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News Quirks 

Published May 27, 2009 at 6:12 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police arrested Remo Spencer for stealing laptop computers and iPods from the Wal-Mart store in Great Falls, Mont., where he worked after he aroused a store manager’s suspicions by posting an ad offering to sell the electronics items on the store’s employee bulletin board. The Billings Gazette said a review of surveillance videos confirmed the thefts.

• Security guards nabbed Ricky Clay Fox, 43, after they saw him sneak behind the counter of a phone store in New South Wales, Australia, and snatch two cellphones. The phones were fakes used as display models.

• A cashier at a Wal-Mart store in Port St. Lucie, Fla., became suspicious of two women at a self-checkout because the bagged groceries in their carts seemed like much more than the $70 worth of items they scanned and paid for. The Stuart News reported that when the cashier asked to see their receipt, the women fled, leaving behind the carts, which contained two packets of recently developed pictures with the name and phone number of one of the suspects.

Custom Fit South Carolina officials exhumed the body of a 6-foot-7 man to investigate whether the legs had been cut off so it would fit in a smaller coffin when he was buried in 2004. Allendale County Coroner Hayzen Black, who was present during the exhumation, told the Aiken Standard he couldn’t comment on what he saw, only that criminal charges would likely be filed. “There were problems with the body,” he added.

What Really Matters Legalizing marijuana is America’s most important political issue, according to an opinion poll released by the White House, followed by ending the tax-exempt status of the Church of Scientology and legalizing online poker gambling. These findings, compiled in a Citizen’s Briefing Book, are the result of an online project by President Obama’s transition office to solicit policy ideas. More than 125,000 users submitted 1.4 million votes, 76 percent of which cited legal pot as the nation’s top priority.

Although the compilers acknowledged the open polling process was far from scientific, John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, hailed the results. “Poker players around the country are speaking with one voice to protect the game they love,” he declared in a press release, “and the White House is hearing that message.”

Stimulus Package Drug maker Pfizer Inc. announced it would provide free Viagra to people who’ve lost their jobs and health insurance. The company said jobless Americans already on the drug for three months or more qualify to continue receiving it free of charge for up to a year.

Arachnophobia Follies British firefighters rescued a man in his 40s who set fire to the front of his house while trying to kill a spider. Watch manager Steve Pearce said the man was using a lighter to burn the spider as it crawled up the front of his house in Portsmouth, but sparks reached insulation behind the siding and caused a fire within the walls. “The man was trying to put out the fire with a garden hose when we arrived,” Pearce told the Daily Telegraph, noting firefighters in breathing apparatus with professional equipment needed two hours to extinguish the blaze.

Homeland Insecurity West Virginia authorities charged two FBI workers with using surveillance equipment to spy on teenage girls as they undressed and tried on prom gowns at a charity event. Marion County Prosecutor Pat Wilson told the Associated Press that Gary Sutton, 40, and Charles Hommema were working at an FBI satellite control room at a Fairmont shopping mall when they aimed a camera at a changing room and zoomed in for at least 90 minutes to watch the girls.

The Joke’s on Him A 23-year-old man asked his friend to stop the car so he could urinate from a bridge over the Minnesota River, then climbed to the ledge on the bridge, looked at his friend and pretended to fall. “He then in fact fell,” a press release from the Bloomington Police Department stated. Fire department rescuers used a chair lift to retrieve the victim, who the Associated Press reported was hospitalized in stable condition.

Hard-Sell Tactics Authorities said a woman prostitute showed up at a man’s house in Dalton, Ga., and offered him unsolicited sex. When he said he didn’t have any money and didn’t want sex, and told her to leave, she summoned two men who were waiting outside to force the man to have sex with her. After he finished, they demanded money, but he had none to give. “At some point,” sheriff’s Maj. John Gibson told the Daily Citizen, “they discovered he had an ATM card and took him to a bank, but the card was refused because his paycheck had not been deposited. They kept him for several hours until the check hit, then got the money with the ATM card and released the man.” Sheriff’s deputies arrested Edie Jean Wells, 33, Patrick Ellison and Frank Mack.

Avoirdupois Follies Officials denied a British nurse’s request to live in New Zealand because she weighs 294 pounds. The 51-year-old woman argued that her 52-inch waist was no obstacle to her work, but the country’s Residence Review Board rejected her application, citing her 55.2 body mass index as an indication that she was at high risk of developing health problems, which could cost the government NZ$25,000 (US$14,628) to treat. Acknowledging that the woman had been on a diet and dropped 49 pounds in the past two and a half years, officials said they would reconsider her application if she reduced her BMI to 40. The Daily Telegraph dispatch added that a British man who moved to New Zealand in 2007 was told his wife was too fat to join him.

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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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