Dateline: Germany--A young woman who didn’t want to go to work came up with a simple solution late last month--she sent a text message to her parents saying she had been kidnapped. Police in the Bavarian town of Straubing said they had carried out a huge search throughout the region for the 21-year-old woman who disappeared on Dec. 23. She turned up at her fast-food restaurant job the following morning, saying the kidnappers had let her go. The woman was questioned by police and later admitted she make up the whole story because she owed a colleague 25 euros (about $40) and did not have the money. She now faces a fine of up to 1000 euros ($1,680).
Dateline: England--A group of children watched in horror as Santa Claus collapsed and died while handing out presents at an annual Christmas party. Andrew Robertson, 82, passed out while passing out gifts in the town of Dundee. Attempts were made to revive him, but he was pronounced dead when medics arrived. Robertson had played Santa at the city’s Broughty Castle bowling club Christmas party, held for the grandchildren of members, for several years. “One wee kid said, ‘How are we going to get our presents next week if Father Christmas is ill?’ They didn’t understand what had happened,” the bowling club’s secretary told the Courier newspaper.
Dateline: South Korea--The South Korean government is handing out gifts for office workers who promise not to hire prostitutes over the holiday season. The Ministry of Gender and Family Equality is offering a cash bonus to companies whose employees pledge not to pay for sex at brothels after what are typically alcohol-soaked, year-end parties. “If you promise yourself to make it a healthy night out at the end of the year and if you recommend this to others, we are giving lots of prizes,” the ministry announced in an Internet posting. “Korean corporate culture that includes heavy drinking is also what makes buying sex acceptable as a way for male-bonding, which is proving to be a hard-to-break ritual,” a ministry official told the Korea Times. The government is offering free movie tickets based on the number of employees who pledge not to visit prostitutes, as well as a cash prize of about $1,370 to the company that enlists the most employees in the campaign. Prostitution is legal in Korea, where the sex trade is estimated to make up more than 4 percent of the country’s GDP.
Dateline: Nebraska--Two inmates at the Lincoln County Jail got involved in a violent altercation over some alleged flatulence. Jesse Dorris alleges that Brian Bruggeman’s stinky emanations passed in close proximity to him, sparking a Dec. 14 fight between the two men. Bruggeman, 38, faces a Jan. 11 preliminary hearing on the state’s complaint of assault by a confined person. It is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Bruggeman is accused of injuring Dorris when he pushed him into cell bars. Dorris, 26, was not charged. County Attorney Jeff Meyer admitted jail cell fights are common, but this was one of the more unusual causes he has seen. “It’s usually about someone hogging the newspaper or someone not happy about what’s on TV.” Sheriff Jerome Kramer told reporters that the fight was a result of overcrowded conditions at his facility. “You just can’t get a reprieve from one another,” Kramer said. “When you’ve got a guy causing problems passing gas, there’s no way to get away from the smell.”
Dateline: Florida--Police said a man who carjacked an SUV in Boca Raton drove all the way to Palm Springs before becoming lost and calling 911 on himself. According to police reports, Claude King, 31, approached Caroline Funkey's black GMC Envoy while it was stopped at a red light in Boca Raton. The report said King smashed the driver’s side window and pulled the driver out of the vehicle. Once inside, police said King began to punch the other four passengers. One of Funkey's friends, Kellina Beach, 18, struck her head on the pavement as she fell from the SUV and had to receive stitches at Boca Raton Community Hospital. According to the report, once King got the passengers out of the SUV, he began to drive wildly around the area, finally heading southbound down Interstate 95. Police said that, while heading southbound, King struck a white Chevrolet pickup and decided to turn around and head north. According to the report, he then struck another vehicle along the way and decided to pull over in Palm Springs. A few minutes after the alleged carjacking, police said they received a 911 call from a pay phone in Palm Springs. It was King. “Um, I committed a crime,” King allegedly told the dispatcher. “I stole a vehicle.” When asked where the stolen car was located, King replied, “I couldn't even tell you. I don't even know where I’m at.” Palm Springs police Officer Lt. Mark Hall said they found King sitting on the curb near the stolen SUV. Boca Raton police took King to the hospital for a swollen right hand and later booked him into the Palm Beach County Jail.