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Curses, Foiled Again Two car-theft suspects fleeing police on foot in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ran into an office building, ducked inside a women’s restroom, crouched on toilets in the stalls and tried to convince officers they were women by using falsetto voices. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that officers weren’t fooled and arrested brothers Kendrick Pitts, 20, and Marquise Pitts, 19.

• Police caught up with a suspected drug dealer who led them on a 90 mph chase after he stopped at a Taco Bell parking lot in Decatur, Ind. Fort Wayne police Sgt. Mark Walters told the Journal Gazette that Jermaine Askia Cooper, 36, explained “he knew he was going to jail for a while” and wanted to get one last burrito.

Casting the First Stone Two months after the Chicago Tribune denounced American International Group Inc. for awarding its top executives $450 million in bonuses while accepting public bailout money, the newspaper’s owner, the Tribune Co., received permission from a Delaware bankruptcy judge to pay some 700 local and corporate managers bonuses totaling $13.3 million. “We need to motivate and incentivize the key people who will implement change,” Tribune Chief Financial Officer Chandler Bigelow III explained to Judge Kevin Carey, who approved the handouts. “They’re the best and the brightest in the company.” The Washington Times reported that the Chicago Tribune’s editorial asked the company executives responsible for AIG’s $40.5 billion in losses last year, “Shouldn’t that kind of ‘performance’ require those employees to return some of their salaries, if not be fired altogether?”

Homeland Insecurity The Transportation Security Administration admitted its $36 million “puffer” machine airport-screening program was a mistake. USA Today reported the 207 machines, designed to thwart terrorists by firing air blasts at passengers and sniffing for explosives particles dislodged from skin and clothing, were too slow to handle passenger screening. They were also unreliable, becoming confused by humidity and jet fumes and easily clogging, resulting in additional operating costs of $48,000 per machine. The TSA said it is replacing the machines with full-body scanners.

Slightest Provocation Police arrested Michael Jay Richardson, 48, after a woman told them he threatened her because she forgot to bring home cheddar cheese. According to the police report, when the 29-year-old Myrtle Beach, S.C., woman went to the bathroom after bringing in groceries, Richardson kicked in the door and demanded to know where the cheddar cheese was.

Killer GOP Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) hinted that former Republican vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp died of cancer because of the Republican Party agenda. Responding to a question from CBS’s Bob Schieffer over whether he had let down Pennsylvanians who wanted a Republican to represent them, Specter said he was “becoming more comfortable” with the Democrats’ approach and expressed disillusionment with recent changes in the Republicans’ healthcare priorities. “If we had pursued what President Nixon declared in 1970 as the war on cancer, we would have cured many strains,” Specter said. “I think Jack Kemp would be alive today.”

Instant Karma Police said Brandon Goodson, 23, was killed at a railroad crossing in Burleson, Texas, when he “disregarded the railroad crossing signal lights and bells and drove around another vehicle that was stopped at the crossing arms.” The Jeep Compass that Goodson was driving “rolled multiple times” when the locomotive hit it.

Monty Python in Real Life A teenager entered a store in Winston-Salem, N.C., and demanded money, claiming he had a gun concealed beneath his shirt. Instead, owner Bobby Ray Mabe told the Winston-Salem Journal he and a customer jumped the robber and held him. The gun tucked under his shirt turned out to be a banana, which the suspect, John Steven Szwalla, 17, ate while awaiting sheriff’s deputies. He left the peel, however, which deputies photographed as evidence.

Out Now U.S. Embassy workers in Baghdad announced that the first-ever U.S. Embassy Gay Pride Theme Party would be held at the embassy employee association’s pub, Baghdaddy’s. “Dress in drag or as a gay icon,” the May 10 invitation said, noting that prizes would be awarded for best costume and “Best Lip Synch Performance.” An embassy official told the Washington Post the event was “organized and sponsored by a group of employees. Given the lack of places to meet in Baghdad, the embassy allows groups to use its social facilities for events on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Give Us the Money The city of Akron, Ohio, is seeking $762,000 in federal stimulus money so it can cut down 1075 healthy ash trees in city rights-of-way and plant other trees to take their place. City arborist Bill Hahn told the Akron Beacon-Journal the project is intended to prevent an infestation by the emerald ash borer, which has not yet appeared in the city or surrounding Summit County, although Hahn insisted the tree-killing beetle is on the way. “It’s not a question of if,” he said. “It’s when.”

Can’t We Just Twitter Them? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is spending $600 million to spend three and a half years scanning the galaxy for planets like ours. NASA said the newly launched Kepler spacecraft would train its telescope at 100,000 stars hoping to discover hundreds of Earth-size planets in or near their habitable zones.

Modern Times Police on the lookout for rowdy Amish teenagers charged Chris D. Slabaugh, 17, with underage possession of alcohol after catching him drinking Busch beer while traveling in his horse-drawn buggy in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. “It’s not a motor vehicle,” Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Buchhardt told the Buffalo News, explaining the youth couldn’t be charged with DWI even if he’d been intoxicated while driving. “The only thing you could charge him with was the possession of alcohol.”

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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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