NewsQuirks 687

Curses, Foiled Again

Allister Q. Guerra, 19, and Donte R. Harris, 27, were southbound on Interstate 95 near Richmond, Va., when Guerra apparently fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a guardrail. State police representative Corinne Geller reported that the men weren't injured, but a trooper responding to the accident noticed that the car's steering wheel was damaged, indicating that the car might have been stolen. A check revealed that the men were wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Maryland.

After posing for a passport photo at a camera store in Silver Spring, Md., a man waited until the photo was ready, then pulled a gun, grabbed the picture and cash from the register, and fled, according to Montgomery County police Sgt. Fred Cissel. The suspect left behind the negative. "This guy is probably going to be surprised to see his picture in the newspaper," Cissel said. "He probably has no clue."

Mickey Lyman, 44, pleaded guilty to trying to rob a convenience store in Rockville, Conn. He covered his face with shaving cream to hide his identity but was identified as a frequent customer when the shaving cream dripped from his face. Shop owner Shahab Mirza refused to hand over any money, so Lyman grabbed the owner's grandson and threatened to shoot the toddler. His weapon was only a starter pistol, however, so Mirza and his wife, Jajma Shahab, wrestled the boy away from Lyman, who fled to his apartment a few doors from the store. That's where police arrested him.


When authorities raided a private tournament at the Hidden Valley Golf Club in Norco, Calif., they discovered evidence of prostitution, and detained more than 100 golfers and 19 women for questioning. Six other people were arrested. "As part of a golf tournament, sex acts were offered to participants for a fee," Riverside County Sheriff's Department representative Lisa McConnell said. "There were tents set up around the course where people could pay for sex."

United We Stand

Federal authorities charged Vernon Coleman, 32, and Dane Coleman, 28, with stealing cash donations from mail addressed to America's Fund for Afghan Children. The men, who worked at a screening center for White House mail that was activated after some lawmakers received anthrax-contaminated letters last fall, were also accused of taking $35,000 in traveler's checks sent to the White House Federal Credit Union.

New York City prosecutors said that as many as 4,000 municipal workers used automated teller machines to steal $15 million from their credit union after its computer system was damaged in the September 11 attacks. When the computers processing transactions were unable to determine whether people making cash withdrawals had sufficient funds, the Municipal Credit Union decided to allow unverified withdrawals to help members, many of whom are firefighters and police officers, in a time of crisis. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau explained that as word of the computer glitch spread, the suspects repeatedly withdrew as much as $500 a day from ATMs, even if their accounts didn't have the money. Morgenthau said one woman took out $18,000 more than she had in her account.

In Orbit

Four Portuguese women notified police after being persuaded to stand topless in their windows or balconies so that a satellite could give them a mammogram. The women, ages 19 to 45, who live in San Bartholomeu de Messines in the Algarve, all said that a woman claiming to be a doctor telephoned them to announce that a revolutionary method had been developed to conduct breast examinations by satellite. They were told that the consultation would be free if they followed instructions by stripping to the waist and standing in view of the satellite. One woman was so trusting that she took off all her clothes for the "examination." Later, the woman claiming to be a doctor called with the alleged results of the examinations, then told them of her sexual desires in graphic detail, prompting the victims to notify the police.

Way to Go

While Brent Stone, 47, was undressing for bed at his home in Aptos, Calif., he struggled to remove his pants and fell out of a plate glass window. He fell 10 feet onto his cement driveway and died from head injuries.

After John Szarko Jr., 11, twice faked drowning to get attention at a neighbor's pool party in Montoursville, Pa., and was warned to stop playing around, the boy was seen floating face down in the shallow end. This time he was dead, the victim of an apparent heart attack.

When passengers aboard a Boston-bound commuter train notified the crew that James Allen, 61, suffered a heart attack, the train continued on, making its regular stops. After the train arrived at Boston's Back Bay station, Allen, who had had to wait 20 minutes to receive medical attention, was taken to Boston Medical Center, where he died.

Brian T. Donnellan, 23, and Stefan Forpin, 23, were riding in a Chevrolet Blazer through a five-story parking garage in Ocean City, Md., at what witnesses described as a high rate of speed, when the vehicle rammed a parking bumper and broke through the barrier cables that act as a railing. Ocean City police said the vehicle fell 40 feet, landing on its roof. Both men, who were wearing seat belts, died.

Easy Money

Coinstar, a 10-year-old company in Bellevue, Wash., whose machines in 10,000 locations, mainly grocery stores, count people's loose change, then issue a receipt redeemable for dollars, charges an 8.9 percent service fee. The company gives 1 percent of its take to the store. Taking advantage of people's desire for convenience, Coinstar projects its second-quarter earnings at $36.5 million.

Fun Diet

It takes 15 minutes of oral sex to burn off the calories consumed in a long sip of wine, according to Italian dietician Bruno Fabbri, who investigated the exercise value of sexual activities. He found that a 26-minute sex session which ends with an orgasm gets rid of half a pizza. French-kissing for 53 minutes can help cancel out the calories found in a burger and fries.

Even undoing a bra helps lose fat. "That's not, of course, if you unclasp the bra with two hands, which will cost you just eight calories, but unclasping it with only one hand statistically takes the count to 18," he said. "Trying to unclasp a bra with one's mouth instead takes an average 87 calories."

Bring on the ANWR

Alaska officials accused the federal government of failing to maintain abandoned oil wells in the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve Alaska. More than 100 wells, drilled on behalf of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Geological Survey between 1944 and 1981, are scattered throughout the reserve. Noting that two of them have already released crude oil and gas into the environment, state officials fear more leaks will occur if the wells aren't repaired.

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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