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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

British authorities said habitual burglar Daniel Severn, 27, got his foot caught while climbing through a bathroom window of a house in Howden and wound up hanging upside down over the toilet for an hour and a half. He was found by homeowner Richard Wilson, whose wife took a photograph of Severn before her husband called police. Severn admitted trying to burglarize the residence and explained he tried to call police himself to come rescue him, but he dropped the phone into the toilet. "It would be funny," Judge Amanda Rippon told Severn after sentencing him to 28 months in jail, "if it were not such a serious offense." (Britain's Daily Telegraph)

Mistaken Identity

Sculptor Robert S. Davison is suing the U.S. government for copyright infringement because the U.S. Postal Service used his sculpture of the Statue of Liberty on a stamp, instead of the original statue in New York Harbor, without his permission. Davison's replica welcomes visitors to the Las Vegas casino hotel New York New York. Davison's attorneys contend that the post office chose their client's image, which appeared on more than 5 billion forever stamps printed in 2011, because it was more "fresh-faced" and "sultry" than the original. (Associated Press)

Gangnam Style

South Korean teenagers who can't afford plastic surgery are turning to do-it-yourself cosmetic enhancements, using cheap tools bought online. Instead of double-eyelid surgery to give them a "Hollywood look," for example, some teens wear glasses, costing $5 to $20, that force their eyes to stay open without blinking. Another popular item is a $6 jaw roller intended to push the jaw line into a petite, oval form. Another device promises to raise the nose bridge to give a pointed nose. It's painful but costs only $2. "We want to become pretty without spending all the money," 17-year-old Na said, explaining that she and her friends started ordering online after seeing Korean talk show guests demonstrate various gadgets. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, South Koreans are the world's most cosmetically enhanced people. (GlobalPost)

Moonlighting by Day

University of Colorado Denver officials placed cultural diversity coordinator Resa Cooper-Morning, 54, on administrative leave while they investigated reports that she operated a phone-sex business during the hours she was working at the school. Her website,, features numerous nude, provocative photos of Cooper-Morning, and a phone sex component invited callers to talk dirty with her Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until late at night. Her university work hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. After Cooper-Morning was placed on leave, the website stated that she was available for phone sex weekdays only after 3 p.m. (Denver's KCNC-TV)

Drinking Class Hero

A pilot program in the Netherlands that hires alcoholics to collect litter and do other light work in Amsterdam pays them with beer. The 20 men must show up at 9 a.m. three days a week. They start with two beers, work all morning, eat lunch, get two more beers, do an afternoon shift that ends with a beer and sometimes a bonus beer. Besides the beer, participants receive a meal, tobacco and $13 cash, a lot of which, the men admit, goes to buy more beer. Amsterdam East District Mayor Fatima Elatik defended the program, which the city operates with the nonprofit Rainbow Group Foundation, declaring, "I am giving the people a sense of perspective, even a sense of belonging ... We validate them, and we don't ostracize our people." Insisting that the program's goal is to get alcoholics to stop drinking and move back to mainstream society, Rainbow leader Gerrie Holterman said beer was the obvious choice because it's easy for the sponsors to regulate the men's consumption." (Associated Press)

Big Break for White-Collar Crime

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has changed its mission, according to national security lawyer Kel McClanahan, who said he noticed the change in December while reviewing a Freedom of Information Act request from the agency. The FBI fact sheet previously stated, "The primary function of the FBI is law enforcement." Now, McClanahan told Foreign Policy, it's "The primary function of the FBI is national security." FBI official Paul Bresson clarified that the agency's mission "changed after 9/11," and the number of FBI agents dedicated to counterterrorism doubled between 2001 and 2009. As the FBI focus shifted to counterterrorism, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported a sharp drop in the number of white-collar criminal cases investigated. (MSNBC)

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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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