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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police had no trouble catching Chester Michael Schaffer, 30, who they suspected of robbing a convenience store in Hampton, Va. “He was located immediately,” police Cpl. Mary E. Shackelford said, trying to make his getaway on a moped. (Norfolk’s WVEC-TV)

Ambush of the Week

Part of a cell tower disguised as a palm tree broke off and crashed through the windshield of a car in El Paso, Texas. Driver Sergio Gonzales said the steel branch, made to look like a palm frond, impaled the vehicle and cut his face near his right eye. Blaming the accident on high winds, tower owner T-Mobile denied responsibility, pointing out the branch “broke in the middle of the frond, not at the point of attachment to the primary structure,” making it an issue with building techniques. (El Paso’s KVIA-TV)

Night of the Living Undead

Badgers have been desecrating human remains in the English town of Swindon by burrowing under graves and bringing bones to the surface. The Swindon Borough Council explained it is powerless to stop the badgers because of the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act. “Licenses to move badgers,” a council official pointed out, “are only granted in exceptional circumstances.” Following the council’s decision, Frances Bevan, a member of the Friends of the Radnor Street Cemetery, warned, “The badgers are left to breed.” (BBC News)

Bad Decisions

After a homeless man killed a venomous snake, believed to have been a cottonmouth, in Mobile, Ala., he cut off the head. His 41-year-old friend picked it up and stuck his finger in the snake’s mouth. The mouth bit down on his finger. When the victim began showing signs of poisoning, paramedics were called. He was treated with antivenom and released. (Mobile’s WALA-TV)

British authorities reported that a 34-year-old Lithuanian man suspected of stealing fuel in Wiltshire abandoned his van when police spotted him and took off running. He tried to escape detection by a police helicopter with onboard thermal imaging by hiding in a manure pile at a farm. Officers on the ground noticed him “face-down in the dung” and arrested him. (BBC News)

Modus Operandi

Police arrested a 16-year-old boy who took his mother’s car without permission, drove to a nearby bank, pulled up to the drive-through window and “sent a note through the drive-through canister telling the teller to send him money,” police Sgt. Craig Martinez said, noting the boy implied “he had a weapon.” The teller complied, and the boy drove away. Twenty minutes later, he robbed a credit union, again from the drive-through window. Police located the getaway car, which the boy had abandoned in a residential neighborhood, but an officer found him walking nearby, arrested him and recovered an undisclosed amount of cash. “I’ve never seen or heard about a robbery at a drive-up window,” Martinez said, “much less two in the same day.” (Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV)

Side-Effect Issues

Illinois prison inmates have sued the state, claiming too much soy in their diets is causing severe health problems, including heart issues and thyroid damage. The conditions began, according to the suit filed on behalf of several inmates by the Weston A. Price Foundation, after then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich took office. Corrections officials cut spending on meals by increasing the use of soy to four times the amount recommended for a healthy diet. Besides substituting soy for “very nutrient-dense” organ meat in burgers, prisons “started using soy cheese on macaroni and cheese, soy nuggets in spaghetti sauce, soy flour added to all baked goods,” foundation president Sally Fallon Morell said. “The first thing that shows up is digestive disorders. Soy is extremely hard to digest, so you get vomiting, chronic constipation and horrible gas. You can imagine the effects in close quarters after eating this.” (Washington Times)

There Oughta Be a Law

State senators in Arizona introduced legislation, SB 1467, that would require all educational institutions in the state, including state universities, to suspend or fire any instructor who “engages in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio.” (Huffington Post)

Petty Crimes of the Week

Two officers who searched Asheton Killiant Biggerstaff, 24, when he returned to the Gaston, S.C., jail from work release found two bags of wintergreen smokeless tobacco hidden between his butt cheeks. (Gaston Gazette)

Authorities reported that a man tried to buy gas at a station in Salisbury, N.C., by giving the clerk counterfeit $1 bills. When the clerk recognized the bills were bogus, the man left them on the counter and drove away. (Salisbury Post)

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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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