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Curses, Foiled Again
Police easily identified Joel Zsebenazy as the person who stole a carton of cigarettes from a drug store in Buffalo, N.Y. Zsebenazy asked the clerk for the cigarettes, then handed her his driver license to prove his age. While the clerk was entering his birth date into the register, Zsebenazy grabbed the cigarettes and fled, overlooking that the clerk still had the driver’s license.

? The owner of a Minneapolis restaurant called police after a couple ran out on a $410 bill. “I was thinking, ‘I hope to God I see these people again,’” owner Thom Pham said. Three hours later, Pham walked into another restaurant he owns and spotted the pair polishing off another expensive meal. When the couple tried to flee, Pham, a former judo instructor, chased Reginald Wilder, 43, into an alley, forced him to the ground and held him until police arrived. The other man, Lance Burrow, 20, who was dressed as a woman and wearing a wig, was arrested a half-block away. “I call it ‘instant karma,’” Pham said.

Wildfire Junior
When malfunctioning brakes set fire to a hay-filled wagon being towed by a truck in Hart Township, Mich., the driver “panicked and just floor-boarded it to get to an open area,” fire Chief Ken Klotz told the Ludington Daily News. The burning wagon started numerous fires as the man traveled some 5 miles through the rural countryside. “The whole thing was on fire,” Klotz said, “the back of his pickup truck and the trailer. One guy saw him driving by and said he saw 30-foot flames coming out of the hay as it was going down the road.” The driver, who was not cited, explained later that he was looking for a house with a hose to put out the fire,

Homeland Insecurity
Police investigating reports of a suspicious-looking box attached to a tree near a hospital in Salem, Va., set up a safety perimeter around the area and blew up the device. They announced afterward that it was a remote weather station, which a hospital employee had put in the tree and applied a putty-like substance around it to make it weatherproof.

English Lessons
A Canadian counternarcotics official facing drug charges in Dubai expressed concern that he would be convicted and imprisoned because of poor translating at his trial. “For example,” Bert Tatham, 35, wrote in a letter published by the Ottawa Citizen, “my telling them about being exposed to drugs in my work … became ‘I used drugs in Afghanistan.’ My lack of any knowledge of having hashish … became, ‘I forgot I put it in my pocket.’”

Slightest Provocation
Two inmates at Wisconsin’s Ozaukee County Jail began fighting during an argument over the offscreen lifestyle of filmmaker Woody Allen. According to the criminal complaint, James F. Lala, 31, asked Corey T. Wilson, 36, what he thought of Allen’s marriage to Sun Yi Previn, an adopted daughter of Allen’s longtime companion, Mia Farrow. “Wilson told Lala that he thought that was perverted,” the complaint said. “Wilson stated he continued to eat his meal when Lala came up to him and punched him in the face.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported the men fought for several minutes before deputies restrained them with pepper spray.

Par for the Course
Peter Bancheri, 65, was playing golf in Camillus, N.Y., when he apparently drowned in a water hazard on the 12th hole. Investigators said they believe Bancheri, who was playing alone, was trying to retrieve his ball when he fell into the 8-foot-deep pond.

? Edwin Payne, 65, was golfing with three friends in Pala, Calif., when he apparently lost control of his golf cart and drove over a rocky cliff. He plunged more than 100 feet to his death.

Dear-John Discount
South Korea’s Nonghyup Bank began offering special interest rates to soldiers dumped by their sweethearts. Jilted troops, as well as their family members, wounded veterans and trainees, are entitled to as much as a 0.3-percentage-point premium per year for proving they are no longer romantically attached, according to bank official Gil Yoon-jung, who explained soldiers can show letters or e-mails to a bank clerk to qualify.

Truth or Consequences
Rather than reducing pollution, ethanol could make it worse, according to researcher Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. Reporting in Environmental Science & Technology, Jacobson found that ethanol-burning cars emit fewer carcinogens such as benzene and butadiene but they give off 20 times as much acetaldehyde as conventional fuels. Acetaldehyde reacts with sunlight to form ozone, a main ingredient of smog. “There are so many people barking pretty loud about biofuels,” Jacobson told New Scientist. “They’ve been pushing these things before the science is done.”

Titular Follies
Mariela Mollinedo, a beauty pageant winner from Bolivia’s Aymara Indian community, was stripped of her title a few hours after the contest ended when the judges noticed her braids were fake. Contestants in the Miss Cholita Pacena pageant, which seeks to instill pride in indigenous women, have to wear their hair long and done up in two braids in traditional Aymara fashion, but the hair is supposed to be real, pageant organizer Walter Gomez told Reuter, explaining, “Having short hair means they don’t live like Cholitas.”
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