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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

When a man walked into a bank in Watsonville, Calif., announced he had a bomb and demanded $2,000 to pay his friend’s rent, the manager advised him to apply for a loan instead. She asked him to sit and wait while she went to get the loan paperwork but called police, who arrested Mark Smith, 59. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Seattle police identified Larry Shawn Taylor, 18, as the man who robbed two women at gunpoint, after the victims described the robber as a short, black man with deformed ears who had “MOB” shaved into one side of his hair and “GET MONEY” on the other, and “GET” tattooed on his right hand and “MONEY” on his left. Detectives used their database to match the tattoos to Taylor, who was apprehended after an officer stopped a car for reckless driving and recognized him by his ears and tattoos. (KOMO News)


Russia’s finance minister announced his ministry was doubling the cigarette tax to boost the economy and encouraged citizens to do their patriotic duty by smoking more. “If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates,” Alexei Kudrin said. “Those who smoke are doing more to help the state.” (CBS News)

Romanian lawmakers seeking new sources of revenue proposed taxing witches. The measure, drafted by senators Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescue of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party, would require witches and fortunetellers to produce receipts and also hold them liable for wrong predictions. After the Senate voted down the proposal, Popoviciu claimed the senators were afraid of being cursed. (Associated Press)

Winners & Losers

As soon as competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, 26, won Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at New York’s Coney Island by downing 54 wieners in 10 minutes, six-time champion Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi, 32, tried to rush the stage. He had skipped the contest because he refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating so he could be free to compete in contests sanctioned by other groups, but his manager, Yuki Nagura, explained Kobayashi just wanted “to prove that he was the real champion.” He wrestled with police, who arrested him while the crowd shouted, “Let him eat! Let him eat!” After his release from jail the next day, Kobayashi said, “So now, I’m thinking about what I want to eat.” (Daily News)

Russia’s Vladimir Ladyzhensky died during the finals of the Sauna World Championships in Heinola, Finland, after spending six minutes in temperatures of 230 degrees F. Ladyzhensky was trying to outlast five-time sauna champ Timo Kaukonen of Finland when judges noticed Ladyzhensky had collapsed. They ordered both contestants pulled from the heat and suspended the event without naming a winner. (Reuters)

When Guns Are Outlawed

When a masked intruder entered a house in Spartanburg, S.C., carrying what looked like a gun, homeowner Phillip Graham, 71, ran him off with a Swiffer WetJet in one hand and a plugged-in Dustbuster in the other. Graham said he used the Swiffer on the suspect “like a cattle prod” and chased the suspect outside until the cord on the Dustbuster ran out. He called 911, but sheriff’s deputies couldn’t locate the suspect. (Spartanburg Herald-Journal)

Police said two armed men broke into a home in Chester, Pa., tied up one man and robbed another before the 43-year-old woman of the house chased them away with a broom. (Associated Press)

Territorial Imperative

Richard Junkins rolled up to a parking space in his Ford Mustang to find Ross Campbell standing in the spot holding his 3-year-old son and refusing to budge, according to police in Athens, Ga. “Junkins, after an exchange of words, continued pulling in the space” and hit the man and the child, causing both to land on Junkins’ hood, police official Hilda Sorrow said. Junkins was arrested, and Campbell declined to explain why he wouldn’t move from the parking spot. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

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


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