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News Quirks 02.02.05 

Curses, Foiled Again Police in Lake Station, Indiana, arrested Dan Griggs after they said he broke into a lottery machine and stole $50, then walked out of a convenience store with three cartons of cigarettes that he didn't pay for. When he reached his car, he found that he had locked his keys inside, so he returned to the store, grabbed a broom and smashed the car window. Dispatchers at the police station across the street observed the entire incident. When officers tried to nab Griggs, he drove off, only to hit a police car head-on.

- Police in Poulsbo, Washington, reported that two men held up a gas station, then drove off in a red Honda as police from four towns and sheriff's deputies gave chase through the winding roads of Puget Sound. The disoriented fugitives managed to lose their pursuers but had no idea where they were, so they pulled into a gas station to ask directions to Seattle. The station was the same one they had just robbed. Clerks again alerted the police, who arrested Jared Persitz and Matthew Barela, 22.

When Guns Are Outlawed When a sheriff's deputy in Oakland Township, Michigan, tried to stop a car for running a stop sign, driver Girlamo Marinello, 37, rammed the deputy's car. Authorities said that Marinello then got out of the car and swung a 5-pound poodle on a leash at the deputy to fend off his arrest.

Calling Superman Phone companies have eliminated more than a million pay phones in the past eight years, according to the Federal Communications Commission, but phone booths are making a comeback. The Wall Street Journal reported that some restaurants, libraries and other public places are installing the booths so cell-phone users can talk without bothering other people and so they won't be overheard. "In five years, it could be completely passe to be at a table in a restaurant and not get up to use the cell-phone booth," said Kevin Boehm, who paid $3500 to install a booth at his new restaurant in Chicago.

- Cell-phone booths are an emerging industry in Europe, the Journal noted. Austria's Isomax Dekorative Laminate AG proposed using its laminate cladding boards to make a cell-phone booth with retractable walls, for instance. In Finland, furniture designer Antti Evavaara has sold hundreds of wireless-phone boxes for use in waiting areas, airports and hotel lobbies, and recently announced plans to mass-produce the box in 67 colors.

Welcome Home Police in Erie County, Pennsylvania, reported that Paul Rogala returned from a two-week trip to Florida to find that someone had broken into his house by forcing open a basement window and turned up the thermostat all the way. Rogala, who said that he had turned the thermostat down to 50 degrees when he left, told police that the house was not otherwise ransacked or disturbed, and nothing appeared to be stolen.

Life in the Other People's Republic North Korea has intensified its campaign against long hair and untidy attire, which the state news media declared represents a "corrupt capitalist" lifestyle. "People who wear other's style of dress and live in other's style will become fools and that nation will come to ruin," the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned. In addition, Pyongyang television pointed out that long hair could rob the brain of energy because it "consumes a great deal of nutrition."

- A North Korean manual issuing specific instructions for dealing with an attack by the United States directs citizens to flee to underground bunkers, and to take with them portraits and statues of leader Kim Jong-il and famous generals, as well as "revolutionary historical material." The 33-page document said that it is the people's duty to protect these items from the invaders.

Litigation Nation City officials in Anaheim, California, said that they planned to sue the baseball team that plays there after it renamed itself the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team said it changed its name for marketing reasons, but Anaheim spokesperson John Nicoletti said, "It's geographically confusing and absurd. No other professional sports franchise that I know of has two different cities in its names."

Phony Baloneys Surinder Singh, a highly decorated major in the Indian army, was discharged and sentenced to hard labor for faking heroic battles by using ketchup as blood and posing civilian porters as slain Pakistani soldiers in videos to earn promotions. Singh insisted that his superiors framed him. The court martial also suspended Col. H.S. Kohli for taking part in the deception.

- After Steve Barreras of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paid $20,000 to support a child that Viola Trevino claimed he fathered when their divorce became final in 1999, he demanded that his divorce be reopened and the child produced in court. Trevino showed up with a 2-year-old girl. The child's grandmother suddenly appeared in court asking, "Where's my baby? This lady has taken her from me." The grandmother explained that Trevino had approached her on the street and promised them a trip to see Santa Claus and $50, then bought them hamburgers and took the girl to court. Further investigation found that Trevino had concocted DNA evidence, forged a Social Security number and birth and baptismal certificates to gain child support from Barreras. Finally, State District Judge Linda Vanzi ruled that the child did not exist.

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.


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