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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

Authorities charged Carolyn James, 55, with assaulting her 96-year-old mother in Dickson City, Pa., after a neighbor recorded James slapping the invalid woman on the back and neck, screaming obscenities and threatening to break her arm. Mark Gruss told investigators he was testing webcams when he picked up a live feed from a webcam in James’s living room. James had installed the webcam herself so she could keep an eye on her mother. (Scranton’s the Times-Tribune)

When Guns Are Outlawed

A school in Suffolk, Va., suspended two second-grade boys for pointing pencils at each other and making gun noises. Citing the Suffolk Public Schools’ “zero-tolerance policy” when it comes to weapons, school official Bethanne Bradshaw explained, “A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made.” (Portsmouth’s WAVY-TV)

Who Needs a Limo?

Authorities accused Audrey Ferguson, 51, of calling ambulances at least 100 times in the last seven years to get free rides to downtown Charleston, S.C. “We transport her to one of the area hospitals and then oftentimes before we can get our paperwork completed, she’s signed out from the hospital and gone on to do other things,” Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren said. After her arrest for unlawful use of 911, Ferguson told a sheriff’s deputy she didn’t have a car and that her Medicaid benefits paid for the ambulance rides. Her bill is more than $400,000, of which Medicaid pays only $425 per trip, plus mileage. (Charleston’s WCSC-TV)

Second-Amendment Follies

Jerry Cusick, 53, a Washington County, Minn., sheriff’s commander and firearms safety instructor, was shot by a hunter standing 15 to 30 yards away who mistook him for a turkey. He took about 50 BBs in his face, chest and arms. “I can see out of both of my eyes, and I walked out of it, so that’s a miracle,” Cusick said. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Insisting that the Obama administration is buying up bullets so they won’t be available to gun-toting citizens exercising their Second-Amendment rights, Oklahoma lawmakers Sen. James Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas introduced a bill that would ban federal agencies, excluding the Defense Department, from buying more ammunition during a six-month period if it currently possesses more than its monthly averages during the George W. Bush administration. Not only does the administration deny this conspiracy, but so does the National Rifle Association, which said such claims are designed to “stir up fear.” (Talking Points Memo)

Michele Wanko, 42, had been drinking vodka and lemonade with her husband, William C. Wanko, 43, for about six hours when she asked him to show her how to shoot a handgun in case someone attempted to break into the house, according to police in Delaware County, Pa. He obliged and died of a gunshot wound to the chest. “It was a recipe for disaster,” Police Chief John Egan said after Michele Wanko was charged in the fatal shooting, “mixing guns and alcohol.” (Delaware County’s Daily Times)

In-Flight Snacks Add Up

Samoa Airlines implemented a new fare schedule based on weight. The rates range from $1 a kilogram — for the weight of passengers and their bags — on short domestic flights to $4.16 per kilogram for travel from Samoa to American Samoa. “People have always traveled on the basis of their seat, but as many airline operators know, airlines don’t run on seats, they run on weight,” Chief Executive Chris Langton said. “Anyone who travels at times has felt they have been paying for half of the passenger next to them.” He noted there’s no separate charge for excess baggage, explaining, “It’s just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.” (ABC News)

Coin of the Realm

America’s underworld values Tide detergent. Not to launder clothes or even money, but to be money. Police nationwide have reported a spike in thefts of the leading brand, which sells for up to $20 for a large bottle in stores. High demand makes it easy to resell and relatively low risk to criminals, according to Robert McCrie, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Laundry detergent is generally used for its intended purpose, authorities said, with many thieves selling it on the street at cut-rate prices, sometimes outside coin-operated laundries. Police in Prince George’s County, Md., reported that drug dealers there encourage their customers to pay with shoplifted Tide instead of cash. In neighboring Washington, D.C., some CVS drug stores attach electronic anti-theft tags to bottles, and one store in a well-to-do neighborhood keeps Tide locked up behind glass. (Associated

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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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