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News Quirks 08.31.05 

Curses, Foiled Again A Canadian court in Winnipeg heard that father-and-son robbers were walking along a city street when they ran into three people coming out of a hotel carrying a case of beer. The 41-year-old father, who had a sawed-off shotgun that he intended to sell hidden under his clothes, decided to rob them, only, authorities said, "the complainant didn't want to let go of his box of beer." During the ensuing struggle, the father tossed the shotgun to his son, who fired it toward the man fighting with his father. The bullet hit the father, who was hospitalized and later pleaded guilty.

Drug Doings San Francisco police arrested six gang members that took over the apartment of an 84-year-old woman with dementia and turned it into a drug den. Officers found the place filled with drugs and crack pipes and the walls covered with gang graffiti. The gang even ate the free senior meals that were delivered to Ellen Gutierrez, said police Sgt. Marta McDowell, adding, "One of them said it was pretty nasty food."

- When Missouri State Trooper Tommy Walley stopped two Kentucky men in a 1990 Ford Thunderbird in Kingdom City, he discovered a rocket in the trunk stuffed with two pounds of methamphetamine. Walley said that the "hobby-style" rocket was attached to a system of ropes to pull it upright for launch from inside the car, using the car's cigarette lighter to ignite it. Drug Enforcement Administration agents theorized that the rocket was supposed to launch the contraband in case police stopped the car.

Two-Time Loser A 49-year-old German lottery winner told a court in Meiningen that he turned to crime after he blew his winnings because he was ashamed to go on welfare. The man quit his job when he won $921,000 in 1997 but was broke by 2003. "He didn't want it known he'd spent it all," a court official said, noting that the man had confessed to about 60 offenses. "He would break in to see how much money they had. I guess you could say that was a lottery, too."

Vehicular Follies Lawmakers in Franklin, Tenn., voted to consider an ordinance banning garages, at least ones that open toward the street. "The front door of the house shall take precedence over automobile storage," reads the measure, which also requires wider lots for side-loading garages and larger lots or alleys in the back for rear-loading garages. Alderman Dennis Phillips, who introduced the measure, declared that homes should emphasize the people living in them, not the cars they drive.

Bad Batch Elijah Walker, 35, pleaded guilty in Cincinnati, Ohio, to cocaine possession but told Judge Melba Marsh that he didn't want to give a DNA sample, as the law requires, for a law-enforcement DNA database. He said that he feared the state might use the sample to clone him. "You could do all sorts of things with it," he told the judge. "I just know I have to protect it." Marsh assured Walker that if he thought he was "going to see another one of you walking down the street, you don't have to worry." Assistant prosecutor Kevin Hardman added, "I'm not sure the state really wants another Elijah Walker."

Misguided Prodigy Pianist Bryan O'Lone, 16, filed a lawsuit against his teacher, claiming that she came onstage a few notes into his performance at Carnegie Hall, berated him and slammed the keyboard cover on his fingers while they argued over what piece he would play for the Young Pianist Competition of New Jersey. Besides unspecified damages, O'Lone and his family want a public apology from Yalena Ivanov, who founded the YPCNJ and, the suit claims, accosted her pupil in front of 300 people when he didn't play the piece that she had picked for him.

Beggars Can't Be Booters British immigration officials denied visas to soccer teams from five African nations headed for Edinburgh, Scotland, to compete in this year's Homeless World Cup. The event, which began in 2003, encourages people to lift themselves from poverty and features teams of street people from around the world. The officials ruled that the players from Kenya, Zambia, Burundi, Cameroon and Nigeria were too poor to enter the country and lacked the means to support themselves for the duration of the event.

First-Amendment Follies The town council of Yelm, Wash., barred residents from mentioning Wal-Mart at meetings. Council members, who complained that they are fed up with citizens' complaints about the Arkansas-based company's pending application to build a superstore in the town, also banned the term "big-box store." When the American Civil Liberties Union objected to the measure on constitutional grounds, Mayor Adam Rivas declared, "We don't answer to the ACLU."

Get Me to the Court on Time Jada Coover, 24, missed his scheduled court appearance in Clay County, S.D., because at the time he was trying to outrun state police, who suspected him of stealing a pickup truck and sideswiping another vehicle. Coover led his pursuers to Vermillion, where he stopped in the middle of the street and backed up -- straight into the retaining wall of the Clay County Courthouse. Sheriff Andy Howe said that Coover jumped out of his pickup truck, ran into the courthouse and upstairs to the courtroom, where the judge who was supposed to hear Coover's case had just dismissed the jury. "He attempted to barricade himself in by holding the door shut," Howe said, "but officers were able to get in and take him into custody."

Everyone's a Critic Police in Bathurst, Australia, reported that a 19-year-old moviegoer had his nose bitten off during an argument about the merits of the movie Sin City, which some critics have cited for its non-stop violence. Inspector Cameron Lindsay said that the victim underwent surgery to attach the tip of his nose, but the attacker got away.

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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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