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No-Man's Land



Curses, Foiled Again
A 24-year-old Australian man tried to rob a chicken carryout in Rosebery, New South Wales, by smashing the cash register on the floor. An employee “responded with a bucket of chili flakes over his face,” according to police Inspector Paul Thornton, who reported that police treated the suspect for minor burns before charging him. (Sydney Morning Herald)

A man ordered coffee at a Dunkin’ Donut drive-through in West Haven, Conn., but when he pulled up to the window, he got out of his vehicle, announced a robbery and started to climb through the window. The employee stopped him by throwing his coffee at him. She then threw a whole pot of coffee. “That’s when he started running into his truck and then he left,” she said, “and I said, “Go run with Dunkin.’” Police Sgt. David Tammaro said the man fled empty-handed. (West Hartford’s WVIT-TV)

No-Man’s Land
Now that penmanship is rarely practiced, Washington state has replaced the term with “handwriting” as part of its six-year effort to rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary. The 40-staff Washington Code Reviser’s Office has so far weeded out gender bias in nearly 3,500 of about 40,000 state code sections. “This is a much larger effort than I had envisioned,” state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the 475-page anti-bias bill’s sponsor, said. “There’s no good reason for keeping our legal terms anachronistic and with words that do not respect our current contemporary times.” Left unchanged are “airmen” and “seaman,” because of objections by the state’s military department, and “man hole,” because no common-sense substitute could be found. (Reuters)

Litigation Nation
Intel employee Harvey Palacio filed a federal lawsuit after fellow workers taped a “Kick Me” sign on his back and then kicked him. According to the complaint filed in Albuquerque, N.M., when Palacio went to senior staffer Randy Lehman to ask if the sign was there, another employee yelled out, “Don’t read it, just do it,” and Lehman kicked him three times in his buttocks. He left work in tears and couldn’t tell his wife about the incident “because he was so embarrassed and ashamed.” Lehman and another employee were later convicted of petty battery and fired. (Associated Press)

Who Needs Obamacare?
After her 14-year-old son was shot in the upper left thigh by a friend playing with a gun inside the family home in Santa Fe, Texas, Deborah Tagle, 55, turned to for help in treating the wound. She then waited seven hours before deciding she needed to drive the victim to a Texas City hospital. Police arrested the 24-year-old shooter and charged Tagle with injury to a child with intent to commit bodily injury. (Houston’s KHOU-TV)

False Alarm
After workers at an energy company in Great Falls, Mont., discarded several boxes of scratch-and-sniff cards used to teach customers to recognize the artificial smell added to natural gas to signal a leak, the garbage truck that picked them up compressed the load. “It was the same as if they had scratched them,” Energy West general manager Nick Bohr said after the resulting odor prompted numerous false alarms and building evacuations while the truck traveled through downtown streets. (Associated Press)

Hoarder of the Week
Authorities investigating a single-family home in Newtown, Conn., said to be “in a state of disrepair” found “200 to 300 one-gallon plastic jugs” filled with urine, according to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection official Dennis Schain. The urine was sent to a sewage-treatment plant while authorities tried to determine whether to charge the homeowner and with what. (Danbury’s The News-Times)

Canine Redundancy
Following marijuana’s legalization in Washington, state law-enforcement agencies began training their drug-sniffing dogs to ignore the smell of pot. “It’s problematic because the dogs could alert on a legal amount of marijuana,” Washington State Patrol official Bob Calkins said, “and then we’re violating someone’s privacy.” A bigger concern, Calkins noted, is that if a dog sniffs out pot and a gun used in a crime is found with it, a judge might rule that the weapon is inadmissible in court. (Kitsap Sun)

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara announced they created a portable device that can out-sniff a dog in detecting explosives. The Trace Chemical Vapor Detection Cartridge can also detect pollutants and various airborne chemicals by using a microfluidic nanotechnology that mimics a dog’s nose but is able to tell not only that there is a threat, but also specifically what that threat is. Another advantage of the nanotech nose technology, according to Phil Strong, CEO of SpectraFluidics, which has patented the device, is that sniffer dogs require food, sleep and attention. (UCSB’s The Daily Nexus)

Big Brother Is Watching
Google Maps Street View has enabled tax authorities in Lithuania to virtually cruise the streets of major cities spotting tax violations involving housing construction and property sales. “Our inspectors track these buildings on the Internet, and if a violation seems obvious, they visit the sites,” State Tax Inspectorate official Darius Buta said. “This saves time and resources.” Among the tax cheats caught were a couple in Kaunas who avoided $91,000 in taxes by not registering the sale of buildings and another couple who sold land but didn’t mention the new house on the property that was sold separately, avoiding a $50,000 tax. (Associated Press)

Sour Deal
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering buying 400,000 tons of sugar to limit supply and boost prices so that sugar producers can pay back government loans. The artificial price hike is possible because of a provision of the 2008 farm bill called the Feedstock Flexibility Program, which allows the USDA to intervene in the market to raise prices. According to a bipartisan group of senators who backed a failed amendment to end government aid to the sugar industry, government control of the nation’s sugar supply costs the country $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs per year. (The Huffington Post)

Free for All
When officials evicting a grocery store in Augusta, Ga., began piling the store’s food and sundries outside the building, “a swarm of deputies” had to be called to stop 200 to 300 onlookers who had gathered in the parking lot from taking the merchandise. “There are people with babies who need diapers out here,” onlooker Victoria Williams said as others clamored for the spoils. “There is the potential to have people fighting and causing problems,” sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew explained as the merchandise was hauled to a landfill. (Athens Banner-Herald)