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News Quirks 09.27.06 

Curses, Foiled Again Philadelphia police arrested Verlin Alexander, 22, after he flagged down a patrol car to explain that he wasn't the person in surveillance photos being circulated of a robbery and sexual assault suspect. Alexander admitted that the suspect looked like him and drove a car similar to his but insisted that it was someone else. He even pointed out a house where he claimed the other man lives. Police hadn't considered Alexander a suspect until he brought himself to their attention.

* German police arrested a 20-year-old man who stole clothing from a store in Bielefeld after he returned to the store two days later because the pair of shoes he had taken were two different sizes, and he wanted to exchange the wrong-sized one. The store's owner recognized the shoes and the sports jacket the man was wearing as having been taken from his store. "You have to wonder why he went back into the shop in the stolen get-up," a police official said. "It seems he may not have been the brightest of thieves."

Clothes That Sing South Korea's government is backing efforts to launch a line of apparel with built-in digital music players so people don't have to carry personal devices around with them. According to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition," officials estimate that digital clothing could earn billions of dollars. The "smart" clothes are expected in stores by the end of the year.

Slightest Provocation Police reported that Richard Tyler Burgoyne and Roberto I. Dominguez III, both 18, got out of their car at an intersection in Manheim, Pa., and assaulted two teenagers because they thought the victims were taking too long to cross the street.

* Police in Athens, Ga., accused Ruth Driscoll-Dunn, 24, of hitting two older women with her Jeep in a McDonald's parking lot after the three argued over who was next in line. Police Detective Jeff Clark said the victims were standing in a crowded line waiting to order breakfast when a cashier opened a new line, and they stepped to the front of it. Their move apparently irked Driscoll-Dunn, who was also waiting to order. Clark admitted hitting the women but insisted that the others "provoked the incident."

Litigation Nation Donna Rodriguez, 52, a student at Florida Gulf Coast University, filed a lawsuit against the school, seeking more than $15,000 in damages, because it failed to control wild boars on campus. According to her suit, one of the boars chased her, causing her to fall and suffer serious injuries

Mission Accomplished Violations by military recruiters, under pressure to meet wartime enlistment goals, increased by more than 50 percent in just one year, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. Allegations of wrongdoing rose from 4400 cases in fiscal year 2004 to 6600 cases in fiscal year 2005. Substantiated cases in that same period rose from 400 to almost 630. Actual criminal violations more than doubled, from 33 to 68. The increases occurred while overall enlistment dropped from 250,000 to 215,000.

* The GAO report's release coincided with the reassignment of Army recruiter Cpl. Ronan Ansley. An Army official said that Ansley signed up Jared Guinther, 19, but concealed his autism and that he had been in special education classes since preschool.

Mensa Rejects of the Week Health officials in Santa Ana, Calif., determined that eight people who came down with a rare lung infection had eaten live sawagani crabs on a dare. "It was kind of like 'Fear Factor,'" said Adrian Guerrero, manager of the Mission Viejo restaurant. Six to 10 weeks after downing the crabs, the victims ended up with a parasite carried by the crab that migrates from the intestines to the lungs and causes lung fluke infection, whose symptoms are coughing, diarrhea, breathing problems, abdominal pain, fever and hives. Left untreated, it can "impact the brain," said Deanne Thompson of the Orange County Health Care Agency, who added, "Most restaurants serve them flash fried, but occasionally I guess people get it into their heads to eat them raw or live, and that's a bad idea."

Mobile Society Mobility scooters, hailed as a boon for the infirm and elderly, are finding a market among able-bodied people who simply don't feel like walking. The Wall Street Journal reported that the electric-powered scooters, which cost upwards of $1000, are turning up at theme parks, shopping malls, casinos and grocery stores. Some entrepreneurs even tout the vehicles to able-bodied tourists. Avis recently began offering motorized scooters in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas, for example, and for an extra $40 to $50 will arrange to have the scooter waiting in the trunk of rental cars. Florida Mobility, a motorized-scooter vendor outside Disney World, pitches a $75 rental package by telling customers, "Ride all day and dance all night." One of the renters, Dennis Robles, a 37-year-old truck driver from Brooklyn observed driving around the park, admitted, "I'm pretty healthy. Just lazy, I guess."

Science to the Rescue After city officials in Louisville, Ky., found that the fountains in Waterfront Park had unhealthy levels of bacteria from homeless people bathing in them and children wading in them with dirty diapers, they posted warning signs. People ignored them. Then David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corp., ordered new signs that warned, "DANGER! Water Contains High Levels of Hydrogen. KEEP OUT." Bacteria levels dropped to safe levels as people avoided the fountains. Karem told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he was counting on people not realizing that two-thirds of all water is hydrogen atoms and associating the warning with the hydrogen bomb. The paper accused Karem of treating "Louisvillians as fools."

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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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