A security robot named Steve tumbled down several steps and into a fountain in Washington, D.C. New to the job, the robot had been patrolling the Washington Harbour area of Georgetown, mapping out its features in an effort to prevent just such an accident. “He looked so happy and healthy,” an area mourner tweeted after the incident. Another observer was less sympathetic. “Robots: 0; humans: 1,” he tweeted.
The Global Harbour mall in Shanghai has introduced husband storage facilities for bored men who have accompanied their wives shopping. The glass pods include a chair, monitor, computer and game pad. Parked husbands can play vintage video games or catch up on the news while their wives shop. Reaction from pod dwellers has been mixed, with one man saying the lack of ventilation left him “drenched in sweat.”
Hey, Thanks For Your Help!
Two women in Arlington, Texas, called police for help on July 10 as a mentally ill man doused himself with gasoline in preparation for a suicide attempt. When responding officers began talking with the distraught man, he poured more gasoline on himself and appeared to be holding a lighter in his hand. Hoping to subdue him, one of the officers used his Taser on the man and the gasoline ignited, engulfing him in flames. Officers wrapped him in blankets and removed him from the house. His family reports he was severely burned, and at press time, he was in critical condition.
You Have Our Attention
— On July 6, IRS workers in Ogden, Utah, received a fake bomb from Normand Lariviere, 68, of Olympia, Wash. The U.S. Navy veteran and former civilian defense contractor had been disgruntled with the Dept. of Defense since his dismissal in the 1990s. He has a history of mailing disturbing objects to the IRS to protest the paying of taxes. In 2016, Lariviere sent one of his fingers, a bullet and a marijuana joint to tax collectors. “Many things I could do,” he threatened. “I’m not going to tip my hand.”
— Drivers speeding down Bedford Street in Lakeville, Mass., may touch the brakes when they spot a parked police cruiser at the side of the road. But the vehicle — a plywood and aluminum sign painted to look like a Crown Victoria black-and-white — is a ruse perpetrated by resident Kelly Tufts to get drivers to slow down. Tufts parks the “car” in his driveway, especially on weekends, to protect dogs and kids from speeding traffic. “We’ve had some people give us the one finger,” Tufts said. “If it was their neighborhood, they’d enjoy it.”
Goats Versus Unions
A local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Battle Creek, Mich., is butting heads with Western Michigan University this summer after the school brought in a goat crew to clean up an overgrown woodlot on campus. The goats left some union workers without a job to do. The AFSCME’s grievance cites a collective bargaining agreement with WMU. But university officials counter that “the area is rife with poison ivy and other invasive species,” which are difficult for human beings to remove. The 20-goat crew, rented from Munchers on Hooves in Coldwater, Mich., is ahead of schedule in clearing a 15-acre area.
Odessa, Texas, resident Ernesto Baeza Acosta, 34, has legally changed his name to Ernesto Trump and declared himself the son of President Trump. His NSFW Facebook page features photographs of Ernesto wearing a Trump-like wig and asks viewers to “Please share this so that my Dad your president can see this and spend time with me.” Ernesto is a fan of President Trump, but his immigrant mother is not amused about his name change.
Unclear On The Concept
David Blackmon identified himself as a drug dealer when he called the Okaloosa, Fla., County Sheriff’s Office on July 16 to report that $50 in cash and a quarter-ounce of cocaine had been stolen from his car. When officers investigated, they found a baggie with “suspected cocaine,” a crack pipe and a crack rock in the car. Blackmon was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Least Competent Criminals
— Police in Wayne County, N.C., are looking for a careless cat burglar who keeps waking people up as he robs them. At least one victim awakened by the slender white man saw him wearing a pink polka-dot beach towel around his head. Police aren’t sure if he’s actually gotten away with any loot.
— Three China Grove, N.C., masterminds — Rex Allen Farmer, his son, Rex Carlo Farmer, and the younger man’s girlfriend, Kayla Nicole Price — cooked up a scheme to rob the Mooresville gas station where the elder Farmer worked. Surveillance video showed Carlo, disguised in a woman’s dress and wig, emptying the cash register as his father, the clerk on duty, stood by. Carlo then ran outside and removed the dress and wig, setting them on fire next to the building. However, the fire spread to a meter on the building and a privacy fence, thus setting off an alarm to which authorities responded. The police soon caught up to all three and arrested them.
The Animal Kingdom
— An African grey parrot named Bud may have been the key witness in the trial of 49-year-old Glenna Duram of White Cloud, Mich., for the shooting death of her husband, Martin Duram, 46. The investigation of the 2015 shooting dragged on for a year before Martin’s first wife, who inherited the parrot, shared with a local TV station a videotape of Bud imitating two people having an argument. The bird mimicked the words “Don’t shoot.” Three weeks later, Glenna Duram was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. On July 19, she was found guilty.
— Fire department dispatchers in Branson, Mo., must have thought they were being punked on July 22, when they received a call to rescue a bird from a tree. But it was no joke. A ladder truck was dispatched to rescue a parrot that had escaped and became tangled in its leash 50 feet up in a tree.
Two AT&T utility workers apparently didn’t work fast enough on lines outside the home of Jorge Jove, 64, of Hialeah, Fla. After confronting the workers, Jove went back into his house, came out carrying a gun and began shooting at the AT&T trucks, deflating the tires. Jove reloaded twice and shot at the trucks’ engines before aiming at Gilberto Ramos, a service worker who was up on a utility pole. Jove was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Government In Action
— Adi Astl, 73, took it upon himself to solve a safety problem in Tom Riley Park in the Etobicoke area of Toronto, Ont. Accessing the park meant navigating a steep hill, which Astl felt was dangerous. The city balked at building a staircase, citing a cost between $65,000 and $150,000. So Astl, a retired mechanic, built it himself, with the help of a homeless man for $550. Responding to the resulting media storm, the city now plans to build a regulation staircase costing $10,000. “Bureaucrats, bureaucrats, bureaucrats,” Astl comments.
— Meanwhile, in British Columbia’s New Westminster, the city has constructed, at a cost of $200,000, an unfinished stairway to nowhere. The structure was originally intended to replace a required fire escape on a building. But it was left incomplete and unattached to the building when residents raised concerns about wires overhead. “I thought it was an artwork, but I don’t think it makes that much sense,” said passerby Lawrence Kong.
People Different From Us
Barbara Rogers, 42, of Coolbaugh Township, Penn., said she was just following directions when she shot her boyfriend, Steven Mineo, 32, in the forehead on July 15. Rogers said Mineo asked her to kill him because he thought a cult they belonged to was led by a reptilian pretending to be a human. Rogers called 9-1-1 to report the shooting, after which she was charged with criminal homicide.
With Friends Like These …
Robert Kanoff, 49, celebrated Independence Day in an unusual way: High on drugs, he was dropped off in his birthday suit at a Tempe, Ariz., Walmart by two people who thought it would be “funny to see him naked,” said police. There, he walked around the store wearing only shoes and carrying methamphetamines. Maricopa County sheriff’s officers caught up with him at 10 pm across the street from the store.
Under The Influence
— Police in Slidell, La., stopped a “car full of drunks” on July 8 and arrested the driver for driving while intoxicated. The car’s passengers rode home in a taxi. But one of the women then drove back to the police station to bail out the driver. Slidell officers arrested the woman for DWI, and she joined her friend in jail. “Lesson of the day:” Slidell officers posted on their Facebook page. “Don’t drive drunk to a police station in order to bail out your drunk friend!”
— Police in Swansea, Ill., suspect the heir to a brewery fortune has graduated from driving drunk to flying high. August Adolphus Busch IV, 53, landed his helicopter around noon on July 10 in an office complex parking lot outside St. Louis. Police and FAA investigators were still trying to determine why he landed there and whether any aviation laws had been broken when they were called back to the parking lot around 8 pm. There Busch, who appeared to be intoxicated, was trying — unsuccessfully — to take off. Swansea police reported that Busch failed field sobriety tests but passed a breath test. After they secured a warrant, Busch was taken to a local hospital for blood tests. Found in the helicopter were four loaded guns, several prescription pill bottles and eight dogs. At press time, no charges had been filed.
Women in China are buying “anti-pervert flamethrowers” that can be carried discreetly in a handbag and launch a scorching rebuff up to 20 inches. Chinese police have warned that the devices are illegal, but one vendor called them a “legal, non-lethal tool.”
A mathematician in Bucharest, Romania, scored a 44,900 euro profit when he made an exciting discovery at a flea market there: a rare World War II Enigma machine, used by the Nazis for encrypting messages. After paying the unwitting seller just 100 euros for it, he took it into his care, cleaning and repairing it and learning how it worked. On July 11, a Bucharest auction house sold the machine for 45,000 euros (or a profit of $51,500) to an unnamed bidder.
— Why hire moving professionals for just one appliance? A man in Brisbane, Australia, gamely tried transporting his full-size refrigerator on a Queensland Rail car in April. He first rolled the fridge, strapped to a handcart, onto an elevator to the train platform. Shortly after guiding it into the train carriage, the man and his icebox were removed from the car by transit officers, who wrote him a $252 ticket. Apparently, his item would not fit under a seat, in an overhead rack or in a designated storage area, as Queensland Rail rules specify.
— Alana Nicole Donahue, 27, of Springfield, Ore., just wanted to entertain her children and nephew with a joy ride around the neighborhood. On July 12, as she pulled the kids — ages 2, 4 and 8 — behind her Ford Taurus in a plastic red wagon, she was arrested for reckless endangerment. Donahue told police she was just “showing the kids a good time.” However, horrified witnesses saw the car going 30 mph as the wagon went up on two wheels as it went around a busy traffic circle at rush hour.