone—not an amusement park,” Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Hall said. “Supplying nonessential luxuries to big bases like Bagram and Kandahar makes it harder to get essential items to combat outposts and forward operating bases, where troops who are in the fight each day need re-supply with ammunition, food and water.”
Canadian coffee-and-doughnut outlet Tim Horton’s won’t be affected. “Kandahar Airfield Tim Horton’s is an initiative to support our men and women in uniform for serving in Afghanistan,” Canadian Defence Department official Megan MacLean said. “There are no plans to close the Tim Horton’s.” Canada’s troops are scheduled to leave the war zone in July 2011.
After U.S. and Afghan troops killed two pregnant women and three other innocent civilians during a night raid on Gardez, Vice Admiral William McRaven, commander of Joint Special Operations Command, apologized to Mohammad Tahir, the father of one of the women and brother of two men killed, by offering him two sheep. Tahir, who had vowed to become a suicide bomber to avenge the deaths, accepted McRaven’s apology.
Monkey with a Monkey on Its Back
After spotting a rhesus macaque that has been loose in Florida’s Hillsborough and Pinellas counties for more than a year, authorities shot the monkey twice with tranquilizer darts, but it escaped again. “The drugs just don’t seem to affect him for whatever reason. We’ve increased the dosage every time that we’ve shot him,” wildlife rehabilitator Vernon Yates said. “What we’re really doing is turning him into a drug addict.”
A jury convicted Vernon Brandt, 52, of assaulting Richard Albers, 85, in a McDonald’s parking lot in Loveland, Colo., after Albers objected because Brandt parked in the older man’s regular spot. As Albers approached Brandt’s pickup truck and knocked on the window to complain, Brandt swung open the door, knocking Albers to the ground. Prosecutors noted that the two men had argued previously over Brandt’s use of the spot that Albers used almost daily for 16 years.
Facing grand larceny and identity-theft charges after embezzling more than $800,000 from the Kingston, N.Y., law firm where she worked as a bookkeeper, Mary Merton, 43, pleaded with the lawyers to let her keep her job. “I do not want to put you on the spot but I would ask that you consider keeping me employed,” Merten wrote to the firm’s Richard Riseley and Michael Moriello. “Not because of the money, but because I truly enjoy my job and want to continue to work for the both of you to make up for my imperfections.” A forensic accounting put the total stolen at $807,399, which court documents indicated Merten used for vacations, premium cable TV at her New Paltz home, manicures, dinners and a race car for her husband.
The Emperor’s New Gym
A new $25 million high school gym in Akron, N.Y., will need additional money to install privacy screens for the locker rooms, according to school board members. The vestibule-style entrances from both the gymnasium and a hallway are at the center of the male and female locker rooms, providing a glimpse of students moving from the showers on one side to the locker areas on the other. The entrances have automatic closing doors, but school board members Kevin Stone and Patricia Buckley said staff monitors couldn’t be counted on to be sure the doors aren’t held open. “The first time a person looks in there and sees a naked kid,” Stone said, “we’re going to have a problem.” Adding privacy screens for the vestibule entrances will cost about $1,000 each.
Way to Go
After Michael Edwin Berg, 23, passed his court-ordered drug test, he went on a drinking binge that ended when he drank a shot glass full of liquid morphine and fell asleep Thirteen hours later, friends found him dead. The Polk County, Fla., Medical Examiner’s Office said the morphine killed him.
Robert Gary Jones, 38, was listening to his iPod while jogging along a beach in Hilton Head, S.C., when a single-engine aircraft making an emergency landing after losing its propeller struck him from behind and killed him. Pilot Edward Smith couldn’t see Jones because the plane’s windshield was covered with motor oil, and Jones couldn’t see or hear the plane because, Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said, it was “basically gliding.”
Jeronymo Pereira, 30, died after jumping from two buildings in Champaign, Ill. “He busted out a window [of a high-rise apartment building] on the west side,” police Sgt. Jim Rein said. “He fell on the adjoining four-story building below, then he got up and jumped off that building, too. How in the world he gets up is beyond all of us.”
Spoilsport of the Week
New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, introduced a bill that would ban restaurants from using salt “In any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers.” Ortiz said the measure would give consumers “more control over the amount of sodium they intake.” Offenders face fines of $1,000 for each violation.