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 V.17 No.21 | May 22 - 28, 2008 

Odds & Ends

Eric J. Garcia

Dateline: Japan--A suicidal man who had doused himself with kerosene in front of police burned to death after asking officers for a smoke his during interrogation. Hifumi Kubota, 45, was taken for questioning to a police station in Nagoya last Saturday after a woman who was living with him told police he was acting violently. When officers arrived at the house, “he poured kerosene over himself in front of police,” a police spokesperson said. Kubota refused to change out of his kerosene-soaked clothes at the police station and asked to smoke during questioning, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and other Japanese media. Despite a no-smoking rule in the building (and the presence of kerosene-soaked clothing), a police official provided the flammable felon with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. After bursting into flames, Kubota was rushed to a hospital where he died the next day from burns over a major portion of his body.

Dateline: New York--A Manhattan man is suing JetBlue Airways for more than $2 million because he says a pilot made him give up his seat to a flight attendant and sit on the toilet for more than three hours on a flight from California. According to court papers, on Feb. 23, Gokhan Mutlu was traveling from San Diego to New York on a standby voucher. Initially, Mutlu was told a flight attendant had taken the last seat on the plane, but then he was advised she would sit in the employee “jump seat,” meaning he could have the last seat. One-and-a-half hours into the five-hour flight, however, the pilot informed the passenger that the flight attendant found the jump seat uncomfortable and wanted her seat back. Since only JetBlue employees are permitted to sit in the jump seat, the pilot told Mutlu to “go hang out in the bathroom” for about 90 minutes. When Mutlu expressed reluctance to sit on the toilet for the rest of the flight, the pilot told him that “he was the pilot, that this was his plane, under his command,” the lawsuit stated. Mutlu’s lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, says JetBlue negligently endangered him by not providing him with a seat with a safety belt or harness, in violation of federal law.

Dateline: Washington--The Kitsap Sun reports a 33-year-old Seattle man was arrested on May 7 for possession of a controlled substance after he returned to Suquamish Casino’s lost-and-found to claim a bag full of methamphetamine. The casino’s security officer alerted the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office when the bag was found to contain three knives, a bag of white crystals, some jewelry, a small digital scale and some blood pressure medication. The suspect’s identification was also in the bag, which had been turned in by another casino patron. The crystals were later confirmed to be a large amount of meth. As one deputy was speaking with the security officer, the suspect “walked up to the podium looking for his missing black bag,” according to the deputy’s report. He confirmed the bag was his, and the deputy placed him under arrest. According to the report, the suspect asked how much trouble he was in. “I replied it depended on how many points he had,” said the deputy, referring to the number of previous convictions against the suspect. The suspect admitted he had “a lot” of points. “I told him he was in a lot of trouble then,” the deputy replied. The unnamed suspect had previous convictions for burglary, possession of stolen property, drug possession, motor vehicle theft and eluding an officer. The suspect was charged with drug possession, intent to distribute, possession of prescription drugs without a prescription and possession of a dangerous weapon. Bail was set at $40,000.

Dateline: Michigan--The City of Brighton is threatening a local doctor with legal action if he doesn’t pay his tax bill--all 51 cents of it. Dr. Phil Kazanji recently received a “final notice and demand of payment” for overdue property taxes totaling exactly 51 cents. That includes the 3-cent penalty Kazanji now owes. “This is the most ridiculous thing a government agency would do,” Kazanji told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. Kazanji noted that the city sent the bill via certified mail, which cost $5.21. If the property owner pays the bill, the county will still lose $4.70 on the deal. Brighton officials say they are required by law to collect all delinquent taxes. “No matter how small, we can’t ignore it or waive it,” city finance director Dave Gadja said. “It doesn’t matter how much we spend to collect [delinquent taxes], we have to collect it.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

 

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