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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

A New Jersey grand jury indicted Ishak Boutros, 31, for trying to cash a forged scratch-off lottery ticket. Prosecutors said Boutros tried numerous times to scan the bogus ticket at the gas station where he worked and at a nearby deli. When those attempts failed, he filed a claim with the New Jersey Lottery Commission, prompting the investigation that led to his arrest.

* Responding to a call about a woman trying to pass a forged check at a business in Phoenix, Ariz., police spotted the suspected getaway car and gave chase. The Arizona Republic reported the car raced through red lights and off-road before it broke down. The two occupants fled into the desert, where they became entangled in cholla cactus and were caught. "I am so stupid," Christopher Psomas, 38, said through tears as hospital workers plucked cactus spines from him and Ashlet Strahan, 20.

* A British court sentenced cousins George Thomson, 25, and Roche Thomson, 20, to a total of seven and a half years in prison for ambushing a Royal Mail cash delivery at a post office in Tranent. George Thomson's father owns the store where the post office is located, and his mother is the postmistress. A long-time resident of the town observed the pair pulling on balaclava masks before the robbery and recognized George Thomson. "To rob one's relative's post office in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses in a small town like Tranent, where everyone knew or recognized him almost beggars belief," prosecutor Simon Collins told the Edinburgh Evening News.

Emissions Follies

A flatulence tax has been imposed on Estonian farmers, according to the country's opposition party. "For Copa-Cogeca, an organization that united farmers of the European Union, the information received from Estonian farmers came as a huge surprise," People's Union of Estonia official Jaanus Marrandi told RIA Novosti, "and they could not recall a similar precedent in any EU country."

* French doctor Frederic Saldmann has urged French people to reduce the risk of cancer by freely farting, burping and sweating. In his book Le Grand Menage (Spring Cleaning), Saldmann points out that eliminating the 2 liters of gas produced by the average French person "is a natural process" and that retaining it can harm the intestines. He also recommends cutting down on chewing gum, never eating while walking, reducing the intake of carbonated beverages and avoiding anti-perspirants. "To block sweat not only stops the elimination of toxins," the book says, "but also a certain number of messages that are potentially very attractive to the opposite sex."

Mensa Reject of the Week

Lori Baxter, 43, was hospitalized with head injuries after she stepped from a moving car in Smolan, Kan. KSAL News reported that the car was going about 10 mph when Baxter, who was a passenger, tried to prove to her 16-year-old daughter, who was driving, and a 21-year-old daughter also in the car that it was not moving too fast for her to exit.

Junior Psychos

The use of anti-psychotic medication by children is on the rise in both the United States and the United Kingdom, according to a new U.K. study that notes American children are taking the drugs at about six times the rate of British children. Side effects reported by drug users include weight gain, nervous-system problem and heart trouble, and the study indicates there is little long-term evidence the drugs are safe for children. One reason for the higher U.S. rate, according to a separate report in the Lancet medical journal, is that direct-to-consumer ads are more common in the United States and raise consumer awareness and demand for medication.

Piddling Suits

New York City resident Gokhan Mutlu said he is suing JetBlue Airways Corp. for more than $2 million because a pilot made him give up his seat to a flight attendant and sit on the toilet for more than three hours on a flight from California. When Mutlu expressed reluctance to sit in the bathroom, the pilot, according to court papers, told him "he was the pilot, that this was his plane, under his command that (Mutlu) should be grateful for being on board." What's more, when the aircraft hit turbulence and passengers were directed to return to their seats, "the plaintiff had no seat to return to, sitting on a toilet stool with no seat belts." Some time later, the lawsuit says, a male flight attendant knocked on the restroom door and told Mutlu he could return to his original seat.

* After four years of testing by the Vermont Air National Guard and the Air Force, and about $5 million in government and private funds, the Defense Department has adopted a bladder relief device aimed at making flying safer and pilots more comfortable. The Advanced Mission Extender Device, developed by Omni Medical Solutions, replaces heavy-duty bags containing absorbent sponges - so-called piddle packs - which are difficult to use and have been blamed for at least two crashes over the years, according to CNN News. The new device, known in military jargon as the AMXD, uses a hose that leads to a strategically placed cup for a man and a pad for a woman. When the time comes to go, an instructional video says, a control unit "will pump the urine from the cup to the collection bag, where it will be chemically gelled." Mark Harvie, president of Omni Medical Solutions, said reports from users have been positive, including one woman who "had the device taken away after testing and was quite unhappy about having to return to the old method."

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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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