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News Quirks 

Published July 7, 2010 at 7:40 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Authorities investigating a burglary in King County, Wash., found that in addition to a digital camera, laptop computer, iPod and DVD player, the intruder took clean clothes and left behind his soiled underwear, jeans and shoes. Sheriff’s Detective Cary Coblantz said he “specifically requested that the underpants be analyzed for a DNA profile,” which identified a 39-year-old man with a long criminal history as the suspect. He was already in jail for several counts of residential burglary but had been out on bail when the underpants burglary occurred. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

German authorities reported that robbers who tried to blow up a bank cash machine in Malliss miscalculated and wound up reducing the bank to rubble, completely obliterating its roof and damaging cars and buildings within a 100-yard radius. The only thing left intact was the cash machine. “Something evidently didn’t work the way the robbers wanted it to,” police official Niels Borgmann said, noting, “The explosion was so big, they had to run away without the money.” (Reuters)

Classical Gas

A German sewage-treatment plant is saving $1200 a month by using the music of Mozart to motivate microbes to break down waste faster. “We think the secret is in the vibrations of the music, which penetrate everything — including the water, the sewage and the cells,” said Anton Stucki, chief operator of the Treuenbrietzen plant. “It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better.” Stucki believes Mozart works because the composer “managed to transpose universal laws of nature into his music.” (Britain’s The Guardian)

Not So Much Fly As Plummet

Having paid $440 on eBay for a paraglider, Britain’s Roy Dixon, 45, learned to fly it by watching video clips on the Internet. For his maiden flight, he also made the mistake of tethering the paraglider to his car. The flight lasted less than a minute, and he fell 40 feet to the ground, breaking his back in two places. “I went shooting up in the air, then banged down on the ground,” Dixon said from Newcastle General Hospital. “I should have joined a club and got lessons, but I was trying to teach myself and learn from bits I had seen on YouTube,” (BBC News)

Google Map Follies

The Louisiana Senate unanimously approved a bill that would increase penalties for crimes committed with the aid of a “virtual street-level map.” The Internet-generated maps show the locations or pictures of homes and other buildings. The measure would add at least 10 years to sentences where virtual maps are used to commit acts of terrorism and at least one year in jail for burglary. (New Orleans’s The Times-Picayune)

Slick Solutions

A scientist proposed protecting the Louisiana wetlands from British Petroleum’s Gulf of Mexico oil slick by having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers open existing dams to divert more water toward the mouth of the Mississippi River. Calling the river “the biggest tool in the toolbox,” marine scientist G. Paul Kemp, vice president of the National Audubon Society’s Louisiana Coastal Initiative, explained upstream flooding to increase the river’s flow into the Gulf could not only block the inland flow of oil, but also help flush oil that has already collected on the fringes of the marshes. (Popular Mechanics)

After Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) urged BP America President Lamar McKay to resign, Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-La.) suggested a harsher course of action. “In the Asian culture, we do things differently,” the Vietnamese-American lawmaker told McKay. “During the samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri.” (CBS News)

Spendthrift Conservatives

Critics derided Canada’s government for spending nearly $2 million to build a media center in Toronto for reporters unable to cover the Group of Eight global economic summit in Huntsville, 140 miles to the north, which could accommodate only about 150 of the 3000 journalists assigned. “This is supposed to be a meeting about dealing with the international debt crisis,” opposition lawmaker Mark Holland said. “We’re supposed to be leading the world in showing austerity, and we invite them to our doorsteps to sit around a $2 million dollar fake lake.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted the lake, which is only a few blocks from Lake Ontario, is really only a reflecting pool intended to promote tourism. (Associated Press)

Justice at Any Price

Now Advanced Metal Technologies in East Spokane, Wash., offered a $1000 reward for information leading to the identity of whoever stole its doormat, worth $20. (KREM-TV News)

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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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