NewsQuirks 631

Curses, Foiled Again

When Joseph Magnotti, 48, walked bare-chested into a Subway sandwich shop in Miami, paid for a drink with a $50 bill from a bag bulging with large-denomination bills and offered an employee $20 for his shirt, another employee stepped outside and stopped a police officer. He asked if the police were looking for anyone. The officer said yes, explaining that a bank had been robbed a block away by a suspect who fit Magnotti's description. The suspect, now wearing a Subway shirt, was taken into custody.

Malaysian police arrested a gang of armed robbers after their victim spotted them enjoying a beverage at a roadside drink stand near the mobile phone shop they had just held up.

After robbing a South Philadelphia bank, a man and a woman stopped at a nearby bar for a drink. Bank employees trailed them there, then called police, who found the couple carrying bundles of cash from the heist. When the man, George Ruiz, 32, was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, Assistant District Attorney David Desiderio noted, "The one for the road killed him."

Justice Served

The traffic tickets that filled the coffers of Kendleton, Texas, have ultimately caused the infamous speed trap to go broke. Texas officials, citing a 1995 law that allows cities of fewer than 5,000 people to keep traffic fines equaling only 30 percent of their total revenue, said Kendleton collected too much money from speeding enforcement and owes the state $1.7 million. It seized all $18,599 in the city bank account, prompting the city to file for bankruptcy.

Thanks for Nothing

Former police officer Wayne Olivo, 49, was driving across the Yellowstone River in Billings, Mont., when he saw a couple standing beside a van struggling over a bundle. After Olivo heard the woman plead with her companion not to toss "my baby" off the bridge, he stopped to intervene. He wrestled the bundle away from the man, who pulled a gun and fired, hitting Olivo in the hand. The couple fled, leaving behind the bundle, which contained a puppy.

Trade Bait

After being traded from Manchester City to Cardiff City, British soccer player Spencer Prior agreed to a new contract that requires him to eat sheep's testicles and a cooked sheep's brain. The clause was the idea of the Welsh club's Lebanese-born owner Sam Hammam, who believes that eating the Middle Eastern delicacy is responsible for his players winning the team's promotion from the second division. "It must be the strangest contract in the history of football," Prior said. "But I'll try anything once."

What's in a Name?

The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the drug conviction of Andre Johnson after police justified entering his apartment without knocking because of his nickname. "The state contends that defendant's nickname, 'Earthquake,' signaled his propensity for violence and thus furnished a valid basis on which to justify a no-knock warrant," Justice Peter Verniero wrote in his majority opinion. "The right to be free of unreasonable searches cannot hinge on a person's nickname."

The World Intellectual Property Organization denied Canadian Tire's claim to extend its trademark to include the words "crappy tire." The tire company had asked the WIPO to turn over to it the domain name www.crappytire.com registered to Mike McFadden, arguing that McFadden is "attempting to create an impression of an association with Canadian Tire." Canadian Tire insisted that it has long been known colloquially as Crappy Tire.

Ground Rules

The final of one of Brazil's most important soccer championships was delayed nearly half an hour while the two teams argued over who would sit on which bench. America-Belo Horizonte players refused to enter the field when they saw rival Atletico Mineiro occupying the bench to the left of the tunnel in Belo Horizonte's Minerao stadium. The game finally got under way, but the late start meant the game had to be finished in near darkness due to a ban on floodlights because of Brazil's acute energy shortage.

Something's Got a Hold on Me

An Estonian couple won the world wife-carrying title for the fourth year in a row, using a toting method called the "Estonian carry." In it, the woman squeezes her thighs on the sides of the man's face and holds on to his waist while hanging upside-down along his back, leaving his arms free to swing as he runs along the 277-yard course. In defending their title against 20 other husband-and-wife teams in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Margo Uusorg, 22, and Birgit Ullrich, 18, won Birgit's weight in beer. She weighs 75 pounds.

Courtesy Counts

Virginia state police quickly apprehended three men suspected of robbing a Red Lobster restaurant in Spotsylvania County because shortly before the robbery, a Red Lobster employee had noticed their car parked in a handicapped parking space and asked them to please move. Instead, the driver cursed at her. The employee wrote down the tag number and a description of the vehicle. When the man who robbed the restaurant was seen getting into the same vehicle, the employee handed the information to the authorities. "If [the driver] had just been polite and moved the car," said Maj. Howard Smith of the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office, "[the employee] wouldn't have written down the tag number or paid any further attention to them."

Brainstorms

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth have taken a big step toward self-cleaning clothes by transplanting bacteria from the milkweed plant to live on cloth fibers. Eventually, bacteria may be engineered to eat odor-causing chemicals and human sweat. Head researcher Alex Fowler said the bacteria become dormant when their food supply runs out, but they can be reactivated by adding nutrients, such as by wearing the garment to expose it to sweat and body odors. "You could end up having to feed your shirt instead of wash it," Fowler told New Scientist magazine.

Political Follies

After Tony Blair won re-election as Britain's prime minister, he named Stephen Byers as his new transportation minister. Motoring groups criticized the appointment by noting the 48-year-old Byers has little practical experience with roads and highways. He relies on public transport and chauffeur-driven cars to get around because he cannot drive. "He does not have a driving license and he never learned to drive," a Transport Ministry spokesperson acknowledged.

Blair's new sports minister, Richard Caborn, also was ridiculed by the media for his lack of knowledge about his country's top sporting figures. When quizzed in a radio interview, Caborn could not name the captain of the British Lions rugby team, any of the country's top jockeys or the coach of England's cricket team.

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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