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News » News Quirks

Smart Phones, Dumb Criminals



Curses, Foiled Again
Police investigating a bank robbery in Houston identified their suspects on Facebook. Following a tip, they discovered incriminating posts by teller Estefany Martinez, 19, (“IM RICH”), and her boyfriend, Ricky “Ricko Gee” Gonzalez, 18, (“WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDREDS” and another part of his anatomy with $50 bills). Authorities said Martinez enlisted fellow teller Anna Margarita Rivera, 19, and her brother, Arturo Solano, 22, as accomplices. “I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t post pictures of yourself on Facebook smoking pot or drinking because employers are now looking at Facebook pages,” said Martinez’s attorney, Richard Kuniansky. “But I never knew there should be a warning not to post about a bank robbery that’s been committed.” (Houston Chronicle)

• A smartphone app led South Korean police to a murder suspect. The unidentified university professor had sent his mistress an incriminating message via the messaging service app “Kakao Talk” shortly before strangling his wife. He went to the head office of the “Kakao Talk” provider after the murder and asked that the message be deleted, but it was saved for a month and retrieved by police in Busan while checking his phone records. The professor confessed to the murder. (Reuters)

Fruits of Research
Waste-watching Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., released a 73-page report identifying more than $3 billion in questionable studies funded with taxpayer dollars by the National Science Foundation. Among the projects Coburn blasted was a $559,681 study to test sick shrimps’ metabolism by having them exercise on a treadmill. The researchers found sick shrimp “did not perform as well and did not recover as well from exercise as healthy shrimp.” Other examples of what Coburn said constituted “waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement”: “$80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness; $315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop relationships; $1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names; $50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, $581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist.”

NSF official Dana Topousis defended the agency’s “excellent record,” declaring, “We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment.” (The Washington Times)

Unintentional Body Piercings
After Andrew Linn, 28, fell asleep at the wheel in Las Vegas, his car crashed into a chain-link fence, forcing a metal pole through the windshield and his mouth. Emergency responders found Linn conscious and trying to use his cellphone. Dr. Jay Coates, who performed surgery to remove the 2-inch-round pole, said if it had struck Linn a few centimeters in either direction, he would’ve bled to death. Once the pipe was removed, Linn was left with scars, missing teeth and a destroyed palate. “The hardest thing has been opening the mouth and learning how to eat and swallow,” he said. “Drinking is really difficult.” (Las Vegas’s KSNV-TV)

• When New Zealand truck driver Steven McCormack, 48, slipped and fell from his vehicle, he broke a hose from an air reservoir that powers the truck’s brakes and landed on its brass fitting, which pierced his left buttock and pumped air into his body. “I was blowing up like a football,” McCormack said after his co-workers released a safety valve to stop the airflow. Doctors who treated him said the air had separated fat from muscle in his body. McCormack remarked his skin felt “like a pork roast”—crackling on the outside but soft underneath. (Reuters)

Short-Attention-Span Follies
Twitter helped form Northern Ireland’s new government, as the five governing parties took turns using the social media platform to pick which of the 10 ministries they wanted to head for the next four-year term. The majority Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, went first and chose the Finance Department. The Irish nationalist Sinn Fein went second and chose Education. The entire process took less than 30 minutes. (Associated Press)

• Celebrities who constantly alert fans via Twitter risk having shorter careers than those who preserve their mystique, according to survey by Britain’s Bauer Media that pointed out minute-by-minute updates increase the likelihood of boring followers. As a result, the music industry is considering restricting access to certain types of artists to try to boost their staying power in popular culture. (Reuters)

Winners & Losers
State officials in Michigan are working to stop Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn from receiving food stamps after he won a $2 million lottery prize. Because he took his winnings in a lump sum, he still meets the income threshold for food assistance. Fick further justified his use of food stamps by pointing out the government took more than half his winnings in taxes. “If you’re going to … try to make me feel bad, you aren’t going to do it,” he declared. “It ain’t going to happen.” (Detroit Free Press)

• When Robert Stayton claimed $10,000 for a winning scratch ticket, Montana State Lottery officials failed to check his background. He has two Flathead County arrest warrants on felony drug charges and owes $65,000 in child support in Washington and Idaho. Lottery officials explained they’re supposed to check child-support records of winners only in Montana and are “not statutorily required to check criminal backgrounds.” (Butte’s KTVM-TV)

Fire Buggery
After receiving reports of a child walking on a highway carrying a blowtorch, police in Shenango Township, Pa., located the 3-year-old boy, who told them where he lived. Arriving at the address, they found the boy had burned a porch swing, a broom, a sliding door, a deck and a knob on a septic tank and singed an igniter on a gas grill. Police Chief Dave Rishel noted the propane-powered blowtorch has safety switches but said the boy “was able to manipulate them and turn the torch on.” He estimated the damages at $5,000. (Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV)

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