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No Squatting at Ground Zero


Curses, Foiled Again
People noticed Dennis Hawkins, 48, when he showed up at a shopping center supermarket wearing a woman’s blonde wig, a sweater with fake breasts under it and clown pants. Police in Swissvale, Pa., said Hawkins proceeded to a Kmart store, where surveillance cameras caught him shoplifting a BB gun. He then went to a nearby bank, showed a teller the gun and demanded money. Bank cameras recorded him stopping behind the bank to open the money envelope as a dye pack explodes, causing him to drop some of the money. He ran to a nearby service station, hopped into the parked car of a woman and asked for a ride. The woman got out, taking her keys with her, and called police, who arrested Hawkins while he waited in her car, covered with red dye, the wig stuffed in his clown pants and still wearing the fake breasts. “He’d be my candidate for America’s dumbest criminal,” police Chief Greg Geppert said. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

• Authorities in Greene County, Ind., arrested Justin S. Johnson, 21, after a bank reported he was trying to cash a check for $1 million at the drive-through window. Sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Woodall said Johnson left without any money, but he had presented identification to prove he was the payee, and the teller photocopied his driver’s license before informing him the check wasn’t valid. (Greene County Daily World)

No Squatting at Ground Zero
After attending a cultural awareness course run by a Muslim community activist in England, managers of a Rochdale shopping mall installed two squat toilets. A familiar sight in parts of the Middle East and Asia, the toilets require users to squat over a hole in the ground and are favored over flush toilets because they don’t need expensive plumbing and allow users to assume a natural posture that proponents claim offers health benefits. The installation at the Exchange mall followed a class by Ghulam Rasul Shahzad, who received the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in June. The change didn’t sit well with Conservative MP Philip Davies, however. “We in Britain are rightly proud of our toilets,” he declared, “and the onus is on people who come to this country to appreciate them for what they are” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

An Inconvenient Truth
Hotter-than-usual weather in Germany this year resulted in a disappointing potato harvest, resulting in potatoes used of make French fries that are only 1.8 inches long instead of the usual 2.2 inches. “The french fries industry and consumers will have to brace themselves for shorter fries,” said Verena Telaar of the German Farmers’ Association. (Reuters)

Instant Cowma
Authorities who charged Christopher Newton, 21, and another man with trying to push over two 4-foot-tall fiberglass cow sculptures in Burlington, Vt., noted that Newton’s foot was broken when one of the 150-pound cows fell on it. (Associated Press)

Groundskeeping Follies
Alberta’s St. Albert Minor Baseball Association dries rain-soaked playing fields by setting them on fire. The tradition could cost the nonprofit association $20,000 after an official poured six liters of diesel fuel on one field and lit it. Within minutes, St. Albert firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze, and a city hazmat team dug up the field to check for contamination. The city also forced the association to dig up one of the pitching mounds found to be contaminated with fuel. (CBC News)

First Things First
A Utah judge sentenced Adam Manning, 31, to six months in jail for fondling a maternity nurse while she was wheeling the man’s pregnant girlfriend to the delivery room at an Ogden hospital. Because he was promptly arrested after the nurse reported the incident, Manning missed his child’s birth. (Ogden’s Standard-Examiner)

Homeland Insecurity
Tourists will no longer be able to watch maple syrup production from the factory floor of Maple Grove Farms’ processing facility in St. Johnsbury, Vt. General Manager Steve Jones said Maple Grove can’t afford to comply with post-9/11 security guidelines requiring visitors to be physically separated from production equipment. (Barre-Montpelier Times Argus)

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.