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Newsquirks | Chutzpah


Curses, Foiled Again
Highway Patrol officers stopped three Philadelphia men they observed driving at night without lights and noticed piles of cash and coins strewn about the car. Just then, they heard a police broadcast about a store robbery nearby. “A description of the suspects matched the passengers in the vehicle,” Capt. Michael Cochrane told the Philadelphia Daily News, indicating the money equaled the amount stolen.

After Spanish businessman Tomas Delgado struck and killed a teenage bicyclist while driving 100 mph, he filed a suit against the victim’s parents to recover $29,400 in damages to his Audi A8 and car rental costs from the accident.

When Guns Are Outlawed
Donna Sturkie-Anthony was arguing with her sister, according to police in North Huntingdon, Pa., when she pulled off the sister’s prosthetic leg and beat her with it.

• David Ellis, 28, intended to rob a home in New Orleans, police said, but neglected to bring a weapon, so he “armed himself with a putty knife” he found inside the home. The Times-Picayune reported that the homeowner confronted the intruder, and the two men struggled, then Ellis pulled a lighter from his pocket and threatened to burn down the house. While fleeing, he lit a stack of newspapers, which didn’t catch the house on fire but added an arson charge to the one for burglary.

What Could Go Wrong?
A 23-year-old man in British Columbia went to a suburban Vancouver park to have a friend film him pretending to hang himself. He thought he had protected himself by wearing a harness, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which reported, “Unfortunately, things did not go as planned, and the male was unintentionally hung from the rope he had placed around his neck.” Noting the man was recovering in a hospital, the statement added, “The ‘Don’t Try This at Home!’ disclaimers on commercials and movies are there for a reason.”

Instant Karma
Mundo Lara, 25, tried to run down his girlfriend, according to deputies in Harris County, Texas, who responded and gave chase. Lara abandoned his vehicle and tried to escape by running across a freeway but was struck and killed by oncoming traffic.

Humanitarian of the Year (Pending)
Australian police declared a state of emergency at a luxury golf resort in Brisbane after Geoffrey Martin Fryatt, 57, threatened to detonate a store of chemicals with his television remote control. “One push of the button will blow up half of Brisbane,” Fryatt shouted moments before police opened fire with rubber bullets. Fryatt, whose lawyer told Brisbane District Court that his client acted after losing much of his life savings in a fraud, accepted a year’s probation but expressed concern it could interrupt plans to travel overseas to do humanitarian aid work. “Let’s get you right,” the judge responded, “before we send you off to a Third World country.”

Flash Attachment
A German court convicted a 21-year-old man of using his cell phone to send a photograph of his genitals to an unknown woman. She reported the sender to police after receiving the photo attachment. “We all had a bit of a laugh when we saw the thing,” said Christian Kropp, presiding judge at the court in Sondershausen, who added the man declined to explain his action.

• The chief resident of general surgery at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., admitted using a cell phone to photograph a patient’s genitals during surgery. He then showed the photo to surgical staffers, one of whom alerted The Arizona Republic newspaper. Dr. Adam Hansen told hospital administrators he snapped the photo during a gallbladder surgery on Sean Dubowik, 37, whose penis bears the tattooed slogan, “Hot Rod.” Dubowik, who runs a Phoenix topless bar, said he got the tattoo on a $1,000 bet.

Secrets of the Rich
A British farmer built a large rural estate, which he then hid behind hay bales under a blue tarpaulin to keep anyone from noticing it. Robert Fidler hoped to take advantage of a provision allowing buildings built without permission to be declared legal if no one objects within four years. When the required time was up, Fidler filed according to the provision. The borough council in Surrey said hiding the house doesn’t count and that the mock-Tudor house with two turrets at the back should be demolished, along with a nearby conservatory, marquee structure, wooden bridge, patio, decking and a paved racecourse.

“No one knew it was there,” a borough council official told the Daily Mail, which quoted Linda Fidler as saying their children grew up looking at straw out of their windows. She added they kept their son away from pre-school when his class was supposed to do paintings of their house because “we couldn’t have him drawing a big blue haystack. People might ask questions.”

Who’ll Stop the Rain?
Chinese officials have 30 aircraft, 4,000 rocket launchers and 7,000 anti-aircraft guns standing by for the opening ceremony of August’s Olympic Games—not to thwart terrorists but to prevent wet weather from spoiling the event. Zhang Qian, head of weather manipulation at the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, told Reuters news agency that the weapons would be used to fire various chemicals into any threatening clouds, either to shrink raindrops or to induce rain to fall before reaching the 91,000-seat, open-air Bird’s Nest stadium. Chinese meteorologists are among the world leaders in weather modification, Reuters noted, although they usually create rain over dry regions, not stop it.

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