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News Quirks 

Published September 5, 2012 at 7:57 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again!

Georgia authorities accused former DeKalb County Deputy Marshal Washington Varnum Jr. of unprofessional or deceptive conduct and bad moral character. According to Ryan Powell of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, Varnum tried to serve his own eviction notice and then “provided a sworn statement to the courts that he himself could not be found.” (Atlanta’s WSB-TV)

After leaving several phone messages threatening to burn down the gas station where he used to work in High Springs, Fla., Kalpeshkumar Patel, 40, drove to the station, pulled up to a gas pump, and poured gasoline all over the car and himself. The threat ended when Patel realized he had no lighter and no customers would lend him one. The station owner called police, who arrested Patel. (Florida’s Gainesville Sun)

Latter-Day Captain Hook

Airboat captain Wallace Weatherholt, 63, faces charges of unlawfully feeding an alligator while leading an Indiana family on a tour of the Everglades. The passengers told Florida Fish and Wildlife officers that Weatherholt held a fish over the side of the boat to attract the gator, which bit off his hand at the wrist. Following the attack, FFW officials tracked and killed the gator. They retrieved Weatherholt’s hand from its stomach, but doctors weren’t able to reattach it. (Fort Myers’s News-Press)

The Sayonara Effect

Since the Seattle Mariners traded outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in July, Japanese tourism to the Emerald City has dwindled. “It’s really disappointing; it’s an unexpected turn,” said Makota Ogasawara, manager of the Seattle branch of a company that books tours for visitors from Japan. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that Japan sends more tourists to Seattle than any other country, twice as many as China, the second-highest source of tourists. After Suzuki, already a star in Japan, came to the Mariners 12 years ago, he became the main attraction for Japanese visitors. Despite the loss, Ogasawara pointed out, “We still have two Japanese players,” citing pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and infielder Munenori Kawasaki. (Seattle Times)

A month after Suzuki’s trade, police said a man smashed a window at the Seattle ballpark’s team store and made off with 16 Ichiro replica jerseys. Nothing else was taken, according to store supervisor Chris French, who said the jerseys originally retailed for $240 apiece but since Suzuki’s departure had been selling for half that. (Seattle Times)

Tables Turned

A Chicago gun buy-back program paid out $6240 in gift cards to the Champaign-based pro-gun group Guns Save Lives, which turned in “rusty, non-firing junk,” according to the group’s president, John Boch. He indicated most of the money would be used to buy ammunition and four bolt-action rifles for a National Rifle Association-sponsored youth summer camp, boasting, “We are directing funds from people who would work against the private ownership of firearms to help introduce the next generation to shooting safely and responsibly.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

When the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation offered a $75 gift card for each gun surrendered at a Portland parking lot, gun buyers staked out the periphery and offered to buy guns from people arriving to turn theirs in. Prices started at $80, but many sold for much more, and some buyers immediately sold their guns to other buyers at a profit. “They have a right to buy guns,” police Sgt. Tim Sessions said. “That’s in the Constitution.” (Portland’s Oregonian)

Device of the Week

Specialty retailer Family Christian released the world’s first Christian tablet. Dubbed the Edifi, the Android-based tablet offers “the ability to use our Holy Bible application, which has 27 different English translations of the Bible,” technology supervisor Brian Honorable said. “It goes along with our mission: trying to get people closer to God.” More than just an e-reader, the Edifi, priced at $149.99, comes with movie-watching capabilities, Christian radio stations and even a web browser with built-in “safe search,” so children won’t “have access to things they shouldn’t have access to,” Honorable explained. “We definitely had to tailor it to our customers.” (Fox News)

Bad News Gets Worse

Baseball’s Worcester (Mass.) Tornadoes not only occupy last place in the five-team Can-Am League, but they also had a recent game delayed when their cleaning company showed up right before the first pitch claiming the team owed it more than $4000. The Enterprise Cleaning Co. of Worcester had a court order entitling it to seize the game’s receipts, as well as the team’s uniforms, bats, gloves and other equipment. After league officials promised to pay the bill, the game started an hour late. The Tornadoes lost to Newark, 4-3. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

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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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