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News » News Quirks



Curses, Foiled Again
A man wanted on rape charges was arrested after stopping to flirt with a uniformed female police officer on patrol in San Francisco. The 26-year-old man was “obviously enamored,” police Capt. Paul Chignell said, and approached the parked police cruiser to strike up a conversation. When he asked the officer if she was married, she replied that she wasn’t available but asked the man’s name. As he walked away, she ran a records check and discovered the no-bail warrant for rape. (San Francisco Chronicle)

• A little more than an hour after stealing beer from a liquor store in Santa Clarita, Calif., three suspects returned and demanded the surveillance video of the crime. They brandished a knife and cut the clerk during a scuffle, then fled. Sheriff’s deputies had surrounded the scene, however, and arrested Oscar Jimenez, 19, Eduardi Salgado, 18, and a juvenile. (Associated Press)

• When the Uinta County, Wyo., Sheriff’s Office received a call from a man asking for roadside assistance after he ran out of gas, the dispatcher sent state troopers to help him. They ran a routine check on the stranded motorist, Richard Vincent, 59, and learned he was wanted in Georgia for violating parole on a murder and escape conviction. (Associated Press)

Second-Amendment Follies
When Dustin Bueller, 20, asked Moises Zambrana, 48, to see his gun after church in Lealman, Fla., they made sure not to endanger parishioners gathered inside the church by stepping inside a closet. Zambrana removed the Ruger 9mm’s magazine and began explaining the weapon’s safety features. He forgot about the round in the chamber, however, and the gun accidentally fired, sending a bullet through the wall and into the head of Hannah Kelley, 20, who is Bueller’s girlfriend and the daughter of the pastor. She was hospitalized in critical condition. (Tampa Bay Times)

• A 52-year-old man walked into the Arizona Shooting Range in Broward County, Fla., rented a gun and shot himself in the head. He was taken to the hospital, where he died. When sheriff’s deputies went to notify his wife, they found the 45-year-old woman’s body and concluded her husband had killed her. (Miami’s WIOD-AM)

Future Flunkers
China banned three kindergartens in Shanxi province from offering palm-reading tests that the schools claimed could predict pupils’ intelligence level and potential. Although many parents were eager to have their children tested, some later complained about the method and its high cost: $190. (Reuters)

Nicolaos Kantartzis pleaded guilty to rigging pay phones in the Washington, D.C., area to make phantom calls to toll-free numbers so he could collect a fee for each call. Because the calls are free to callers, the recipient has to pay the cost, half of which goes to the pay-phone operator. Kantartzis made some 8 million calls, most lasting only a few seconds, collecting 50 cents each to net $4 million. (Associated Press)

• As finance director of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ronald Lederkramer paid for upgrades to the taxpayer-owned facility’s sound system by charging $270,000 to his personal credit card, collecting $24,000 worth of reward points, then paid the credit card installments with government-issued checks. He insisted he used the points for travel to conferences on Coliseum business, but when asked for documentation, he said, “Why would I have kept that?” (Los Angeles Times)

Food Follies
Chile’s Supreme Court ordered the newspaper La Tercera to pay $125,000 to 13 people who suffered burns while trying out a recipe for churros. Days after the newspaper printed the recipe for the popular Latin American fried dough snack, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns suffered when the dough boiling in oil suddenly exploded. Judges ruled that the newspaper failed to test the recipe before publication. (Britain’s The Telegraph)

• A Transportation Security Administration agent confiscated a frosted cupcake from a Massachusetts passenger flying from Las Vegas, citing its gel-like icing as a potential national security threat. Accusing the agent of lacking common sense, Rebecca Hains, 35, called the incident “an encroachment on civil liberties” and said such incidents done in the name of security are “really theater” that are “not keeping us safe.” (Associated Press)

Good News, Bad News
As cars have complied with federal requirements to improve fuel efficiency, declining gas use has caused revenues from the federal gas tax to plummet, leaving less for roads, bridges and transit projects. “It no longer works as our primary source,” transportation attorney and former Transportation secretary Jim Burnley said. The tax—18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel—accounts for 45 to 50 percent of capital spending for transportation. It was last raised in 1993. (USA Today)

How Congress Thinks
Frustrated with the Senate’s failure to approve a budget, U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., told a town hall meeting in Bixby, Okla., “I’d love to get them to vote for it. Boy, I’d love that, you know. But other than me going over there with a gun and pointing it to their head and maybe killing a couple of ‘em, I don’t think they’re going to listen unless they get beat.” (Associated Press)

Animal Wrongs

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit seeking to extend constitutional protection against slavery to five whales that perform at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and Orlando. Citing the 13th Amendment, the suit claimed that the wild-caught mammals are enslaved because they’re held in concrete tanks against their will and forced to perform in shows. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller agreed to hear arguments over granting constitutional rights to animals but ruled that the Constitution doesn’t apply to non-humans. (Associated Press)

•  Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, insisted that increasing the flow of oil through the Alaskan oil pipeline would benefit the caribou that live near the project. He explained to the House Natural Resources Committee that the caribou enjoy the warmth that the pipeline radiates. “So,” he informed his colleagues, “when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline.” He credited the pipeline for a tenfold boost to Alaska’s caribou population and said the caribou might be adversely affected if oil stops running through the pipeline. When his colleague, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he wasn’t sure Gohmert knew what he was talking about, Gohmert remained adamant, saying, “It sounds like they need the pipeline.” (The Washington Post)