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Curses, Foiled Again Authorities investigating the theft of an antique slot machine worth $4000 from a home in Sutherlin, Ore., identified the culprit as a 30-year-old man whose wife filed an insurance claim to cover damage to their van during the burglary. Douglas County sheriff's deputies said the machine tipped over as he drove away, breaking the van's window. He told his wife the van had been vandalized and asked her to report the damage so insurance would cover it. The wife, who was the victim's housekeeper, filed a police report claiming someone had thrown a piece of sheet metal through the window of the parked van. The sheet metal turned out to be the back of the stolen slot machine and bore the machine's serial number.

Here Comes the Judge Police arrested U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Somma, 63, for drunk driving after he rear-ended a pickup truck in Manchester, N.H. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that besides registering a blood-alcohol level of .12, the Boston-based judge was wearing a black cocktail dress, fishnet stockings and high heels. "He told police his wife was out of town," a city government official said, "so he decided to come up to Manchester where no one knew him."

Read the Fine Print Shark Shield, an electronic device designed to repel sharks from surfers, has been withheld from the market because it failed a test off South Africa when a great white shark ate it. Blaming the configuration of the electrode, Rod Hartley, director of Sea Change Technology, which manufactures the device, defended the product against claims that its electrical field actually attracts sharks, although he indicated it would bear a disclaimer that it repels sharks only when the surfer is still in the water waiting for a wave, "not when it's surfing in the wave or paddling."

Visual Aids The Hong Kong Social Welfare Department began issuing a sex-education kit to mentally disabled adults that comes with a pair of puppets to demonstrate masturbation. According to the China Daily, the aim is for social workers to show parents of the mentally disabled people, as well as the mentally disabled themselves, how to deal with their sexual needs. The agency chose puppets after psychologists said previous attempts at teaching the mentally disabled about masturbation had led to misunderstandings and had even proved dangerous.

Cyber Celibacy Thai officials urged Buddhist monks who have taken a vow of celibacy to avoid using an American social networking website after a Buddhist watchdog group-the Network of Civilians to Protect the Nation, the Religion and the King-reported some monks were using the site to flirt with women.

Economic Indicators One in four people who contacted a British debt helpline last year admitted that some of their financial problems were caused by spending money on sex. The UK Insolvency Helpline reported that 10,251 clients admitted paying to see pornography or visit a lap-dancing club or brothel. It said sex addiction could have a wide-ranging impact on people's finances, with some running up high levels of debt paying for prostitutes or lap dances, as well as by subscribing to pornographic Internet sites or charging calls to premium-rate telephone sex lines.

Bonus Babies Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov announced that women who give birth to eight or more children would receive a one-time bonus of $25, plus free utilities, public transportation and dental care for life.

Way to Go Michael Downing, 32, was cooking at his home in Anderson, S.C., when he burned himself. According to Chief Deputy Coroner Charlie Boseman, Downing jerked his hand back and accidentally stabbed himself with a steak knife he was holding in the hand. He managed to call 911 and describe the accident, but the knife had pierced his heart, and he died in the hospital emergency room.

* Seiji Handa, 50, a Buddhist monk from Japan, was mowing the grass around his peace pagoda in Milton Keynes, England, when he got off the tractor-lawnmower to inspect something. The handbrake released, and Handa was killed after he slipped and fell under the runaway machine's blades.

* San Diego police said that Sevan Kevorkian, 36, tried to kill himself by hanging from a closet rod, but his girlfriend found him and cut him down. After she revived him, Kevorkian started pulling her around the room by her hair. A passerby noticed the altercation and climbed through a window to stop the assault by putting Kevorkian in a carotid restraint, sometimes called a sleeper hold. Kevorkian lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital, where he died.

* Lionel Desjardins, 57, tried to retrieve some personal items that had been stolen from him and thrown down a storm sewer in Welland, Ontario, but he fell in head first and became wedged about 4 feet down the sewer. Rescuers needed a tow truck to pull him out, but by the time they did, he was dead.

Physical Evidence A Japanese appeals court overturned the conviction of model Serena Kozakura, 38, because her breasts are too big for her to have committed the crime. Kozakura was convicted of property destruction after a man said she kicked in the wooden door of his room and crawled inside, apparently because he was with another woman. Kozakura insisted the man made the hole himself. On appeal, the defense counsel held up a re-creation of the hole and said his client could not squeeze through with her 110-centimeter (44-inch) bust. The Tokyo High Court agreed. "I used to hate my body so much," Kozakura said after the verdict. "But it was my breasts" that won in court.

Show and Tell Police charged Natasha L. Sizow, 24, a high school teacher in Norfolk, Va., with using a cell phone to send students photos of herself in various stages of undress.

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Roland Sweet

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

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