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News Quirks 

Published April 9, 2008 at 5:45 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again As Tiffany Vance and Christopher Egnatz were finishing their meal at an Applebee's restaurant in Schererville, Ind., Vance complained loudly about finding worms in her salad. Servers let the couple walk out on their $57 tab, but Vance left her purse behind. The Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana reported that while searching for identification to return the purse, a server found a plastic container of bee moth worms. A police officer was taking a report of the incident when Egnatz returned looking for Vance's purse. Confronted by the officer, he blamed Vance for dumping out some of the worms to get a free meal and led officers to where the two were staying.

* Authorities looking for Eric Livers, 20, who fled from a halfway house in Cheyenne, Wyo., tracked him to Portsmouth, N.H., after he called the Cheyenne auto shop where he had been working to have his final paycheck sent to his new address.

Happiness Is a Worn Gun Hoping to stem population growth, government officials in India's Madhya Pradesh state began offering gun licenses to men who undergo vasectomies. The region has repeatedly failed to attract villagers to government family-planning programs, according to Maneesh Srivastava, chief administrator of the Shivpuri district, who said the new program followed a survey indicating that most men refused vasectomies because they did not want to lose their "manliness." "We decided to match it with a bigger symbol of manliness: a gun license," Srivastava told the Washington Times. "It has worked wonders."

Rules Are Rules While driving a charter bus carrying 40 just-released prisoners from Huntsville, Texas, to Dallas, the driver pulled over in front of a convenience store 60 miles short of her destination. She announced her allotted driving time was up and that another driver was on the way. A clerk in the convenience store called police, who found the former inmates milling around the bus. Three hours later, a second bus arrived with three drivers, including the one who abandoned her passengers in the first place.

Conspicuous Behavior Police arrested convicted sex offender Gregory Ray Brooks, 25, after he tried to take a 14-year-old girl to a dance at a middle school in Athens, Ala.

* Japanese police arrested Tetsunori Nanpei, 39, who appeared at a high school in Saitama wearing a girl's school uniform and a wig. The newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that students outside the school gate started screaming at the sight of the man, who ran inside, hoping to blend in with the teenage students. Instead, they also screamed, forcing him to flee.

Mensa Rejects of the Week (Juvenile Division) Two boys, ages 12 and 14, were arrested for trying to rob two civilian employees inside a police station in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Officer Robert Vega said the 12-year-old demanded cash from a records clerk working behind a protective window. "Not only did he pick up the phone and say, 'Put your hands up and give me your money,' he had his hand in his jacket, insinuating that he had a gun," Vega explained, calling the boys "very dumb."

Just What the Doctor Ordered Serbia's Health Ministry issued new rules for hospital staffers banning grumpiness, gossiping, miniskirts, rudeness and accepting gifts from patients or their families for better treatment.

Hands-Off Policy Italy's supreme court ruled that men may not touch their genitals in public, striking down a tradition among some Italian men of warding off bad luck by grabbing their crotch. The judges said the practice "has to be regarded as an act contrary to public decency, a concept including the nexus of socio-ethical behavioral rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively held feelings of decorum." They added that men who feel the need to grope themselves could wait and do it at home.

Darker Shade of Green Polysilicon manufacturing plants springing up in China to meet global demand and capitalize on premium prices for solar-energy panels are avoiding the high cost and time required to recycle silicon tetrachloride, the highly toxic byproduct of polysilicon production, by dumping it directly onto the soil, sometimes near rural villages. "The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in its place," Hebei Industrial University professor Ren Bingyan told the Washington Post. "Human beings can never touch it."

* The rush to replace fossil fuels with plant-based ones has brought unanticipated consequences. The first, the New York Times reported, is pollution, which is poisoning birds and fish. The culprit is biofuel plants dumping vegetable oil, the byproduct of the refining process, into streams. "You can eat the stuff," researcher Bruce P. Hollebone of Environment Canada, said. "But as with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill."

Second, two studies reported in the journal Science, is that biofuels cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels, when the total cost is tallied. The toll includes the destruction of natural ecosystems to clear more land for crops that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when forests and grasslands are burned and plowed. The resulting cropland absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.

Third, many of the world's poorest people are being priced out of the market for food because of soaring prices caused by the use of food crops to produce fuel. "If as predicted, we look to use biofuels to satisfy 20 percent of the growing demand for oil products," Peter Brabedck-Letmathe, chief executive of Nestle, said, "there will be nothing left to eat."

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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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