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Homeland Insecurity



Curses, Foiled Again
Otis Belicario Keene, 34, admitted stealing $300 worth of items from the base exchange store where he worked at Hurlburt Field in Mary Esther, Fla., when loss prevention officers confronted him after he wore one of the items, a $7.99 watch, to work. A colleague recognized it as among the stolen items. (Fort Walton Beach’s Northwest Florida Daily News)

• Kenneth Kenard Fortson, 21, and three other suspects in a home invasion in Riverdale, Ga., were fleeing, when their pickup truck overturned. Fortson died, but not from the accident. “He was found with a weapon in his hand,” Clayton County police Officer Eddie Soto said. “It appears he accidentally shot himself in the head.” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

• After an unknown male broke a store window to gain entry and then stole a large quantity of cigarettes, police in Nashua, N.H., said bystanders Meretta Sperow, 36, and Amanda Primeau, 25, decided to take advantage of the situation, even though one of the women had already called 911 to report the initial crime. Responding officers charged the women with stealing cigarettes and lottery tickets. (Manchester’s New Hampshire Union Leader)

Homeland Insecurity
Future computer-based combat likely will involve electronic strikes that cause widespread power outages and even physical destruction of thousand-ton machines, according to the head of U.S. cyber-warfare forces. Army Gen. Keither Alexander also warned that recent massive losses of private and public data to computer criminals and spies represent the largest theft in history, estimating the value of lost information as high as $1 trillion. (The Washington Times)

• Florida authorities warned that Miami is being invaded by Giant African Land Snails. They grow as large as 10 inches long, leave a slimy trail of excrement wherever they go, harbor the microscopic rat-lung worm which can transmit meningitis to humans, and “eat the stucco off the side of the house,” according to Richard Gaskalla of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who declared, “It’s us against the snails.” (NPR)

Honesty Is the Best Policy
Facing federal bribery charges for arranging a quarter-million-dollar consulting contract for himself, Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie, 74, was portrayed at his trial as too stupid to have planned such a scheme. Defense attorneys called as the first of several character witnesses former state lawmaker Timothy F. Maloney, who described Currie as “a wonderful person” and “nice” but insisted, “No one would call him smart.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise questioned Maloney’s characterization, pointing to Currie’s background as a teacher and principal. “Did he get dumb when he went to the Legislature?” Wise asked. The judge sustained the defense’s objection to the question. (The Washington Post)

Blowing in the Wind
Britain’s National Grid utility paid 11 wind farms $4.1 million to stop producing electricity for eight and a half hours in the wake of Hurricane Katia. The amount is 10 times greater than the wind farms’ owners would have received had they actually generated electricity. Explaining it feared high winds would cause the electrical network to become overloaded, National Grid said it would recover the money it paid the wind farms by raising consumers’ household bills. (Britain’s The Telegraph)

When Guests Can’t Take a Hint
Authorities charged Carl Preston Johnson, 50, with setting fire to his house in Horry County, S.C. Police Sgt. Robert Kegler said Johnson started the fire because some family members refused to leave the premises. (Myrtle Beach’s The Sun News)

Constitutional Wrongs
When prison inmate Michael Baynard, 37, requested a copy of the state constitution from the Pennsylvania Department of State through the state’s Right to Know Law, he was told he couldn’t have it. He appealed to the Office of Open Records, which ordered the State Department to send Baynard a copy. The department complied after deciding that appealing the Office of Open Records decision wasn’t worth the time and money but insisted its position was correct.

Calling the State Department’s denial “just plain silly,” Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, pointed out, “The amount of time spent reviewing the request, making a decision about it, denying it and then having to deal with the Office of Open Records probably cost a couple hundred dollars in staff time, where they could have just gone to the photocopier, copied the constitution and mailed it to the guy for 10 bucks.” (Harrisburg’s The Patriot News)

Way to Go
Ivan Mendel, 77, died shortly after winning first prize in an eating contest in the Ukrainian town of Tokmak. He polished off 10 dumplings in 30 seconds. (Reuters)

• Brian Depledge, 38, died while hanging his laundry to dry when he became entangled in a clotheshorse. The coroner’s inquest in Bradford, England, concluded that Depledge fell backward into the folding device after tripping over a stool, and his neck and chest became wedged in its rungs as it collapsed. Detective Inspector Mark Long testified that when the victim tried to untangle himself, he pushed down on the bars, tightening its grip “like a concertina” until he suffocated. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Roundabout Route
When an Indian express train carrying more than 1,000 passengers pulled into Warangal, passengers and crew realized they had traveled nearly 400 miles in the wrong direction and were 600 miles from their intended destination of Bhubaneswar. Railway officials blamed the error on the train having been given an incorrect destination code and the fact that many of the staff were new and unfamiliar with the route. (The Times of India)

Foreperson of the Year
Accused murderer Derrick C. Smith received a summons for jury duty for his own trial in Schenectady County, N.Y. Commissioner of Jurors Hope Splittgerber noted it was the first time in her 28 years on the job that a defendant received a summons for his own trial. (Albany’s Times Union)

Constant Companions
Authorities in Jefferson County, N.Y., questioned Ned Nefer, 38, after he was observed walking alongside a highway pushing a 6-foot mannequin he identified as Teagan, his wife. Finding no reason to detain him, Sheriff John P. Burns said Nefer explained he met Teagan when she was just a head and built a body for her before they were married in 1986 in California. Nefer added that the two were traveling from Syracuse to Watertown, a journey documented on a Facebook page created for them. He had 16 disposable cameras with him to take pictures along the way, pointing out, “We both really love the outdoors.” (Watertown Daily Times)