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Ghosts in the News

Michael West, 41, of Fond du Lac, Wis., initially told authorities that his wife had hurt herself by falling, before later acknowledging that she had been attacked—but by ghosts, not by him. (He was charged, anyway, in January.) In Cincinnati, Anthony Spicer, 29, was sentenced in January after being discovered among copper pipes that had been cut at an abandoned school. He denied prosecutors’ assertions that he was collecting scrap metal. He said he was actually looking for ghosts, since the school “is supposed to be haunted.”

Compelling Explanations

• Thinking Outside the Box: (1) Rock Dagenais, 26, recently pleaded guilty to weapons charges after creating a siege by bringing a knife, a sawed-off rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition to a Quebec elementary school. He eventually surrendered peacefully and said he was only trying to send the kids a message not to disrespect each other by bullying. (2) Daniel Whitaker has been hospitalized in Indianapolis ever since, in November, he drove up the steps of the Indiana War Memorial with a gun, gasoline and an American flag and set the steps on fire. In an interview in December, he told WRTV that he was only trying to get everyone's attention so they would think of Jesus Christ and "love each other."

• In December, music teacher Kevin Gausepohl, 37, was charged in Tacoma (Wash.) Municipal Court with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Allegedly, Gausepohl tried to convince a 17-year-old female student that she could sing better if she tried it naked. The girl apparently complied with "some of" Gausepohl's requests. Gausepohl reportedly told an investigator that he was interested in studying the ways in which sexual arousal affects vocal range. He resigned from his position at a local community college after officials started an internal investigation.

Ironies

• The 547-acre FBI Academy on the grounds of Quantico (Va.) Marine Corps Base houses a firing range on which about a million bullets a month are shot by agents in training, but it also happens to be a de facto wildlife refuge for the simple fact that the academy is offlimits to Virginia hunters. Thus, according to a December ABC News dispatch, deer learn that, despite the gunfire (sometimes at astonishingly close range as they wander by the targets), none of them ever gets hit. The academy is also a "sanctuary" for foxes, wild turkeys and other critters.

• A South Carolina circuit court ruled in December that the sales contract on a former theater in downtown Laurens, S.C., was binding and that the rightful owner is the African-Americanheaded New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church—even though the property's only current tenant is the Redneck Shop, which features Confederacy and Ku Klux Klan merchandise. (New Beginning purchased the church in 1997 from a Klan member who was unloading it because of a personal riff with other Klansmen.)

Bright Ideas

• South Korea's Customs Service arrested eight men in January for a 2010 scheme to smuggle gold into Japan without paying import fees. The smugglers allegedly had broken down gold bars into small beads and brought them in via their rectums.

• Antidote to Multitasking: The U.K. household services broker LocalTraders.com announced in December that it is planning to host the "World Watching Paint Dry Championships" in central England in 2012, with a short list of participants selected on "mental strength, concentration and endurance." Finalists will be asked their favorite color, which will be painted on a wall, and whoever stares the longest without turning away will win. Said a spokesman, "Previous paint-watching experience is not essential."

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd

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