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Boom Boxes on Wheels



Curses, Foiled Again
Two men lacking masks when they broke into an apartment in Carroll, Iowa, used a Sharpie marker to draw on masks. The Daily Times Herald reported that police, responding to a caller who saw two men with “painted faces” drive off, stopped a car after noticing Matthew McNelly, 23, and Joey Miller, 20, sporting the irremovable disguises.

Foiled Again and Again and Again and Again
A man whose truck got stuck on railroad tracks near the Baltimore airport abandoned the stalled vehicle and tried to steal four vehicles in succession. The Washington Post said police learned of the first theft attempt from a woman who said she heard a loud noise, which turned out to be the sound of the stalled truck being hit by an Amtrak passenger train. The woman then reported finding a man trying to steal her car. She shouted, and he fled. While police were looking for him, two other people reported the same man had tried but failed to steal their cars. When police found suspect Gary E. Ensor, 43, not far from the site of the first theft attempt, a man approached and told them Ensor had tried unsuccessfully to steal his car, too.

Boom Boxes on Wheels
Fearing plug-in hybrid and electric automobiles could endanger pedestrians and children, who can’t hear them coming, safety experts asked automakers to supply a digitally amplified engine sound to warn walkers. A 2008 University of California Riverside study, financed by the National Federation of the Blind, found that a gaspowered car going 5 mph could be heard 28 feet away, whereas a hybrid in silent battery mode could be detected only seven feet away.

The upside, the New York Times reported, is that car owners will be able to customize the sound their vehicle emits, much like cell-phone ring tones. Several automakers are even working with Hollywood sound studios to customize engine noises. The most ambitious comes with the Fisker Karma, an $87,900 plug-in hybrid going on sale next year. Speakers in the bumpers will pump out a sound that company founder Henrik Fisker calls “a cross between a starship and a Formula One car.”

Irony Illustrated
A wind-power company rejected a site in western Maine for its wind turbines because it’s too windy. The Sun-Journal of Lewiston reported that First Wind’s Matthew Kearns told a public meeting in Rumford that the company’s wind towers couldn’t handle the strong gusts on Black Mountain.

Avoirdupois Update
Japanese lawmakers established a national limit on waistlines for people 40 and older, according to Atlantic magazine: 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.

• Peruvian police arrested four people accused of killing as many as 60 people and selling their fat to buyers who used it to make cosmetics. “We have people detained who have declared and stated how they murdered people with the aim to extract their fat in rudimentary labs and sell it,” Police Commander Angel Toldeo announced. The Reuters dispatch said the gang stored the fat it collected in used soda and water bottles

A Craving to Avoid
Women who eat lots of licorice while they’re pregnant risk having children with lower intelligence and more behavioral problems, according to Scottish and Finnish researchers. The BBC News said the team found that an ingredient of licorice might impair the placenta, allowing high-stress hormones from the mother to pass to the baby. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, said that as little as 3.5 ounces a week of pure licorice could affect fetal brain development and lead to behavioral disorders. An earlier study linked licorice consumption to shorter pregnancies.

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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