NewsQuirks 704

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Las Vegas, Nev., said that a man attempting to rob a tobacco shop with a sawed-off shotgun stole a pack of cigarettes, removed one cigarette, started smoking it. Then he accidentally shot himself in the head. In Taunton, Mass., police arrested bank robbery suspect Joaquim Grace, 28, after he popped into a bar two blocks from the bank and ordered a beer. Police searched the bar after witnesses said they saw a man running there. The bar manager told the officers that Grace, a regular customer, had appeared to be sweating before he called a cab and left. They went to his last-known address, where they found him and some of the stolen money. "He stopped to have a beer after robbing the bank," Detective Dennis M. Smith told the Brockton Enterprise, "and that's what did him in."

Counter-Revolutionaries

Sean Gifford, director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and an unidentified man in a cow suit showed up at a school in Aberdeen, Scotland, expecting to educate the pupils about the perils of drinking milk. Instead, about 100 children, armed with cartons of milk and shouting "milk for the masses," surrounded the pair and pelted them both with milk for about 10 minutes until police intervened. "I think they just got a bit over-excited," Gifford said after his rescue. "I'm sure they will still go home and think about our message."

Crime Pays

A computer error at three Florida prisons added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the canteen accounts of 186 inmates for at least 10 months, enabling them to go on a spending spree and order cigarettes, candy, vending machine cheeseburgers, tennis shoes, radios, cookies, chewing tobacco, even television sets. The glitch was discovered when the 41 inmates whose accounts the money was coming from complained about the mysterious disappearances. The Department of Corrections decided to correct the error by taking money from the accounts of the 186 inmates who benefited from it. Since they already spent their windfall, however, the payback is coming from whatever money their families send them. "We've replaced $20,000 so far," Department of Corrections representative Sterling Ivey said in October. "We've got a long way to go."

And One for Good Luck

New Orleans police reported that a 20-year-old man was walking along the street when an armed man walked up to him and began firing a handgun. "Once that weapon emptied, he produced a second weapon and continued to fire," police Sgt. Paul Accardo said. "When the second weapon emptied, he produced yet a third and continued to fire." Although the victim was hospitalized after being shot 25 times, he survived.

Who Needs the Middle East?

Welsh police announced they have formed a special unit to track down motorists who use cooking oil to fuel their cars so they can avoid paying high government gasoline taxes. The authorities said the waste oil is coming from restaurants specializing in deep-fried fish and chips.

Use No. 101

Researchers at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., announced that duct tape helps get rid of warts more effectively and less painfully than the most common treatment, freezing them. Lead researcher Dr. Dean "Rick" Focht III said he believed that the tape works the same as most other wart treatments: by irritating the skin, stimulating the immune system and wiping out the viral infection causing the wart.

Loaded Gun

After Jack Smith of Bethel Park, Pa., suffered blackouts while driving that led to two accidents in two years, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation cleared him to drive. Six months later, he blacked out again, causing a crash that killed a 54-year-old woman and her pregnant 27-year-old daughter. In August, Allegheny County Judge Bob Coville dismissed criminal charges against Smith and reaffirmed his right to drive. Not a week later, Smith blacked out again while behind the wheel, this time colliding with two other vehicles and injuring a woman and her daughter.

Gone with the Wind

BBC Top Gear magazine revealed that the average British driver emits more than 912 pints of flatulent gas inside a car during his or her lifetime. Further statistics show that the average driver will swear or blaspheme 32,025 times behind the wheel, honk the horn 15,250 times and be locked out of the car nine times. The average woman driver will throw two-thirds of her body weight out the window as trash, while men will throw out their entire body weight.

Land of the Setting Sun

Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. unveiled two model "houses of tomorrow," which are filled with gadgets aimed at making life easier. One is a toilet that analyzes homeowners' urine and automatically sends suspicious re sults to the doctor via the Internet. Another is a closet that selects clothes according to weather forecasts.

Tire maker Bridgestone Corp. was awarded a patent to turn scrap tires into bouncy sidewalks. The idea is to make walking easier on the feet. Bridgestone said the mix of rubber and binder is cured into slabs, which can be laid over existing paving.

Second-Amendment Follies

U.S. Park Police arrested David Michael Keene, 21, in a road-rage shooting, charging him with firing into the window of a Mercedes and missing the driver by "just inches." The suspect is the son of a prominent Republican Party political action chairman and gun activist, who sits on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association.

First Things First

Teamsters Local 988 had its new meeting hall in Houston built by nonunion construction workers and contractors. Officials told the Houston Chronicle that union labor was too expensive.

Stinky Sex

Researchers at Detroit's Wayne State University found that people can recognize the smell of their close family members, and they don't like it. This aversion, the scientists speculated, may help prevent incest.

Queen Indeed

After a 12-bedroom house in Bloomfield Township, Mich., owned by Aretha Franklin burned down in October, the Detroit Free Press reported that the singer did not live there. Franklin, who owns two other residences in the neighborhood, had been using the 10,000-square-foot home, valued at more than $1.6 million, as a storage unit for boxes and furniture.

Compiled from the nation's press by Roland Sweet. Send clippings, citing source and date, to PO Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22308.

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