NewsQuirks 610

Curses, Foiled Again

A man who robbed a bank in Columbus, Ohio, eluded police by ducking into a nearby drug store. He entered a restroom and changed clothes, then hid his old clothes, the cash and the toy gun he used in a bag, which he stuffed inside a toilet tank. Shortly after he left, the toilet tank overflowed, and employees found the bag.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that a few minutes after the store manager reported the find, the man phoned and asked the manager, "Hey, did you guys call the police? I was just in there and left my bag in the restroom. Can I come back and get it?" The manager told the man he could come collect the bag. When Reginald Chineme Ogbuehi, 22, showed up, police were waiting to arrest him.

Second-Amendment Follies

John Wilkinson, 66, entered a bank in Dublin, Pa., and retrieved his safe-deposit box, then, according to police investigators, shot himself in the head with a handgun he apparently kept in the box. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anthony "Smokey" Saduk Jr., 29, and his roommate Wesley Geisinger, 31, were hosting a party at their home in Woodbine, N.J., when Saduk loaded an antique-replica muzzleloader rifle with black powder and cigarette butts, according to State Police. As a prank, Saduk aimed and fired at Geisinger, who was standing about 7 feet away. Geisinger was killed when three cigarette butts penetrated his ribcage and lodged above his heart.

Eight-year-old Christopher Kissinger, a first-grader in Jonesboro, Ark., was suspended from school for three days after he picked up a breaded chicken finger from his lunch, aimed it at a teacher and said, Pow, pow, pow."

First Things First

When a fire broke out on the rooftop of an office building in Hong Kong, scores of office workers evacuated, but two women who were getting their nails done refused to leave. Rebecca Lee, the owner of the Fingertrix nail salon, and two staff members who were putting acrylic fingernails on the two customers also remained, despite warnings from security guards. "We took the risk because we wanted to get our job done," Lee said when the women left more than an hour later, after the fire had been put out.

Sinking Ship of State

Three years after its release, the movie "Titanic" is enjoying a wave of popularity in Afghanistan, prompting a crackdown by the orthodox Islamic Taleban party that controls most of the country. The "Titanic" name is being attached to cosmetics, clothes, wedding cakes, footwear, vehicles and even a brand of rice. The most visible sign of "Titanic" fever is a haircut that mimics that of the movie's star, Leonardo DiCaprio: short in the back with a floppy fringe. In January, religious police deployed by the Taleban's Ministry of Vice and Virtue jailed more than 30 barbers in Kabul, accusing them of providing the forbidden haircut, which the Taleban insists interferes with prayers by letting men's hair fall on their foreheads.

Don't Have a Cow

Russian police charged four men with stealing a pregnant cow from a village 300 miles east of Moscow, then escaping by squeezing the 660-pound cow in their car and driving 37 miles. The Star newspaper reported that investigators believe they will have to reconstruct the crime using a dummy cow in order to prove the charges.

Investigators charged John Hester, 51, the former warden of Indiana's Pendleton Correctional Facility, with smuggling tobacco into the prison by hiding it inside cows' rectums. Hester reportedly wrapped the contraband in plastic and hid it in cows being taken to the jail's slaughterhouse, hoping to exchange the tobacco for money orders obtained for him by an inmate's mother. "It was stuffed into the cow," State Police Detective Gregory Belt said, "and then the cow was brought onto the floor and it was removed."

We'd Like to Teach the World to Sing

A coalition of religious and civic groups in South Korea reported they are sending their first shipment of aid to poverty-stricken North Korea. The $917,000 worth of private aid will include underwear, flour, goats, disposable syringes and 10 karaoke machines programmed with 4,000 South Korean and U.S. pop songs. The coalition pointed out that the karaoke machines, a special gift from the owner of an electronic market in Seoul, have had all military tunes removed to avoid controversy.

Down Side of Uplift

New-style underwire brassieres have become the biggest cause of blockages or damage to washing machines in Britain. "With underwired bras now accounting for over half the bra sales in Britain, it's a growing hazard for washing machines," said Sue Loder of bra experts Triumph International, which reckons 75 percent of British women wash their bras in the machine.

The Hoover Maneuver

When a 70-year-old Japanese man started choking on his mochi, the traditional New Year's sticky rice cake, his daughter grabbed a vacuum cleaner and used it to suck out the glutinous mass, according to a local official in the northern island of Hokkaido. Although every year the Japanese press has reports of elderly people dying from eating mochi during the holidays, the official cautioned that the vacuum cleaner is not an acceptable way to remove the rice cake, explaining, "such actions can harm your intestines."

The Rat Race

After spending their day running through lab mazes, rats dream about the workplace, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The scientists hooked up a device that measures the pattern of neurons firing in the area of the brain known to be involved in memory, then had the mice perform specific tasks in a maze. They observed distinctive patterns of brain activity, which were reproduced almost exactly when the rats slept.

Bang-Up Job

A 34-year-old Danish man decided to greet his friends, who were being held at the Roskilde police station, by tossing fireworks from the roof, but he underestimated their firepower and nearly destroyed the building. He threw one firecracker into an airshaft leading to the staff toilet, which was destroyed completely. The explosion started a fire, which caused extensive d amage before it was extinguished. The man was arrested on the roof.

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