Odds & Ends
Dateline: France—A 35-year-old artist, allegedly traumatized over the recent bombings in Spain, was convicted of trying to run over a pedestrian he believed to be Osama bin Laden. The artist, identified only as Pierre, was sentenced last Tuesday by a court in southern France. Pierre was handed a three-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay the victim $615. "If it was [bin Laden], we would have won $5 million," said Pierre's lawyer, David Mendel, referring to the U.S. government's reward for the wanted terrorist. Unfortunately, the victim was not bin Laden. The pedestrian—a man in his 30s—was able to run away from Pierre's car, which crashed along the side of a street near the historic center of Montpellier. Mendel told the court that his client was "the victim of a hallucination."
Dateline: California—City officials in Aliso Viejo were so concerned about the potentially deadly properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they were considering banning items made with the chemical. Dihydrogen monoxide—otherwise known as H2O—is the scientific term for water. "It's embarrassing," City Manger David J. Norman was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as saying. "We had a paralegal who did bad research." The paralegal apparently fell victim to one of several official-looking websites (such as www.dhmo.org) that have been put up by pranksters to describe dihydrogen monoxide as "an odorless, tasteless chemical" that can be deadly if "accidentally inhaled." The City Council of the Orange County suburb had been scheduled to vote this week on a proposed law that would have banned the use of foam containers at city sponsored events. Among the reasons given for the ban was that they were made with a substance that could "threaten human life and safety."
Dateline: Maine—A 23-year-old man from Hartland apparently tried to commit suicide by nailing himself to a wooden cross last Thursday evening. Police said the man appeared delusional and told them he had been "seeing pictures of God on his computer." Somerset County Lt. Pierre Boucher told the Bangor News that the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on his living room floor. He attached a note reading "suicide" to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer. Unfortunately, the man's attempt at self-crucifixion ran into a little snag. "When he realized that he was unable to nail the other hand to the board, he called 911," said Boucher. Hartland Fire Department members responded and cut off the wood while it was still attached to the man's hand. The wood and the victim were transported to Sebasticook Valley Hospital where the nail was removed. No charges were filed in the incident. The man told police he had not seen the movie The Passion of the Christ.
Dateline: Connecticut—A Stamford High School student—who clearly could have used a little education—was arrested for skipping school and trying to sell drugs to two police officers wearing jackets with the word "police" written across them in capital letters. Narcotics officers were on routine patrol on Stillwater Avenue in Stamford when Davaugn Goethe, 17, waved the officers down. Goethe opened the back door of the unmarked police car, jumped in and asked the officers what drugs they wanted. He then directed the officers to drive off Stillwater Avenue, saying the area was "too hot." The officers asked for two pieces of crack cocaine, but Goethe had a momentary shadow of doubt. "He said to the two officers, ’You guys look like cops.' Maybe it was the police raid jackets they were wearing with ’police' written in big letters on the back, on the sleeves and on the front," Lt. Jon Fontneau told the Stamford Advocate. Fontneau said the narcotics officers were wearing the raid jackets because they were looking for fugitives and didn't want to be mistaken for anything but police officers. The teen has been charged with criminal attempt to sell narcotics.
Dateline: Oklahoma—Need proof that putting your parole officer and your drug dealer on speed dial is a bad idea? Patricia Michel was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of the unlawful distribution of a dangerous controlled substance at her home in Durant after she accidentally phoned her former parole officer and tried to score some drugs. Michel called Doug Canant on his cell phone by mistake and tried to set up a deal to acquire methamphetamines, police said. "I am a bit of a joker, so I was playing along," Canant told Reuters News Service in a telephone interview. "She thought she was talking to her drug dealer." Michel told the officer she did not have money to buy drugs because she was waiting for her U.S. tax refund and wanted to exchange one type of drug for another. Acting on Canant's tip, the local drug task force sent agents to Michel's house and set up the deal. She handed over two pills that were a controlled substance and was arrested. Michel was released on bond but faces between two years and life in prison if convicted. Ironically, if she receives parole, she could wind up with Canant as her parole officer again. "It is a small town and there are only three of us [parole officers]. It will be the luck of the draw," Canant said.