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Curses, Foiled Again

When two men showed a gun at a busy Chicago restaurant and announced a holdup, the owner asked them to come back in an hour when fewer customers would be around. After they agreed and left, the owner called police, who were waiting when Mario Garcia, 39, and Domingo Garcia-Hernandez, 28, returned and arrested them. The gun turned out to be a toy water pistol. (Chicago Tribune)

Police investigating vandalism during a riot that followed a surfing contest in Huntington Beach, Calif., posted photos of 25 suspects on Facebook and asked the public to help identify them. Enrique Rodriguez, 18, saved them the trouble by “liking” his photo and posting another photo of himself at the scene on his Facebook profile page, leading investigators to him. They also arrested Niko Johnson, 18, who saw his photo and bragged on Twitter about being Huntington Beach’s Most Wanted. (LAist and Associated Press)

Eyes Front

Mindflash, an online training technology company in Palo Alto, Calif., announced its new software forces users to pay attention during courses. The new feature, FocusAssist for the iPad, uses the tablet’s camera to track a user’s eye movements. When it senses a user looking away for more than a few seconds, it pauses the course until the user resumes watching the screen. Mindflash CEO Donna Wells said the software makes sure “trainees get all the information they need to do their jobs well.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Second-Amendment Follies

James Pace Sr., 81, told police he was holding a .22-caliber rifle while sitting by the back door of his home in New Haven, Conn., waiting for a raccoon who’d been annoying him to show up, when he sneezed, fell out of the chair and accidentally shot himself in the shin. (Hartford Courant)

Iowa began granting permits to own and carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind. “There’s no reason solely on the basis of blindness that a blind person shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon,” National Federation of the Blind official Chris Daniel said. “Presumably they’re going to have enough sense not to use a weapon in a situation where they would endanger other people, just like we would expect other people to have that common sense.” (Des Moines Register)

When Grading on the Curve Isn’t Enough

After all the nearly 25,000 applicants to the University of Liberia failed the school’s admission exam, a university official explained that the students, who paid $25 to take the test, had difficulties because they lacked a basic understanding of English. Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh acknowledged weaknesses in the country’s education system but declared that the 100 percent failure rate “is like mass murder.” (Fox News)

Rubble Without a Cause

The former high school attended by actor James Dean is collapsing. “Last night, we had the whole roof come down,” Roger Reneau, chief of police in Fairmount, Ind., said, noting that a smaller section of the building collapsed in July. Reneau said he’s concerned for public safety if the remaining parts of the three-story brick building are left standing, especially if people start taking bricks from the building as souvenirs. James graduated from Fairmount High School in 1949 before pursuing his acting career. “Garfield” creator Jim Davis also attended the school. (Indianapolis Star)

Reasonable Explanation

After David Wayne Jordan, 36, was arrested for shooting an arrow with a baggie of marijuana tied to it into Washington’s Whatcom County Jail, he explained he’d been aiming at a squirrel, according to Sheriff Bill Elfo, who added, “He had no explanation as to why squirrel hunting requires attaching marijuana to an arrow.” (Bellingham Herald)

Alternative-Energy Follies

Linda and Larry Shovan said seven mortgage lenders turned down their application to refinance their home 50 miles outside of Steamboat Springs, Colo., because they aren’t hooked up to the power grid. Instead, they rely on solar power and have ever since buying the property 12 years ago. Pointing out that government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t approve the couple’s loan because they live off the grid, one loan officer, Lainey Hamrick, explained, “The guideline is that you have to have public utilities so it would be like trying to sell a home that didn’t have heat by a fireplace and didn’t have a way to have any other heat.” The Shovans said their $30,000 computer-operated solar system “handles any of our needs.” (Denver’s KMGH-TV)

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Roland Sweet

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

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