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News » News Quirks

Paying the Price



Curses, Foiled Again
A witness told police responding to a report of shots fired in North Charleston, S.C., that a man with a gun had gone into a house, but when officers questioned the occupant, she insisted no one else was there but her children. The officers asked the children if that was true, and they said no, that two men were in a back room watching television. Officers found Nathaniel Whack and Pierre Pete, as well as partially smoked joints, three loaded handguns, two semi-automatic weapons and a revolver. According to the police report, during a strip search, a spent .38 shell casing fell out of Whack’s anus and was logged into evidence. (Charleston’s WCIV-TV)

Police arrested Keithan Manuel, 18, in Wilmer, Texas, for trying to rob an officer inside the police station. Police Chief Victor Kemp said Manuel pointed a towel-covered hand at the dispatch officer and demanded, “Give me all your money.” He then asked if there were any warrants against him and added, “You do know I have a gun?” After the dispatcher summoned officers, who found no weapon, Manuel insisted he’d been joking. “Man, I play like that all the time,” he said. “I didn’t think she would take it seriously.” Kemp commented, “You hear of those World’s Dumbest Criminals every once in a while, but you never think it’s going to happen in your city.” (Dallas-Fort Worth’s KTVT-TV)

Paying the Price
New coins issued by Britain’s Royal Mint contain metal that could prove harmful, according to dermatologists. The five-pence and 10-pence coins contain nickel, which a European directive has banned in items such as belts and earrings because it could corrode and irritate the skin. Her Majesty’s Treasury defended the nickel-plated coins, explaining they’ll save about 8 million pounds ($12.6 million) a year and that, except for Sweden, other European nations still use nickel in coins. Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts from St. John’s Institute of Dermatology and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, warned of “the potential costs to health from skin diseases related to nickel exposure—allergic contact dermatitis and hand dermatitis.” (Britain’s The Scotsman)

Double-Duty Lifesaver
When a 57-year-old man got into an argument with an acquaintance at a San Diego shopping mall, police said the acquaintance pulled a knife and stabbed him in the chest. The victim’s implanted heart defibrillator blocked the blade, sparing the man’s life. (Associated Press)

Killing Time
During a nine-hour layover in Nashville, Tenn., Greyhound bus passenger William Todd, 24, committed at least 11 felonies, according to police. He started by breaking into a business, stealing weapons and then shooting up the business and setting it on fire. Next, he robbed four people leaving a local bar, tased one and pistol-whipped another. Five minutes later, he carjacked a taxi at gunpoint and used stolen credit cards to buy food and $199 worth of items at a Walmart. At 6 a.m., he entered a hotel, broke into a law office there, ransacked it and defecated on a desk, smearing feces on some framed law degrees. Then he knocked on several hotel room doors, pretending to be a female housekeeper and robbed one couple of $600, crying the whole time. He shaved his head, returned to the stolen cab but crashed it into a parking garage. He hailed another cab and ordered the driver at knifepoint to take him to Opryland. At noon, police found Todd hiding in a water-cooling vat on top of Opryland, submerged up to his nose. (Nashville’s WSMV-TV)

Curse in Disguise
When a medical condition forced Kim Thompson to leave her job on a disability pension, the New Jersey resident was able to get her $91,000 federal student loans canceled. The debt was reported to the Internal Revenue Service as taxable Cancellation of Debt Income, resulting in her owing $26,000 to the IRS and $5,000 to the state of New Jersey. (ABC News)

Data-Recovery Heroes
Britain’s Trish Vickers, who lost her eyesight seven years ago, had written 26 pages of a novel, using rubber bands to guide her ballpoint pen, when she asked her son to read them. The pages were blank because the pen had run out of ink. They called police in Dorset, and a forensic team shined a crime light on the indentations on the paper to read what Vickers had written. “Fortunately,” police official Kerry Savage said, “apart from one line, we managed to retrieve the whole lot.” (BBC News)

Silence, Please
The longest anyone can tolerate the world’s quietest place is 45 minutes, according to Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis, Minn. Its anechoic chamber is 99.99 percent sound absorbent, thanks to 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated glass and foot-thick concrete. “It’s used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different thing: heart valves, the sound of the display of a cell phone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard,” said company founder and president Steven Orfield, who can last 30 minutes in the chamber. “The quieter the room, the more things you’ll hear. You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

A woman who became concerned after hearing moaning and yelling coming from a neighbor’s apartment in Victoria, British Columbia, around 5 a.m. called police, who had to knock several times before the man responded. “When questioned about the amount of noise he was making,” Deputy Chief John Ducker wrote in the police operations log, “the man explained that he had been essentially (in his own, different words) on the toilet having his morning constitutional, but he was done now.” The man promised to be quieter in the future. (The Victoria Times Colonist)

Stockpile Follies
After storing $68,250 worth of unused polo-style shirts since October 2010, the District of Columbia fire department finally issued a new uniform policy that would allow firefighters to wear the 1,750 shirts, which are designed not to melt to the body and contribute to burn injuries. Less than 30 minutes after the policy was announced, however, officials rescinded it, leaving the shirts in storage. (The Washington Times)

Paris police seized 13 tons of miniature Eiffel Towers, explaining that the owner of a souvenir shop and her family of selling them at tourist spots, including the real Eiffel Tower, without a permit. (Associated Press)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.