NewsQuirks 576

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Loomis, Calif., arrested a 17-year-old boy they said was trying to
imitate a well-publicized "Rooftop Robber," who cut holes in roofs of some 40 businesses, then lowered himself with a rope. The copy-cat suspect was less successful, however.

The unidentified juvenile cut through the main roof of a building housing several businesses, but when he lowered himself onto a false ceiling above one store, it gave way, and he came crashing down. "Then it looks like he tried to climb back out by stepping on top of a sink," store owner Beth Dietrich told the Sacramento Bee. "But the sink broke off the wall."

Placer County Sheriff's Department Lt. Rick Armstrong said the suspect somehow climbed back onto the false ceiling and was making his way to the ceiling of the adjacent store, when it also gave way, and the burglar fell 20 feet to the floor, injuring his ankle. While trying to crawl away undetected, he set off an alarm. He was taken away wearing a neck brace and an ice pack around his ankle.


A man working at a pinata factory in Tijuana, Mexico, was captured on tape by hidden security cameras having sex with one of the candy-filled paper dolls. After being confronted with the evidence, the worker said he is considering suing the company because chicken wire inside the doll scratched his genitals.

Food Follies

After sneezing hundreds of times a day for 37 years, Patrick Webster, 52, finally learned the cause was his breakfast cereal. Sixty British doctors failed to diagnose the problem before a private clinic specializing in nutrition discovered Webster was allergic to egg yolk and oats in the muesli he ate every morning.

A glut of bananas prompted Taiwan's Council of Agriculture to direct the island's armed forces to increase their consumption to help fruit growers overcome weak sales. In addition, a dozen of Taiwan's top legislators crowded around parliament and ate bananas to show their support for growers. They even wrote a song for the occasion, urging people, "Eat bananas, help save banana farmers." Wang Jin-pyng, the speaker of parliament, personally bought 132,000 pounds of bananas, explaining he would sell some of his supply to fellow legislators and give the rest away.

When Guns Are Outlawed

Police in Coventry, England, reported that a 21-year-old man was robbed of $18 cash and a gold chain worth $75 by a man who threatened to hit him with a toaster, then bit his hand.

Too Little Too Late

Facing the end of 71 years in power, Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) resorted to drastic measures during the campaign to boost its presidential candidate, Francisco Labastida Ochoa. First, the PRI hired male strippers to try to win over women voters. The strippers performed for almost two hours in a poor neighborhood outside Mexico City, impersonating personalities and super heroes and throwing their clothes in the air in time to the music. Five of the "Sexy Boys" peeled down to their white boxer shorts that spelled out "Vote for PRI." Noting she had never seen anything like it in a Mexican political campaign, said Josefina Franzoni, an analyst at the Mexican Institute of Political Studies. "It's great that we can see nude men," said Franzoni, "but I would like to see more (political) proposals."

The second move, aimed at making candidate Labastida seem more imposing, was to have him stand on a bench when he spoke. Labastida is 5-foot-9. His opponent, Vicente Fox, is almost 6-foot-6.

Military Madness

A 116-member elite Italian military unit intending to take part in a NATO military exercise in Kristiansand, Norway, landed instead in Kristianstad, Sweden, 250 miles away. Immigration officials pointed out the error and sent the heavily armed Alpini on their way.

Britain's Royal Navy ordered recruits at its gunnery school in Plymouth not to fire live shells. Instead, they have been instructed to shout "Bang." Noting the shells cost more than $10,000 each, a Navy spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph, "This is part of the Armed Forces' continuing effort to achieve the best possible value for money."

Won't Take No for an Answer

When Hout Sitha, 35, asked to marry Nha Thavy, her family rejected him. Sitha returned with an AK-47 assault rifle and a bucket of gasoline, then held them hostage for several hours, threatening to shoot them and burn down their house unless they gave their blessing. The Cambodian paper Koh Santepheap reported that police attempts to resolve the situation failed, but Sitha's family succeeded by working out an agreement to permit the marriage.

Fashion Follies

Airline seat belts are the latest fashion craze among Norwegian teen-agers, who are stealing them to hold up their baggy trousers. Braathens, Norway's leading domestic carrier, is losing an average of five seat belts a day, according to airline spokesperson Oerjan Heradstveit.

Win Some, Lose Some

Sami Shour, a construction worker in Tyre, Lebanon, needed a shave but was short of cash, so he traded a half-share of his $3.30 lottery ticket to barber Abu Fares Tafla. The ticket won $134,000, which the men split.

When David Phillips of Davis, Calif., saw that Healthy Choice was offering 1,000 frequent-flier miles for every 10 proofs of purchase, he did some comparison shopping and learned the best value was single-serving diet pudding cups, which cost 25 cents. He bought $3,140 worth of the pudding cups, then cashed them in for 1.25 million miles, worth about $25,000 in air travel. As a bonus, Phillips deducted the $3,140 from his income tax by donating the pudding to food banks.

Thomas and Denise Rossi of Los Angeles were married for 25 years when Denise, 49, suddenly demanded an immediate divorce. Her 65-year-old husband didn't know why but obliged her. Two years later, the Los Angeles Times reported, he received a letter intended for his wife from a company that pays lump sums for lottery winnings. He investigated and learned that 11 days before Denise Rossi filed for divorce, she won $1.3 million in the California lottery. If his wife had disclosed the winnings, she would have had to give him half under California's community property laws, but because she violated state asset disclosure laws, Superior Court Judge Richard Denner awarded her entire lottery winnings to her ex-husband.

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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