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Curses, Foiled Again Alaska State Troopers said Stacey J. Captain, 18, was driving a Dodge Dakota that burst into flames, but he was nowhere to be found when they responded. While a witness was giving her statement to troopers, she noticed someone, later identified as Captain, stealing her Chevy Blazer. The Daily News-Miner reported the troopers gave chase, but the driver abandoned it and fled on foot. Meanwhile, troopers who went to the address of the owner of the burning vehicle found Captain, the owner’s nephew. Vehicle theft was just one of several charges filed against him.

• Police responding to a bank robbery in Greensburg, Pa., arrested David Morgan, 35, several blocks away because (a) he matched the robber’s description and (b) they saw him counting the stolen money while walking down the street.

No Shortage of Shortages Cypriots seeking love potions are wearing away the tomb of Saint Agapitikos in the village of Arodes. People have been using dust from the grave in the church courtyard for centuries and are supposed to slip it into the drink of the person they’re trying to attract. Reuters reported that in recent years people have begun taking entire shards of stone, so that a quarter of the tomb has disappeared. “I don’t know what has come over people, but they are flocking to the tomb for the stuff,” Mayor Matthaios Stefanou said. “Just the other day, locals saw some people visiting the tomb, and they were there for a very long time. In the end, they walked off with a huge chunk of stone, maybe even half a kilo of it.”

• Cuba is running out of toilet paper and may not get new supplies until the end of the year. Cuba imports toilet paper and makes its own but doesn’t have enough raw materials on hand to make any, according to an official with the state conglomerate Cimex. The year-end shipment will enable the state-run company “to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,” the official said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

Hard Times Indeed For the first time since the decade began, Americans are having fewer babies — 68,000 fewer last year than in 2007, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The New York Times said some experts are blaming the declining birthrate on the economy. “It’s the recession,” sociologist Andrew Hacker of Queens College of the City University of New York told the newspaper. “Children are the most expensive item in every family’s budget, especially given all the gear kids expect today, so it’s a good place to cut back when you’re uncertain about the future.”

• Divorce filings nationally are down as much as 50 percent, again because of the economy, according to WTHR-TV News in Indianapolis. Family law expert Drew Soshnick called divorce a path to bankruptcy because splitting up also means dividing debts. He added that people whose retirement savings have dwindled since last year are rethinking whether divorce is affordable, and many couples are choosing to stay married.

Cash for Clunkers Follies Police who arrested Timothy Kissida, 23, for driving a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident in Phoenix, Ariz., said that after the collision, Kissida traded in his 1992 BMW 325i as part of the “Cash for Clunkers” program. Kissida insisted the damage to the vehicle occurred when he hit a wild pig, but ABC15.com reported detectives matched broken automotive pieces from the collision scene to the damaged area of the BMW.

Now Hear This Japanese police arrested a 41-year-old man they said stabbed a 21-year-old woman who worked at an ear-cleaning salon in Tokyo after he had been banned from the salon. The attack occurred at the woman’s home, where her grandmother was fatally stabbed when she answered the front door. The Yomiuri newspaper reported the suspect told police he had been having trouble with the salon worker and prepared knives to kill her. Ear-cleaning salons are common throughout Japan.

Subpar for the Course An Irish bookmaker was so sure that golfer Tiger Woods would win the U.S. PGA championship that it paid out $2 million to nearly 5000 customers before Woods teed off for his third round while leading by four strokes. The golfing legend lost to South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun in what some called one of the biggest upsets in golfing history. “It takes a special kind of dimwit to turn what should have been our best ever golf result into our worst,” a representative of bookmaker Paddy Power told Agence France-Presse.

Odd Endings An Alberta woman attempting to exit a parking garage in downtown Calgary died after she became “entangled between her car door and the body of the car,” fire department official Jeff Budai told the Calgary Sun. He explained the woman apparently leaned her torso out of the open driver’s door to reach the ticket dispenser when the vehicle unexpectedly moved forward. The vehicle then crashed into a post next to the ticket machine intended to prevent people from running into the ticket booth, and the door closed on her, crushing her torso. Budai called the accident “freaky.”

• At least five people died to boost the ratings of the Brazilian television show “Canal Livre,” according to police, who are investigating the show’s host, state legislator Wallace Souza. The Associated Press reported that authorities suspect Souza ordered the murders to prove his claim that Brazil’s Amazon region is rife with violent crime. “The order to execute always came from the legislator and his son, who then alerted the TV crews to get to the scene before the police,” state police intelligence chief Thomaz Vasconcelos charged, adding that the killings “appear to have been committed to get rid of his rivals and increase the audience of the TV show.”

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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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