Dateline: Japan--Talk about a hot seat! Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer is recalling some 180,000 bidets because they have a tendency to burst into flames. Toto Ltd. is offering free repairs on the Z series electric bidet after wiring problems caused three separate toilets to catch fire between March 2006 and March 2007. According to company spokesperson Emi Tanaka, the high-tech toilet sent up smoke in 26 other incidents. “Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries,” Tanaka said. “The fire would have been just under your buttocks.” The popular Z series toilet features a pulsating massage spray, a power dryer, built-in-the-bowl deodorizing filter, a “Tornado Wash” flush and a lid that opens and closes automatically. The model, which retails for between $1,680 and $2,600, is not sold in the United States.
Dateline: England--A plumber who tried unsuccessfully to have sex with a 12-year-old girl ended up calling police after she refused to leave the apartment where the offense took place. BBC News reported last week that Rodney Williams, 33, testified in Stirling Sheriff Court he took the girl back to his friend’s apartment after an early evening drinking session. Williams admitted he had been drinking with a friend at the Stirling Arms on July 5 of last year. He met the young girl after leaving the pub to get some fresh air. The girl apparently agreed to accompany him back to his friend’s apartment but, as Prosecutor Keri Marshall said, “Later an argument ensued between the girl and the accused and this resulted in her refusing to leave the flat. The accused then phoned police in order to have her removed from the premises.” By the time officers arrived, the girl was gone. Williams, however, admitted attempting to have unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl. She was later tracked down, interviewed and found to be 12 years of age. Williams was arrested. The local sheriff deferred sentencing in the case to wait on background reports, including an assessment of Williams’ suitability to carry out community service as an alternative to a jail sentence.
Dateline: Texas--Dallas attorney Gregory Shamoun brought a surprise witness to court last Wednesday--a pet donkey named Buddy. Shamoun was embroiled in a dispute with oilman John Cantrell, who had complained to the city about a storage shed Shamoun was building in has backyard. According to Cantrell, Shamoun retaliated by bringing the donkey from his ranch and putting him in the backyard. Cantrell alleged that Buddy was too noisy and produced copious piles of manure. “They bray a lot any time day or night. You never know when they’re going to cut loose.” To counter those claims, Shamoun brought Buddy into court, led him to the bench and allowed him to face the jury. During his appearance, the animal was quiet and well-mannered. Ultimately, however, the jurors’ impressions of Buddy were moot. The neighbors settled their dispute before jurors returned from their deliberations.
Dateline: Washington--A Seattle man stands charged with a series of crimes involving alleged shoplifting, assault and a pet duck named Mr. Peepers. Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern last Thursday charged Kenneth Blaine Quinlan, 35, with two counts of third-degree assault and one count each of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. Authorities say that on March 23, Quinlan and his 39-year-old girlfriend drove to a Lynwood shopping center, where he entered a Linens ’n Things outlet and she went into a Petco store, taking the duck with her. According to court papers, a security guard at the Linens ’n Things thought he saw Quinlan shoplift an iPod speaker system. A scuffle ensued, with Quinlan escaping into the mall. He made his way to the Petco where he got the car keys from his girlfriend and tried to make a getaway. The man jumped into the driver’s seat while the girl walked out of the store with her pet duck. Not knowing what was going on, she tried to stop him from driving away. She was allegedly knocked down by the open car door as it backed up and dropped Mr. Peepers in the parking lot. A Petco employee saw what was happening and “ran to save Peepers from the front of the car.” Quinlan’s car ran over the woman, inflicting serious injuries including broken bones in her foot and ankle. Quinlan continued driving until his car struck another vehicle and was arrested. The driver, a convicted felon and former heroin addict, admitted to officers that he had just received a dose of methadone at a Lynnwood clinic. Quinlan was later held in Snohomish County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. The girlfriend and guard were not seriously hurt in the incident. Mr. Peepers was reportedly fine.
Dateline: California--Last Wednesday, the city of San Francisco decided to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire that nearly destroyed the city by the bay by gathering together all the survivors. Unfortunately, 104-year-old Herbert Hamrol was the only person who showed up. Hamrol said he took a day off work at Andronico’s supermarket where he is employed two days a week and got up at 2:30 a.m. to be there at the predawn ceremony. He sat in the back of a black 1930 Lincoln convertible, answered questions from reporters and joked with Mayor Gavin Newsome. Hamrol said he didn’t remember much about the earthquake, which struck at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906. “I was very young then,” he said. “But I do remember my mother carrying me down the stairs.”