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Mission Improbable

A would-be Tom Cruise lowered himself by rope into an art gallery — only to find he couldn't get out.

As in the 1996 movie "Mission Impossible," an unnamed man removed a skylight and lowered himself down a rope into Saper Galleries (search) in East Lansing, Mich., early in the morning of July 11.

"He shimmied down like Spider-Man," East Lansing police Sgt. Carl Nowak told the State News, the Michigan State University newspaper.

But unlike either Cruise's Ethan Hunt character or the webcrawler's alter ego Peter Parker, the dangling doofus had no escape plan — in fact, no plan at all.

"The moment he entered the skylight, he was picked up by two video cameras, two passive infrared detectors and one motion detector," gallery owner Roy Saper said.

The video cameras clearly showed the man, said to be in his early 20s, trying in vain to climb back up the rope and out of the gallery. No dice.

So he threw in the towel — and used the gallery's phone to call 911.

Even before the police responded, Saper walked in to confront the man, who he doesn't think was a burglar.

"He's not an art connoisseur," Saper told the newspaper, "and he could have waited until we opened at 1 p.m."

Cops soon showed up and arrested the man, who will probably be charged with breaking and entering.

"There are professional thieves, but this guy was not only not a professional, he wasn't even an apprentice," said Saper. "He was a total loser."

Alien Crop Circle Bears Down-to-Earth Message

PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) — Pilots passing over Bill Neumann's cabin get a smile and a wave — not necessarily from the man himself but from the giant smiley face "crop circle" he's cut into swamp grass.

Neumann, aka "Swampy Creek Bill," got the idea for the otherworldly artscape while sitting in town talking with friends.

"On television, this story of crop circles came on," he told the Petersburg Pilot. "The fellows said I should have that at the cabin. It kind of stayed in my mind."

A retired high school shop teacher, Neumann started putting some ideas down on paper. He surveyed the surrounding landscape from a tower on top of the cabin he owns with other retired teachers.

Then he walked the area and made some rough drafts with a weed whacker. His layout was done.

Letters several feet tall spell out "Hello," located below the round smiley face, 100 feet in diameter.

"It was actually really easy to do," Neumann said. "I made a baseline for the letters and squared it up from there."

To make the happy face, he put a stake in the center, attached 50 feet of line and then walked in a clockwise direction. The letters and design were cut out with a weed cutter, similar to a lawn mower, on two large bicycle wheels. The cutter clears an 18-inch swath.

Planes flying over the cabin in the Stikine River (search) area, about 20 miles east-southeast of Petersburg, make a point to fly low for a good look, Neumann said.

This week, he added a 60-foot-long arm with a waving hand on the right side of the face.

"It's just what was needed," Neumann said. "It's kind of cute."

Crop circles first drew widespread attention in the 1980s, when they mysteriously appeared in fields around the world, especially in England. Their allegedly otherworldly origins were quickly thrown into doubt when people began admitting to creating them.

— Thanks to Out There reader Steve R.

I Just Wasn't Myself That Day

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — The lawyer for a woman charged in a March 2002 bank robbery says she should not be held responsible because one of her alternate personalities staged the stickup.

Nira Nevins, 54, of Perth Amboy, suffers from dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, defense attorney Paul Edinger said.

He maintained that the culprit was not Nevins but one of her 13 personalities, a young boy named "Jimmy," who did not realize that what he was doing was wrong.

The insanity defense was presented Wednesday during opening statements at Nevins' trial in state Superior Court in Monmouth County. She is also charged with kidnapping the head teller of a former Community Bank of New Jersey (search) in Shrewsbury.

Prosecutors countered that Nevins, an engineer, is a smart woman who robbed the bank to get out of severe debt. She had lost her job, moved in with her mother, had $50,000 in credit-card debt and $74,000 in student loans.

She also disguised herself in a wide-brim hat, oversize jacket and large sunglasses, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Jacquelynn Seely said.

"It's something a well-educated, smart woman would do if planning a robbery," Seely said.

Edinger painted a different picture of Nevins, saying the woman had worked as an engineer for 18 years and passed the Florida bar exam after earning her law degree.

He said she had long suffered from the identity disorder, once seeking help in 1992. One of Nevins' other personalities, "Kay," gambled away all her savings, he said.

At the time of the robbery, Nevins contemplated suicide and does not remember anything until she woke up in a police car, Edinger said.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

DENVER (AP) — A pastor reporting for jury duty has been charged with carrying a loaded gun into the federal courthouse in Denver.

U.S. marshals jailed the Rev. Don Michael Williams, 50, of Calvary Baptist Church of Denver (search), after security officers spotted a 9 mm handgun in Williams' briefcase during screening last Monday at the courthouse entrance.

He does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Ken Deal said.

Williams, of Centennial, was ordered released on $10,000 unsecured bond last Tuesday.

"He was very cooperative and made a statement to the court security officer that he thinks he messed up," Deal said.

Williams' attorney, Lee Foreman, called carrying a gun into a federal courthouse "a silly mistake." He did not know why Williams had the gun but said he had not had a chance to fully discuss the case with Williams.

Possession of a firearm in federal court is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If Williams is convicted of the felony, he would be prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

These Days, Everyone's a Terrorist

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A fake wanted poster that was allegedly displayed for seven hours on the cash register of a variety store in Etna has triggered a defamation lawsuit.

Brad Graves sued Ronald Hicks last week in Penobscot County Superior Court (search), claiming that Hicks damaged his reputation by displaying the poster that labeled him a "terrorist."

The poster included a photograph of Graves with the words "Mohammed Abdul Graves, suspected leader of the outlaw organization Extreme Activist Terrorism Militia of Etna" or "EATME" under his picture, according to court documents.

The poster also allegedly stated that Graves was "Assumed to be armed and dangerous."

Graves' lawyer, Brett Baber, said Graves was "mortified" by the poster.

"In this day and age, anytime one is alleged to be a terrorist and part of a terrorist group, it does inherent damage to one's reputation," Baber said. "He's fortunate that he saw this fairly soon after it was posted."

Hicks, the owner of Country Corner Variety at the intersection of Routes 2 and 143, declined comment on the suit and referred calls to his attorney, Terence Harrigan of Bangor, who could not be reached immediately.

Graves learned from a friend on May 14 that the poster was on the cash register in the store, Baber said. That day, Graves removed the poster, which appeared to have been created on a home computer using a picture taken at a wedding the two men attended last year.

Baber said a store employee told Graves that Hicks had put the wanted poster on the cash register.

The Bangor attorney said that he was unaware of any previous disagreements between his client and Hicks.

Nude Prison Guard May Get Job Back

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A lawyer for the state told a judge Thursday that a prison guard was fired for her own safety after nude photographs of her raised "quite a ruckus" at her prison.

The state is appealing a November order by an administrative law judge who agreed with Marcie Betts (search) that the pictures of her are a constitutionally protected form of self-expression, and that she should be reinstated with back pay.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley indicated it would be at least six weeks before he rules on the case, and both sides expect further appeals.

Betts, 23, of Hagerstown, has testified that she and her husband took the pictures after she had applied for the prison job but before she was hired at the Roxbury Correctional Institution.

She said she sold 81 pictures for $300 to a Web site that specializes in nude photos of tattooed women. One of the photographs also appeared in a tattoo magazine.

Maryland prison inmates are allowed sexually explicit material but cannot use computers connected to the Internet.

Betts was fired Jan. 29, 2003, after eight days on the job, for "conduct unbecoming a corrections officer" stemming directly from the pictures.

On her fifth day of work, an inmate and a fellow officer asked Betts about the photographs, Assistant Attorney General Scott S. Oakley said. The next day, photographs printed from the Web site were placed anonymously under the warden's door, Oakley said.

"During the eight days that she was there, there was quite a ruckus," he said.

The state contends that inmates eventually would have seen the photos of Betts and perceive her as a "sex object," putting her at an increased risk of sexual assault or blackmail.

Betts' lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters, said her free-speech rights trump the state's safety concerns.

"This is a case about to what extent the government can use its position as an employer to censor people's thoughts and speech in their off time," he said.

Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.

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