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News Quirks 04.19.06 

Curses, Foiled Again After a man flagged down a sheriff's deputy in Brown County, Ohio, to report that someone had stolen a large construction trailer worth $12,000 from a job site, investigators observed that the trailer had been hauled away with its air brakes locked, causing the tires to leave rubber marks on the road. Deputies followed the marks to a home and arrested William R. Dempsey, 49.

Don't Squeeze the Buoi Vietnamese authorities rejected applications by a grapefruit seller and a gender activist to register website addresses because the names contained words that could lead people to believe they were pornographic sites. The fruit seller wanted to use "buoi," which, according to the tonal Vietnamese language, can mean either a grapefruit or a slang word for penis. State-run Vietnam Television said that the gender activist had wanted his website to be called sex.com.vn, which the country's Internet domain control body nixed. Pornography is banned in the Communist-ruled country. Sites containing "lon," which can mean either "pigs" or "vagina," depending on the tone, and "xxx" are also not allowed.

Mensa Reject of the Week Authorities in Naples, Fla., said that when they tracked down Courtland Page Johnson, 30, after identifying him as the driver who crashed his PT Cruiser into several barricades, he explained that he had wrapped his pet snake around his neck while driving. The snake bit him, causing him to panic and lose control of the vehicle.

The Perfect Match Plastic surgery is becoming so popular in China that couples eager to prove their love for each other are going under the knife to get matching noses or eyes. The newspaper China Daily reported that business at plastic surgery clinics in Shanghai has risen as much as 30 percent in one month.

No Cheater Left Behind Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford, Nova Scotia, banned the use of computer software designed to help professors catch plagiarists. The California-based online subscription site, used by 4000 schools worldwide, checks each student's paper against a database of more than 4.5 billion pages of newspapers, academic journals, books and other students' reports. Student leaders had complained that the plagiarism-detection software creates a "culture of mistrust." "It's the feeling of guilt when you go in the classroom," student union president Chantal Brushett told CBC News.

Slightest Provocation Police were called to the Siesta Motor Lodge in North Charleston, S.C., after two maids began battling with plunger and mop. A 52-year-old maid was taken to the hospital with minor injuries caused by being hit on the arms with the mop, and police arrested her attacker, Deloris Smith, 47, who insisted that she was merely defending herself against her co-worker's plunger. The fight started when the maids accused each other of taking toilet paper from each other's cleaning carts.

Irony of the Week More U.S. troops have died in motorcycle accidents since Sept. 11, 2001, than have been killed fighting in Afghanistan. A big part of the problem, according to commanders of military bases, is troops returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan with months of tax-free salaries and extra pay for combat and overseas service. Some buy high-powered motorcycles and hit the streets seeking a thrill. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that nearly 350 troops have died on bikes, and nearly 1000 more have been injured.

The Long Eyes of the Law Authorities in Martin County, Fla., fired sheriff's deputy Jack Munsey, 36, after investigators concluded that he used his patrol car video system "for unofficial purposes." The cameras are supposed to be used for documenting drunks trying to walk a straight line. Videos obtained from Munsey's car camera included, according to the official report, bikini-clad women, "an extreme close-up of a motorcycle passenger's breasts" and scores of other "inappropriate" images. A Police Benevolent Association attorney insisted that the various shots of multiple women were not a "regular" thing, but "only an isolated" event.

Unilateral Cooperation Malaysia's Deputy Works Minister Muhammad Zin Muhammad said that his country is on schedule to complete its half of a new bridge to Singapore by 2009. Singapore, meanwhile, hasn't even approved plans to build its half.

Waste Not, Want Not Japanese scientists declared that they have figured out a way to produce gasoline from cow dung. The team from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology successfully extracted 0.042 ounces of gasoline from every 3.5 ounces of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat. Japan produces 551,155 tons of cattle dung a year. Agriculture engineering professor Sakae Shibusawa said that the researchers hope to improve the technology so that it can be used commercially within five years.

-- Researchers at Sekisui Chemical Co. used a pressurized cooker to successfully extract an aromatic ingredient of vanilla from cattle dung. Sekisui official Miki Tsuruta said that the extracted ingredient could be used as fragrance in shampoo and candles.

-- San Francisco's Norcal Waste Systems Inc. unveiled plans to turn dog feces into energy after a city study found that almost 4 percent of all the garbage collected from residences was from animal waste destined for the city's landfill. "The city asked us to start thinking about a pilot program to recycle the dog poop in order to cut back adding more waste in landfills," the company's Robert Reed said, explaining that the feces could be scooped into a methane digester to extract methane gas, which would be burned to power a turbine to make electricity or heat homes. Dogs and cats produce about 10 million tons of waste a year.

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Roland Sweet

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

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