How the possum stole Christmas

In Englewood, Pa., the O’Connor family picked up a beautiful 8 foot (2.4m) Douglas fir for the family’s Christmas tree. The tree had already been cut and bundled and was just waiting for a loving family to take it home.

So they did. And they decorated their tree, stringing it with sparkling lights and ornaments and even a star at the top.

And very early Tuesday morning, it happened.

Mary Kathleen O’Connor, 16, doing some studying for school about 6 a.m. Tuesday, said she was the first to be startled by an apparent Christmas tree stowaway.

“I’m looking at the tree and the angel just pops off,’ she said. “And a second later, this head just popped up. The eyes were, like, glowing. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God!’ And I screamed.’

Other family members came running. “We looked at it and I thought it might have been a fake,’ said her father, Michael O’Connor, a Frackville attorney. “But then it moved its head. And I thought ‘Holy Jeez. We’re in trouble.” — Associated Press

Now if that were the end of the story, you wouldn’t be reading about it here. As it turns out, not only do the O’Connor family not know that the possum, which is native to their area, is quite harmless, they apparently had trouble recognizing one when it was staring them in the face.

So Dad was so confused, he didn’t know what to do! He called the police.

But while he was doing that, mom Patricia picked up the entire tree — stand and lights and all — and threw it outside into the front yard!

A game commissioner came up and took the possum a few miles away and released it.

And that is how a possum stole Christmas from the O’Connor family and helped Michael and Patricia O’Connor take their rightful place as Stupid People of the Day.

Child pornographer fooled by e-mail turns himself in

Police charged a man in Germany who had child pornography on his computer after he turned himself in. The man had just received an e-mail apparently from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) which said he was “under investigation.’

The e-mail was fake.

“It just goes to show that computer worms aren’t always destructive,’ said a spokesman for police in the western city of Paderborn. “Here it helped us to uncover a crime which would otherwise probably have gone undetected.’

The 20-year-old was caught out by a version of the “Sober’ worm, a prolific Internet virus which can invade computers and then send out messages from a host of fabricated addresses. — Reuters

This particular e-mail worm presents a customized message for several different countries, including the U.S. The FBI issued a warning regarding the e-mail, for instance. Ironically, so did the BKA. “These E-mails are not from the BKA,’ the notice reads. It directs visitors to more information from the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

The man, who was unnamed in news reports due to legal considerations, has become today’s Stupid Person of the Day. (Thanks)

Car thieves take pictures of selves with stolen car

Two car thieves in Redlands, Calif., stole a 2001 Mustang and took pictures of each other with a disposable camera they found inside. When they abandoned the car, they left the camera, along with fingerprints and other evidence, for the police to find.

And Redlands police were ever-so-grateful to 28-year-old Albert Engelsman of Redlands and 22-year-old Matthew Montanez of Rialto, who pretty much did all the legwork for investigators who recovered the 2001 Ford Mustang the men are suspected of stealing. . . .

“These are not the brightest people,’ said Carl Baker, public-information officer with the Police Department. “I think, in general, what I find is that crooks, as a class of people, are not the brightest. But every once in a while you run into some that make others look like Einstein.’

The Mustang’s owner had reported the car stolen on Oct. 30. It was found on Kenwood Drive in Redlands on Nov. 2. As detectives searched through the car, they came upon the camera and took it out to be developed, Baker said.

And there, along with a few photos obviously taken by the car’s owner, they found the clear mugs of their suspects, Baker said. Pictures and fingerprints led them right to Engelsman’s doorstep. — San Bernardino Sun

These two definitely qualify for, and share, today’s Stupid Person of the Day award.

Columbus mayor’s wife sentenced for drunk driving

Frankie Coleman, wife to Columbus, Ohio, mayor Michael Coleman, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced Wednesday to three days in jail and a six month driver’s license suspension.

Columbus is the capital of Ohio.

Dash-cam video captured Columbus’s first lady having difficulty walking a straight line after apparently slamming her car into a parked truck.

Mayor Michael Coleman made the trip to the Bexley police headquarters, coming to the rescue of his wife after she failed a breathalyzer test.

At earlier hearings her attorneys challenged the legality of that test claiming the officer’s certification had expired. Ultimately that challenge failed, setting the stage for Wednesday’s formal sentencing.

At an earlier hearing, she plead guilty to driving while impaired and failing to control her car. — Ohio News Now

The incident has pretty much torpedoed any chance Coleman had of running for governor, and for that his wife, Frankie, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

New study: 75% of college graduates are stupid

A study (PDF) released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education shows that only 25% of college graduates were “proficiently literate,’ that is, “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.’

The results show a dramatic decline from 1992, the last year surveyed prior to this study.

“This seems like another piece of hard evidence, a fairly clear indication, that the ‘value added’ that higher education gave to students didn’t improve, and maybe declined, over this period,’ said Charles Miller, the former University of Texas regent who is heading the U.S. education secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. “You have the possibility of people going through schools, getting a piece of paper for sitting in class a certain amount, and we don’t know whether they’re getting what they need. This is a fair sign that there are some problems here.’

The report, which extrapolates its findings from a survey of 19,000 Americans aged 16 and up, aims to measure what the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, Mark Schneider, called “reading for purpose’ — how well citizens can process information to do what’s necessary to work and live (sample questions are available here).

It assesses three types of literacy: “prose literacy,’ which is the ability to comprehend continuous texts, like newspaper articles and the brochure that comes with a new microwave; “document literacy,’ the ability to understand and use documents to perform tasks, like reading a map or prescription labels; and “quantitative literacy,’ which are the skills needed to do things like balancing a checkbook or calculating the interest on a loan from an advertisement.

Based on their scores, participants in the survey were deemed to have “basic,’ “intermediate’ or “proficient’ literacy. (Whitehurst noted that a National Research Council committee that recommended the literacy levels initially called the highest level “advanced,’ but that department officials ultimately concluded that the skills required for that category — comparing viewpoints in two editorials, for instance, or calculating the cost per ounce of different grocery items — weren’t really all that advanced.) — Inside Higher Ed

A university degree was a rarity in the United States as recently as the 1940s — only 10 percent of Americans had even gone to college and 75 percent hadn’t even finished high school. And those lucky or privileged enough to attend university actually left school with real knowledge and skills.

Today, nearly a quarter of Americans have a university degree by the time they’re 25, and these college-educated dummies are confused by nearly everything they read. — Sploid

I’ve been saying for a long time that the quality of American education is in decline. We don’t need more studies to tell us there’s a problem. We need to begin addressing the problem. And the problem is the Department of Education itself. Since its creation the country has enacted laws and regulations which have chipped away at the quality of American education until by now we have three-fourths of college graduates unable to read properly.

Drug dealer files lawsuit against police dog

Wayne Francis Green, 46, of Albany, Ohio, filed a lawsuit in Athens County Court of Common Pleas against Andi, a dog used by the county sheriff’s department.

The suit stems from a 2003 search of Green’s business which turned up 50 pounds of marijuana, and for which Green was convicted last month. He is to be sentenced in January.

County Prosecutor C. David Warren said to his knowledge, it’s the first time the county’s dog has ever been singled out as a defendant. Warren has volunteered to handle Andi’s defense personally. . . .

Green, who is representing himself, alleges that a search of his furniture business in 2003 was illegal. He claims officers also went into an adjoining building that he owned without a warrant, but police deny it.

Green said Wednesday evening that he felt endangered by Andi’s presence.

“They’ve got a mean ol’ dog, you know what I’m saying? I take that pretty serious,’ Green said, adding, “I’m a dog lover, but that’s the limit.’ — Associated Press

Police say they found the marijuana in the furniture business, not the other building. And Green, for clogging up the courts with a completely frivolous lawsuit, is most certainly today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Sodomy suspect tries to bribe victim twice

A 40 year old schoolteacher in South Africa, accused of sodomizing a 15 year old boy and bribing him by providing the answers to exams, lost his bail on Monday, apparently having tried to bribe the victim — this time with money — into dropping the charges.

The teacher, who can’t be named because he hasn’t been asked to plead yet, teaches at a high school near Malamulele.

His bail was revoked in Malamulele magistrate’s court when the teenager’s mother complained to the police about the second alleged bribe. . . .

The alleged sodomy was uncovered only when fellow teachers became suspicious of the boy’s almost-perfect exam marks.

The school suspected cheating, and launched an internal inquiry. When they confronted the boy, he told them he’d been sodomised and given the answers in return. . . .

Limpopo’s education spokesperson Ndou Mangala has previously warned that teachers who get sexually involved with pupils face dismissal and blacklisting. — African Eye News Service

The man, who as yet is unnamed, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Teacher caught snorting cocaine in class

Terry Kaupilla, 45, of Jacksonville, Fla., was arrested after students in the 7th grade class he was substitute teaching at Lake Shore Middle School saw him snorting cocaine.

According to Principal Iranetta Wright, students became so alarmed, they notified school administrators immediately.

“Allegations were made by the students that a substitute teacher was in class doing drugs. They said he was sniffing something.’

The Principal talked to students, then the substitute teacher, and contacted police. . . .

According to the police report, a bag of cocaine was spotted near Kaupilla while he was being questioned by police; and he later admitted, “he had been doing this for about seven months and realizes he had a problem.’ — First Coast News

Terry Kaupilla faces charges of possession of a controlled substance, and for doing it around teenagers, becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Bank robbery by phone?

A man in Wellington, New Zealand, who previously robbed a bank in person, tried to rob the same bank by telephone on Friday.

“He’s rung (the bank) and said ‘I’m the guy who robbed you the other day and I want the manager to put some money in a bag and go and stand in the street,’ said Detective Sergeant Chris Winder of the Auckland Police.

“(He said) ‘I’ll drive by slowly and take the bag from you and drive off.”

A plain clothes police officer stood outside the bank in the northern city of Auckland on Friday carrying a bag but the man did not appear. Instead, he called again. . . .

Police traced the calls and arrested a man Saturday, charging him with aggravated robbery and demanding money with menaces. — Associated Press

The man, unnamed in news reports, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Police officer tasers own partner

A police officer in Hamtramck, Mich., was accused of using a Taser on his partner during an argument over whether they should stop for a soft drink while on duty.

Ronald Dupuis, 32, was charged Wednesday with assault and could face up to three months in jail if convicted. The six-year veteran was fired after the Nov. 3 incident.

Dupuis and partner Prema Graham began arguing after Dupuis demanded she stop their car at a store so he could buy a soft drink, according to a police report.

The two then struggled over the steering wheel, and Dupuis hit her leg with his department-issued Taser, the report said. She was not seriously hurt. — Associated Press

Bad cop, no donut. Ronald Dupuis is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.