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News Quirks (3/25/15) 

Curses, Foiled Again

David Fanuelsen, 39, and Dean Brown, 22, stole construction equipment worth $8,000 from their employer, according to police in Key West, Fla. The boss, Stace Valenzuela, identified the workers as the thieves because he had overheard them planning the theft after Fanuelsen unintentionally butt-dialed him. "Talk about bumbling idiots," Valenzuela said. (Reuters)

Bowling for Hollers

Two people in east Ukraine were injured while bowling after a player rolled a grenade instead of a ball. The blast occurred at a restaurant that also offers duckpin bowling, which uses a small ball without holes. Emergency services official Sergei Ivanushkin cited the incident as the latest in a rash of accidents in the rebel-controlled area caused by careless use of explosives. (Associated Press)

Smartphones, Dumb People

Ontario researchers announced they've found a link between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence. The reason, their survey suggests, is that the devices encourage lazy thinking by allowing users to solve problems with computers rather than exercise their brains. "Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving, and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind," said study coauthor Nathaniel Barr of the University of Waterloo. (United Press International)

Sheena Keynna Miller, 27, was injured after she walked in front of a freight train while texting on her cellphone. Miller told police in Lakeland, Fla., that she didn't hear the train horn or see the crossing arms down when she stepped onto the tracks. Police Sgt. Gary Gross said the locomotive tossed Miller into the air, fracturing her arm. (Orlando Sentinel)

Irony of the Week

A fire extinguisher factory in Chicago burned down, even after 156 firefighters with 26 pieces of equipment responded to the three-alarm blaze, because they had nothing to put it out with. Noting that firefighters couldn't reach the flames with water, First Deputy Fire Commissioner Charles Stewart III explained that firefighters finally "had one engine feed another engine to another engine until we got water on the fire." (United Press International)

Degrees of Guilt

Police who spotted a pickup truck matching the description of a stolen vehicle in Destin, Fla., reported that the only occupant, Debra Jean Mason, 58, denied stealing the vehicle. She did admit knowing it was stolen but said, "I didn't think it was that stolen." (Northwest Florida Daily News)

When a woman pointed a gun at a bartender in La Crosse, Wis., and demanded money, customer Jeff Steele stopped her with his Taser. The suspect, Heidi Thompson, 24, ran away but was quickly arrested. Police also charged Steele because he didn't have a concealed carry permit for the Taser. "When I bought it off the internet, it said basically that it's legal to have in the state of Wisconsin but didn't go into any depth on it," Steele explained, "so I assumed it was legal to carry around; otherwise why would you buy one to leave it at home?" (La Crosse's WKBT-TV)


Facebook announced that U.S. users can designate a "legacy contact," who is authorized to continue posting on their page after they die, respond to new friend requests, and update their profile picture and cover photo. Users can also ask to have their accounts deleted after their death, a previously unavailable option. (Associated Press)

Injudicious Behavior

When reporters spotted Flavio Roberto de Souza, the judge presiding over criminal proceedings against Eike Batista, once Brazil's richest man, driving Batista's confiscated Porsche, Souza insisted, "I did not take it to use, just to look after." He explained the police didn't have a safe place to protect it from exposure to sun, rain and possible damage, so he took it to a covered parking space in the building where he lives in Rio de Janeiro. "I want the car to be preserved in good condition," he said. (Reuters)

Thank You for Your Service

Canada's House of Commons approved a policy change allowing military veterans who've lost limbs to verify their condition every three years, rather than annually. (Canadian Press)

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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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