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Curses, Foiled Again German authorities charged a 33-year-old factory worker with stealing more than 1 million screws from his employer. The man smuggled between 2000 and 7000 screws out of work each night for two years and then auctioned them on an Internet site, according to police in Wuerzburg, who said the worker became their suspect because he was selling the screws "for much less than they usually cost."?

* Oft-caught career criminal Clive Halford, 39, was nabbed for stealing $300,000 worth of nickel and copper. Prosecutor David Outterside told England's Derby Crown Court that police stopped Halford's getaway truck after noticing it was so overloaded that the suspension had collapsed and the vehicle was dragging on the ground.?

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How Government Works? Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) used congressional privilege to earmark more than $2 million in defense contracts for a company in his district whose top executives contributed to his campaign. The company, InSport International, delivered polyester T-shirts for Marines in Iraq to wear under body armor. The Marines rejected the shirts, however, explaining they couldn't be used in battle because they melt in intense heat, causing severe skin burns. In fact, the Marines had previously banned polyester T-shirts for use in combat, according to the Seattle Times, but three months later, because of Wu's earmark, purchased 87,000 polyester T-shirts, along with 11,000 T-shirts with fire-resistant sleeves. Wu denied any connection between the earmark and the political contributions and insisted he was "horrified" the Marines couldn't use the polyester T-shirts in battle because of the danger they pose.?

In October, Wu's office announced that the Marines agreed to pay $14 million for more InSport polyester T-shirts. These shirts will be worn by troops training outside combat zones.?

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Feeding Frenzy Police in Mesa, Ariz., reported that after a pickup truck swerved off the road and hit an elderly man waiting for a bus, the truck sped off, and witnesses began grabbing the victim's groceries. Boro Mitrovich told KPHO-TV that when he ran to help the victim, someone stole his bag of groceries as well. "One minute it was on the ground," he said, "the next minute it was gone."?

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Big Brother Is Being Watched Software developed for Wikipedia to trace changes to the popular Internet encyclopedia determined that people using CIA and FBI computers edited entries on the Iraq war and Guantanamo military prison. According to the British Broadcasting Corp., Wikipedia's tracing program also revealed that the Vatican modified information about Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and that a computer owned by the Democratic Party was used to make changes to the entry for talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, branding him "idiotic" and describing his audience as "legally retarded."?

Commercial organizations have been active as well, including Diebold, which supplies electronic voting machines. Someone using a Diebold computer removed paragraphs describing the alleged rigging of the 2000 election and revealing that CEO Walden O'Dell had been "a top fundraiser" for George Bush.?

Virgil Griffith of the California Institute of Technology, who developed the Wikipedia Scanner, said it can't identify individuals editing articles or verify whether the change was made by an agent of a particular agency or company. It does, however, detect whether the "edit came from someone with access to their network."??

Convenient to Shopping Michael Townsend, 36, the leader of an artists' cooperative in Providence, R.I., pleaded no contest to trespassing charges after authorities discovered a secret apartment he and seven other artists built at a shopping mall parking garage in 2003 and took turns living in it until September. Concealed behind a cinderblock wall and nondescript utility door, the 750-square-foot apartment was fully furnished, lacking only running water. Before mall security guards caught him, Townsend said he was planning to add laminated wood flooring and othe

r amenities to make the apartment "super sweet.?

Political Thinking People's political orientation is the result of how their brains are programmed to process information, according to scientists at New York University and UCLA who measured how conservatives and liberals reacted to cognitive conflict. The findings, reported in the British journal Nature Neuroscience, indicate that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives, whereas conservatives tend to block distracting information better. "The neural mechanisms for conflict-monitoring are formed early in childhood" and are probably rooted in part in our genetic heritage, said lead author David Amodio, an assistant psychology professor at NYU. He suggested these hard-wired differences explain why liberals and conservatives tend not to get along and may never be able to agree.?

ADA Follies Police in Fort Worth, Texas, said a store cashier who beat customer Cody Goodnight, 20, in the head with a crowbar because he thought Goodnight was being rude to him by ignoring his attempt to make friendly conversation didn't realize Goodnight is deaf. Police Lt. Dean Sullivan reported that after officers told cashier Ricky Bernard, 20, that Goodnight was deaf and unable to communicate verbally, Young responded, "Oh."?

* Tera Holst, a quadriplegic, and Miles Eckert, a paraplegic, were riding their electric wheelchairs along a steep trail in Paradise, Calif., when Eckert fell off the path marked with signs to "use at your own risk." He tumbled 25 to 30 feet down a slope. Several feet behind him, Holst apparently panicked and lost control of her wheelchair, falling 75 to 80 feet into bay trees and poison oak. Witness Robert Biggs told the Chico Enterprise Record that Holst seemed to be in good spirits, despite several likely fractures and a twisted arm, because being a quadriplegic prevented her feeling the pain from her injuries.?

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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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