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Curses, Foiled Again
A man with a shotgun entered a convenience store in Albany, N.Y., and set the gun down on the counter so he could use both hands to stuff money from the register into his pockets. A surveillance video shows clerk Hafiz Alam grabbing the unattended weapon and pointing it at the man, who fled. He returned seconds later and struggled with the clerk for the gun. It fired, but neither man was hurt. The robber drove off, but a witness wrote down his license number, which led police to Justin Walker, 22.

Fair or Foul?
Army Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty was umpiring his 8-year-old son’s Little League baseball game in Alexandria, Va., when a disputed call made him realize he needed to read the rulebook. After failing to find a copy at sporting-goods stores or on the league’s Website, he called a local league official, who, The Washington Post reported, told Hilferty that, in order to prevent lawsuits, the league no longer makes its rules available to just anyone. Hilferty contacted the national Little League office, which wasn’t impressed when Hilferty pointed out that he has a secret clearance and works at the Pentagon. “We don’t give preferential treatment,” representative Lance Van Auken said. “Everybody has to abide by the same rules.”

Chronicling other instances of Little League’s penchant for secrecy, the Post pointed out that the first Little Leaguer to become president is George W. Bush.

Rollover Minutes
Zachariah Smith, 18, was sending a text message on his cell phone while crossing railroad tracks when a train struck him, hurling him about 50 feet. He was hospitalized in serious condition. “The horn was blowing like mad, and the kid was text messaging,” said Mayor Richard Ellison of Elmwood Place, Ohio, where the accident occurred. “The kid apparently was just daydreaming.”

Hear Our Prayers
The Church of England has posted a selection of prayers on the Internet ( to help believers cope with modern life. “We’re showing that God’s love isn’t just a holiday romance,” a church official told The Daily Telegraph, which reported the prayers cover situations from failing to find a seat on a train to preparing to answer the phone: “Father, as I talk to this person, give me a listening ear and a gracious tongue.”

• Following mechanical problems with one of its two Boeing 757 aircraft, officials at Nepal’s state-run airline sacrificed two goats to appease the Hindu sky god Akash Bhairab. The rite was performed in front of the passenger jet at Kathmandu international airport, according to Nepal Airlines senior official Raju K.C., who reported, “The snag in the plane has now been fixed, and the aircraft has resumed its flights.”

Cure-All of the Week
Encouraging people to smoke marijuana will ensure a calmer atmosphere for next year’s Democratic National Convention, according to some Denver residents. “Tens of thousands of people are going to come here to protest and rally,” said Mason Tvert, executive director of Citizens for a Safer Denver, which is behind a ballot proposal requiring lax enforcement of the city’s pot-possession laws. “If we allow alcohol use to be at the center, we’re asking for trouble. But if we allow protesters to use marijuana, then maybe they’ll be less inclined to use alcohol and cause problems.”

• Gregor Spalding, 30, admitted growing marijuana at his home in Blairgowrie, Scotland, but a court showed him leniency after he explained that he had intended to use the drug to relieve pain caused by constant itching around his genitals. Spalding said prescription medicine had failed to stop the pain of pruritus, so he decided to grow marijuana after reading about it on the Internet. His doctor confirmed his condition.

Mounting Evidence
Florida authorities charged Walter Duque, 22, with illegally stockpiling 20,000 cubic yards of horse manure—enough to fill 1,000 dump trucks—in piles up to 15 feet high on his 5-acre ranch in Loxahatchee Groves. Investigators from the state Department of Environmental Protection were tipped off after neighbors complained about the growing piles and the odor, although the complaints began in 2002, five years before Duque’s arrest.

Better Than ToMacco
Hong Kong-based Golden Dragon Group asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve its battery-powered cigarette, which the company said is a substitute for smoking, not an aid to quitting. It delivers nicotine without the smell or the carcinogens associated with smoking. The electronic nicotine-delivery device, known as Ruyan (meaning “like smoking”), is an atomizer, costing $208, that uses cartridges containing pure nicotine, each costing about $4 and good for some 350 puffs. Inhaling turns the nicotine into smoke-like vapor, according to Scott Fraser, vice president of Golden Dragon subsidiary SBT, which developed the Ruyan.

After a Florida court sentenced him to five years in prison for felony driving and other charges, Michael Francis Wiley, 40, who has already spent three years in prison for habitually driving without a license, told the Associated Press he is through driving. Wiley taught himself to drive after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident when he was 13. He starts the car with his toes, turns on the lights with his teeth, shifts with his knees and steers with the stump of his left arm.

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