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Lead Story

In November, Phillip Shane Duncan, 18, and three partners were arrested for attempting to rob an all-night convenience store in Knoxville, Tennessee, at 4 AM. As a disguise, Duncan wore the box from a 12-pack of beer over his head and peered out of the two grip holes. The robbery failed when the clerk, stationed in a bulletproof booth, refused to hand over money, enraging the four men, who began trashing the inside of the store. When the men ripped the store’s front door off, passing police officers noticed the commotion.

Least Competent People

Latest self-inflicted testicle wound: In October Stanley Brown, 19, snatched a woman’s purse in Miami at gunpoint, fired two shots at her (but missed), and while running away tried to stuff the gun into his waistband, causing it to fire. According to a witness, Brown ran a few more steps, stopped, pulled back his waistband to take a look, and said, “I’ve been shot.”

Derick Grace, 22, a three-time convicted felon who had been released on parole near Fort Lauderdale in September, was allegedly involved in two bank robberies in October and led police on a two-county car chase and gun battle before escaping. He was caught the next day after he had registered for the night at a motel in Dania, Florida, using his correct name and prison ID number on the register and naming “Department of Corrections” as his employer.

Questionable Judgments

In September, when federal and local Los Angeles officials moved in on what would be the largest seizure of drugs in U.S. history, 20 million metric tons of cocaine stored in a suburban warehouse, they found the owners had protected it with a $6 combination lock.

The Zimbabwe Football Association banned four soccer players for life in October after they urinated on the field in Harare because witch doctors told them it would ensure victory. They lost anyway, 2-0.

John E. Sears, 21, was arrested for breaking and entering into the Warwick (Rhode Island) Public Library after allegedly trying to enter through the chimney late one November night and getting stuck until he was rescued the next morning. When discovered, he was nude.

After attempting a burglary in September in Larkspur, California, two men, ages 16 and 18, scaled a chain-link fence outside town to evade police who were following them, only to discover later that the fence was the outer perimeter of San Quentin prison, where guards arrested them.

On June 7, after Dallas DJ Ken Baker broke into his music with a National Weather Service tornado warning, he was allegedly reprimanded by station vice president Dave McNamee, who criticized Baker for not waiting for the next scheduled newsbreak, 20 minutes away. When Baker reminded McNamee that “warning” meant that a tornado had been sighted in the area, McNamee reportedly said, “Fuck them–this is an all-music station!”

The Continuing Crisis

India’s Central Road Research Institute recommended requiring written tests for truckers’ licenses there for the first time after a survey revealed that 99 percent of truck drivers could not read well enough to identify traffic signs.

Steven L. Messervy, 27, was stopped by officers before he could get past the outer wall of the Bexar County (Texas) Jail in an October escape attempt. He had dug through the first wall in the cell using parts from his artificial leg, which he had planned to reassemble after making it through the second wall.

Despite the upheavals in Eastern Europe, the government news agency of North Korea reported that 100 percent of those eligible to vote in North Korean elections on November 19 had exhibited “a high degree of political enthusiasm” for the Communist Party candidates.

In November, a grand jury in Jefferson County, Kentucky, indicted three former officials of the Louisville Crematories and Cemetery Company on 60 criminal counts, including burying as many as 48,000 bodies in already-occupied graves. Investigators found human bones in such places as a truck’s glove compartment, a toolbox, and a fast-food hamburger bag.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs reported that President Bush’s dog, Millie, was more often mentioned in major-media stories during the first six months of the Bush administration than were the secretaries of education, agriculture, and veterans’ affairs combined.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.