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News Quirks (5/28/14) 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police charged Shanwaz Khan, 30, with being the brains behind a car-theft ring in Birmingham, England, after he attracted their attention by driving a $90,000 Audi with the personalized license plate "S2OLUN" (stolen). "This was a clear jibe at the authorities," Detective Constable Mo Azir said after investigators who noticed his car traced it to a group of high-end thefts and subsequently linked Khan to more than 80 car thefts and car jackings. "The joke is on him now, though, as he starts a long prison term." (Britain's Daily Mail)

Oh So D'oh!

Egypt's Al-Tahrir TV claimed to have proof that the United States conspired to cause the so-called Arab Spring revolutions: a 2001 episode of "The Simpsons." The news anchor introduced footage that "shows animated figures dancing, flying airplanes and dropping bombs on what must be Syria, because there are other animated figures below in Arab garb." She then claimed that a flag painted on the side of a jeep was the Syrian opposition flag, proving that the war in Syria is part of a global American conspiracy, because in 2001 "there was no such thing as the flag of the Syrian opposition." The anchor emphasized, "The flag was created before the events took place." (Israel's Arutz Sheva)

Silver Lining

Oil spills aren't all bad, according to a proposal by Kinder Morgan to triple the capacity of its pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. "Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions and cleanup-service providers," the energy company pointed out in its 15,000-page submission to Canada's National Energy Board. Kennedy Stewart, who represents Burnaby in Parliament, said proposing that a spill would actually benefit the local economy "takes the cake." (Vancouver Sun)

Problem Solved

Chinese authorities set up two giant water cannons to fight air pollution in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province. The long-range sprayers shoot a fine mist of tap water 2,000 feet into the air, where it will "stick to the dust and form larger particles and fall back down to the surface under gravity," according to Martyn Chipperfield, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Leeds. He explained that although the falling mixture would reduce pollution, it could also cover people with mud. (Britain's Daily Mail)

Spicy Lit

The Chipotle restaurant chain began featuring original stories by Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell and Jonathan Safran Foer on its bags and drink cups. Foer, the vegetarian author of Eating Animals, proposed the idea to Chipotle's CEO, Steve Ellis, who put him in charge of the project. "What interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing," Foer said, pointing out, "I wouldn't have done it if it was for another company, like a McDonald's." (Vanity Fair)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Ice cream truck driver April Johnson, 37, told police in Rock Hill, S.C., that a man assaulted her with a Fudgsicle ice cream bar, leaving a red mark on her arm. Johnson said the man accused her of giving his daughter the incorrect change. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Way Too Soon

Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather apologized for a print ad for an Indian mattress company showing a cartoon image of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old student activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her way to school in 2012. In the ad, Yousafzai is shot in the face and falls backward with blood dripping from her head before landing on one of Kurl-On's spring mattresses and bouncing back as an inspirational survivor. Patricio Vergara Calderón, head of strategic planning at the studio that created the ad, defended its message, explaining, "It's about triumphing over violence." (Yahoo! News)

Get Off My Lawn!

Grumpiness officially begins for men around age 70, according to researchers who published their findings in the journal Psychology and Aging. Participants in the 15-year study reported feeling good about life until they reached 70, when their attitude soured for a variety of reasons, including declining health and cognitive functions and the loss of loved ones. The study's lead author, Oregon State University gerontology professor Carolyn Aldwyn, noted grumpiness isn't all bad, citing a study showing grumpy men in nursing homes "actually lived a little longer." (NPR)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Bio:
Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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