DATELINE: RUSSIA--It was raining crocodiles in the Russian nuclear research town of Sarov last week. Pedestrians in the town east of Moscow were shocked when a 3-foot-long caiman crocodile landed on the sidewalk in front of them. As it turns out, the reptile was a pet, which had fallen from its owner’s 12th story apartment after leaning too far out the window. Frightened passersby called the emergency services and rescuers managed to lasso the stunned animal and take it to a shelter for stray pets. RIA Novosti news agency reported the animal was soon returned to its owner, unharmed apart from damage to one of its teeth.
DATELINE: THAILAND--Ubiquitous Japanese icon of cute Hello Kitty has been recruited for an unexpected new job--punishing rule-breaking Thai policemen. Police chiefs in Bangkok have come up with a novel way to deal with tardiness, parking violations and other minor transgressions among officers. According to a report on the BBC, rule-breakers will now be required to wear a large, bright pink Hello Kitty armband with two hearts embroidered on it. The armband is designed to shame the wearer, police officials said. “This is to help build discipline; we should not let small offenses go unnoticed,” police Colonel Pongpat Chayapan was quoted as saying. “Guilty officers will be made to wear the armbands in the office for a few days with instructions not to disclose their offenses. Let people guess what they have done,” said Chayapan.
DATELINE: NEW YORK--Thanks to some help from a local newspaper, the ashes of Terrence Lewis’ ex-wife were located and returned mere days after his current wife, Anita Lewis, accidentally sold them at a garage sale. Mrs. Lewis, of Elmira, unloaded a ceramic turtle cookie jar at the garage sale last Saturday morning. Later, her husband informed her that the cremated ashes of his first wife, Monica Lewis who died of pancreatic cancer at age 38, were sealed inside. Mrs. Lewis turned to the Star-Gazette newspaper seeking help in finding the woman who bought the turtle. The paper published the story on Monday and by Tuesday received an anonymous voice mail from a woman who said she had donated the turtle to the Salvation Army Thrift Store in nearby Horseheads. The woman did not give her name and did not want to be interviewed. The thrift store was contacted immediately, but workers feared the item in question had already been put on the truck of donations sent every day to Binghamton to be sorted. From there, the turtle could have been distributed to any one of a dozen Salvation Army stores in the region. Fortunately for Anita Lewis, the turtle caught the eye of Barbara Phillips, the Horseheads thrift store manager, who pulled the item off the truck and priced it at $7.99. The ceramic urn was pulled aside and was reclaimed by Mrs. Lewis later that day. According to the Star-Gazette, the seal on the turtle’s lid was unbroken and presumably still contained Marcia’s remains.
DATELINE: MICHIGAN--A would-be bankrobber remembered the disguise, the gloves and the handwritten demand note but forgot one crucial element last Monday morning: a bag to haul his loot. The incident took place about 10 a.m. at a Chase Bank branch in New Hudson, a western suburb of Detroit. “He came in with a small piece of cardboard with ‘Give Me Your Money’ printed on it,” detective Tom Bisio of the Oakland County Sheriff department told the Detroit News. The robber, wearing dark sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt, told the teller to “hurry up,” but when she asked him if he had a bag to put all the money in, the man looked flustered and ran off without any cash. Police are looking for a white male in his late 20s.
DATELINE: OHIO--Rather than give panhandler Donald Francis the quarter he asked for, 62-year-old Geraldine Beasley pulled out a gun and shot him dead. Francis, 44, was standing outside a subway station at Eighth and Linn streets in downtown Cincinnati one evening last week asking people for money. According to Police Chief Tom Streicher, Beasley complained to someone else at the scene about the panhandling. Then, when Francis asked her for money, she pulled out a gun and fired. “He asked her for a quarter,” Streicher told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s apparently all there was to it.” Beasley has been charged with murder and is being held on $500,000 bond. During the bond hearing in Hamilton County Municipal Court, Beasley’s attorney testified that his client has “mental issues.”