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News Quirks 

Published December 5, 2007 at 12:01 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police identified Suzanne Gruber, 39, as their shoplifting suspect after she fled from a clothing store in Greenburgh, N.Y., but neglected to take her infant son. "The mother panicked," police Lt. Desmond Martin told the Journal News, explaining that Gruber left her purse and cell phone in the stroller, which also concealed vases, teapots and knives valued around $180.

Southern Exposure Lino Z. Donato, the mayor of Poteet, Texas, announced his intention to resign after pleading guilty to charges he exposed himself to two girls but then changed his mind, declaring he's not guilty, despite his plea. Because the plea agreement he accepted included registering as a sex offender, however, Donato can't go to City Hall because he's required to stay more than 1000 feet from where children congregate, and, according to City Attorney Frank Garza, the Atascosa Boxing Club and Youth Center is "well within 200 feet" of that limit.

Theory of Relativity After Irish police ticketed David Clarke, 31, for driving 180 kilometers per hour in County Donegal, District Judge Denis McLoughlin reduced the charge from driving dangerously to driving carelessly. McLoughlin acknowledged the speed seemed "very excessive" but said it didn't look "as bad" when converted into miles, or 112 mph.

Second-Amendment Follies A 47-year-old Texas man was shot by his own handgun while sitting in his cubicle at an insurance office. He had put the .45-caliber gun into his jacket pocket and then draped the jacket over the back of his chair, according to Lake Worth Police Chief Brett McGuire, who explained the gun accidentally fired as the man settled into his chair. The bullet passed through both of the man's legs and a bookcase before lodging in the cubicle wall.

* This season's hunter shot by dog is James Harris, 37. He took between 100 and 120 pellets in his leg at close range while crossing a fence outside Grinnell, Iowa. He set the gun down, and the dog tripped the trigger.

?Forgotten But Not Gone Sheriff's deputies in Pima County, Ariz., rescued cancer patient Elvira Tellez, 67, after she called to report that she had been left alone in a CT scanner after a technician placed her inside the large machine, dimmed the lights so she could relax and told her not to move during the 25-minute procedure. After losing track of time, she said she called out, then screamed for help and spent several hours trying to free herself from the machine, only to find the closed clinic's doors locked. By the time deputies reached her, she had been inside the clinic for five hours.

3-D Art To help blind people enjoy meaningful body alterations, German university student Klara Jirkova came up with the Braille Tattoo. Relying on surgical steel, titanium or medical plastic that's implanted under the skin to raise bumps, the tattoo can then be read by touch. Wired magazine reported that Jirkova, a student at the University of the Arts Berlin, suggested the implants could be placed between thumb and forefinger so people can "read" each other's names and other information when they shake hands.

Drinking-Class Heroes The City Council in New Ulm, Minn., voted, 4 to 1, to let volunteer firefighters drink alcohol at fire station buildings after fire calls or other calls of duty. City Council president Dan Beranek said he voted for the measure because people "who put themselves at risk in fighting fires are responsible enough to know when they've had too much."

Front Runner Roberto Madrazo lost Mexico's presidential election last year but rebounded to win the men's age-55 category in this fall's Berlin marathon. His time was a mere 2:41:12, including one 15-kilometer stretch he covered in only 21 minutes - 20 minutes and 29 seconds faster than the world record for 15 kilometers. Suspicious race officials disqualified Madrazo for taking a short cut after checking his electronic tracking chip and noting he had skipped two checkpoints. What's more, veteran marathon photographer Victor Sailer pointed out a picture of Madrazo crossing the finish line wearing a wind breaker, hat and long, skintight running pants - hardly appropriate attire for a long-distance race. "If you look at everyone else that's in the picture," Sailer said, "everyone's wearing T-shirts and shorts."

Panty Power Activists protesting Myanmar's crackdown against mass anti-regime demonstrations encouraged women to send their panties to the Southeast Asian nation's embassies. The country's superstitious generals, especially junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, believe that contact with women's underwear saps them of power, according to the group, Lanna Action for Burma, whose website urges, "You can post, deliver or fling your panties at the closest Burmese Embassy any day from today. Send early, send often!"

Cruel & Unusual Punishment After Adrian and Tiffany McKinnon returned to find their home in Montgomery, Ala., had been emptied and trashed, Adrian was inspecting the piles of ransacked items when a man walked through the back door wearing his hat. Realizing the man was the thief, Adrian held him at gunpoint and made him clean up the house before he called police. The suspect, Tajuan Bullock, 33, complained, but Tiffany McKinnon said the police told him "anybody else would have shot him dead. That made the man shut up."

Great Escape When Israeli police showed up at the home of Nabil Farumi to take him to a sentencing hearing after his conviction for attempted murder, they found that he had disappeared without a trace, even though he was supposed to be wearing an electronic ankle monitor. "After we searched the house," police commander Yoram Danieli said, "we saw that he somehow managed to take the monitor off his leg and place it around the neck of his dog."

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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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