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News Quirks 

Published April 22, 2008 at 5:43 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Baltimore transit authorities said Issac Ray Dunn, 58, boarded the city's light rail system but failed to show a ticket when asked. The transit inspector writing the citation for not paying the $1.60 fare ran a routine check and learned the federal government had a warrant for Dunn, who was apprehended and turned over to federal marshals.

* Police in Peterborough, Ontario, said Donald Archie Baker, 51, called 911 to request a wake-up call so he wouldn't miss his court date. The man was warned about abusing the emergency line but then called on the regular business line to request the wake-up call. After learning the man's identity, police checked and found an outstanding warrant for him, then went to the address he had given and arrested him.

* Milwaukee authorities charged John J. Miller, 46, with threatening to kill a federal judge after he faxed hand-written and signed letters from a Kinko's store. Kinko's employees notified police after finding a threatening letter with Miller's name and address that he had faxed and then left on a copy machine.

Dog Days The mayor of Alice, Texas, resigned after being accused of telling her next-door neighbors their dog had died and then secretly keeping it for herself. Rudy Gutierrez and Shelly Cavasos said they asked Grace Saenz-Lopez to take care of their Shih Tzu, Puddles, while they were on vacation. When they called to check on Puddles, Saenz-Lopez told them Puddles had died and been buried in her backyard. Three months later, however, a relative of the neighbors saw the dog at a groomer and notified them. Saenz-Lopez refused to return the dog, whom she renamed Panchito, insisting she was protecting the dog from being neglected, prompting the neighbors to file criminal and civil charges.

* A Korean company said it received the world's first commercial order to clone a pet dog. A California woman is paying RNL Bio $150,000 to re-create her dead pit bull terrier, Booger, from some ear tissue she had refrigerated. "It seems that she had a disability, and her dog helped her cope with the problem, so she was eager to get a clone of Booger," the company's chief executive, Ra Jeong-chan, told the Korea Times. He added that if orders follow from Westerners willing to clone their pets at that price, "the cost of cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000."

More Carriers, Fewer Letters Australia's postal service announced it is raising the maximum weight limit for men and women letter carriers by 33 pounds to attract more recruits. Australia Post had a 198-pound limit for "posties" because its 110cc motorcycles had a safe working limit of 286 pounds, allowing 88 pounds for mail. Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that testing by motorcycle manufacturer Honda indicated the vehicles could safely carry a "postie" weighing 231 pounds. Loads, however, must be limited to 55 pounds.

Bottom Line Florida Sen. Victor Crist introduced a bill that would require all eating establishments in the state to have an adequate supply of toilet paper in its restrooms.

Silver Lining America's debt crisis has boosted the economy of Buffalo, N.Y., which passed Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and other cities as the nation's leading debt-collection center. The New York Times reported there are 108 collection agencies employing 5200 collectors in and around what had been one of the nation's poorest cities, following an exodus of manufacturing in the recent decades. State Department of Labor officials predict that by 2014, the number of collectors will rise 22.3 percent.

Nobody's Favorite Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost airline, failed to back his own horse in the Irish Grand National. Hear the Echo won Ireland's top steeplechase at odds of 33-1. "We had no money on him," O'Leary told the Irish Times. "I thought he was going out for a run to keep himself warm." Despite his lack of confidence, O'Leary collected the top prize of $389,500.

Mother's Day Present Three weeks after learning she was pregnant with twins, Michelle Stepney, 35, checked into a London hospital with a suspected miscarriage. Doctors found she had cancer instead and that the twins' kicking in the womb had dislodged her tumor, alerting doctors to its presence. In order to treat the cancer, however, doctors told her they would have to terminate the pregnancy. She refused and settled for reduced chemotherapy. The twins were delivered by Caesarean section 33 weeks into the pregnancy, without hair, as a result of their mother's chemotherapy, but otherwise healthy. Four weeks later, Stepney had a hysterectomy to remove the tumor.

Lunging Lingerie Authorities in Cumberland County, Maine, said they were on the lookout for a man with a mustache who pulls in front of female drivers and then jumps out of his vehicle while wearing women's underwear, a garter belt and black high-heel boots. Citing six reports of the cross-dressing motorist, Sheriff Mark Dion told the Portland Press Herald that while the man's behavior may not be criminal in terms of dress, the fact that he's jumping out in roadways and apparently targeting women who are alone is cause for concern.

True Love South Koreans can buy a high-tech mobile phone device that secretly checks the passion in the voice of a lover. The "Love Detector" service from mobile operator KTF uses technology that analyzes voice patterns to see if a lover is speaking honestly and with affection. "We created this service because we thought people would want to know what others were feeling about them," KTF official Ahn Hee-jung said. The service costs subscribers a flat fee of 1500 won ($1.59) a month for unlimited use or 300 won for each call.

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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