NewsQuirks 699

Curses, Foiled Again

Two armed men tried to rob a Boston pizza restaurant but couldn't open the safe because it had a time-delay lock. They tied up the lone employee in the bathroom while they waited, then tied up a second and third employee when they arrived. When a fourth employee showed up, the robbers took him to the men's room, but he told them his girlfriend was waiting for him outside. They let him go but warned him not to alert the police. As soon as he reached the parking lot, he called 911. Meanwhile, two other employees showed up. Then the police knocked on the door.

The gunmen began pleading for their victims to show mercy and ditched their weapons to try to pose as hostages, too. "They were telling us, 'Oh, please help us. Tie us up,'" manager Orlando Reyes, 20, told the Boston Herald. "I said, 'I'm going to go outside and tell the police officers the bad guys left and you guys were tied up with us.'" Once the police were inside, Reyes pointed out Johnathan Ortega, 23, and Miguel Angel Correa, 27, as the robbers.

Getting Better

On Nov. 4, officials lowered the death toll from the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of New York's World Trade Center to 2,795 after locating five persons who had been reported missing and feared dead and discovering one victim who had been listed twice. The initial estimate had been more than 6,000 deaths. Ellen Borakove of the New York chief medical examiner's office predicted the death tally would continue to fall by small increments.

Litigation Nation

A group of people is suing the U.S. government for losses they think that global warming will cause them in the future. New Scientist magazine reported the litigants include a couple that fears their coastal home will be lost to storm surges resulting from climate change, a Vermont syrup maker who insists that he'll go out of business if his maple trees die and a marine biologist who's worried that he'll lose his job if corals become extinct. "This is a lawsuit that we intend to win," co-litigant Will Toor, the mayor of Boulder, Colo., said.

Edition Peters, publishers of the late American composer John Cage, sued British musician Mike Batt, claiming that a recording of a minute's silence by Batt's rock group the Planets plagiarized Cage's 1952 composition "4-33," which consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. After agreeing to pay an undisclosed six-figure sum to the John Cage Trust, Batt speculated that the avant-garde composer "would have loved the spectacle of the Planets being all over the press protesting that their silence was original and not a quotation from his silence." He insisted, however, that his silent piece was superior, explaining, "I am able to say in one minute what took Cage four minutes and 33 seconds."

Fooled Again

More than 27,000 people voted for former Ohio Rep. James A Traficant Jr., who ran his re-election campaign from a Pennsylvania prison cell, where he is serving eight years for bribery and racketeering. Traficant had appealed to voters to re-elect him to show they don't fear the government. "I believe I can do a better job than half the people down in Washington," Traficant said in a low-budget campaign ad filmed the day before he was sentenced in July.

In Orbit

Bart Sibrel, 37, told police in Beverly Hills, Calif., that Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, 72, punched him in the face after he asked the astronaut to swear on a Bible that he had been to the Moon. Sibrel, an independent filmmaker from Nashville, Tenn., said he believes that the Apollo 11 astronauts faked their July 1969 lunar expedition to fool the Soviet Union into thinking the United States had won the space race. He said he was trying to confront Aldrin about the lunar mission when Aldrin swung at him. "He has a good punch. It was quick, too," Sibrel said. "I didn't see it coming."

The persistence of skepticism that NASA's six Apollo moon landings were faked prompted the space agency to spend more than $15,000 to hire James E. Oberg, a former aerospace engineer and the author of 10 books on space, to write a 30,000-word monograph refuting conspiracy theorists point by point. "Ignoring it only fans the flames of people who are naturally suspicious," Oberg said.

It's Not Unusual

Singer Tom Jones complained that even though women still throw their underwear at him, it usually hasn't been worn. When the tradition began in the 1960s, "the whole thing was authentic," Jones told the German magazine Bunte. "Nowadays they bring along a plastic bag with their underwear in it. It has nothing to do with enthusiasm anymore. I actually take it as an insult. I give it my all onstage because I want to fill the crowd with enthusiasm, but that which comes from the heart and not out of a plastic bag."

Hello Again

After Morgan Taylor, 16, was injured in a hit-and-run incident in Fergus Falls, Minn., he accused an 18-year-old emergency medical technician who helped transport him to the hospital of being the one who hurt him. Morgan said that as he lay on a stretcher in the ambulance, "I looked at him. I think he looked at me. It was kind of weird."

Do-It-Yourself Cryogenics

In Stockholm, Sweden, a 14-year-old boy and his friend were looking for ice cream in the boy's freezer when they discovered the bodies of two newborn babies. After they notified authorities, the boy's 31-year-old mother admitted putting the infants in cold storage after killing them in 1993 and 1999.

Role-Model Justice

After state Rep. John S. Martinez, Connecticut's deputy House majority leader, was killed in a car crash, the state Department of Motor Vehicles disclosed that Martinez did not have a valid driver's license. DMV spokesperson Bill Seymour said that Martinez's license had been suspended at least six times since 1996, most recently this August for failing to appear in court in connection with a drunk-driving charge.

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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