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News Quirks 11.01.06 

Curses, Foiled Again British police arrested three men who robbed an armored car in Liverpool after a group of schoolchildren helped identify them by memorizing the getaway car's license plates. A passerby who spotted the car feared she would forget the number, so she told it to a group of 9- and 10-year-olds in a schoolyard. An official of Merseyside Police said the children turned the number into a chant to help them remember it while one of them ran into the school for a pen to write it down.

Picture This The police chief, the mayor and a city councilor in Snyder, Okla., resigned after the chief's 300-pound, tattooed wife posted nude photos of herself on a website. Some of the pictures showed her with an American flag draped off her shoulder. Dozens of residents of the town of 1500 had demanded Police Chief Tod Ozmun's resignation, and the district attorney recommended an obscenity investigation, but the City Council decided that the pictures were protected by the First Amendment. Ozmun, Mayor Dale Moore and Councilman Clifford Barnard quit because they were fed up with the public attention and criticism of the chief.

The police chief defended his 43-year-old wife, Doris, saying, "People in this country do what she does on a daily basis." He added that he had long discussions with her about the photos but noted, "My wife is 6-foot-3 and weighs 300 pounds. If there is somebody that thinks they can control her, have at it. I have tried for 11 years and haven't been able to."

Drinking-Class Hero A police officer reported observing a white Pontiac Grand Prix stopped in the left-hand turn lane at an intersection in Newton, Mass., shortly before 2 a.m., even though the light changed several times. He found the driver asleep at the wheel with the motor running, the vehicle in drive and his foot on the brake. The officer yelled and banged on the window and the roof until the driver woke up, but he immediately drove off, going through a red light. Officers followed the vehicle and saw it hit a telephone pole, then back up twice and hit the same pole again before driving onto the front lawn of a residence. Officers charged driver Christopher M. Bordne, 17, with, among other crimes, driving under the influence.

The Wife Wants a Bigger One Chinese surgeons declared they have performed the world's first penis transplant. Reporting in the peer-reviewed journal European Urology, the doctors said an accident left the man with a 1-centimeter-long stump with which he was unable to urinate or have sex. "His quality of life was affected severely," said Dr. Weilie Hu, a surgeon at Guangzhou General Hospital, indicating that the wife favored the surgery as much as her husband did. Doctors spent 15 hours attaching a 10-centimeter (4-inch) penis to the 44-year-old patient after the parents of a brain-dead man half his age agreed to donate their son's organ. Ten days after the procedure, tests revealed the organ had a rich blood supply, and the man was able to urinate normally. The surgical team proclaimed the operation a success.

Two weeks later, however, surgeons had to remove the transplanted penis "because of a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife," Hu said, even though an examination of the organ showed no signs of its being rejected by the body. "The patient finally decided to give up the treatment because of the wife's psychological rejection, as well as the swollen shape of the transplanted penis."

Felonious Boredom Federal firefighter Levi Miller, 22, of Salmon, Idaho, admitted using cigars and baskets of smoldering charcoal briquettes to set two forest fires in a national forest near the Idaho-Montana border. Miller, who was paid hourly by the Bureau of Land Management, explained that he started the fires because he was bored and wanted to make money.

Holy Toes A man who kissed a woman's feet at a Wal-Mart store in Perry, Ga., explained that he was simply performing a religious ritual. Police Capt. Heath Dykes reported that an 80-year-old female shopper stumbled into the man, who was sitting in the floor of a store aisle. After the woman apologized for stepping on the man's fingers, the man said he was participating in a religious ritual and asked her to stand on his hands and spit. The man also began to lick the woman's feet but fled when a security guard confronted him. "It's crazy," Dykes said, "really bizarre."

How Things Work Mike Harris, chief executive of Australian Capital Territory's public service, issued a confidential memo warning government employees against leaking information to the media and threatening violators with jail. The memo was leaked to the media. The Sydney Morning Herald reported it denounced recent leaks at the agency as "unprofessional" and "inappropriate."

Closet Lover Police investigating the death of Jeffrey Freeman, 44, at his home in Nashville, Tenn., said that his widow, Martha Freeman, 41, claimed the killer was her lover, an illegal Mexican immigrant named Rahael Rocha-Perez, 36, who was living in her closet when Jeffrey Freeman discovered him. Metro Nashville Police Department detectives said that the closet, which Martha Freeman indicated her lover lived in for about a month before her husband's death, was a 2-by-8-foot storage space containing a foam pad, pillows, blankets, three loaves of bread, a Nintendo GameBoy, a radio and several adult magazines. Investigators also found an "overnight bag" containing lingerie and pictures of Martha Freeman in various stages of undress. Martha Freeman told authorities that she carried on her affair with Perez with the help of an English-Spanish translator.

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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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