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News Quirks 12.07.05 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Bensalem, Pa., accused Michael Drennon, 26, of robbing a Wachovia Bank branch of $2500 by handing the teller a note, which turned out to be a pay stub with Drennon's name and address. The suspect did think to use a marker to cross out the information, but investigators easily identified him. "It wasn't a huge forensic undertaking," Bensalem public safety director Steven Moran said. "We just put it under a light."

Curses, Foiled Again and Again

Milwaukee police reported that a 29-year-old man pulled a gun and demanded cash from a man, when a pickup truck, apparently the robber's getaway ride, backed into both the suspect and the victim. When the robber tried to limp away, a woman driving a Lexus rammed him, then backed up and hit him twice more. The suspect tried to pull his gun but shot himself in the leg. The woman in the Lexus ran into him again. She drove off as police arrived to arrest the robber, who was hospitalized in critical condition.

Minor Offenses

When Florida investigators asked Mark Guerra, 33, what he did to earn $1247 during his four-week stint as a library worker at the Apalachee Correctional Institution, Guerra told them he was hired to play softball. The former minor-league baseball player, who also played for a professional team in Venezuela for five years, helped the team win the 24th annual Florida Department of Correction Secretary's Tournament. Authorities charged him with grand theft.

- After telling people for nearly 40 years that he is a former minor-league pitcher, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson admitted that the Kansas City Athletics did not draft him in 1966 as he had claimed. Richardson explained that his name appeared on "a draft list of some kind" created by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he named team scouts, all now dead, who told him that he "would or could" be drafted. After seeing "Drafted by K.C." next to his name in a program in 1967 while playing in a Massachusetts amateur league, Richardson said, "I was convinced I was drafted." Arm trouble ended any possible pro career. "After researching the matter," the governor said after the Albuquerque Journal reported finding no record of his being drafted, "I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's."

Miss, Miss, Hit a Miss

A court in Brisbane, Australia, heard that Rudolf Stadler, 51, of Mooloolabaa, tried to shoot a cow for a friend but missed twice. The second bullet hit and injured Carrie Tunning, who was driving along a road next to the friend's farm.

Dr. DJ

More hospital operating rooms play music, and the person usually charged with choosing the tunes is the anesthesiologist. Dr. Doug Reinhart, an anesthesiologist in Ogden, Utah, surveyed 301 members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, who mentioned providing operating-room music as one of their non-medical tasks. Tastes range from rap to oldies to opera. The right mix makes surgeons work more efficiently, according to Dr. Frank Gentile of Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., explaining that when surgeons work faster, "the flow of the operating room is happier."

Chicken-Little Syndrome

Hong Kong authorities arrested a 42-year-old man for throwing parts of his bed from the window of his 15th-floor apartment. The falling planks hit no one, according to the South China Morning Post, which noted that public housing tenants who throw objects from high-floor windows receive demerit points.

Letter of the Law

A Turkish court fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards at a Kurdish new year celebration. The 1928 Law on the Adoption and Application of Turkish Letters changed the Turkish writing from Arabic to modified Roman characters. It also required all signs, advertising, newspapers and official documents to use only Turkish letters. Although the European Union pressured Turkey into lifting the ban on non-Turkish characters in 2002, bureaucrats have resisted the reforms. The court in Siirt fined the violators $75.53 each.

Homeland Insecurity

Trained wasps could replace sniffer dogs to detect hidden explosives, illegal drugs, cancer, plant diseases and buried bodies, according to researchers at the University of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The wasps are contained in a cup-sized device, called a "Wasp Hound," that sounds an alarm or triggers a flashing light when the insects find a target odor. It contains a tiny camera linked to a computer to record where the wasps go. Pointing out that wasps cost less and detect odors better than dogs and can be trained in as little as five minutes, study co-leader Glen C. Rains, a biological engineer at the University of Georgia, said that the device, now in prototype stage, "could be ready for commercialization in five to 10 years."

Second-Amendment Follies

Hunting season kicked off in Caldwell Parish, La., with a "Shot in the Dark" hunt, whose disabled participants included six blind hunters. The six, all from the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, practiced for the hunt at a public shooting range. As each hunter held the gun, a guide looking over his shoulder down the barrel told the hunter where to adjust his aim and when to pull the trigger. One of the six, Jumar Johnson, 29, declared, "I'm looking forward to taking home the biggest deer out there."

- Witnesses told investigators in St. Louis County, Minn., that Allen Lee Cooke, 35, shot himself in the chest while showing a .22-caliber revolver to a friend. Cooke was twirling the gun on his finger when the weapon discharged.

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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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