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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again When a man demanded $5000 from a bank teller in Peterborough, Ontario, she informed him she could give him only $200 and that he'd have to pay a $5 transaction fee because he wasn't a regular customer. He then waited while the teller filled out the paperwork and handed him $195. He left the bank, but police officers identified him from surveillance video because he hadn't worn a disguise. When they arrived at the suspect's apartment, they overheard him asking his neighbors to tell police he'd been home all day. Police arrested Christopher Emmorey, 23, who pleaded guilty to what his own lawyer, Dave McFadden, termed a "comedy of errors" that was "doomed to fail at the outset."

Just Can't Get Enough An itinerant minister who served two years in prison on bigamy charges was jailed again in Gwinnett County, Ga., for trying to marry more women. At least four women claimed that Bishop Anthony Owens, 35, proposed to them. Officials said they had no proof that Owens divorced eight other wives.

Jurisdictional Follies Firefighters refused to save a mobile home that burned to the ground outside Gilbert, Ariz., because town policy prohibits the Rural/Metro Fire Department from fighting fires in unincorporated areas that voted against joining Gilbert in paying the private fire company. Rural/ Metro officials said they responded to the fire as a courtesy to make sure no life was at risk but added they would bill the family $10,000 for their services.

* Twenty-seven illegal immigrants spent a day floating in the Mediterranean Sea while the Maltese and Libyan governments argued over who should save them from drowning. The men, who had paid for passage from Libya to Europe in an open boat that foundered, clung to buoys connected to a passing Maltese tug bound for Spain. The tug's owners ordered the vessel not to take the men on board so as not to interrupt its voyage. Maltese authorities contacted the Libyan government about the situation, but diplomatic negotiations broke down. Finally, after 24 hours, an Italian patrol boat rescued the men.

Why Not? Works for Buses Britain's Ministry of Justice approved double-decker graves to ease overcrowding in cemeteries, which are forecast to reach capacity within decades. The policy lets cemetery managers dig up bodies and deepen their graves to make room for a second body on top. Local authorities will determine how to mark the headstones.

Lasting Impressions Police identified the driver in a hit-and-run accident in Annapolis, Md., because the suspect left behind the vehicle's license number on the parked car. "The car was so dirty that it left an imprint in the dirt," Officer Hal Dalton said.

Slightest Provocations A customer who became enraged because he thought his pizza delivery took too long attacked a pizzeria manager in San Jose, Calif., with a 2-foot-long machete. Police Sgt. Nick Muyo said the pizza apparently arrived within the promised 45 minutes, but the customer berated the delivery man anyway, then went to the pizza parlor and attacked the manager, who suffered cuts while shielding his head from the machete.

* A customer shot the manager of a Wendy's restaurant in Miami because he wanted 10 packets of chili sauce with his order, but the employee at the drive-through, citing store policy, would give him only three. After the man insisted, the employee gave him 10 packets, but police said the customer demanded even more. Store manager Renal Frage went outside to speak to the customer, who fired several shots, wounding Frage in the arm, then fled. Frage pointed out a security guard was on duty at the time but slept through the incident.

* Authorities accused Steven Bryant Simpson, 47, of killing Dana Martin, 39, in a shootout in Welch, W.Va., because he was annoyed by the noise of an all-terrain vehicle that Martin repeatedly drove past Simpson's house.

Inflated Support Soccer officials from Qatar tried to hire 10,000 Vietnamese people to cheer for their team during July's Asian Cup matches in Hanoi, according to the newspaper Thanh Nien, which reported that the delegates even placed orders to buy outfits for the supporters. Qatar's national team has few traveling supporters, the paper noted.

In order to make a "big noise" at the Third Vegetable Exposition in China's Anhui province, local officials ordered "all town and village work units" in He county to fill more than 30,000 seats at the opening ceremony "to show the spirit of He county's people," according to the county's official website. The People's Daily newspaper reported the website also declared, "All items on the program must be warmly welcomed and applauded."

Every Tom, Dick and Harry Muhammad is now the second-most popular name for baby boys in Great Britain, according to The Times of London, which based its report on birth names compiled last year by the Office for National Statistics. The favorite name (given to 6928 boys) is Jack, but the paper said Muhammad (5991) could pass it by the end of the year at its present rate.

Fat Farm Brazilian activists complained because hospitals in Rio de Janeiro are sending obese patients to the local racetrack to share medical equipment with horses. "When people weigh more than the standard equipment can support, they have to be directed to the Jockey Club, which is the only place in Rio where they have the appropriate equipment," an official for the Rio state health secretariat explained. Speaking for obese patients, Rosimere Lima da Silva, head of the Group for Salvaging Self-Esteem and Citizenship of the Obese, pointed out that "having to be treated where animals are is not helping their self-esteem."

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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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