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News Quirks 

Published September 8, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

People noticed Dennis Hawkins, 48, when he showed up at a shopping center supermarket wearing a woman’s blonde wig, a sweater with fake breasts under it and clown pants. Police in Swissvale, Pa., said Hawkins proceeded to a Kmart store, where surveillance cameras caught him shoplifting a BB gun. He then went to a nearby bank, showed a teller the gun and demanded money. Bank cameras recorded him stopping behind the bank to open the money envelope as a dye pack explodes, causing him to drop some of the money. He ran to a nearby service station, hopped into the parked car of a woman and asked for a ride. The woman got out, taking her keys with her, and called police, who arrested Hawkins while he waited in her car, covered with red dye, the wig stuffed in his clown pants and still wearing the fake breasts. “He’d be my candidate for America’s dumbest criminal,” police Chief Greg Geppert said. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Authorities in Greene County, Ind., arrested Justin S. Johnson, 21, after a bank reported he was trying to cash a check for $1 million at the drive-through window. Sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Woodall said Johnson left without any money, but he had presented identification to prove he was the payee, and the teller photocopied his driver’s license before informing him the check wasn’t valid. (Greene County Daily World)

No Squatting

After attending a cultural awareness course run by a Muslim community activist in England, managers of a Rochdale shopping mall installed two squat toilets. A familiar sight in parts of the Middle East and Asia, the toilets require users to squat over a hole in the ground and are favored over flush toilets because they don’t need expensive plumbing, and allow users to assume a natural posture that proponents claim offers health benefits. The installation at the Exchange mall followed a class by Ghulam Rasul Shahzad, who received the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in June. The change didn’t sit well with Conservative MP Philip Davies, however. “We in Britain are rightly proud of our toilets,” he declared, “and the onus is on people who come to this country to appreciate them for what they are” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

An Inconvenient Truth

Hotter-than-usual weather in Germany this year resulted in a disappointing potato harvest, resulting in potatoes used to make french fries that are only 1.8 inches long instead of the usual 2.2 inches. “The french fries industry and consumers will have to brace themselves for shorter fries,” said Verena Telaar of the German Farmers’ Association. (Reuters)

Groundskeeping Follies

Instead of covering baseball diamonds with a tarp to keep them dry, Alberta’s St. Albert Minor Baseball Association dries rain-soaked playing fields by setting them on fire. The tradition could cost the nonprofit association $20,000 after an official poured six liters of diesel fuel on one field and lit it. Within minutes, St. Albert firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze, and a city hazmat team dug up the field to check for contamination. The city also forced the association to dig up one of the pitching mounds found to be contaminated with fuel. Association officials accused the city of overreacting, but city official Chris Jardine insisted the quick-dry practice puts both players and the environment at risk. (CBC News)

First Things First

A Utah judge sentenced Adam Manning, 31, to six months in jail for fondling a maternity nurse while she was wheeling the man’s pregnant girlfriend to the delivery room at an Ogden hospital. Because he was promptly arrested after the nurse reported the incident, Manning missed his child’s birth. (Ogden’s Standard-Examiner)

Making Immigration Pay

Montenegro, population 600,000, began offering citizenship to everyone who invests more than $662,650 in the country. The government said its “economic citizenship program” is designed to encourage businesses to move to the tiny Balkan nation, but opposition leader Nebojsa Medojevic argued it would “only attract tycoons and corrupt politicians on the run.” (Reuters)

Dutch Swingers

A Dutch zoo invited Olympic gymnast Epke Zonderland to teach its orangutans how to swing through the trees. Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen recently renovated its orangutan enclosure so the primates can swing from tree to tree as they do in the wild, but they apparently have been caged so long that they’ve lost the knack. “It is said that we can learn from apes how to climb, but this time they’ve asked me to get the apes back into the trees,” Zonderland, who competed in the high-bar event at the Beijing Olympics, told Dutch radio station BNR. (Reuters)

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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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