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Just shoot me



Detrick Washington, 25, was sent to jail after preventing the armed robbery of his concert-promotion business in San Francisco. Two robbers had entered Washington's loft and threatened to kill him and his staff if he didn't give them all the cash. Washington grabbed one robber's gun and shot him dead; another person shot the other robber. Although no charges were filed against Washington for the shooting, he was immediately incarcerated for six days. That's because he was on parole at the time, and parolees are prohibited from handling guns. After an investigation -- and community pressure -- Washington was released.

Baby boom

Dr. Rogerio Lobo and his team from Colombia Medical School found that random groups of South Korean women had almost double the success rate with in-vitro fertilization after being prayed for by a group of Americans. Because the finding was so improbable, Lobo almost didn't publish it in the current issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Chairman of the ob-gyn department at the medical school, Lobo said there was probably some variable unaccounted for; but he could not imagine what.

Write up their alley

The U.S. Army met this month with a group of big-name Hollywood screenwriters to take advantage of their creativity. The show-business newspaper Variety reported that writers of the movies "Die Hard" and "Delta Force One," and the TV show" MacGyver," had been convened to try and predict possible terrorist scenarios in America that might be planned by Osama bin Laden. For some reason, the writers of Grease were also invited to attend.

Crime almost pays

Edwin V. Gaynor, 21, was filling out an application to join the police department in Baltimore last August. When asked if he had ever committed a crime, Gaynor went into detail about a carjacking and two robberies in Texas. The answer attracted the attention of detectives, who -- during an extensive interview with Gaynor -- got intimate details of the crimes. They called police in Texas and learned that the carjacking was still unsolved and that Gaynor's details matched the crime. The Baltimore cops executed the Texas warrant and arrested the job applicant. Said Gaynor's mom, "He always wanted to be (a cop)."

8-to-1 odds

Paragon Gaming of Las Vegas signed an agreement in September to build a casino on the land of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians. The agreement allows Paragon to take advantage of the exemption of tribal land from state regulation. The entire Augustine Band consists of Maryann Martin, age 36, and her seven kids.

Hear boy

In August, Professor Patricia Simonet of Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, Nev., reported that dogs make a fourth distinctive sound pattern besides bark, growl and whine. In a paper prepared for an academic conference, Simonet claimed that dogs utter an idiosyncratic "pant," which is unmistakably joyous and playful. The "pant" is observed in such activities as tearing up flower beds and looking back while outrunning a master during play. Simonet found the "pant" is a series of sounds too inaudible for most humans, but when she played the sound for 15 puppies, all moved immediately to a toy area and began to frolic.

It's the pits

In August, Switzerland jeopardized its reputation for non-controversy. It submitted, for world-record consideration, a cherry-spitting launch of 82 feet, which allegedly beats the old record of 74 feet held by American Rick "Pellet Gun" Krause of Arizona. Switzerland's bid is controversial because it uses cherries that have "more-spitting-friendly pits," and the distance measured includes a two-foot "follow-through" area. Other world-record spits are measured from the point of release.

That sinking feeling

In July, a Sarasota (Fla.) county sheriff's deputy, Tim Czachur, drove his cruiser to a familiar spot off to the side of Oxford Drive in Englewood to watch for speeders. His patrol car immediately rolled into a neatly created hole about 5 feet by 5 feet. Czachur hadn't seen the hole because it had been disguised with a layer of palm fronds and oak branches. Said the deputy, "Someone must have been ticketed and got upset."

Nothing for something

A Mr. Ogunjobi, 41, has filed papers with the SEC offering to buy General Electric, General Motors, AOL Time Warner, AT&T (and AT&T wireless), Hughes Electronics and Marriott International. The firms have a combined market capitalization of some $650 billion. Ogunjobi, a naturalized American citizen from Nigeria, is proposing to pay shareholders triple the value of their shares. The downside: Payment would be made entirely in shares of Ogunjobi's Toks Inc., which has a current market capitalization of $0. Ogunjobi owns 100 percent of Toks Inc. and is its sole employee.

Quaking in his boots

The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Andre Johnson on drug charges, calling the warrantless search of his apartment illegal. Police had broken in, citing an exception to the warrant requirement on the basis that Johnson's street name, Earthquake, made it obvious that he was too violent for them to have waited for a warrant.

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