News Quirks 10.25.06 | News Quirks | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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News Quirks 10.25.06 

Curses, Foiled Again When a cabdriver reported that a man robbed him after being dropped off in Severn, Md., he added that the crook left behind a coin purse containing his driver's license, Social Security card and a paycheck made out to William Ludlow, 30. Twelve minutes later, police showed up at Ludlow's home and held him until the cabdriver arrived and identified him as the culprit. "We didn't really have to do that much," Anne Arundel County police Officer Sara Schriver said. "Sometimes criminals aren't as clever as they think."

* Police in Fort Mitchell, Ky., identified Rodney McMillen, 36, as the one who broke into a sleeping woman's apartment wearing only a brightly colored thong, then spent several hours making calls on the woman's wireless phone, smoking cigarettes and setting up a video camera. He fled when the woman awoke, but authorities quickly tracked him down because he left behind the video equipment, which contained a tape of what appeared to be his family reunion.

Ignorance Is Bliss An opinion poll by the Egyptian government found that 61 percent of those interviewed had never heard of opinion polls. The government's Information and Decision Support Center, which conducted the survey, reported that 49 percent indicated they would like to be asked their opinion again.

Answering Nature's Call Scientists testing rivers and streams around Washington, D.C., for harmful bacteria discovered that the overdeveloped region's major water polluter is wildlife, specifically the unusual number of deer, geese, raccoons and muskrats living in the suburbs. "They're pooping in the water," environmentalist Chuck Frederickson told the Washington Post, which reported that, according to the high-tech tests by the Environmental Protection Agency, 58.8 percent of the harmful bacteria in the Potomac River, which is on the federal "impaired waters" list, comes from wildlife. Humans account for 16.3 percent, pets 14.7 percent and livestock 10.2 percent. Noting contamination is widespread, officials said it would be nearly impossible to kill or relocate enough of the animals to make a noticeable difference in water quality.

Vince Lombardi Follies Police in Evans, Colo., arrested Mitch Cozad, a bench-warming sophomore punter on the University of Northern Colorado football team, after they said he stabbed the team's first-string punter in the leg. Witnesses saw the suspect, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, stab Rafael Mendoza's right thigh, then drive away. Mendoza did not recognize his attacker, police Lt. Gary Kessler said, but later, a suspicious liquor store clerk spotted someone wearing a hooded sweatshirt remove tape from his license plates and reported the number to police, who identified Cozad. "I think that would strike anybody as a weird way to get ahead," Kessler said.

Unhappy Ending of the Week When Plano, Ill., furniture-store owner Randy Gonigam announced that shoppers would get their furniture free if the Chicago Bears kept the Green Bay Packers from scoring in their season opener, he wasn't worried, because the Packers had scored in 233 straight games. Gonigam reported that the well-publicized promotion helped boost his Labor Day weekend business 30 percent. The only glitch, he admitted, was having to give away $275,000 worth of furniture after the Bears beat the Packers, 26-0. "It still felt awfully strange sitting there in the fourth quarter," Gonigam said, "just knowing we would be giving back all this money to all those people."

Litigation Nation Fraser Ross, the owner of Kitson, a Hollywood clothing boutique favored by young celebrities, sued Us Weekly magazine, accusing the publication of ignoring the store. Pointing out that the snub began after the magazine, which once called Kitson "L.A.'s hippest hot spot," settled a previous complaint by agreeing not to disrupt business at the store or disparage its reputation, Ross said the magazine now refuses to name or show the Kitson brand in credits, captions or celebrity photographs. Ross's suit claims Us Weekly's lack of attention is costing the store $10,000 a week.

Measurement Follies A new $36 million Indian gambling casino that opened in Michigan's Upper Peninsula this summer was able to offer everything except the gambling after the federal government notified the owners that part of the 29,000-square-foot Kewadin Shores Casino and Hotel, overlooking Lake Huron's Horseshoe Bay north of the Mackinac Bridge, was built where Indian gambling isn't allowed. "It wasn't until after we had the pilings and foundation in place that we realized that something wasn't right," said Aaron Payment of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. "We did another survey and found that all but 30 feet of the casino was on ineligible land." With 800 slot machines and 26 gambling tables idle, the tribe immediately began erecting a $2.5 million replacement casino the legal distance from the original one.

Mensa Reject of the Week Annie Donnelly, 38, of Farmingville, N.Y., pleaded guilty to embezzling money from her employer to play the New York Lottery. She was spending about $6000 a day on lottery tickets, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, which pointed out that the bookkeeper for Great South Bay Surgical Associates won far less money during her 3-1/2-year spree than the $2.3 million she stole.

They Can't Outsource Goofing Off The average U.S. worker wastes 1.86 hours per 8-hour workday, not counting lunch and scheduled breaks, according to a survey by Salary.com and AOL. Of the 2700 people taking the online survey, 52 percent said they wasted the most time online. Salary.com surveyed human resource managers, who responded that companies assume workers waste only an hour each day. The difference between presumed and reported slackage amounts costs companies $544 billion a year, the survey said.

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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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