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News Quirks 

Published April 13, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Facing five years in prison for forging drug prescriptions, Michelle Elaine Astumian, 41, appeared for sentencing in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., with a doctor’s note requesting a postponement. Prosecutor Dave Pomeroy called the doctor, who declared the note a forgery. (Associated Press)

Facing prison for scamming $450,000 from 23 investors in his bogus securities scheme, Samuel McMaster Jr. convinced New Mexico prosecutors to let him go free so he could repay his victims with his poker winnings. Only McMaster lost. He was ordered to prison for 12 years — and to make full restitution. (Associated Press)

Off to a Bad Start

Less than 24 hours after officials ceremoniously unveiled a giant electronic timer in London’s Trafalgar Square to count down to the start of next year’s Summer Olympics, the clock stopped. Its display remained at 500 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes and 56 seconds while technicians from Omega, the Swiss watchmaker that made the 21-foot-high timepiece, took six hours to fix it. (BBC News)

When a Designated Driver Isn’t Enough

After spending the day touring New Hampshire brewpubs, two men were “goofing around” in the back of their Boston-bound tour bus, a witness said, when they both toppled or jumped out the bathroom window. The window opens from the bottom and measures 4 feet by 2 1/2 feet. The bus, carrying more than 50 revelers, was going 60 mph when Thomas Johnson, 31, and Seth Davis, 34, hit the pavement. Johnson died; Davis was severely injured. (Boston Herald)

When Target Practice Isn’t Enough

Charged with murdering his wife, David McCall, 72, told police in Wakefield, Mass., that when his shot missed, Elaine McCall, 69, taunted, “You can’t even shoot.” He hit her with a second shot. He then called 911 to report a “murder-suicide” and tried to shoot himself, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone said, but missed. (Boston Herald)

Trial Separation

Acting on a tip, Brazilian police found a 64-year-old woman locked in a basement in Sao Paulo state while her husband lived upstairs with another woman. Insisting Sebastiana Aparecida Groppo was mentally ill and aggressive, Joao Batista Groppo, 64, explained he’d kept his wife confined for 16 years. He later revised that to eight years. “He told us that locking her up was the only way he could think of to prevent her from wandering off and getting lost,” police inspector Jaqueline Barcelos Coutinho said. “She does have psychiatric problems, but she is definitely not an aggressive person.” (BBC News)

Haven’t They Suffered Enough?

Crocs Inc. announced it’s donating 100,000 pairs of its shoes to earthquake-tsunami victims in Japan. (Associated Press)

In Flagrante Delicto

Scientists examining two mites preserved in amber for 40 million years concluded the mites were copulating when the fatal blob of tree resin fell on them. Researchers Pavel Klimov and Ekaterina Sidorchuk also noticed that, unlike modern mites, the female of this extinct species controlled mating, having evolved a pad-like projection on her rear end that enabled her to cling to males and direct the mating process. Males of the species lacked the “butt grabbing” feature. (Discovery News)

Problems Solved

Zionist Israeli rabbis launched a campaign to marry gay men and lesbian women — to each other. Rabbi Areleh Harel of the West Bank settlement of Shilo said his 12th couple just announced their engagement, and he has a waiting list of 30 gays and 20 lesbians seeking matches. Pairing the two groups helps religious homosexuals avoid violating the halakhic prohibition of homosexual sex by seeking other solutions, Harel said, pointing out, “A family isn’t just sex and love.” (Israel’s Haaretz)

Labor Pains

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that Brock Hopkins is entitled to workers’ compensation after a captive grizzly bear at a drive-through park where he worked mauled him while he was feeding it. Hopkins admitted smoking marijuana before the attack. The court upheld the findings of the Montana Workers’ Compensation Court, which had characterized Hopkins’s actions as “mind-bogglingly stupid” but noted that grizzlies “are equal opportunity maulers” without regard to marijuana consumption and the lack of evidence of Hopkins’s impairment. (Kalispell’s Daily Inter Lake)

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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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