News Quirks 03.14.07 | News Quirks | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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News Quirks 03.14.07 

Curses, Foiled Again When a man demanded cash at a department store in Hamilton, Ontario, the clerk refused to hand it over. Police said the medium-built suspect pushed the "petite" clerk aside, grabbed the register drawer and dashed outside to wait for his getaway vehicle. Before it arrived, the clerk confronted the thief and asked him to return the till. The suspect ran off in a different direction, into another store and called a cab. While he was waiting outside, the angry clerk caught up to him. He ducked back into the store, she followed, they wrestled, and she took the drawer away from him.

Empty-handed, the Hamilton Spectator reported, the man tried to escape by carjacking a van, but the driver fought him off. He went back into the first store and got into another fight with the clerk, who had returned and again defied his demand for the cash. Another clerk helped her chase the luckless robber into the night.

Inconvenient Truths Inuits in northern Canada protested to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that greenhouse gases from the United States have warmed their Arctic territory to the point that some of the native people have had to install air conditioners.

* Half of Scottish children between the ages of 7 and 11 are losing sleep because of anxiety caused by global warming, reported the Scotsman, Scotland's national newspaper, which pointed out that children who don't get enough sleep are poor learners and, according to Science Daily, prone to obesity.

Public Transportation Follies After their train was stopped for engineering work and the bus sent to replace it broke down, six British rail passengers complained that the crew took off in a taxi, leaving them standing in the snow at a roundabout near Woking. "They said not to worry, there will be another bus or a larger taxi along in a minute," then dashed, one of the stranded passengers, Alex Waite, 37, told Reuters. He said they waited half an hour before calling a cab to take them home, paying $354.60. South West Trains agreed to reimburse them, explaining that the train driver and guard had been needed elsewhere immediately.

Innocent Bystander Follies A 17-year-old girl in Pinconning, Mich., called police to report a stranger repeatedly ramming her car. State police and Bay County sheriff's deputies intercepted the vehicles and chased the suspect at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. When finally stopped, the 17-year-old driver told police he thought the driver of the other car was his girlfriend and wanted a goodnight kiss. He said he was talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone, telling her to stop, while she kept insisting she was stopped, which he said he could see for himself she wasn't. Police told the Saginaw News that the frustrated driver rear-ended the victim's car about 15 times and pushed it through stop signs at several intersections.

When Guns Are Outlawed After pursuing a fugitive for three months, English police finally apprehended their man in Worcester when three women subdued him with their purses. Surveillance cameras showed uniformed and plainclothes officers chasing the man, wanted for assaulting three police officers, across a bridge. One woman blocked the sidewalk, forcing the fugitive into the road, where a second woman bashed him with her purse. The first woman and a third joined in. "They didn't know one another," Richard Bull of the West Mercia Police said, "but they all thought the same thing."

* Stripped of their guns during a corruption probe in Tijuana, some 60 police officers began patrolling the tourist and business districts armed with slingshots. Some of the officers bought marbles to use as missiles, the San Diego Union Tribune reported, while others loaded up with rocks. "It's obviously very denigrating to them to be carrying these kinds of instruments," police official Fernando Bojorquez said, "but they have to look for ways to provide security for the public."

That's Entertainment Indian authorities ordered two television channels to apologize for an "assault to the dignity of the Father of the Nation" by showing a man dressed as Mahatma Gandhi performing a pole dance and brandishing an AK-47 rifle.

Mnemonic Follies Instead of sentencing a Saudi man to six months in prison, a court in Jidda ordered him to spend six months memorizing the Koran, which has more than 77,000 words. If he fails to recite the Muslim holy book by then, the newspaper al-Watan reported, he faces a year in prison.

Byte-Size Temptation Computers are horning in on couples' together time. According to a survey by Los Angeles-based Kelton Research, 65 percent of adults spend more time with their computer than with their spouse or significant other. "Americans' relationship with their computers are affecting their relationship with family and friends, as nearly three-fourths - 74 percent of Americans - say they bring their computer problems home with them," the survey found.

* Alarmed by a survey that found nearly 14 percent of Chinese teenagers are susceptible to Internet addiction, the government launched a nationwide campaign against the disorder, which the Communist Youth League calls "a grave social problem," responsible for murder over virtual property earned in an online game, a string of suicides and the failure of youths in their studies. The Washington Post reported that measures to end Internet addiction include funding eight in-patient rehabilitation clinics known for their stern and thorough treatment: counseling, military discipline, drugs, hypnosis and mild electric shocks. Military researcher Tao Ran, who runs the clinic in Daxing, defended the extensive use of medications. "We use these medicines to give them happiness," he insisted, "so they no longer need to go on the Internet to be happy."

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Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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