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News Quirks 

Popularity Contests

Sophie Laboissonniere, 21, pleaded guilty to rioting after the Vancouver Canucks lost the National Hockey League finals in June 2011. Shortly before the rioting, Laboissonniere, who was one of the first suspects charged, took part in a Vancouver beauty pageant and was named Miss Congeniality. (Associated Press)

Americans prefer root canals, colonoscopies, France and NFL replacement refs to Congress, according to a Public Policy Polling survey that showed only 9 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Congress. Eighty-five percent held an unfavorable view. “We all know Congress is unpopular,” PPP president Dean Debnam said. “But the fact that voters like it even less than cockroaches, lice and Genghis Khan really shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public.” Despite its poor showing, Congress outranked North Korea, the Kardashian family and former Sen. John Edwards. (The Washington Times)

When Guns Are Outlawed

New York City police accused Dominick Anderson, 27, of brutally beating his grandmother and sister with an artificial elephant tusk. He then used the 18-inch tusk to strike one of the six officers he injured while they tried to arrest him. Police said Anderson attacked the women because he believed they put him under a voodoo spell. (New York’s Daily News)

Break out Break through

Officials in Fulton County, Ga., voted to replace more than 1300 locks in the county jail that have been broken for more than a decade. During that time, county officials and three different sheriffs’ administrations warned repeatedly that inmates can easily open doors, even those in maximum security, using soap, toilet paper, pieces of cloth or cardboard. They then roam about the jail freely, often attacking other inmates. Although the measure to install new locks passed, 5-2, several commissioners argued the faulty locks wouldn’t be a problem if deputies supervised inmates better. Chief Jailer Mark Adger said the new locks would cost more than $5 million and take about four months to install. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Profitable Flaws

The latest women’s body-image worry is wobbly arms, also known, according to a newspaper caption of a photo of Madonna, as “bingo wings.” British retailers Marks & Spencer, Asda and Charnos, and U.S. companies Ch’Arms and Spanx are already addressing the condition by offering arm corsets, specialized control sleeves costing between $30 and $175 that are designed specifically to hold flabby arm skin tighter. (Britain’s The Observer)

Middle Eastern men are turning to mustache transplants to assert their masculinity. Plastic surgeons use a technique called follicular unit extraction, where groups of hair are moved from areas of dense growth to the upper lips, to thicken mustaches. Performed under local anesthetic, the procedure costs about $7,000, according to Paris-based surgeon Pierre Bouhanna. (CNN)

Homeland Insecurity

The Homeland Security Department paid $98,000 for an underwater robot in Columbus, Ohio, which has no major rivers and few lakes nearby, according to a congressional report by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. that highlights wasteful spending on alleged counterterrorism. The report notes that some cities and towns have created implausible attack scenarios to win federal grants. For instance, Peoria, Ariz., spent $90,000 to install cameras and car-bomb barriers at the spring training field shared by baseball’s San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, and officials in Clovis, Calif., deployed the police department’s $200,000 armored personnel carrier to patrol an annual Easter egg hunt. At the low end of the scale, Seguin, Texas, used a $21 federal grant to buy a fish tank. (Associated Press)

Drinking-Class Hero

Southwest Airlines settled a class-action lawsuit filed by Chicago attorney Adam Levitt, who objected to the airline’s decision to stop honoring drink vouchers it gave to passengers who bought premium-priced “Business Select” tickets. The vouchers, worth $5 each, carried no expiration date until the airline voided them when it began issuing new vouchers good only the same day. The settlement, which entitles eligible fliers to new drink vouchers, estimates the number of eligible $5 vouchers at 5.8 million, making it worth $29 million. (Chicago Tribune)

Love Is Blind

Victor Cingolani, who is serving 13 years in an Argentine prison for the murder of Johana Casas, announced plans to marry the victim’s twin sister, Edith Casas, 22. Cingolani denied killing Johana, a model with whom he had a relationship, and said his relationship with her was “casual” but that he is genuinely “in love” with Edith. She maintains that Cingolani was unjustly convicted, but the twins’ mother, Marcelina del Carmen Orellana, declared her daughter is “psychologically ill.” (BBC News)

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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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