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News Quirks (02/04/15) 

Published February 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Clayton Dial, 23, pulled a gun and demanded cash at a Japanese restaurant in Champaign, Ill., only to have chef Tetsuji Miwa thwart the robbery. "I instantly grabbed my sushi knife, walked up to him, wrapped my arm around his shoulder and asked him what he wanted," Miwa said. "He saw the blade, got scared and started running." Miwa and two coworkers wrestled him to the ground, and assistant manager Joe Pendzialek said he grabbed a stool "and cracked him over the head with it," before calling police. (Champaign's News-Gazette)

John Balmer, 50, was arrested at a Kmart store in Hudson, Fla., while wearing a T-shirt that read, "Who needs drugs?" Below that, it said, "No, seriously, I have drugs." When a sheriff's deputy entered the store, Balmer tried to hand a "bag of green leafy substance" to the person behind him, officers reported, but the person wouldn't take the bag, which deputies retrieved and said contained marijuana and methamphetamine. (Tampa Bay Times)

Blessing in Disguise

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen warned that budget cuts could delay tax refunds, even for people who file electronically, but he added that fewer agents would be available to audit returns. Congress cut this year's IRS budget by $346 million, leaving it with only $10.9 billion. (Associated Press)

Pledge Drive

After Bill Kelly earned $600,955 as executive director of public broadcasting station WVIA-TV in Scranton, Pa., he proposed a new position: raising money for the station's new endowment fund. The board of directors agreed and notified its 15,000 station members, anticipating they would welcome the station's continuing its ties with Kelly, an employee of 40 years. Instead, 6,300 members dropped out. About 2,300 of them specifically cited excessive executive compensation as the reason. The organization's 22 board members cut ties with Kelly by donating $291,878 of their own money to buy out his contract. (Scranton's Times-Tribune)

Rescue Follies

John Arwood, 31, and Amber Campbell, 25, told police who found them in a closet at Florida's Daytona State College that they had spent two days locked in the closet before calling 911 to be rescued. Officers tracked the phone's location and simply opened the door, which they said had been unlocked the entire time. (Orlando Sentinel)

When Rob Dorzek, 29, called 911 to report he and three friends had been boating on Ontario's Lake Wanapitei after dark and crashed into a small island, the dispatcher delayed alerting rescuers for an hour while she tried to figure out their location, despite being sent a map that pinpointed it using GPS. During this time, the dispatcher instructed Dorzek to start a signal fire. Dorzek told her he couldn't because he was holding his girlfriend to keep her from slipping into the water. After the dispatcher insisted the fire was the only way to direct rescuers, Dorzek used a boat cushion to start one. It quickly spread to the underbrush and then to the boat hull, which ignited, killing one of the four. A rescue boat was finally launched after the crew, which didn't know of the 911 call, spotted the fire and arrived in eight minutes. Another man and Dorzek's girlfriend died from injuries. An internal report by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care commended the dispatcher who handled the call. (Toronto Star)

Next Step: Tomacco

SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables introduced seeds for "Ketchup'n'Fries," a hybrid plant consisting of thin-skinned white potatoes attached to a vine of red cherry tomatoes, aimed at home gardeners with limited growing space. Also known as TomTato, it was created by Britain's Thompson & Morgan and previously available only in Europe. (New York Daily News)

Special Delivery

Police arrested Paul Bennett, 45, for trying to have sex with a mailbox at a shopping arcade outside Manchester, England. A witness spotted Bennett approaching the mailbox with his pants down and making "sexual advances towards it." He then rubbed himself against it while holding his hands in the air and shouting "wow." After completing the act, he pulled up his pants and started swinging on a lamppost. The witness called police, who found Bennett again exposing himself. (Britain's Manchester Evening News)

Smartphones, Dumb People

Hong Kong authorities caught a man trying to smuggle 94 iPhones, worth more than $48,000 on the black market, into mainland China by strapping the devices to his body. The man's luggage contained no contraband, but customs officials noticed him walking with a "stiff posture." When he set off a metal detector, they searched him and found the phones taped to his chest, abdomen, thighs, calves and groin. (International Business Times)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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