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Curses, Foiled Again Investigators in California's Merced County identified Marcus Schulze, 30, and Tasha Silva, 30, as the burglars that took $10,000 worth of items from the home of a deputy sheriff and then stole his pickup truck to haul it all away. After making their getaway, the couple pulled over to have sex in the truck. A suspicious newspaper carrier spotted the unfamiliar truck shortly before 5 a.m. and alerted authorities. The suspects were unable to drive off, according to sheriff's Deputy Paul Barile, because "they left the truck idling while they were having sex, and then the truck ran out of gas."

* Australian authorities reported that a gunman and his female accomplice confronted a worker outside a restaurant in Olinda and demanded a black bag the worker was carrying, believing it held the day's receipts. Restaurant manager Horst Lantzsch said the robbers then asked for the worker's car keys, but as the worker was handing them over, the man's shotgun discharged, wounding his accomplice in the stomach. "She dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes," Lantzsch said, adding that he and the worker ran back into the restaurant and locked the door while the gunman dragged the woman to the road, where an accomplice picked them up. The injured woman drove herself to a Melbourne hospital, and police arrested a 37-year-old male suspect. The black bag taken in the robbery contained leftover rolls, which the worker planned to feed his chickens.

* Michael LaSane, 28, reached a plea agreement with New Jersey prosecutors that sent him to prison for at least 30 years after he confessed to killing a teacher. After learning that LaSane's mother had had a sexual encounter with his court-appointed defense lawyer, however, an appeals court gave LaSane the right to withdraw the guilty plea and take his chances with a jury. He did but was convicted March 7. Superior Court Judge James Citta sentenced LaSane to life in prison, ordering that he serve at least 60 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

Capital Follies Less than a month after firefighters responding to a three-alarm fire at a Washington, D.C., public library were unable to draw water from the two hydrants closest to the building, D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin testified that at least 25 percent of the city's 9,000 fire hydrants may be broken. Ten percent don't work at all, Rubin told the city council's public safety and judiciary committee, and another 15 percent require immediate repairs. In the area around the U.S. Capitol, 15 percent of the hydrants are out of order, and 18 percent urgently need repairs.

A Friend Indeed Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh announced that his country has accepted Japan's invitation to join the Inter-national Whaling Commission, even though Laos has no coastline and no tradition of whaling or eating whale meat. Immediately following the announcement, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe said Laos, which is expected to back Japan's campaign to overturn a moratorium on commercial whaling, would receive $1 million in aid.

Forget Marco Polo The Italian city of Treviso, which is run by the anti-immigrant Northern League, ordered Chinese restaurants to remove red lanterns from their windows because they look too "oriental." Sergio Marton, head of the council's town planning department, complained to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, that the lanterns, as well as lions, dragons and other traditional decorations, are "spoiling the appearance of the city" and warned that officials would "be making regular checks" of Treviso's three Chinese restaurants.

Arithmetic in Later Life After George Hood, 49, spent 85 hours riding a stationary bike in Aurora, Ill., he submitted his accomplishment to the Guinness Book of World Records, having topped the published record of 82 hours. Guinness officials rejected his claim, however, pointing out that his entry contained "fundamental flaws." Records manager Scott Christie explained the 40 or so volunteers who took turns logging Hood's efforts made mistakes in addition and subtraction and had trouble reading a 24-hour clock.

When All Isn't Enough Amsco Publications publishes a book titled All the Tunes You've Ever Wanted to Play and another book titled More of All the Tunes You've Ever Wanted to Play.

Pot Heads Israel's pro-marijuana Green Leaf Party informed its followers that marijuana is not kosher for Passover. Officials explained that rabbis have grouped products of the cannabis plant, including hemp seeds, with foods like beans that are forbidden during the Jewish holiday, although marijuana "is apparently kosher the rest of the year."

* Canada's federal government charges patients 15 times more for medical marijuana than it pays to buy the drug from it's official supplier, according to official documents. Health Canada pays $328.75 per kilo for bulk medical marijuana from Prairie Plant Systems Inc., which grows it in an abandoned mine shaft in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Health Canada sells the medical marijuana to authorized users for $150, plus general sales tax, per 30-gram bag. Besides complaining about the markup, many patients told Canadian Press they are unhappy with the product, among them Tom MacMullen, 43, of Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia, who declared, "It's garbage."

Number Six with a Bullet Japanese police said Iccho Ito, 61, the mayor of Nagasaki, died after being shot twice in the back at point-blank range by a mob boss who was apparently enraged that the city had refused to compensate him after his car was damaged at a public works construction site. He became only the sixth Japanese politician known to have been killed since World War II. Officers wrestled Tetsuya Shiroo, a senior member of Japan's largest organized crime syndicate, Yama-guchi-gumi, to the ground after the attack.

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