Curses, Foiled Again A man wearing a werewolf mask entered a sandwich shop in Pittsburgh, pointed his paper-bag-covered hand at the cashier and demanded money. The clerk refused to open the register, as did a second clerk. Police reported the three argued until the frustrated robber tore off his mask and exclaimed, "I can't believe you won't listen to a man with a mask and a gun." Before storming from the store, he picked up the tip jar and smashed it to the floor.
* Michael Jerome Chatman, 35, was returning a printer to a Target store in Augusta, Ga., when the clerk noticed a piece of paper inside the printer with copies of a $20 and a $10 bill. Chatman grabbed the printer and fled, but a Richmond County deputy outside the store stopped him. Arresting officers who frisked Chatman found a real $20 bill they said matched the copy inside the printer. "People get wrapped up in the crime, and they forget things," sheriff's Investigator Anita Hopson pointed out. "In this situation, it was just stupidity."
* After stopping a pickup truck for a broken taillight outside Buckstown, Pa., police Officer Nathan Claycomb spotted the driver running away but couldn't catch him. Claycomb got a call later that night that the pickup's owner had just reported the vehicle stolen and went to investigate. He noticed that, except for lacking a mustache, owner Robert Sadlon, 50, looked just like the driver he had stopped earlier. A closer look revealed a pale outline on the upper lip of Sadlon's otherwise ruddy face, indicating he had just shaved off a mustache. Confronted, Sadlon confessed.
Keep the X in Xmas The Muslim nation of Kyrgyzstan declared itself the new home of Santa Claus after a Swedish engineering firm pinpointed the tiny ex-Soviet republic as the most efficient location for global toy delivery. Hoping that relocating Santa Claus to central Asia would boost the shaky economy, Kyrgyz tourist authorities promptly named a mountain peak after Santa, alongside Mounts Lenin and Yeltsin, and unveiled a new national slogan: "Kyrgyzstan is the land of Santa Clauses."
* Following Christmas services at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, members of rival Christian orders were sweeping up when they got into a broom fight. Reports said the violence began when Armenian Apostolic priests objected to Greek Orthodox clerics placing a ladder across their boundary at the jointly run basilica, built over the reputed birthplace of Jesus. Palestinian police had to form a human cordon to separate the 80 or so battling priests and deacons so cleaning could resume.
Hard Side of Easy Police, called to a Kmart store in Wauwatosa, Wis., after a crowd of shoppers became unruly, learned that the melee stemmed from a glitch in the computer system that handles credit-card applications. It began approving cards for everyone who applied and offering credit lines of up to $4000. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that as word spread, dozens of customers showed up to apply for easy credit. When the store ran out of applications, some customers began hawking theirs in the parking lot for $10.
Butt Heads A German restaurateur in Lower Saxony greeted the state's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants by sawing three holes in the wall next to tables so patrons can smoke "outside." Michael Windisch, proprietor of the Maltermeister Turm restaurant in Goslar explained that customers can put their heads through the large hole in the middle and their hands through the two smaller side holes, so they "can legally enjoy a cigarette without having to leave the comfort of the restaurant." Windisch mounted a curtain over the holes to keep out the cold.
* Portugal's daily newspaper Diario de Noticias photographed Antonio Nunes, president of the government agency responsible for enforcing a new ban on smoking in public, breaking the law on the first day it went into effect. Caught smoking a cigar at a casino outside Lisbon, Nunes told the paper that he wasn't aware the anti-smoking law, which applies to restaurants and bars, also includes casinos. After an official of the Ministry of Health said it does, Nunes declared, "We will have to look into what is in the law."
Second-Amendment Follies Two men were tracing a .357-caliber Magnum for a tattoo in Chaparral, N.M., when the loaded weapon accidentally fired. Otero County authorities reported Robert Glasser, 22, was struck in the hand, and Joey Acosta, 22, was hit in the left arm.
* Daniel Leatherman, 26, told police in Scottsdale, Ariz., that he heard a disturbance outside his apartment and saw a man fighting with a cab driver. Recognizing the man as Cody Nunn, 25, who had assaulted him in the past, Leatherman grabbed his gun and headed outside. While hiding the weapon behind his back, Leatherman said he accidentally dropped it and shot himself in the buttocks.
Slightest Provocation Shawn Fay Johnson, 34, called 911 to report that his wife stabbed him. He told police Misty Johnson, 34, attacked him with a kitchen knife during an argument that began when she accused him of opening a present before Christmas.
* After Cheryl Grucz, 61, pulled a gun on her husband and shot their flat-screen TV while he cowered behind a pillow, Joseph Grucz, 65, told authorities in Macomb County, Mich., that the shooting occurred after he said he wanted the heat turned up. "She's all excited about it because she's so cheap," the husband said. During the 911 call, Cheryl Grucz got on the line to offer her side of the story. "I'm not going to hurt him," she explained. "He has pushed me over the edge, that was all."