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News Quirks 07.19.06 

Curses, Foiled Again Police investigating the theft of a safe from a fitness club in Florence, Ky., identified Jennifer L. Perriman and Stacey N. True, both 21, as their suspects because the two had entered the club after hours with a key belonging to Perriman, a club employee. They found the cleaning crew still working, but after tiring of waiting, they asked the crew to help them load the safe into their car. Recognizing Perriman, the crew obliged but left the car's license number and a detailed narrative of the incident for the club's manager.

The manager called police, who checked the plates and went to the listed address. "There were drag marks along the sidewalk and bits of broken concrete where they'd bounced the safe off the steps," Capt. Linny Cloyd said, adding that investigators found the safe unopened. The suspects "went to a lot of work to get that safe out of the store and then out of the car and into the apartment," Cloyd said. "Then they couldn't get into the safe."

Preventive Medicine An ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer, according to researchers at Oregon State University, who discovered that the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland. Noting that an ingredient in tomatoes, lycopene, has already been linked to prostate cancer prevention, Dr. Richard N. Atkins, CEO of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, said, "It's every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer." He pointed out, however, that to get enough xanthohumol and lycopene to help prevent prostate cancer, men would need to consume 17 beers and four large pizzas a day.

Left Behind Federal officials, conceding that schoolchildren evacuated by Hurricane Katrina might pull down standardized test results under the No Child Left Behind law, granted Georgia, Texas and Tennessee permission to count the evacuees' scores in a separate category. Many were from New Orleans, which had the lowest performing schools in Louisiana before Katrina. "They're not going to hold Georgia schools responsible for the product of Louisiana," Georgia schools Superintendent Kathy Cox announced. Texas teachers and officials said that thousands of Katrina children risk being held back because of low test scores. "We're not surprised that they're struggling in the states they've been displaced to," Meg Casper of the Louisiana Department of Education said, "because they were struggling in Louisiana."

Dire Straits Australian brothel owners asked for an exemption to anti-smoking laws for sex workers and their clients on the grounds that the activities are linked. "People smoke when they drink, and people smoke when they fornicate," William Albon of the Australian Adult Entertainment Industry declared, having told Victoria state officials that the ban would force "men, women and transgender persons" who work as prostitutes at the state's 87 legal brothels to solicit on the street, making them potential targets for violence.

Laboring Under a Misconception New federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify all females capable of conceiving a baby as "pre-pregnant," regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Not-So-Easy Pickings While Adam Jewett, 21, was waiting for his friend to be processed on a drunken-driving charge at the Rotterdam, N.Y., police department, a dispatcher watching the surveillance system reported seeing Jewett pick up a gumball machine in the lobby and walk out the door with it. Patrolman Stephen Dixon found Jewett in the parking lot with the gumball machine.

-- After his gold detector reported a positive hit near the front patio of his home in Montclair, Calif., Enrique Mora, 63, began digging a hole in his front yard. Ten days later, fire officials called to the scene discovered that the hole was 60 feet deep and ordered Mora to stop. He explained that he had planned to dig down only three or four feet but got "carried away."

Nearer Thy God Worried about her family during a stormy trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown, 65, said she was standing in her kitchen in Baldwin County, Ala., praying for their safe return when a bolt of lightning exploded in the kitchen, knocking her to the floor. "I said 'Amen,' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire," she said after her granddaughter found her on the floor and called paramedics. "I don't remember much after that."

Freudian Slip A female police officer in Houston, who accused a high-ranking male officer of sexual harassment, acknowledged having a romantic relationship with the officer, Lt. Joseph Buttitta, that she allowed to continue too long. She admitted that she once tried to end the relationship, only instead of telling Buttitta goodbye, she accidentally told him that she loved him.

When Dial-Up Isn't Enough An 18-year-old male student at Arizona State University was arrested at Hayden Library and charged with indecent exposure and public sexual indecency after he was caught masturbating while watching pornography on his laptop. When asked why he had gone to the library, the suspect reportedly told police, "To be honest, the Internet connection at my dorm isn't good enough."

Hard Sell Michael Thelemann, 45, caused an uproar in Bray, Okla., by posting a sign in his yard offering $1000 for a virgin bride between the ages of 12 and 24. Thelemann said he didn't understand the negative reaction, pointing out that his grandmother married ''a much older man'' at age 14. ''I'm just somebody who is getting up there in years, and I'm looking for a born-again, God-fearing virgin between the ages of 12 and 24 who can bear me children,'' Thelemann said after he took down the offending sign but replaced it with another, stating that his future wife must not be a "pig-worshipping, heathen [or] white supremacist."

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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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