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News Quirks 

Published November 12, 2008 at 6:17 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again After receiving a call from the manager of the Sunset Inn Motel in San Antonio, Texas, police found 15 newspaper vending machines inside a guest room. “All the newspapers are gone,” Officer Raul Gonzaba said. “All the change is gone.” The thief was gone, too, but Gonzaba foresaw a quick arrest because the suspect had reserved the room using his real name.

Eight-Time Loser Barack Obama failed to win local elections in Brazil, despite eight candidates having adopted that name. Six candidates named Bin Laden also lost. Candidates are allowed to register under assumed names, which many use to attract attention, such as those this year named after animals, vehicles, kitchen utensils, U.S. presidents and infamous world leaders. London’s Daily Telegraph reported more than 200 hopefuls renamed themselves after the country’s popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, among them President Lula, Ambulance Lula, Radio Lula, Singer Lula, Hairdresser Lula and Here Comes Lula.

Running under his own name, 73-year-old mayoral candidate Jair Vieira claimed victory in Dom Cavalcanti, even though he received the same number of votes as the incumbent mayor. Under Brazil’s election laws, a tie goes to the oldest candidate—bad news for Vieira’s 42-year-old opponent.

Unclear on the Concept Trick-or-treaters who stopped at the home of Quentin Patrick, 22, in Sumter, S.C., were greeted with 30 rounds from an assault rifle fired from inside the house. The shots killed a 12-year-old boy and wounded his father and 9-year-old brother. After his arrest, Patrick, a convicted felon, told police he opened fire because he feared a robbery.

Help for Hard Times Four builders in Corrales, N.M., formed a company to sell homes to poor factory workers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, made from corrugated metal shipping containers. A 320-square-foot prototype developed by PFNC Global Communities, which operates out of a back room in a Corrales real-estate firm, features a kitchen, bath with toilet, sleeping areas, windows and a bright blue door. PFNC founder Brian McCarthy, 30, said the company intends to keep the price to about $8000.

Cute But Dangerous Retired Army Sgt. Frank Garren reported he was walking with his girlfriend through a park in Springfield, Ill., when he spotted an “enormous” male fox squirrel on a tree branch. Hoping to impress his companion, he made a squirrel call to get the animal’s attention. “Whatever I said in squirrel language must have made him mad,” Garren said, adding the squirrel pounced on his head and clawed his face before running off. After receiving medical treatment for multiple scratches, Garren, who was awarded a Purple Heart after surviving a roadside bomb in Iraq, told the State Journal-Register, “I never thought a squirrel could kick my ass.”

• While driving home from his job in Dover, Tenn., a man who ran over a fox stopped to retrieve the fox so he could cut off the bushy tail for a souvenir. State wildlife officer Dale Grandstaff said the man put the animal in the back seat, thinking it was dead, but it regained consciousness. As the driver tried desperately to stop the fox from climbing into the front seat and biting him, the vehicle crossed the centerline, rolled over and landed upside down in a ditch. Grandstaff noted that the driver, who suffered minor injuries, was named Tommy Fox.

• A 176-pound male pig held an Australian woman hostage for 10 days with its aggressive demands to be fed, even head-butting her bedroom door at night and biting her leg when she tried to use the outside toilet. “I picked up a broom and poked him out with it,” Caroline Hayes, 63, told reporters, “and he snapped it in half with his mouth.”

Hayes, who described herself as “a major animal lover and a vegetarian,” said she took in the pig after it wandered onto her farm in New South Wales, but it turned on her after she started feeding it. Authorities who finally rescued the woman removed the pig and took it to a piggery, where, according to pest animal ranger Len Hing, it was to be placed on stud duty.

Overprotective Mother Sheriff’s investigators in San Bernadino County, Calif., arrested a 31-year-old woman who drove her 12-year-old daughter to a park to fight another 12-year-old girl and then intervened when her daughter appeared to be losing. Witnesses said the woman grabbed the other girl by the hair and slapped her face.

Abundantly Renewable Resource Officials announced plans to make San Antonio the first U.S. city to convert human waste to energy. Steve Clouse, chief operating officer of the Texas city’s water system, said that a private vendor would reprocess the 140,000 tons of solid waste flushed down the city’s toilets each year into natural gas, at a rate of about 1.5 million cubic feet per day, for area utilities to burn.

An Unjoyful Noise An Italian judge ordered a parish church in Lavagna to pay $75,175 to a woman who claimed the bells at the church next to her rang so loudly they had caused her “moral and physical harm” for 23 years. Church bells in Italy are customarily rung to mark the hour and to summon worshippers for mass and other religious ceremonies. The woman began her campaign against the Madonna del Carmine parish in 1985 and resorted to legal action five years ago, complaining the bells resulted in continual headaches and made it “difficult and embarrassing” to have guests in her home. Judge Pasquale Grasso ruled the church must limit its bell ringing to 20 seconds and only for Sunday mass and Christmas and Easter services. He added that the monetary award covered “biological damage,” “moral harm” and “injury to the right to a social life.”

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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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