Slow to Complain 

Curses, Foiled Again
Gunman Alex Fowler, 26, confronted Dorothy Williams, 69, and Sue Erzen, 87, at their home, police in Jasper, Texas, said, and demanded money. When told they had none, he demanded their purses. The women refused, and Erzen attacked the robber with a can of Raid bug spray. The suspect fled on foot, police Lt. James Cook told the Beaumont Enterprise, but was quickly captured.

• Two men broke into a home in East St. Louis, Ill., and demanded money, but the 11 residents said they had none. The robbers were holding them at gunpoint when police responding to a report of a home invasion knocked at the door. The homeowner denied anything was amiss, Detective Michael Floore told the Belleville News-Democrat, but the officers were suspicious and remained outside. Someone inside convinced the robbers to change their clothes and pretend to be family members, and then everyone would go outside together and tell police the robbers had left. As soon as they were out the door, the real family members fingered the outlaws to police, who arrested Terrance Dancy, 20, and Cortez Richardson, 28.

Slow to Complain
After both drivers involved in a collision at an intersection in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture insisted they had a green light, police determined the two traffic signals had, in fact, turned green for about seven seconds at a time. Further investigation found the malfunction, caused by a programming error, had been occurring for the past 30 years. The Yomiri Shimbun reported that, in all that time, no other accidents or mention of the signals had been reported.

The Final Frontier
NASA can’t scan space for asteroids that might strike Earth because Congress, which assigned the early-warning search to the space agency, neglected to allocate money to build the needed telescopes. NASA reckons about 20,000 asteroids and comets in our solar system are big enough to pose a threat (between 460 feet and 3,280 feet across), but its existing telescopes have spotted only about 6,000. Lindley Johnson, NASA’s manager of the near-Earth objects program, told the Associated Press that to accomplish its mission of finding 90 percent of the potentially deadly space rocks will cost $800 million. Even with just $300 million, Johnson said, it could find most asteroids bigger than 1,000 feet across. The only thing Congress has given NASA so far is a deadline: 2020.

NASA’s mission to return Americans to the moon, also by 2020, lacks enough money to meet that deadline. Instead, the agency’s $18 billion annual budget will only cover flights to and from the international space station and only aboard Russian rockets.

Gator Raid
Sheriff’s deputies stopped Terron D. Ingram, 38, after they spotted him riding a bicycle in St. Charles Parish, La., carrying a 3-foot alligator on his shoulders. Ingram dropped the gator and fled but was captured. Capt. Pat Yoes told the Times-Picayune he didn’t know where Ingram got the gator or what he planned to do with it.

The next day, a 10-foot alligator bit the leg off an 80-pound Dalmatian that was off leash illegally and drinking from a city park lake in Jacksonville, Fla. The Florida Times-Union reported signs warn people to keep their dogs leashed, not to feed alligators and not to swim in the lake, but the dog’s owner, Charles Rust, said he hadn’t seen an alligator in the 10 years he’s been coming to the park. If they do pose a danger, he said, park officials should have removed them.

Three days later, in Harbordale, Fla., police broke up a tug of war between several middle school children and a 10-foot alligator. Observers said the children tied a raw chicken to a rope to attract an alligator swimming in a canal, but after the gator ate the chicken, its snout got caught on the rope, which the children wouldn’t relinquish. “They were pushing and pulling the gator back and forth on the rope,” postal carrier Kim Kryza told the St. Petersburg Times.

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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