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News Quirks 

Published November 21, 2012 at 9:55 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

A gunman demanded money at a Subway shop in Braidwood, Ill., only to be thwarted by a male employee who “threw a pot of soup at the suspect,” police Chief Rich Girot said. The suspect fled, empty-handed. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Police said Herbert C. Ridge, 38, siphoned gas from a car in Mesa, Ariz., but caught fire while fleeing and crashed his pickup truck into a neighboring house. A security camera just installed by the siphoned car’s owner, Mitch Drum, 26, photographed Ridge leaping from the driver’s seat of the pickup and rolling on the ground with his shirt engulfed in flames. “He had this manufactured siphoning system that he made himself, with a pump hooked up to it, to a battery,” Drum said. “Something must have sparked.” (ABC News)

Litigation Nation

After avid golfers Robert and Katherine Brady bought a house next to a golf course in Ravalli County, Mont., they sued it and the county for not warning them that golf balls would land on their property. Some 1,300 balls a year landed in their yard, even after they built a 6-foot-tall cedar fence topped with a 14-foot-high net. The Hamilton Golf Club defended itself by pointing out no golfer would intentionally hit a ball into the Bradys’ yard and risk a two-stroke penalty, which would cause the golfer “strife and self-loathing.” District Judge James Haynes ruled against the Bradys, declaring they “failed to fulfill their independent duty to see what was plainly apparent” before buying the home. (Ravalli Republic)

War on Obesity, Round Two

Following bans on super-size sugary soft drinks inspired by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, PepsiCo Inc. unveiled a new version of Pepsi-Cola in Japan. Called Pepsi Special, it contains dextrin, an indigestible, potato-derived fiber that Pepsi says slows the absorption of fat in the body by binding with it and eliminating it as waste. “Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza?” Japanese commercials announce. “If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!” (Yahoo Health)

Those Zany South Koreans

The South Korean city of Suwon opened the world’s first toilet theme park to honor its former mayor, who campaigned for better toilets for his country. Sim Jae-Duck, known as “Mr. Toilet,” had a passion for toilets, having been born in his grandmother’s bathroom. He designed and built himself a toilet-shaped house, which is now a museum in Restroom Cultural Park. Besides the theme park, Suwon holds an annual Golden Poop Art Festival. (London’s UK Metro)

Several dozen South Korean activists stepped up aerial missions to launch condoms into North Korea after that country’s government threatened “merciless” military attack against such propaganda measures. In the latest assault, North Korean defectors joined Christian and right-wing organizations to launch 20 helium-filled balloons in Yeoncheon County carrying 150,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets and 5,000 condoms, as well as sanitary pads, underwear, flashlights, candy and toothpaste. (Agence France-Presse)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Police reported a 28-year-old woman in Bellingham, Wash., hit her 31-year-old boyfriend on the top of his head with a glass bong. (The Bellingham Herald)

What Could Go Wrong?

California enacted a law requiring that safety and performance standards be set for driverless motor vehicles by January 2015. Gov. Jerry Brown showed up in a self-driving Toyota Prius to sign the legislation at the Mountain View headquarters of Google Inc., which has been developing autonomous vehicle technology and already operates a dozen computer-controlled cars. The new law requires a licensed driver to sit behind the wheel to serve as a backup in case of emergency. “You can count on one hand the number of years before people can experience this,” Google cofounder Serey Brin said. (Associated Press)

Suspicion Confirmed

Seatbelts on airplanes are pointless, according to Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary. “If there ever was a crash on an aircraft,” he announced, “God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you.” O’Leary seeks approval to remove the last 10 rows of cabin seats on European flights so he can sell standing-room-only tickets there for less than $2. “We’re always looking for new ways of doing things,” O’Leary said. “It’s the authorities who won’t allow us to do them.” (Britain’s The Telegraph)

It’s the Thought That Counts

San Francisco’s Health Commission voted to provide and pay for sex-change surgery for uninsured transgender residents. Public Health Director Barbara Garcia described the approval as “symbolic” since the city lacks the expertise, capacity and protocols to provide the procedure through its clinics and public hospital. (Associated Press)

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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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