NewsQuirks 630

Curses, Foiled Again

Investigators believe they identified the suspect in a string of
Mississippi bank heists after the man walked into Bank Independent in
Cherokee, Ala., and asked for a money order, then pulled a gun on two tellers
and made off with $18,000. According to Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May,
the man left behind his car keys, the handgun and the wallet with his
driver's license inside. The tellers identified Jayme D. Allen of South Bend,
Ind., from his license picture.

Human Error

Dianna Freiesleben, 43, who transcribes medical records at her home in
Oshawa, Ontario, normally sends her work from her home computer to a Toronto
hospital using a fixed-rate long-distance carrier costing $29 a month. But on
May 21 she accidentally clicked a computer icon that dialed the hospital
directly over regular long distance. The connection remained open until she
discovered the error on June 4 when a Bell Canada representative called to
say her long-distance bill was approaching $5,000. "I've learned a costly
lesson," Freiesleben said after reaching an agreement with Bell Canada on a
$200-a-month repayment plan, adding she feels Bell should give her the
benefit of the doubt and cancel the bill.

Outflanked

When a gas station down the road from Ed Trudeau's station in Burlington,
Wis., began selling gas 16 cents a gallon cheaper, Trudeau and his son-in-law
drove their 8,500-gallon tanker to the rival's station to fill up on cheap
gas. The clerk ordered Trudeau to stop, but he continued pumping for five
minutes until workers shut off the gas and summoned police, who ordered
Trudeau off the premises.

Please Release Me

Berkine, 21, a contortionist with the Netherlands National Circus, was
rehearsing for a show in Gillingham, England, when he became trapped in a
painful position. Circus workers accustomed to watching his performance at
first ignored Berkine's pleas for help when he got his right foot stuck on
his left shoulder, according to circus producer Chris Barltrop, because they
thought he was joking. "I think the problem was that I did not warm up very
well," Berkine said after he was finally rescued.

Jarrod Wagner, 34, a farmer in New Market, Minn., was removing a clog
from his hay baler when his arm got caught between two of the rollers. After
struggling to free himself for 15 minutes, he used a piece of metal from the
headphones he was wearing for noise protection to saw off his arm just below
the elbow. The arm was too mangled to be reattached. "It was kind of sucking
my whole body in," Wagner told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "so I figured,
well, it was either my whole body or my arm."

Missing the Point

When the French company Sanofi-Synthelabo developed a compound to
suppress appetites by preventing chemicals from binding to cannabinoid
receptors in the brain, researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse
in Baltimore, Md., determined that the drug also prevents pot smokers from
getting high. Noting the findings might help people having a problem quitting
marijuana, head researcher Marilyn Huestis said the compound might eventually
be used to treat other disorders, notably memory loss.

Way to Go

A 29-year-old man died in Ann Arbor, Mich., after a series of events that
began when the car he was driving crashed into a house, knocking a woman
inside off of her sofa. A passenger, who witnesses said leaned out of the car
and yelled that he had been kidnapped, jumped out of the vehicle and ran to a
neighboring house. The driver followed, forced his way into the house, then
came out, crossed the street and went into at least two other houses. The Ann
Arbor News reported that when police Officer Amy Metzer arrived at the scene
to begin her investigation, the driver ran from a house and jumped into her
squad car. He revved the engine but couldn't shift out of park because he
didn't have his foot on the brake. Metzer wrestled the man out of the car,
and paramedics helped her handcuff him. He was put back in the police car but
began having difficulty breathing. Paramedics began performing CPR but failed
to revive him.

Newlyweds Brad and Sarah Hanson were thrilled to receive a ride in a jet p
lane for a wedding present. Because only one of them could ride in the
twin-engine Fouga Magistar at a time, the couple flipped a coin. Brad, 23,
flew Friday night, and Sarah, 22, went up Saturday morning. As Brad
videotaped Sarah's half-hour ride, the plane lost a wing, then crashed and
exploded near the La Crosse, Wis., airport, killing his bride and pilot Roger
Simpson. "I saw the plane crash," Brad told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel,
"and I was waiting to wake up from the worst dream I've ever had."

Carolyn Sue Robinson Carroll, 49, died of an apparent heart attack at her
Floyd County, Ky., home about 10 minutes after hearing her husband, Dwayne
Carroll, 48, had died, also of heart failure, while clearing a place in the
family cemetery for their newly arrived tombstone.

Brainstorms of the Week

The British glassmaker Pilkington announced plans to sell its new
self-cleaning window glass in the United States later this year. The glass,
which works thanks to a permanent coating of titanium oxide, will sell under
the brand name Activ and cost about 20 percent more than regular window
glass. "This is one of the holy grails of glass manufacturing, windows that
clean themselves," Richard W. Karcher, president of Pilkington Building
Products North America, told the New York Times.

To stop London's National Gallery from eroding, Westminster City Council
decided to protect the tourist attraction by setting up open-air urinals like
those used in France and the Netherlands. "Night-time revelers, waiting at a
bus stop outside the gallery, have been relieving themselves against the new
wing," a council statement said. "The gallery now fears that the stone of the
building is being affected by uric acid."

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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