NewsQuirks 650

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that a man tried to steal some cigarettes from a convenience store but accidentally dropped the cigarettes and his wallet, then became trapped in the store when one of the clerks pushed a button that locks the doors. The robber apologized to the store employees and said he would like to forget the matter, but the clerks activated the store alarm. In the process, they apparently pushed the button that unlocks the doors, and the robber kicked the door open and fled in his car. Harpal Singh, one of the clerks, said he was on the phone a few minutes later giving police a description when the man returned to get his wallet. He listened as Singh told police the robber was 5 feet 10, then corrected him: "I'm six-two." "About six-two," Singh told the police, "and about 38 years old." The robber interrupted again: "I'm 34." Police quickly arrested Steven Hebron, 34.

Mensa Reject of the Week

Bryan Allison, 24, suffered possible multiple fractures when he fell 20 feet to the ground while throwing a 25-inch television set off the second-floor porch of his home in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Police Detective James Lincoln said the incident occurred when Allison and his 19-year-old brother decided to toss the TV after they watched a videotape of a 1989 hockey playoff game and became upset over the outcome.

Adding Insult to Injury

When John Schuett went to work for Valiant Networks, he received a $2,500 signing bonus. In October, the San Jose, Calif., telecommunications firm laid him off and demanded that he pay back half the bonus because he didn't stay at the firm the full year he had agreed to.

Least Justifiable Acts

Steven Brummett, 47, of Bloomington, Ind., was injured during a 10-minute shootout with a Monroe County sheriff's deputy. After Brummett was taken into custody, deputies said he told them the reason for the shooting spree was that he was agitated because he had been constipated for some time.

Charles George of Phoenix, Ariz., was riding on a Greyhound bus traveling 70 mph when he grabbed the steering wheel, causing a crash that injured 33 people. According to Greyhound spokesperson Jamille Bradford, George tried to take control of the bus after he became angry because he wasn't allowed to smoke on the bus.

A 54-year-old man died after being stabbed in the chest while trying to break up a brawl at a Philippines karaoke bar. The incident occurred after a group of drinkers complained that the man with the microphone was singing out of tune. The singer confronted the group, and a fight ensued. Although the report didn't identify the song being sung badly, newspapers recently reported that Philippines karaoke parlors have been removing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" from playlists because fights often break out when that sung is sung.

Police in Palo Alto, Calif., charged Peter Winn Clarkson, 38, with beating his 61-year-old mother with his fists. He called 911 from the home where the two lived to report the attack, which he said occurred after she scolded him for washing an iron skillet with soap. Dan Clarkson, Peter's brother, told the San Jose Mercury News that the conflict didn't surprise him, explaining, "She has been telling us not to wash cast-iron pans with soap our whole lives."

And Yet We Won the Cold War

Recently declassified documents disclosed that the CIA spent $16 million to turn cats into walking bugging devices in the 1960s in its efforts to uncover the Kremlin's deepest secrets. The project, dubbed Acoustic Kitty, took five years to design. "They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up," Victor Marchetti, a former agency officer, said. "The tail was used as an antenna. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that." Marchetti recalled the first live trial was a disaster: "They took it out to a park and put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead."

In Mine Image

After charging Joshua Brissett, 19, of Cleveland with fracturing his 5-month-old son's head, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason explained, "The information we have is that he tried to shape the baby's head to make it look like his head."

When Guns Are Outlawed

Three men and a woman robbed a Chinese-food deliveryman in Britain's West Midlands by hitting him with a bag of prawn crackers. They made off with his food but were apprehended after police noticed a trail of spicy sauce leading from the scene of the attack to a nearby apartment.

South Florida authorities reported they were seeking a man in his 20s who is suspected of having robbed at least six businesses in November by ordering hot coffee, then throwing it at clerks and grabbing cash from open registers. "It's such a bizarre method," Sgt. Thomas McCabe of the Boynton Beach Police Department said. "I don't know what the thought process is."


Ireland's Circuit Civil Court heard that Deirdre O'Farrell injured her bottom, legs and back when a pub toilet mysteriously collapsed under her. O'Farrell said she heard a rumble and an explosion a split second before she was thrown forward. Angela Carroll, a lounge waitress, told the court that O'Farrell admitted a couple of days after the incident that she had touched up bruises on her bottom with make-up blush before having her injuries photographed. The pub settled with O'Farrell and sued the plumber who fitted the toilet bowl a few weeks before the incident.

Rubber Words

British inventor Graeme Proudler has patented the "anti-abuser" for people whose jobs subject them to complaints from the public. The device has a microphone and an amplifier that records the abuse and plays it back at the abuser. It can be set to send back particular portions of sentences, such as swear words, immediately. If throwing people's words back at them doesn't stop them, the device resorts to a deafening shriek.

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

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