NewsQuirks 583

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Fayetteville, Ark., charged Anthony Lee Robinson, 21, with burglarizing the home of a childhood friend after the victim noticed cheese wrappers on his kitchen counter and remembered Robinson liked to eat cheese slices. Investigators said the victim had run into Robinson for the first time in three years the day before the burglary.

Second-Amendment Follies

Gary V. Strasburg, 57, was walking his dog in a residential neighborhood in Waukesha, Wis., when he was hit by stray pellets from a police officer trying to shoot a skunk. Strasburg said when he yelled at the officer that he had been shot, the officer replied he'd be right over, just as soon as he put the skunk in a bag. "Who's more important, a dead skunk or me?" Strasburg said after being treated at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

Smoke Screens

Although the Supreme Court ruled that the Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate cigarettes, 22 public health organizations, in cluding the American Cancer Society, have asked the FDA to regulate a new reduced-smoke cigarette from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. called Eclipse. The groups' petition says the product is eligible for government regulation because it isn't a cigarette but a nicotine-delivery system.

Mike Redina, 44, a blind newsstand worker in Hauppauge, N.Y., was fired for selling cigarettes to a minor during a sting operation by the Suffolk County Health Department. After nabbing Redina, health officials told newsstand owner Morgan Edwards he could not leave Redina alone selling cigarettes. Rather than hire another person to assist Redina, Edwards said he had no choice but to fire him.

Life Imitates Art

Some 70 Moroccans hired as extras for a movie about illegal immigrants fled to Spain illegally by stealing boats being used by director Mohamed Ismail and sailing across the Strait of Gibraltar. "Ismail's crew held another audition for new extras," the newspaper Liberation reported, "The trick the was to avoid getting them too carried away with the role."

Adding Insult to Injury

Clarence Dale, 46, was robbed after leaving a Winnipeg tobacco shop when two men approached him and one of them grabbed $8.15 Dale had received in change out of his hand before he could put it in his pocket. Police apprehended a suspect, but when he came to trial, Judge Charles Rubin dismissed the charges, then called the victim "stupid" for being in a bad part of town. "If you walk around jingling money in your hand," he said, "it's like walking in the wolf enclosure at the city zoo with a pound of ground beef in your hand."

True Love Finds a Way

When police in Buffalo, N.Y., arrested Kevin Rainey, 41, and his fiancee Dorrell Mainer, 38, for attempted bank robbery, the couple explained they had hoped to finance their wedding with a tax refund, but the Internal Revenue Service denied the refund, leaving them no other choice but to rob the bank to pay the caterer.

Proposal's All Wet

Vera Dua, a Green Party minister in Belgium's Flanders region proposed taxing people who let rainwater drain into sewers. The measure would reduce frequent flooding and ease the burden on sewage-treatment plants.

Kitchen Sink and All

Fulton Porozo Quinonez, a merchant in Guayaquil, Ecuador, told police he returned from a business trip to find thieves had taken everything in his house, then they took the house. Neighbors confirmed that four men had disassembled Quinonez's modular home, leaving only a vacant lot.

Can Take It with You

Florida's Supreme Court ruled that Eugene Gaines must continue paying alimony to his ex-wife, even though she died after their divorce was declared final. Both sides accepted the divorce but appealed portions of the final judgments. Chlodel Gaines died while appeals were pending. Eugene Gaines then tried to have the divorce agreement nullified, allowing him to keep the $70,000 home she was to receive and relieving him of $500-a-month alimony. But the court ruled the divorce agreement was binding and ordered Gaines to pay the alimony to his ex-wife's estate.

Fire Away

Nicolas R. Narveson, 20, and Craig Rabenberg, 24, were trying to kill gophers on a farm near Princeton, Minn., by injecting propane into gopher holes and lighting it. The burning gas ignited the dry grass around the holes, and the fire spread, destroying four houses and a mobile home.

After a fire swept through an apartment building in Fitchburg, Wis., gutting two units, authorities charged tenant Brent A. Baskin Jr., 18, with deliberately setting the blaze. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Baskin told police he started the fire because he wanted to break his one-year lease and figured he could if his apartment were uninhabitable. Indicating Baskin faces a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison, Fitchburg Fire Chief David Fulmer said, "I guess being stuck with a lease is a lot better than what he's stuck with now."

When firefighters in Colfax, Wash., were called to battle a blaze, they discovered it was their own fire station that was burning. Not only that, but everything they needed to fight the fire was burning. The fire started in an apparatus bay, which didn't have smoke detectors because diesel exhaust from the fire engines would have triggered them every time crews responded. The station also lacked a sprinkler system.

Lukewarm Justice

A Boston jury acquitted Juan Benito, 38, of assault and battery charges for pouring coffee over the head of a Delta Airlines employee. Benito produced a receipt showing he had bought the coffee almost a half-hour before the incident, insisting the delay made it impossible for the coffee to be hot enough to be considered a dangerous weapon.

Short and Sweet

Saxophonists die younger than musicians who play other instruments, according to a study reported in the British Medical Journal. After finding that half the jazz saxophonists they studied died before they were 40, while half of other musicians lived to at least 60, the researchers speculated that circular breathing technique, in which a player inhales through the nose while blowing out through the mouth, might reduce blood flow to the heart and brain. The researchers said playing more than one instrument seemed to increase longevity.

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