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Curses, Foiled Again New Zealand police charged Michael Geoffrey Linn, 36, with robbing a bank in Cromwell after he drove to a lake and used gasoline and some papers from his car to start a fire to burn the clothes he wore during the hold-up. Nearby construction workers spotted the fire and used shovels to save the clothes and some of the papers, which had Linn's name and address on them. When police arrested Linn, he insisted he had given the cash to an associate, but officers became suspicious when they heard a rustling noise coming from his bottom. A search discovered a roll of cash protruding from Linn's rectum that matched the amount taken from the bank.

* A grand jury in Las Cruces, N.M., indicted Adolfo Martinez, 33, and Mark Anderson, 26, for using forged checks to buy pizzas from Domino's. According to a criminal complaint, one of the men then put on a Pizza Hut uniform and tried to sell the pizzas, which were still in Domino's boxes.

Problem Solved An Ontario teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade in only three months. Daniel Burd, 16, a student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa by identifying two microorganisms, Sphingomonas and Pseudomonas, that work together to break down polyethylene plastic bags. Industrial application should be easy, Burd said, explaining all that's needed "is a fermenter, your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags."

* Scientists in Germany are pursuing environmentally friendly explosives for military and industrial uses. LiveScience reported that tiny bombs have been made from a class of materials called tetrazoles, which derive most of their explosive energy from nitrogen instead of carbon, as TNT and others do. Besides producing fewer toxic byproducts than common explosives, these compounds are more powerful and, according to University of Munich chemist Thomas Klapötke have great potential, "especially for large-caliber naval and tank guns."

When Guns Are Outlawed An 84-year-old man in Galesburg, Ill., told police that another man repeatedly struck him on the back with a yellow shopping bag, which contained a $1 box of Moon Pies. Police arrested Michael Farquer, 53, and took the battered box as evidence.

Aerial Adventures None of the 14 passengers aboard a plane that crash-landed in Greensburg, Ind., was hurt because they were all skydivers and jumped when the pilot of the disabled aircraft leveled off at 5000 feet before returning to Greensburg airport. The plane flipped over on landing.

* Sloan Carafello, 29, was killed after jumping from a skydiving plane without a parachute over Duanesburg, N.Y. Pilot Bob Rawlins said Carafello was along as an observer to take pictures, but after an instructor, student and videographer jumped, all wearing parachutes, Carafello followed before Rawlins could stop him. Rawlins noted Carafello listed "General Schwarzenegger" as his emergency contact on the paperwork he filled out before boarding the plane.

Vanity of Vanities Al-Qaeda kingpin Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 43, complained that a courtroom sketch artist at his arraignment for masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States made his nose look too big. "I agree totally," artist Janet Hamlin told reporters covering the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where Mohammed also announced his desire for martyrdom.

The Missing Link The founder of the Icelandic Phallological Museum announced that four men have volunteered to fill the most notable gap in his collection. The museum in Husavik has 261 preserved penises from 90 species, ranging from a sperm whale's (5.58 feet long) to a hamster's (2 millimeters, needing a magnifying glass to view), but no human one. Sigurdur Hjartarson said an American, an Icelander, a German and a Briton have promised to donate their organs when they die, although the Icelander is having second thoughts.

Hjartarson told Reuters news agency the 93-year-old Icelandic donor, from nearby Akureyri, who was a womanizer in his youth and thought having his penis in the collection would bring him lasting fame, "has mentioned lately that his penis is shrinking as he gets older, and he is worried it might not make a proper exhibit."

The 52-year-old American supplied a written description of his penis, which he nicknamed "Elmo," for display alongside a life-size plastic stand-in for the real thing.

Second-Amendment Follies Pennsylvania state police reported that David W. Walls, 57, shot himself in the hand with a .22-caliber revolver loaded with buckshot while trying to shoot bees in Frankstown Township.

* A 21-year-old man was showing his girlfriend how to handle a pistol in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Alexandria, La., when he shot himself in the leg. The man, who repeatedly told investigators he was a military veteran who knows how to handle a gun, explained he forgot he had just reloaded the gun when he squeezed the trigger while putting it into the driver's door panel.

Trade Bait The Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League traded right-handed pitcher John Odom, 26, to the Laredo (Texas) Broncos of the United League for 10 maple bats, valued at $69 each. Odom said he was supposed to be traded for Laredo's best hitter, but that deal fell through when the player balked at moving to Calgary. "They just wanted some bats, good bats," Broncos general manager Jose Melendez said. The Vipers intended to auction the bats to raise funds for their Snakes and Batters charity fund, but Ripley Entertainment bought them for $10,000 to use in a "Believe It or Not" exhibit.

No strangers to strange trades, the Vipers tried to acquire a pitcher for 1500 blue seats in 2004 while refurbishing their home field, Foothills Stadium.

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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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