NewsQuirks 607

Curses, Foiled Again

Minutes after a neighbor reported seeing two strangers loading two television sets into an SUV at a home in Tallahassee, Fla., the men drove away. By the time police arrived, however, the SUV had returned, enabling officers to seize the two stolen TV sets and arrest Jaron Grosby, 20, and Wesley Jackson, 20. The suspects told police they came back because they had forgotten the remote controls.

When a bank teller in Muscatine, Iowa, refused to hand over money to a man wearing a ski mask and brandishing a long kitchen knife, the man fled and drove away in a vehicle with a vanity license plate that read "BURHOP." Later that day, police arrested Andrew Burhop, 36.

Incendiary Devices

A 19-year-old Austrian man attending a ball at Vienna's Ferstl Palace went looking for food and found a doughnut in a kitchen freezer. While trying to thaw it out with a candle, he accidentally set fire to a sofa. Police said the blaze spread to wood paneling, resulting in smoke damage that will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Missouri officials investigating two recent flash fires that destroyed vehicles at gas stations in Macon and Hannibal blamed sparks generated by people's posteriors. They said the fires were ignited by static electricity, which built up when drivers slid from their seats before refueling. "You can create a lot of friction doing that," Ron Hooker of the Missouri Department of Agriculture said.

The Ally McBeal Solution

Days before Ellen Gracie Northfleet, 52, was sworn in as Brazil's first female supreme court judge, court officials noted the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) building in Brasilia does not have a women's bathroom in the judges' chambers. An STF spokesperson said officials plan to divide the existing judges' bathroom into "his" and "hers" stalls.

Do-It-Yourself Acupuncture

After William A. Bartron, 25, accidentally cut off his left hand at the wrist with a portable miter saw while doing remodeling work in the basement of a home in Bethlehem, Pa., he used a pneumatic nail gun to fire 15 one-inch nails into his skull. According to deputy police commissioner Herbert Goldfeder, Bartron told his boss, Greg Soltis, he shot the nails into his head "because he couldn't stand the pain from the amputation."

Partners

Microsoft Corp. and La-Z-Boy Inc. announced they are teaming up to sell the "e-cliner." The reclining armchair comes equipped with a keyboard, a Sony Corp. receiver for Microsoft's WebTV and two free months of the interactive television service, which enables users to surf the Internet and play along with game shows such as "Jeopardy." The chair, which sells for $1,049 in fabric and $1,299 in leather and vinyl, also contains a drink holder.

On the heels of its latest postage rate hike, the U.S. Postal Service announced it is arranging for FedEx to deliver Express Mail and Priority Mail, as well as some first-class mail, on FedEx planes. Under the agreement, which is scheduled to begin in August, FedEx will place its collection boxes at post offices.

Petty Quarrels

Police in Montgomery County, Md., charged Aaron Alfred Reyes-Rocha, 42, with the stabbing death of Miguel Angel Perez-Barrios, 22, after witnesses said the two men argued which one was better at setting tiles.

Let Them Eat Fur

When Marie Antoinette Jackson-Randolph was convicted of bilking the government of $13.5 million in meal money for her 16 Detroit-area day-care centers, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay back the money, plus another $10 million in fines. She failed to make any payments before beginning her prison term, so federal marshals went to her home to seize items that can be auctioned to help pay the debt. They found 911 purses, 606 pairs of shoes, 165 pairs of boots, more than 100 sweaters, dozens of hats, boxes of televisions and stereo equipment, enough china and crystal to host a state dinner, an entire room devoted, floor to ceiling, to costume jewelry and what U.S. Assistant Attorney Jackie Hotz described as "an obscene amount of furs": 200 in the house plus 150 more in cold storage.

Can't Get No Satisfaction

Nicholas Griffin, 30, the owner of two video stores in York and Grimsby, England, was fined $9,400 for violating Britain's Trading Standards Act after customers complained that the pornographic films he sold them weren't graphic enough. Colin Rumford, head of Trading Standards and Regulatory Services for York, said Griffin promised customers hard-core material but delivered nothing more "than a bog standard video." Griffin responded, "I am amazed people have the audacity to complain about things like that. I shall tighten up on procedure."

Too True to Be Good

An Egyptian censor vetoed the production of a children's music cassette that would have included a story about the biblical battle between David and Goliath because it shows Israel in too positive a light. "Presenting this subject now is not in line with the Egyptian social and political stance on the Palestinian uprising," said Madkour Thabet, head of the Audiovisual Censo rship Authority, noting some of the Palestinian victims in the current violence include children and youths who were throwing stones at Israeli troops.

Skeletons in the Closet

Students at Calcutta's four undergraduate medical colleges complained they are forced to buy skeletons and internal organs illegally so they can do their homework because the schools' classrooms are locked after school hours. The Times of India reported the medical students keep the bones and body parts at home.

After several people reported receiving credit card bills charged to dead relatives, authorities in Philadelphia charged 16 people, including 10 morgue workers, with stealing credit cards, driver's licenses, cash and guns from the deceased. U.S. Attorney Michael Stiles said the defendants used the credit cards to buy at least $90,000 in televisions, computers and other merchandise.

Shop Till You Drop

At least two dozen Chinese shoppers died at a mall in the Houjie suburb of Dongguan that collapsed while construction workers were illegally adding two extra levels.

Compiled from the nation's press by Roland Sweet. Send original clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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