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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police who stopped Cyheam Forney, 31, for a minor traffic violation in Melville, N.Y., discovered his license had been suspended. Officers arrested Forney for the misdemeanor but added a felony charge when he tried to pay his bail with a counterfeit $50 bill.

* Police who discovered someone had broken into a candy store in downtown Cincinnati and made off with every kind of candy - "Reese's cups, Skittles, Twizzlers, you name it," store manager Leslie Betts said - arrested four suspects a few blocks away after following a trail of candy and candy wrappers. Among them was Christine Ruther, 19, who brought along her 7-week-old daughter and told officers the gang used the baby stroller to carry the candy.

Free Ride

A 30-year-old California program allows state and local government workers to avoid paying tolls and red-light camera traffic tickets. The Orange County Register reported that the Confidential Records Program, originally intended to protect police officers from threats by keeping their personal license plates confidential, was expanded to "cover hundreds of thousands of public employees - from police dispatchers to museum guards." The paper noted, "Their spouses and children can get the plates, too." Examining computer logs for 91 expressway toll lanes, the Register counted 14,535 unpaid trips by motorists with confidential plates in the past five years.

Multiple Uses

Doctors at the University of California, San Diego, removed a woman's appendix through her vagina. Time magazine reported that surgeons Santiago Horgan and Mark Talamini made a small incision in the wall of the patient's vagina, then inserted surgical instruments and a small camera through the cut and extracted the appendix. "I feel kind of like I did too many sit-ups," patient Diana Schlamadinger, 24, said after the 50-minute procedure, an American surgical first and part of an experimental technique called "natural orifice" surgery. Promising less scarring and faster healing than traditional laparoscopic surgery, it uses patients' mouths, vaginas and rectums as entry points.

Petit Crimes

Austrian authorities reported that a thief broke into party headquarters of the ruling Social Democrats by squeezing through a mail slot and exited the same way, taking laptops, cell phones, notebooks and cash. The hole measures 14 by 14 inches, according to a party official, who observed, "It is such a tiny door for post and newspapers, he must have obviously been extremely small."

* Police responding to a report of a disorderly patron at a motel in Rockaway, N.J., confronted Louis Rolstad, 46, who, according to the police blotter in the Hackensack Daily Record, "made claims that a midget was hiding in the curtains of his room trying to steal his money." Police checked the room but found only cocaine, hashish and assorted drug paraphernalia. They arrested Rolstad.

Big-Bang Theories

Authorities investigating a bomb blast in Sampson County, N.C., concluded that Martin Bryant Boyette, 34, and Julio Frentez Morales, 25, made several bombs at Boyette's house and tried to throw one out of a minivan while driving past a school. Before Morales could toss the bomb, however, it went off in his hand, seriously injuring him, and a piece of shrapnel hit Boyette in the back of the head. Deputies arrested the pair at a hospital emergency room after finding the Chevrolet minivan parked outside with a side window blown out and blast marks on the outside of a door.

* Vernal Miller Sr., 49, was tinkering with a World War I 37mm cannon round at his girlfriend's mobile home in Creswell, Ore., when it exploded, severing his legs. Lane County Sheriff's Lt. Byron Trapp explained Miller was trying to separate the shell casing so he could recycle the brass.

Heckuva Job

A contractor hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina to build floodwalls to protect St. Bernard Parish stuffed them with newspapers, according to New Orleans TV station WWL. The station said the contractor told one witness he used newspapers instead of the recommended sponge rubber joint because Congress didn't send enough money to use the proper material. The Army Corps of Engineers said it's satisfied with the work.

Grooming Pays

St. Paul, Minn., taxi driver Roy Carlson Jr. reported that when a 15-year-old girl tried to stiff him for a $22 fare, he headed for a police station, but she pulled his hair back and started to cut his throat with a kitchen knife. His life was spared, he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, because "I had styling cream in my hair, and it slipped out of her hands." Despite bleeding from a cut below his chin, Carlson said he pinned the girl with his knee while he radioed for help.

Economic Theory

Three Hong Kong anglers who hooked a rare giant yellow croaker and struggled for 90 minutes to land the 187-pound, 5-1/2-foot fish sold it to a local fisherman for HK$20,000 ($2560). Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper reported the fisherman sold the fish to a seafood restaurant for HK$580,000. The fish was resold to a Chinese buyer on the mainland for HK$1 million ($126,000).

Cat-Scratch Fever

Two days after a California Assembly committee approved a bill that would make it illegal to drive with a pet in your arms or in your lap, Modesto police investigating an accident that toppled a utility pole and shut down a street for nearly an hour reported the accident was caused by a woman driving with a cat in her lap. The animal scratched her, and she drove into the pole.

Drinking-Class Hero

Police in Portsmouth, N.H., charged Mary Lou Kohlhofer, 53, with aggravated driving while intoxicated after she failed to negotiate a Dunkin' Donuts drive-through and crashed into a fence. The incident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. while Kohlhofer was driving to a Bible-study class.

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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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