DATELINE: CHINA—A Chinese couple searching for a distinctive name for their child have proposed naming the kid after the international e-mail symbol for “at.” The unidentified couple were cited last Thursday by a government official as an example of citizens bringing bizarre names into the Chinese language. All Chinese birth names must be approved by the country’s government. According to Chinese law, children are only allowed to take the surname of either their father or their mother. As of last year, only 129 names accounted for 87 percent of all surnames in China, noted Li Yuming, vice director of the State Language Commission. According to the father of @ (last name unknown), the letters “a” and “t” can be pronounced in a way that sounds like the phrase “love him” in Chinese.
DATELINE: AUSTRALIA—Crikey! The Aussie woman threatened with jail and deportation from the U.S.—simply for using a bit of Australian slang on a Delta Airlines flight—hopes that changing her name will prevent her from being banned on future flights. In her first interview since being detained by police for using the phrase “fair dinkum” on a flight form Georgia to Pittsburgh, Sophie Reynolds told Australia’s Daily Telegraph she will use her impending wedding to try and wipe the slate clean with aviation authorities. Ms. Reynolds’ problems began after asking a hostess for pretzels instead of cheese and crackers. When she was told there were no pretzels, Reynolds replied, “fair dinkum”—the Australian equivalent of “seriously?” or “for real?” When the plane landed at Pittsburgh, Reynolds was met by police. “They threatened me with deportation, they threatened me with jail,” Reynolds told the newspaper. “They rang Homeland Security.” The officers quoted federal rules prohibiting cursing at the flight crew. Eventually, Reynolds was allowed to leave with no charges filed.
DATELINE: ROMANIA—A man confessed to a murder because he ran out of bus money. Marius Varzar, 23, from Botosani in Northeastern Romania, told a police patrol in a village 100 miles from his home that he killed one of his friends and wanted to give himself up. Varzar was arrested and taken back to Botosani in a police van. Officers in Varzar’s hometown had been investigating the case of a man who was found dead in the street. Later forensic evidence revealed the victim died of natural causes. The alleged murderer admitted he was only looking for a free ride home. Local police spokesperson Florin Gavrilet said, “After interrogating the suspect it turned out he drank all his money and wanted to return home, so he invented this crime.” Varzar was given a fine to cover his transportation expenses.
DATELINE: GERMANY—A drunk man was arrested last week after he allegedly tried to rob a bank in Mainz armed with a water pistol and a potato peeler. Police say Walter Schoegl, 52, had a stocking over his head and was waving the potato peeler when he demanded cash from bank employees. An unimpressed teller told him the bank had run out of money, and the blotto bandit left empty-handed. Schoegl still had the stocking on his head when he was arrested by police five minutes later.
DATELINE: KENTUCKY—The first rule of robbery: improvisation. Unable to locate a mask, a man robbed the Shamrock Liquors store in Ashland last Friday with duct tape wrapped around his head to conceal his identity. When the robber, whom police later identified as 24-year-old Kasey G. Kazee, entered the store, his entire head was covered in the sticky substance, “like a mummy,” store employee Craig Miller told the Daily Independent. Shamrock Liquors manager Bill Steele responded by showing the robber his own duct tape collection, wrapped around the handle of the bat he kept hidden under the counter. The robber fled the scene with two rolls of change, but was chased by Miller and a customer who was in the store at the time. Miller, who previously worked as a bouncer and security guard, stopped the man with a flying tackle just outside the store’s exit. Miller said Kazee’s face hit the blacktop when he tackled him. He also punched him a couple times in the groin area for good measure. “Quarters went flying when I tackled him,” said Miller. The duct tape was eventually peeled off Kazee’s face and he was booked into Boyd County Detention center, charged with one count of first-degree robbery. In a jailhouse interview with a local TV station, Kazee denied he was the bandit who robbed the store. He pleaded not guilty at a bond hearing on Monday. Apparently, employees mistook him for some completely different man wrapped in duct tape.