NewsQuirks 559

When Guns Are OutlawedVikaram Banga thwarted two armed men who tried to rob his grocery store in Fremont, Calif., by threatening them with a vacuum cleaner. Police said he grabbed the vacuum, raised it over his head and charged the robbers, who turned and fled.Keith Vetter, 39, was arrested for using a sex toy to threaten a clerk while trying to rob an adult bookstore in Florida's Pinellas County that was under police surveillance because it had been robbed twice in the previous three nights. Deputies said Vetter entered the store and threatened a clerk, implying he had a gun. All he had in his pocket, however, was a plastic bottle. "In an apparent attempt to add further emphasis to his demand, he allegedly took what is known as a 'vibrating tongueâ' off the shelf and waved it at the clerk as he shouted for the money," Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said.Mr. LuckyWhen the Zimbabwe state bank held a promotional drawing to award 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars (U.S. $2,639) to a lucky account holder whose name was drawn at random, the winner was Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is the president of Zimbabwe.Coddled CriminalsWhen police officers in Marion, Ky., spotted a burglary suspect who was supposed to be behind bars, they went to the jail, but deputy jailer Francisco Barela, 22, insisted the man was in his cell. After they demanded that he check to make sure, Barela admitted the man was gone. He was found wandering outside the jail. Meanwhile, officers spotted a gun sticking out from a bed and found seven more, all loaded, hidden beneath a bed, in which were an inmate and a woman. They also found cold beer behind a couch. "It was like a big party," Crittenden County Sheriff Wayne Agent said after Barela was arrested. "I couldnât believe it. He was letting inmates go and come as they please."Government officials in Malaysia announced they were taking the first step toward improving living conditions in prisons by giving all inmates mattresses. Most prisoners had been required to sleep on cement floors, receiving mattresses only after three months of good behavior.Should Have Known BetterBaltimore police Sgt. Gary F. White Sr., 49, was charged with assaulting his wife in their Pasadena. Md., home after she reported he hit her for talking on the phone. White is the sergeant in charge of the city's Southern District domestic violence unit.Bethany Tosh, an Arkansas beauty queen who often spoke against alcohol abuse, surrendered her title of Miss Northeast Arkansas after being convicted of drunken driving. Her arrest occurred a few hours after urging members of a civic club not to drink and drive.Going MobileThe New York Times reported the rise of "a nomadic subculture of young professionals in their late 20s, 30s and even 40s who appear to live normal, prosperous lives but in fact are couch-surfers who rely on the kindness of friends, seek shelter in their sport-utility vehicles or list about in all-night coffee shops." Reasons for the transient upwardly mobile class, according to housing experts, are tight rental markets, job transience, personal lives in flux, bad decision-making, ignorance of the real-estate market and a penchant for scrounging. One result of this trend is a boom in services catering to them, from rented mailboxes and self-storage units to voice-mail numbers that come with e-mail, fax, pagers and Internet access, all of which effectively create homes and offices for professionals who live nowhere.Sexy WarSpying in World War II was rife with sexual symbolism, according to a secret report released by the British Public Record Office. The report, titled "Cyphers, Signals and Sex," subjected British agents parachuted behind enemy lines to intense Freudian analysis to help them evade capture. It noted, for instance, that the reluctance of some agents to destroy their used or outdated code pads was evidence of a castration complex. The failure of some agents to bury their parachutes was evidence of an "unconscious desire for exhibitionism." The report concluded that "there will be many less breaches of security if agents realize the sexual symbolism of droppings from the sky, holes in the earth, sudden explosions and many other activities in their daily life."Headquarters staff in London also was subject to psychoanalysis. Noting that clerks sometimes inserted punched telex tape into machines the wrong way, the report said, "The mere act of backward insertion of a punched article is rich in sexual symbol."Food FightMore than 1,000 French chefs protesting a government tax on restaurant meals marched to the National Assembly and pelted security forces with eggs and produce. Seven police officers were injured in the melee. Aggravating the chefsâ outrage is the fact that the tax is 20.6 percent for classic French restaurants but only 5.5 percent for fast-food and takeout places such as McDonald's.Road BlockWhen police in Springfield, Ill., tried to stop a car being driven by Cameron Taylor, 27, who was suspected of tying up a woman and stealing her money and vehicle, he refused to pull over. Taylor drove outside the city limits, then turned around and headed back. Meanwhile, two squad cars were on the same road to intercept the suspect. One of them struck a deer that darted into its path. The dead deer was in the middle of the road when Taylor arrived, leaving him no choice but to stop. "This was the kind of situation you wish you were there to see," police Cmdr. Mary "Mitzi" Vasconcelles said.Honest Work Was His DownfallAfter Dennis Hood, 42, of Tipton, Ind., lost his job, he told his wife he found a new one. For a month, he left for work each morning at 7:30 and returned at night at 5:20. Instead of punching a clock, however, he spent his days drinking coffee at fast-food restaurants and robbing what he called "stores of opportunity" in surrounding communities. Then he got a real job at a Tipton discount store, where he was working when one of the workers at a gift shop he had robbed in a neighboring town recognized him and called police.Open-and-Shut CaseCleveland police arrested David Lee Johnson, 35, in connection with a six-week robbery spree in which 19 doors disappeared from homes. Johnson was apprehended at an antique shop, where 16 of the stolen doors were found.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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