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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police who broke up a dog-fighting ring in Florence County, S.C., apprehended fleeing suspect Edward Windham, 32, after one of the dogs involved “took him down,” according to Sheriff Kenney Boone. (Myrtle Beach’s WMBF-TV)


The Army acknowledged that it caused a wildfire outside Fairbanks, Alaska, that forced the evacuation of 1200 people, scorched some 80,000 acres and cost $5.5 million to suppress by conducting artillery training with high-explosive ammunition during a high-wind warning. A 14-week investigation resulted in a promise by the Army to be more careful in the future. (Anchorage’s Alaska Dispatch)

Australian authorities said that an aircraft helping to fight a wildfire in New South Wales crashed, igniting a new wildfire. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Unclear on the Concept

Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission released the results of this year’s presidential election on the day before voting took place. It showed President Ilham Aliyev receiving 72.8 percent of the vote. Aliyev won the actual election with 84.5 percent. (Washington Post)

Second-Amendment Follies

Nashville authorities arrested David White, 22, for firing a bullet through his floor into the apartment below and striking a woman asleep in bed. The woman was hospitalized in serious condition. White explained he had been “playing around” with the gun when it accidentally discharged. (Nashville’s Tennessean)

An “accidental misfire” occurred at an elementary school in Chino, Calif., when a student pulled the trigger of an AR-15 rifle mounted on a police motorcycle that was on display during a safety demonstration at an antidrug event. Police official Tamrin Olden said two students were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, likely caused by metal debris after the weapon fired. (Los Angeles’s KTLA-TV)

Shirking-Class Follies

Gary P. Bojczak bought an illegal GPS- jamming device for his company-owned pickup truck so his boss couldn’t track his movements. When he drove by New Jersey’s Newark International Airport, however, the jammer interfered with a new GPS-based guidance system designed, according to its maker, Honeywell, to “increase airport capacity, decrease air traffic noise and reduce weather-related delays.” Federal agents tracked the jamming signal to Bojczak, who was fined $31,875 and fired. (New York’s WCBS-TV)

Window Dressing

The American League of Lobbyists, the Washington, D.C., association that lobbies on behalf of lobbyists, asked members to approve a new name that omits the word “lobbyist.” “Everybody has the misconception that lobbyists are walking around with a pocketful of cash, and that’s about it,” Monte Ward, the group’s president, said. “The new brand will seek to fully represent the broad range of responsibilities that a government relations professional practices daily.” The proposed new name is the Association of Government Relations Professionals, with the tag line “Voice of the Lobbying, Public Policy and Advocacy Professions.” (Washington Post)

When Duct Tape Isn’t Enough

The FBI charged Jennifer Marie Vargas, 34, with assault after she nearly pulled off her 6-year-old son’s genitals because she was angry with him. According to the criminal complaint affidavit filed in San Antonio, Texas, Vargas cleaned the wound with alcohol and then “applied superglue to the scrotum until the bleeding stopped, stuffed his underwear with paper towels, and then told him to go to bed.” When the child’s father came home from work, he found the boy crying in an upstairs bedroom, noticed the bloody towels in his underwear and took him to the hospital. (Houston Chronicle)

Nature’s Recyclers

Barnacles have joined the list of 267 marine species known to eat plastic debris that litters the world’s oceans, according to a study that found a third of the barnacles caught in one North Pacific region had ingested plastic particles. Researchers Miriam Goldstein of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Deborah Goodwin of the Sea Education Association said they aren’t sure whether these particles harm the barnacles’ health, although they observed no signs of digestive backup. “The barnacles just poop out the plastic & it floats away again,” Goldstein tweeted. (LiveScience)

Not-So-Fun House

An explosion that blew out the wall of a warehouse and shook buildings blocks away in downtown Orlando, Fla., was caused by experimental cooking fuel. Fire Assistant Chief Rich Wales said that the fuel, a derivative of butane, was being stored in a five-foot-tall cylinder by the building’s owner, Aaron Fechter, who is credited with inventing the Whac-A-Mole arcade game and builds robot rock bands for Chuck E. Cheese’s and ShowBiz Pizza Place. Investigators believe that an animatronics machine inside the building malfunctioned and ignited a tank of experimental cooking oil. The street was littered with debris that included animatronics, old arcade games and clown suits, according to witness Tim Roth, 59, who added, “It was weird.” (Orlando’s WKMG-TV and Orlando Sentinel)

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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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