NewsQuirks 693

Curses, Foiled Again

Federal agents in San Antonio, Texas, arrested Humberto Perez, 31, for falsely claiming that his truck was stolen and receiving cash for a new one. Perez tipped off the authorities by calling a radio show to brag about the crime. FBI agent Steve McGraw was listening to the Spanish-language program "What Is Your Biggest Lie?" and heard a caller recount how he had given a friend a duplicate key to steal the truck so he could get $7,000 and a new pickup from his insurance company and a company that sold him a truck alarm.

When the caller also supplied the time and place of the incident, McGraw checked stolen vehicle reports and easily identified Perez.

Swedish police quickly tracked down a 47-year-old man who robbed a post office in Halmstad. After the cashier handed him a bag of cash, the robber demanded that she also deposit $37.2 million in his bank account and gave her a piece of paper with his account number written on it.

When three men broke into a Chicago restaurant and pried an automatic teller machine from its bolts, they discovered the ATM wouldn't fit in their 1993 Cadillac DeVille. They managed to get the machine partly into the back seat and prepared to take off with the rear door half open, but a passing police officer spotted the men, who fled. The officer managed to catch one of them, Cory Pickett, 32.

Even if the men had been successful, the Chicago Sun Times reported, the ATM contained no money. It has been out of order for two years, and was unplugged and unlit when the burglars snatched it.

Something's Fishy

When Norwegian soccer forward Kenneth Kristensen switched teams from Vindbjart to rival Floey, Vindbjart's officials demanded compensation: Kristensen's weight in shrimp. "No problem," Floey president Rolf Guttormsen said. "We have enough shrimp."

Doctors at the Pentagon's DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that members of the military's Special Forces obtain antibiotics without prescriptions by buying them at pet stores, which stock them to treat fish. Available drugs include penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and sulfa, which are commonly prescribed to combat human infections. The drugs also require a veterinarian's prescription for cats, dogs and other animals. Because of a legal loophole, however, fish antibiotics -- used to treat tail rot, body slime and other piscine maladies -- do not require a veterinarian's prescription. The Washington Post reported that fish drugs do not have to meet the same standards as those prescribed for people. As a result, some may contain impurities or other substances that are harmful to humans. "Certainly a person should not assume that a product sold to treat a condition in fish would work for a different condition in a person," Linda Grassie, a spokesperson for the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, warned.

Sperm in the News

Following a 60-percent decline in sperm donations in Britain during the past 10 years, the 20 commercial sperm banks in the United States have targeted the United Kingdom to boost their slumping sales. The Boston-based New England Cryogenic Center became the first U.S. sperm bank to seek permission from the British government to export "bulk shipments" of donor sperm. Other U.S. sperm banks report increasing online sales to Britain. The U.S. companies rely on aggressive marketing, offering more details about the appearance, personality and family history of their donors than British companies do. "Intelligence and figures of authority are what most of our customers seek," Christopher Arnone, marketing director for the New England center, told USA Today.

The paper attributed the drop in British donor sperm to growing concerns that children born from donated sperm will be able to trace their biological father, thanks to the application of a "children's rights movement" in European law. In addition, British sperm banks pay only about $23 per deposit, whereas U.S. donors typically earn $50.

Costly Gesture

Pop singer Ricardo Abarca, 16, who recently joined the teen group Mageneto, was hospitalized in Guatemala after he stepped off a helicopter at a Guatemala City airport and raised his hand to greet fans. The helicopter's still-whirling rotor severed his index finger, middle finger and little finger. Doctors were able to reattach them.

United We Stand
Mark Allen, a Missouri official responsible for keeping the state secure since Sept. 11, 2001, was placed on unpaid leave after he was charged with taking a riding lawn mower from a dealership and not paying for it.

Guilty with an Explanation

When Charles Digiglio, 34, pleaded guilty to crashing into a school bus in Jim Thorpe, Pa., he explained that he had fallen asleep at the wheel because he worked late the night before making counterfeit checks. "I was up all night," Digiglio told Carbon County Judge Roger N. Nanovic, who sentenced him to two to four years, to run concurrently with an 18-month federal sentence for taking part in a ring that used stolen computers to create $500,000 worth of phony payroll and personal checks that were cashed at grocery stores.

Authorities in drought-stricken Catawba, S.C., issued Lisa Meyer, 33, a summons on a charge of misdemeanor larceny for attaching a makeshift device to a fire hydrant and pumping 100 gallons of city water into her above-ground pool. "It was an accident," Meyer told the Herald newspaper. "I just didn't realize it was city water. I thought it was ground water."

You Snooze, You Lose

Refco Group, a Chicago futures trading firm, fired two clerks whose job was to sort completed orders after the Chicago Sun-Times published a photograph of them sleeping at their desks just a few feet from frantic trading in a stock index futures pit at the Chicago Board of Trade. The color photograph showed the men in their chairs with their heads down and eyes closed, wearing blue trader jackets with the name Refco clearly visible on one sleeve. Nearby, paper streamed from a printer onto the floor.

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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