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Curses, Foiled Again
After Malaysian police stopped Aw Cheng Fatt at a checkpoint in Kuala Lumpur, he offered an officer $15 to avoid a breath analyzer test. The Star reported the officer administered the test, which Aw passed, but then arrested him for bribery. A court fined him $300.

Second-Amendment Follies
A man repairing a Lincoln Continental was unable to remove one the lug nuts from the right rear wheel, so, according to sheriff’s deputies in Kitsap County, Wash., he decided to loosen the lug nut with a 12-gauge shotgun. He shot himself in both legs. The deputies described the man’s legs as “peppered” from his feet to his mid-abdomen with pellets, pieces of the wheel and other debris. Some injuries went as far up as his chin.

Hospitality Highlights
Seeking to replace government signs at six Scottish airports welcoming visitors to “the best small country in the world,” the recently elected Scottish National Party took six months and spent more than $250,000 to come up with a new and improved official slogan: “Welcome to Scotland."
Insisting the campaign is “not about developing flashy slogans,” Scottish Culture Minister Linda Fabiani pointed out that the greeting appears on six posters with images “showing what a modern, vibrant and successful country Scotland is.” One of them has a bald man in a raincoat wandering along an Edinburgh alley.

Cashing in on Religion
Government and congressional investigators have uncovered evidence that federal agencies and individual employees have misused religious-compensation time to pad accrued vacation and retirement cash-outs. The benefit, created in 1978, allows civilian federal employees to bank small amounts of overtime to use for religious observances “in lieu of overtime pay” without using vacation time. The Washington Post reported the Navy determined that three senior civilian managers had accrued hundreds of hours of religious leave, which they used to play golf, gamble, run marathons and travel to Europe, while banking regular vacation so they would be eligible for large cash payouts when they retired, ranging from $195,000 to $250,000. When Navy investigators asked one of the workers whether he considered golf tournaments to be a religious observance, he responded, “They could be for some people.”

When Guns Are Outlawed
Police said Gerald A. Rocchi, 32, walked into an ice cream shop in Ashland, Ky., wearing a ski mask and demanded money while brandishing a stapler. Store employees handed over about $175, according to police Capt. Don Petrella, who pointed out the chrome-plated stapler could have been mistaken for a handgun “if someone didn’t get a good look at it.” Officers tracked Rocchi to a nearby house, where they found the money from the robbery, the ski mask and the stapler.

Basic Math
Texas education officials approved elementary school math books that contain 109,263 mistakes. “This is an extraordinary number of errors,” Anita Givens, director of instructional materials for the Texas Education Agency, told The Dallas Morning News, which pointed out the number of errors was five times the total for last year, largely because one publisher’s books contained more than three-fourths of the errors: 86,026. Suggesting that the high number of errors resulted from publishers being given a shorter amount of time to develop the books, Givens said publishers have until spring to correct the mistakes or face fines of up to $5,000 for every error in the final editions, pointing out, “There is a strong incentive for publishers to be diligent about this.”

• After the Army Corps of Engineers announced that new gates and levee repairs in New Orleans meant floodwaters would be reduced by up to 5-1/2 feet if another hurricane like Katrina hit, it admitted that its estimates were off by 5 feet, reducing the margin of safety to 6 inches. The mistake occurred, according to Ed Link, leader of the corps-sponsored Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, because somebody put a minus sign in a calculation that called for a plus sign.

Slightest Provocation
A 15-year-old boy arrested for the shooting death of Michael Price Jr., 18, at a San Francisco shopping center told investigators he opened fire after he got into an argument because the victim was standing on an escalator step rather than walking as the escalator went down.

• Prabir Das, 33, told police in India’s Assam state that he was beaten and robbed by his fiancé and in-laws after they found out he was bald and wearing a wig. Britain’s Telegraph reported that the intended bride yanked off his hairpiece after dinner and began beating and abusing him. Her parents joined in, tearing apart Das’s expensive wig and then relieving him of his wallet, mobile phone, motorbike and driving license as punishment for his deception.

Playing the Odds
Chinese authorities accused a former post office director of stealing $238 million from customers over a three-year period to help pay off her gambling debts and make personal investments. He Liqiong, 43, reportedly issued bogus bankbooks for postal savings accounts and then would transfer deposits to her own account. According to The Shanghai Daily newspaper, He is also charged with arranging for a deputy director of the local tax bureau to be stabbed after he called several friends to warn them to withdraw their savings because he heard something fishy was going on.

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

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