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News Quirks 06.29.05 

Curses, Foiled Again

New York City police caught carjacking suspect Darwin David Guity, 18, when he tried to make his getaway by taking a tunnel but couldn't pay the toll. Police Officer Robert Denaro reported that Guity was stuck in the E-Z Pass lane without a toll tag. He lacked $1.20 for the $4.50 toll. On further questioning, Denaro said he had no driver's license or registration for the 2003 Isuzu, whose owner is Asian. Guity isn't.

- When Gregory Alston, 20, called Baltimore police to report his Nissan Maxima stolen, a check revealed that the car didn't belong to him. It had been reported stolen two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the real owner spotted it parked and called police, who had it towed. When they confronted Alston, he admitted taking it. He explained that he let it sit in a parking lot "until he thought the dust settled," Detective Gregory Jenkins said, "then began to drive the vehicle as if were his own." Jenkins added that Alston told him he reported it missing because he had left his wallet in it "and was trying to retrieve it without drawing suspicion to himself."


The demand for back-office outsourcing is growing so rapidly that India's federal Planning Commission predicts a quarter-million worker shortfall within four years. "The problem is not with the quantity, but with the quality," commission official Rajeeva Ratna Shah told an outsourcing conference in Bangalore. Only a fraction of the applicants for India's 150,000 new outsourcing jobs each year have the necessary skills to perform the required office functions for Western firms.

- About 3800 patients at Duke Health Raleigh and Durham Regional Hospitals in Raleigh, N.C., were put in "immediate jeopardy" after being operated on with instruments washed in hydraulic fluid instead of detergent, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The centers traced the problem to an elevator company that drained hydraulic fluid into empty barrels, which the detergent supplier picked up and redistributed as washing fluid.

For Our Convenience, Not Yours

The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island announced that it was replacing its 24-hour suicide hotline with one that operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. PEI officials explained that the hotline doesn't get enough suicide calls to justify the US$24,000 cost of running it. Among the mental-health groups nationally protesting the cutback is the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. "How many times, when you get upset or worried or concerned about things, is it in the middle of the day?" executive director Joan Wright said. "It's usually at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when you wake up."

Loophole of the Week

After Gregory E. Smith was convicted of federal drug charges, his attorney argued for leniency because the government took too long to arrest him. John Eldridge told the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn., that Smith was caught with the drugs in 2002 but wasn't arrested until two years later. By then, he had accumulated state drug convictions, leading to a mandatory 10-year sentence on the federal charge. "Had Greg Smith been taken into custody in 2002," Eldridge insisted, "he would not be facing nearly as much time behind bars."

How Not to Keep a Low Profile

Paul Iannuzzi, 35, was arrested for violating terms of his bail in Glocester, R.I., by traveling to Las Vegas without permission. He was sitting in the audience at a boxing match broadcast on NBC-TV's "The Contender" when a detective who had arrested him on child pornography charges spotted him. Iannuzzi also spoke to a reporter from the Providence Journal about the match.

- New York City police arrested robbery suspect Awiey "Chucky" Hernandez, 20, when he walked into a Brooklyn police station and officers recognized him from his wanted poster. He came in looking for information about his friend, Huquan "Guns" Gavin, but was kept "waiting for four hours," said Sgt. Norman Horowitz, who explained that a detective finally pointed out the resemblance and that Hernandez was wearing the same sweatshirt as in the picture.

The Meek Suck

The latest trend in religious retailing is strongly worded religious apparel. The Associated Press reported that Extreme Christian Clothing in Lawrence, Kan., features T-shirts with such messages as "Satan Sucks" and "My God can kick your God's butt" that appeal to teenagers. "I think God is spreading the word and having the youngsters shout out their faith," store owner Lori Devins said. Catherine Stellin of Los Angeles trend forecaster the Intelligence Group noted that strongly worded religious apparel appeals to teens and those in their early twenties who see consumerism as a way to express convictions.

No.1 Solutions

A British bus company is using sheep urine to curb pollution. The Guardian newspaper reported that Stagecoach fitted a tank to a bus in Winchester, England, that sprays urea, which is refined from urine from farmyard waste, into the exhaust fumes to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Andrew Dyer, managing director of Stagecoach South, explained that ammonia in the urea converts the nitrous oxides into nitrogen gas and water.

- A British couple drove from the north of Scotland to the south of Italy without stopping to use the restroom. Instead, biochemist James Shippen and his colleague Barbara May relied on the first lavatory installed in a car. Agence France-Presse reported that the Indipod, costing $555, can be fitted into the rear cargo area of minivans and sport utility vehicles. The inflatable cabin has a fan hooked up to the vehicle's cigarette lighter, and deodorant chemicals dissolve solid waste into a tank that can be emptied into conventional toilets.

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

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


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