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Curses, Foiled Again

When Caleb Smith, 19, approached the pharmacy counter at a drugstore, showed a gun and demanded narcotics, police in Pensacola, Fla., said pharmacist Steven Rodick handed a paper bag containing the drugs to Smith, who set the gun on the counter so he could open the bag to check its contents. Rodick immediately picked up the gun, which turned out to be a starter pistol. Smith fled, but a store employee tripped him and helped Rodick detain him until police arrived. (Northwest Florida Daily News)

A drunken, heavyset woman wearing an oversized floral shirt and shorts approached the counter at a Taco John restaurant in La Crosse, Wis., and demanded a soft-shell taco and cash. The woman tried to back up her demand by pulling a hammer from her pocket, but the weapon snagged on her shorts. While she was tugging on the handle, the cashier pressed the restaurant’s panic button and called 911. The suspect fled without any money, but police arrived in time to chase down Julie Bailey, 38, who was still holding the wooden hammer. (La Crosse Tribune)

Homeland Insecurity

Security screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport alerted Dutch authorities after they found a cellphone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cellphones taped together and a number of watches taped together in the checked baggage of two men traveling to Amsterdam. The men were taken into custody and charged with “preparation of a terrorist attack,” even though the items weren’t prohibited and posed no threat to passengers, according to a U.S. law-enforcement official, who admitted, “We don’t know yet if these two end up being bad guys or are just really strange people.” (The Washington Post)

Wrinkle-Free Crime

A woman who received a Botox treatment and cheek and lip fillers at a cosmetic dermatology center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., skipped out on the $3300 tab, police reported. Dr. Shino bay Aguilera, a dermatologist and former model, said the walk-in customer received 50 painful needle pricks without requesting a topical anesthesia and refused to have her pretreatment photo taken, although a surveillance camera at the center caught her on tape. After two and a half hours of treatments, the woman told the staff at the Shino Bay Cosmetic Dermatology & Laser Institute she needed to get cash from an ATM to pay her bill and left behind a purse, but she never came back. “This is happening all throughout the U.S.,” bay Aguilera declared, attributing the trend to the struggling economy and pressures on people who think that looking younger will help them get or keep jobs or spouses. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Incendiary Devices

Insurance investigators blamed dead houseplants for a fire that caused $20,000 in damages to a home in Paragould, Ark. “The fire was caused by self-heating through decomposition of organic materials contained within a plastic flowerpot,” said a letter from State Farm Insurance Co. to homeowner Brian Duncan, 51. (Associated Press)

Fire officials concluded that a 12-acre blaze in Southern California requiring 150 firefighters to extinguish was caused by a golfer trying to hit out of the rough. After his ball landed off the fairway at the Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine, the golfer, whose name was withheld, struck a rock with his club, causing a spark that ignited the rough. The fire burned through the rough, into vegetation next to the course and over two dry, brushy hillsides. (Associated Press)

All Figured Out

Scottish scientists announced they’ve figured out how to power motor vehicles by using waste produced from distilling Scotch whisky. The researchers at Edinburgh Napier University said the biofuel can be used in ordinary cars without adapting the engines and, because it is made from by-products, it doesn’t require a crop to be grown. (Associated Press)

British art student James Gilpin has figured out how to make whisky from his diabetic grandmother’s urine. He said he got the idea after reading that diabetes sufferers have lots of sugar in their urine. Explaining that he boils the urine, cleans the sugar crystals that are left and adds them to grain, malt and water, Gilpin insisted, “The urine produces a very nice drink.” (Scotland’s STV)

Researchers in Scotland say they’ve figured out how to power motor vehicles using the world’s first urine-powered fuel cells. Whereas fuel cells usually use flammable hydrogen gas or toxic methanol to generate electricity, the prototype developed by Shanwen Tao and Rong Lan of Heriot-Watt University’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Edinburgh relies on urea, an organic chemical produced as waste when the body metabolizes protein. The university said Tao got the idea to use urea because he’d seen it used as fertilizer while growing up in China. (South Asia’s ANI news service)

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Roland Sweet

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

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