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Curses, Foiled Again A surveillance video of an attempted drug-store robbery in Port Richey, Fla., shows the suspect handing a hold-up note to a clerk, only the note is blank. The St. Petersburg Times reported the suspect then verbally announced the robbery, but the clerk ignored him to call 911 and describe the robber, who tried to hang up the phone but couldn't. He then tried to open the cash register but couldn't and left empty handed.

* Inmates at Brazil's Marilia prison figured out how to bypass high-tech security by training carrier pigeons to deliver contraband. Guards were baffled as to how the drugs and other illegal stuff were getting inside, until they observed some of the pigeons struggling to fly. An inspection revealed the birds were weighed down trying to deliver cell phones.

Voice-Overs Police responding to a report of an argument between a man and a woman in Mesa, Ariz., found a 21-year-old man arguing with himself. Officers said the man changed the pitch of his voice as he acted out each part.

* Police responding to complaints of a loud argument at an apartment building in Framingham, Mass., found two women yelling at each other. Deputy Police Chief Craig Davis pointed out that both women are deaf.

Unwavering Support Switzerland's national railway directed workers to stop wearing orange reflective vests after Dutch soccer fans attending matches in Berne mistook a worker's orange uniform for their team's color and followed the worker onto the tracks. "We have now given out yellow vests to all our staff who have to work on or cross the tracks in Basel, where the Dutch fans are now based," railway official Oliver Tamas said. Police there also switched from orange to yellow to prevent confusion.

Tom Ridge to the Rescue Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new $214 million infectious disease laboratory in Atlanta conduct experiments on bio-terror bacteria in a room sealed with duct tape. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the tape was applied around the containment door after the building's ventilation system malfunctioned and pulled potentially contaminated air from the lab into a hallway. Although CDC officials insisted they fixed the airflow problem, the duct tape remains in place because, according to Patrick Stockton, CDC safety and occupational health manager, "it's an enhancement."

Mobility Hazards Golf cart injuries have increased "steadily and significantly," from an estimated 5772 in 1990 to an estimated 13,411 in 2006, according to research reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Noting that gas prices are prompting more communities to declare golf carts "street legal," lead investigator Lara McKenzie suggested the situation warrants golf-cart driving licenses and mandatory safety instruction.

* Wearing helmets and seat belts topped safety recommendations for golf-cart drivers from Gerald McGwin, a researcher at the Center for Injury Sciences. Noting more communities favor the slow-moving carts "because of their low emissions, quiet operation and presumed safety," his study of 48,000 golf-cart injuries between 2002 and 2005 found most occurred among males 10 to 19 years old and those 80 and older. "Golf carts are becoming a popular way to get around in some neighborhoods, particularly for adolescents who can't yet drive a car," McGwin said.

* Officials in India's commercial capital of Mumbai objected to an American warning about the risks of falling into manholes during the monsoon season. After the U.S. consulate posted a notice on its website that municipal workers in Mumbai sometimes open manhole covers at times of heavy flooding and then leave them unattended and unmarked, Jairaj Phatak, the municipal commissioner, pointed out that only about 10 people have died in recent years from falling down open manholes. The consulate didn't change the online advisory but added a sentence, stating that open manholes are sometimes marked with tree branches.

Slightest Provocation After Andrew T. Fox, 31, lost a croquet match he was playing with his wife and her 16-year-old son, authorities in Hartland, Maine, said he hit the teen in the head. The wife and son ran away to call police while Fox barricaded himself inside their mobile home. He told Maine state troopers and Somerset County deputies he had weapons and then set the trailer on fire before surrendering a few minutes later.

* Police said Pamela Bumpers, 33, and another woman were waiting in line at a meat market in Tampa, Fla., when they began arguing over whose turn it was to order. The argument turned physical, and police said Bumpers bit off the tip of the other woman's finger. Doctors were unable to reattach it. The Tampa Tribune reported that the victim, Jacqueline Wimbush, 39, previously had another fingertip bitten off during a fight, but in that 1996 incident, a skin graft saved the digit.

Hood Ornaments Brian S. Jackson, 16, was thrown to his death while riding on the hood of a vehicle that police in Menomonee Falls, Wis., said reached speeds of 60 mph before driving off the road and hitting a tree. Friends said Jackson had ridden this way before.

* New Zealand authorities charged Cindy Marcia Fairburn, 37, with killing her former partner, Darin Paul Maxwell, 42, who clung to the hood of her car as it traveled more than 8 miles at speeds of 75 mph before veering into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The impact threw Maxwell into the other vehicle's windshield. Fairburn denied murder charges, insisting that Maxwell jumped on her car and started head-butting her windshield because he was angry with her.

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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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