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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again Police in Williamsburg, Ky., arrested two men and two women for stealing a 20-foot-long section of railroad track. Unable to load the track onto their truck, even with a hoist, they chained it to the back and dragged it behind them, gouging the pavement along the way. The trail led to a scrap yard, where the thieves were trying to sell the track for "a pretty good chunk of change," Officer Shawn Jackson said.

* An elaborate disguise didn't prevent New York City police from identifying Samuel Manoharan, 31, as the suspect in five bank robberies. He wore a wig, makeup and women's clothing, but he had "a very big nose," a police official told the Daily News. "His wig couldn't cover his nose."

* Tyree Monique Tate, 26, stole clothes from a TJ Maxx store in Delta Township, Mich., and then hid from store security agents in a trash compactor, designed to be fed from the store's rear loading dock and covered with "Keep Out" signs. Police said an unsuspecting worker turned on the compactor, crushing Tate.

Beware the Buttbuttinator The term "clbuttic mistake" entered the e-lexicon, the London Telegraph reported, after a news-circulating website that filters objectionable words automatically changed the word "classic" in a dispatch to "clbuttic," determining the word "butt" to be less offensive than "ass." Similar sites since cite other examples. Prior to this year's Olympic Games, for example, the American Family Association's news site changed record-setting sprinter Tyson Gay's name to "Tyson Homosexual." Other machine-censored examples from the Telegraph: "What did the British Embbutty do for this British National Overseas pbuttport holder?" and a "series of previously secret Central Intelligence Agency plots to buttbuttinate foreign leaders."

Not-So-Special Delivery A German letter carrier caught hoarding at least 20,000 letters at his home told authorities he fell behind with deliveries because studying for night school took up too much time, leaving him "too overtaxed" to catch up. A neighbor who saw the 23-year-old postal worker in Frankfurt dumping mail into a garbage bin alerted police, who found bags and boxes of letters and other mail stashed throughout his apartment and basement. "It's worth mentioning," the police said, that he "didn't deliver mail addressed to himself, either."

* Authorities accused Debra Gottrell, 55, of stashing more than 100,000 telephone directories she was hired to deliver in three storage units in Las Cruces, N.M. A storage-company worker who noticed the phone books, which piled up over four years that she was supposed to be delivering them, contacted Gottrell's employer, Directory Plus. The company estimated the undelivered directories cost it $500,000.

Chowing Down Behind Bars Convicted murderer Richard Cooey, 41, sued to stay his execution, insisting he's so fat, his executioners would have trouble finding his veins and his weight could weaken the lethal injection drugs. Cooey's lawyers argue in the federal suit filed in Columbus, Ohio, that their 5-foot-7, 267-pound client had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago, and he's done nothing but gain weight since.

* Tremayne Durham, 33, pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a fried-chicken feast that included KFC and Popeye's chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream. After he received his agreed-upon life sentence, he was served the rest of his plea-bargain break from prison food: calzones, lasagna, pizza and ice cream.

Things That Go Boom A cannonball left over from the Civil War killed veteran relic hunter Sam White, 53, as he was cleaning it in his driveway in suburban Richmond, Va. Investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms concluded White was using a wire-brush grinder on the 9-inch naval ordnance when the grinder ignited the 145-year-old powder left inside the shell, causing it to explode, sending shrapnel everywhere, including a 2-pound piece that hurtled through the roof of a house a quarter mile away.

Not-So-Great Escapes After a 21-year-old Danish man on trial for bank robbery in Nykoebing Falster escaped during a recess, a listener to a local radio station that broadcast an alert reported spotting the fugitive at the company where the listener worked, applying for a job. The reluctant defendant told police who found him there he had fled because he was eager to show he had learned his lesson by finding honest work.

* Australian police spotted a car with altered license plates, but when they followed it, the driver got out and fled on foot. The Sunday Times reported he jumped over a fence, fell and landed on his head. Sgt. Greg Lambert said officers found the 32-year-old man "lying on his stomach, unable to move his legs." The man suffered a fractured vertebra, Lambert explained, adding, "Doctors indicate that he may never walk again."

* When the owner of a pickup truck in Tampa, Fla., caught Lorenzo Earl Knight, 22, breaking into it, Knight took off. The pickup's owner and a friend gave chase through a construction site, where Knight tried to elude his pursuers by hiding in a portable toilet. The Tampa Tribune reported the men found Knight and tipped over the toilet to hold him there until police arrived and found him covered in human waste.

Way to Go Police in Charlotte, N.C., theorized that Miguel Angel Rivera Lemus died after he and his wife dropped by their apartment while running an errand and remembered they left their two young children in the car and locked the keys inside. The Charlotte Observer reported the woman said she was looking for the spare key, when Lemus grabbed a large butcher knife to pry open the car window. Instead, police said, he fell down six stairs and landed on the knife.

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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