NewsQuirks 728

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Cinnaminson, N.J., charged Perry D. Vedder, 32, a guard at Dunbar Armored Inc., with stealing more than $400,000 in cash from the branch office where he worked. Investigators said that Vedder became a suspect the day after the theft when he arrived for work driving a 2000 Chevrolet Corvette.

Homeland Insecurity

The U.S. government finally unearthed evidence of weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and other dangerous bacteria. The find occurred near Fort Detrick, Md., fewer than 50 miles from Washington, D.C., during a two-year cleanup that was expected to find lab chemicals, debris and incinerator ash.

Instead, it uncovered more than 2,000 tons of hazardous waste that the military said it didn't know was there. Although the government officially ended its germ warfare program at Fort Detrick in 1969, the base has continued to stockpile bacteria in case of a biological attack. Many experts believe that a disgruntled former Fort Detrick employee carried out the unsolved anthrax letter attacks of 2001.

Apology of the Week

Liu Xu, 43, apologized to Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham of Jersey City, N.J., for abandoning his warehouse full of rotting fish and creating a health hazard. The Jersey Journal reported that the facility was abandoned and the electricity turned off sometime between November 2001 and this April. Authorities investigating complaints of a stench coming from the warehouse said they found the reeking remains of "tens of tons" of rotting lobster, shrimp, squid and other seafood. Many of the cases had split open, attracting hordes of "cat-sized rats" and insects. Xu told Cunningham that he would pick up the anticipated $50,000 expense for the two-day cleanup. He also faces four charges stemming from the health risk. City Health Inspector H. James Boor noted that Xu was cited two years ago for leaving 49,000 pounds of fish to rot in the same warehouse.

Out of Context

French police confiscated the driving license of Colombian Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya after they caught him going 126 mph on a highway between Le Muy and Frejus. The speed limit on the road is 80 mph.

Two weeks later, French authorities suspended the license of actor Sami Naceri for chasing a car on a highway outside Paris, forcing it to stop and attacking its driver. Naceri is the star of a series of popular French films about a speed-crazy taxi driver.

Mensa Reject of the Week

Authorities in Onondaga County, N.Y., accused Thomas P. Dydyk, 52, of stealing a painting from the county library. Dydyk, a prominent fund-raiser for the library, insisted that he mistakenly included the painting with some posters he was carrying out of a library storage room, then sold it at his garage sale for $200. The painting is worth $50,000.

Friends and Foes

Germany passed laws making it illegal to kill ants and appointed 85 ant protection officers to see that no harm comes to the insects. "People with an ant hill in their garden must under no circumstances resort to the use of poison," senior ant protection officer Dieter Kraemer said. "This is a violation of federal nature protection laws and punishable with hefty fines."

The United States announced that tuna from foreign countries now could be labeled "dolphin safe" for sale in the United States even if dolphins are harmed during the netting of tuna. The only requirement is that the official
observer on board the fishing vessels doesn't actually witness the dolphins being killed or injured.

Is Nothing Sacred?

Thieves in Britain entered a prison near Aylesbury, broke into a safe in the reception area and stole $1,020. A prison representative said the thieves
also broke into prisoners' lockers.

Next Time, Buy Balloons

New York City police shot and killed Fred Quinones, 28, who investigators said may have been firing a pistol in the air to celebrate the birthday of a friend, who was riding with him.

New Delhi police said Tapesh Kumar Singh, 22, was sitting next to his bride at their wedding when he was accidentally shot in the head by a friend who was celebrating the marriage by firing into the air.

Loophole of the Week

A judge acquitted Shawn E. Golden, 22, in the shooting death of a bartender in Washington County, Md., because Golden is the only living witness to the shooting and was too drunk at the time to remember details of the incident.

"In short," Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley said, "the court does not know what happened."

The Boys in Brazil

A gang of robbers locked up the 50 workers at a car shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but only after one of the workers had ordered a pizza for lunch. When the pizza delivery boy arrived, the gang locked him up with the others. The staff at the pizza shop began to worry when the delivery boy didn't return, so they sent a second delivery boy to check on him. The gang locked him up, too. The manager decided to check for himself, but when he didn't return the owner of the pizza shop called the police, who arrested most of the gang, recovered most of the stolen goods and freed the hostages. "I just wonder why they sent three people in before calling the police," a police representative told the newspaper Agora Sao Paulo. "It was so obvious something wrong was going on." Police in Sao Paulo also discovered a fake police station in the center of the city, barely 300 feet from a real one. Jornal da Tarde newspaper reported that the fake station was staffed by fake police officers and detectives, who charged high fees to handle complaints and investigate crimes. The real police caught on after two men who were blackmailed at the fake police station complained to higher-ups. Investigators arrested eight people, including a 47-year-old lawyer they believe headed the operation.

Really Bad Hair Day

A jury in St. Louis County, Mo., awarded Geremie Hoff, 56, $6,000 for emotional distress she said was caused by a hair salon where she went to get her hair straightened. After the treatment, Hoff's attorney said, some of his client's hair fell out, she developed a bald spot in back "and her hair stuck out like a bird's nest."

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