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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

After responding to a call that two men were carrying items from a house before dawn, sheriff’s deputies in Manatee County, Fla., spotted the men driving by the crime scene. They had returned, the sheriff’s report noted, because “they were lost in the neighborhood and trying to find their way out.” Deputies who stopped the car noticed the stolen items and arrested Darien A. Caruso, 19, and James Hardy, 19. (Bradenton Herald)

Slightest Provocation

Sheriff’s deputies in Sumter County, S.C. charged John Scott, 32, with stabbing a 23-year-old man while they were watching football and argued over how long Scott’s girlfriend had been in the shower. (Sumter’s The Item)

Police charged Mahmoud Yousef Hindi, 55, with killing one man and critically wounding another when he opened fire at a homeowners association meeting in Louisville, Ky., during a dispute about the height and direction of a fence around his house, as well as a recently constructed driveway. (Associated Press)

Eric Brian Pauly, 50, pleaded guilty to shooting his girlfriend to death at their mobile home in Winfield, W.Va., because she woke him up “in the middle of the night.” (The Charleston Gazette)

Police in Winter Park, Fla., charged restaurant owner Quoc Trong Tran with shooting at a car occupied by two customers who complained about their meals. (Orlando’s WKMG-TV)

Inventive Minds

Computer engineer Anirudh Sharma, 24, has invented a device to guide blind people to their destination. Dubbed “Le Chal” (“take me along” in Hindi), it links a smartphone app with a small actuator sewn inside the sole of a shoe via Bluetooth. The user tells the phone the desired destination, and voice-recognition software translates the request into electronic commands. The phone’s GPS directs the actuator when to turn, causing the shoe to vibrate on the side of the direction of the turn. The shoe also alerts the wearer of any obstacles in the path and guides the wearer around them. (The Economist)


While burglarizing a home in Greenbrae, Calif., Samuel Cutrufelli, 31, shot the homeowner, 90-year-old Jay Leone, in the face, according to authorities, who said Leone returned fire, hitting Cutrufelli several times. Both men were hospitalized for an extended period. During Cutrufelli’s trial for attempted murder, his father and his defense attorney filed a lawsuit on Cutrufelli’s behalf, claiming Leone “negligently shot” Cutrufelli, causing him “great bodily injury, and other financial damage, including loss of Mr. Cutrufelli’s home, and also the dissolution of Mr. Cutrufelli’s marriage.” (Marin Independent Journal)

Bullish on Safety

When Virgin America submitted a pre-takeoff safety video to the Federal Aviation Administration for review, the video showed a dog fumbling with its seat belt, with the voice-over, “For the 0.0001 percent of you who’ve never operated a seat belt before, it works like this.” Expressing concern that passengers would think dogs on flights had to wear seat belts, the FAA made the airline change the dog to a bull because bulls aren’t allowed on planes, whereas dogs sometimes are. (The New York Times)

Homeland Insecurity

Aviation blogger John Butler alerted travelers to security flaws in airline boarding passes that could allow terrorists or smugglers to discover in advance which security measures they will be subjected to. Butler said the bar codes of boarding passes are unencrypted, allowing anyone with a smartphone to discover any vulnerability and even modify the coded information. (The Washington Post)

The number of guns found at airport security checkpoints has been rising for the past couple of years, from 1123 in 2010 to 1320 in 2011 to 1105 through September of this year. Security experts attributed the trend to two factors: an increase in gun sales and the spread of right-to-carry laws, which lead to more people showing up with weapons at checkpoints because they’re used to carrying them all the time. (The New York Times)

Despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s assurance that advances in scanning technology would soon allow all air travelers to keep their shoes on, the Transportation Security Administration has rejected four different scanning devices aimed at letting passengers keep their shoes on after spending millions of dollars to test them. All four failed to detect explosives and metal weapons, according to TSA official Lisa Farbstein, who said removing shoes “is going to be a part of air travel for the foreseeable future.” (The New York Times)

Wrong Rites

Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops warned believers who decline to earmark 8 percent of their income tax for the church that they won’t be able to receive the Eucharist, become godparents or receive a church burial. The religious tax option, which affects all religions, renders more than $4 billion a year unto Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches. (BBC

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Roland Sweet

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


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