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News Quirks 

Published March 16, 2011 at 7:30 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Robert Michelson, 21, called 911 wanting to know how much trouble he could get into for growing one marijuana plant. When the dispatcher told him he could be arrested, Michelson said thank you and hung up. The dispatcher promptly notified police, who went to Michelson’s house in Farmington, Conn., and arrested him for marijuana possession. (Associated Press)

Authorities arrested Jerrie Perkins, 30, for shoplifting after she tried to leave a store in Rochester Hills, Mich., with $600 worth of stolen electronics merchandise. According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the 400-pound woman’s getaway was thwarted when her mobility scooter got stuck at the door. (Michigan’s Macomb Daily)

When China Rules the World

China’s Civil Affairs Ministry wants the government to make it mandatory for adult children to visit their elderly parents. The ministry’s proposal would allow parents to sue no-shows. “Younger generations are moving away from their parents and quickly developing different values,” said Ninie Wang, international director of the Gerontological Society of China, which endorsed the measure. “Filial piety is a myth.” (New York Times)

Second-Amendment Follies

A New York City police officer tried to switch on a pistol-mounted flashlight but pulled the trigger instead, shooting Jose Colon, 76, in the stomach. Colon survived. The incident followed the shooting death of an unarmed man in Plano, Texas, that occurred when an undercover police sergeant drew his pistol in a dark parking lot and tried to turn on the flashlight mounted on it but accidentally fired the gun. Both incidents involved the Surefire X300 flashlight, whose manufacturer insisted it “prevents misidentification and saves police lives.” Firearms expert Kenneth Cooper disagreed, warning that pistol-mounted flashlights complicate what is already a stressful situation for police officers pointing guns. (New York Post)

Two men were injured in an accidental shooting at a gun show in Bloomington, Ill., when an attendee handling a mini-14 semiautomatic rifle was setting the rifle back on a vendor table, and it fired a .223-caliber bullet. “The round went through a post, through a person and then into another person,” McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery said. (Central Illinois’s Pantagraph)

Allen Jones told authorities in Baldwin County, Ala., that he was bringing his loaded Glock .40 handgun from the glove compartment of his truck into the house when he tripped and fell and accidentally shot himself in the leg. Aleisha Jones was bathing their young son when she heard her husband’s call for help. Both she and the boy arrived at the same time, and the boy grabbed the gun. Aleisha Jones said that when she tried to take the gun away, it accidentally fired, hitting her in the neck. Neighbors who heard the gunshots alerted the sheriff’s office, which reported that husband and wife were hospitalized in stable condition. (Mobile’s WPMI-TV)

Smell Away Unwanted Pounds

A device that lets food be inhaled rather than eaten will go on sale this fall in France, promised its inventor, Harvard University professor and aerosol scientist David Edwards, 49. The machine, named Le Whaf, will cost $130. It uses rapidly vibrating crystals to create ultrasound waves that transform liquefied food into tiny droplets. Then Le Whaf pumps the flavored mist into a goldfish-like bowl, from which each breath (or “whaff”) takes in the taste with hardly any calories. Edwards predicted that “whaffing” will catch on as a way of eating in the future. “Imagine a restaurant where, instead of sitting at a table, you walk around,” he explained. “Instead of eating food, you’re breathing it in as you walk from room to room, each with a different flavor.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Too Big-Box Too Fail

Walmart, Kmart and Best Buy are setting up financial services for store customers without bank accounts, hoping for a share of the $320-billion-a-year alternative financing services industry, now populated by payday-loan and check-cashing stores that charge 2 to 4 percent of the check’s amount. Walmart charges a flat-rate $3 to cash a check. Besides check cashing, the big-box retailers sell money transfers and prepaid cash cards. Best Buy also started providing kiosks where customers can pay utility, cable and phone bills.

A government survey found that 30 million households either don’t have a bank account or use one sparingly. Two-thirds of America’s “unbanked” population earn less than $30,000 a year; others might earn more but don’t trust banks or come from cash-based cultures. (Washington Post)

Least Surprising Finding of the Week

A University of Texas poll of 718 students found that half of the boyfriends would forgive their girlfriend’s infidelity so long as it was with another woman. Only 22 percent of the boyfriends surveyed said they could forgive betrayal with another man. (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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