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Newsquirks | Dousing the Pants on Fire



Curses, Foiled Again
Two men walked into a bank in Slidell, La., with a note demanding money. When the teller handed one of them money, the other exclaimed, “Hey, don’t take that woman’s money!” According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the companion, identified as Harry G. Wilson, 42, then tackled the robber and knocked the money from his hand. A customer, unaware of the robbery, pulled Wilson off the robber, who fled but left behind his coat with his wallet. Wilson explained that he acted because he never expected a robbery would occur, saying the robber, a 37-year-old Florida man, owed him money for some drugs and was supposed to be cashing a check to pay him. “I’m just a drug dealer,” Wilson insisted after he was hailed as a hero, then arrested for drug possession.

Dousing the Pants on Fire
The British Broadcasting Corp. is spending more than $1 million to teach its staff the importance of telling viewers the truth. Vin Ray, director of the BBC’s college of journalism, said the cost of taking 17,000 workers off the job for the two-hour training seminar would add at least another $1 million to the cost. Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director general, ordered the training after the broadcaster admitted a series of bogus broadcasts, including made-up winners for phone-in contests and a misleading promotional video for a documentary about Queen Elizabeth.

Beats E-Harmony
Authorities in Austin, Texas, accused police Officer Scott Lando, 45, of hiring a woman for sex after meeting her while investigating a report that she had been sexually assaulted. According to a search warrant affidavit, Lando got together with the woman sometimes while he was on duty and at least once took her to his house. There, as part of her payment, Lando opened his wife’s closet and let the woman take a pair of black Harley-Davidson leather boots that were still in the box, jewel-studded jeans and a pink and yellow top, the affidavit said, adding Lando told the woman his wife “would never miss” the clothes.

Big Cover-Up
Britain’s National Health Service is asking visitors to its website to decide whether interactive body maps should depict genitals. “Debate has been raging,” a note on the NHS Choices site said, “as to whether the images should be anatomically correct and include genitalia or whether their nether regions should be masked. We want you—our users—to have a say.”

Sir Muir Gray, chief knowledge officer for the NHS, criticized the agency’s timidity. “I’m all for the genitalia,” he declared. “Anything else would just be an overly prudish Victorian approach. It’s completely bonkers to object. The edited versions resemble space aliens. People have to accept this is the 21st century.” In case voters do opt for modesty, Sir Muir proposed an optional drag-and-drop fig leaf for the virtual Adam and Eve, so visitors have the option of keeping the body-maps covered up.

Smoking-Class Heroes
The manager of a small German information-technology firm in Buesum fired three of the company’s 10 workers because they requested a smoke-free environment. “I can’t be bothered with trouble-makers,” the manager, identified as Thomas J., told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper. “We’re on the phone all the time, and it’s just easier to work while smoking.” He declared, “I’m only going to hire smokers from now on.

• Seeking to accommodate workers who are forced to take quick cigarette breaks outdoors, often in inclement weather, Philip Morris said it is introducing a “snack-size” cigarette. Marlboro Intense will be shorter than existing brands, the company said, but deliver the same potency while taking less time to puff. Philip Morris will test the compact cigarette in Turkey but believes it has potential in the more than 50 countries that ban smoking in public places.

Good Intentions, Bad Outcome
Jason Grant was collecting eggs at a crocodile farm in Australia’s Northern Territory when a saltwater croc snatched him by the arm. Nearby fellow farmhand Zac Fitzgerald grabbed a pistol and fired two shots. Police said the first shot caused the croc “to let go of the victim’s arm, but a further shot hit the victim in the upper right arm.” Grant (some accounts gave his name as Green) was flown by helicopter to Darwin for surgery for wounds from both the bite and the gunshot.

Web of Deception
Hoping to date younger women, factory worker Thomas Montgomery, 48, a married father of two in Clarence, N.Y., posed online as an 18-year-old Marine just back from Iraq. A response from an 18-year-old girl began an online relationship, which Montgomery bragged about to his co-workers. One of them, Brian Barrett, 22, was drawn into corresponding with the woman. A rivalry developed “between the two over what they believed to be the same woman, for an extended period of time—months,” said Dennis Rankin of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department. At some point, the woman learned the truth about Montgomery, their online romance cooled, and she turned her attention to Barrett. Montgomery subsequently shot Barrett dead.

The object of the colleagues’ affections, according to the Associated Press, turned out to be “a middle-aged West Virginia mother,” who had adopted her daughter’s identity, including the younger woman’s e-mail address and Web page, as her online persona. “The uniqueness of this case is that everybody appeared to be misleading everybody else, and the whole situation which resulted in a violent death was unnecessary,” prosecutor John J. DeFranks said after Montgomery pleaded guilty to murder. “Ironically, the only person telling the truth here was the victim.”

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