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News » News Quirks

Star Quality



Curses, Foiled Again
Police responding to a home invasion in Des Moines, Iowa, spotted suspect Lopez Christian Webster, 32, fleeing the scene on foot and gave chase. When he tried to dodge between the rail cars of a moving train, the train sliced his body in two. (Des Moines Register)

• Eager to divorce his wife but not to pay her alimony, Edward Nelson, 65, hatched a scheme that began with his driving from their home in Bridge, Ore., and booking a hotel room in Idaho for a week. After staying only one night, however, Nelson snuck back into Bridge, taking back roads and paying cash so his movements couldn’t be traced. He shot his wife in the head, killing her, and then killed his next-door neighbors and set both houses on fire, trying to make the murders look like the work of a psycho killer who attacked randomly while he was out of town. The fires attracted the attention of a neighbor, who recognized Nelson’s truck driving away and alerted police. Nelson pleaded guilty, vowing to “die in prison and spend eternity in hell.” (Eugene’s KCBY-TV)

Star Quality
An Indian merchant named Chandrashekhar posted a billboard in Tamil Nadu intending to honor the late Nelson Mandela. The sign showed a photo of actor Morgan Freeman instead of one of the South African leader. Freeman portrayed Mandela in the 2009 film “Invictus.” The merchant blamed the mistake on the billboard’s designer. (Agence France-Presse)

Flush with Wealth
Workers cleaning a Jet Airways aircraft at Kolkata, India, found 240 gold bars worth more than $840,000 that had been left in the lavatory. Regional authorities disclosed that cleaning crews have made “scores” of similar discoveries, which are connected to smuggling operations. A passenger carries the gold aboard an international flight bound for India, hides it in the lavatory and leaves it there when exiting the plane to clear customs. The aircraft itself continues as a domestic flight. A new passenger retrieves the gold and carries it off the plane because customs officers don’t check domestic flights. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Cage Rattlers of the Week
The Nonhuman Right Project filed four lawsuits asking a New York state court to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees and affirm their basic right not to be held captive for entertainment or research. Chimpanzees “possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they’re found in human beings,” Steven Wise, president of the non-profit declared. “There’s no reason why they should not be protected when they’re found in chimpanzees.” (Reuters)

Anals of Medicine
Medical researchers have developed a robot butt. The device is designed to train student doctors to give prostate exams, according to its inventors, Drs. Benjamin Lok and Carla Pugh. The plastic posterior is hooked up to a video screen featuring a virtual male named “Patrick” who is bent over a desk. “The mannequin is instrumented with force sensors that can measure where the student is examining and with how much pressure,” Lok said, adding that Patrick even measures eye contact between the student and the virtual patient to help improve bedside manner. (The Huffington Post)

Slightest Provocations
Nadja Svenson, 22, stabbed her father in the chest at their home in Londonderry, N.H., while “the two were out looking at the stars on a clear night, and began arguing over where the Big Dipper and other constellations are in the sky,” Detective Chris Olson said. “It escalated from there.” (Manchester’s New Hampshire Union Leader)

• Sheriff’s deputies who arrested Edward Aronson, 76, after they said he broke his wife’s hip during a scuffle at their home in Lake Worth, Fla., explained that the two argued because she objected to his using a dating website. “She accused me of cheating and was yelling at me, so I pushed her,” Aronson admitted. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

• Tristan P. Olson, 18, beat his father and then tried to shoot him with a crossbow at their Seattle home because the victim wouldn’t give him the keys to the family car. Olson’s father told authorities that he refused to hand over the keys because the son had slept most of the day instead of doing his homework. (

• Contisha Q. Hayes, 21, stabbed her sister in the chest, according to police in Akron, Ohio, after the two got into a fight over apple fritters that a third sister was making. Investigators said that the two other sisters “started to play fight” over the treat, but the playing turned serious when Tamara D. Delaney, 21, pulled Hayes’s hair. (Akron Beacon Journal)

Litigation Nation
A citizens group is suing the city of La Jolla, Calif., demanding that it eradicate the “foul, noxious and sickening odors” left by birds and sea lions defecating on the rocks below restaurants overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove. Citizens for Odor-Nuisance Abatement blames the foul smell on city officials, who two years ago approved a fence to keep people away from the rocks. Since then, birds and marine mammals have flocked to the site. The lawsuit complains that sea lions particularly have made the problem “much worse” because they’re eating strong-smelling anchovies on the rocks. Removing the fence, the lawsuit contends, would let people clamber on the rocks and, by doing so, chase away the birds and mammals to defecate elsewhere. (Los Angeles Times)

Waste of Taste
The chief cause of food waste in the United Kingdom is fussy shoppers, according to the supermarket chain Tesco. Officials reported that in the first six months of 2013, its U.K. stores threw away 30,000 tons of edible food that customers rejected because they “always pick the cream of the crop” and turn down old or misshapen produce, regardless of whether taste is affected. “Customers will always make the choice of the one that cosmetically looks better,” Matt Simister, Tesco’s food sourcing director, told a House of Lords panel. “That’s a very difficult reality for us.” By contrast, Simister noted, Eastern European customers more willingly accept less than perfect-looking food. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Lest We Forget
After movie star Paul Walker died in a car crash, Scottish authorities reported that a car burst into flames during a gathering to honor Walker organized by a group of car enthusiasts. Police charged a 19-year-old man with causing the fire, which began “after revving the engine for 20 minutes in tribute.” (Scotland’s STV)

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.