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News Quirks 

Published September 9, 2009 at 10:38 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police arrested Christopher Lee Anson, 23, for robbing a bank in Cannon Falls, Minn., after an officer stopped him for speeding during his getaway. According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the officer started writing a ticket but heard the call about the robbery and asked Anson for his address to mail him the ticket, then sped off to the crime scene. When the officer saw the bank’s surveillance video, he recognized the robber as the man he’d stopped for speeding. Police found Anson at the address he provided.

• Police arrested Lawrence Neal, 45, for purse snatching in Eastpointe, Mich., after he was “captured by his own seat belt,” according to Detective Lt. Leo Borowsky. Noting that Neal used his turn signals throughout the chase, Borowsky said the suspect tried to bail out of his vehicle, got his right leg tangled in the seat belt and was dragged several hundred feet before the vehicle stopped. Neal suffered a broken leg.

Energy Drain The Energy Department wastes millions of dollars a year by failing to use thermostats that automatically dial back the temperature when nobody is around, according to an inspector general’s audit of 55 buildings at four department sites. The report said the department could save more than $11.5 million a year with setback controls that adjust the heating and air conditioning at night and on weekends. The New York Times noted that such thermostats are already installed in most locations but aren’t being used. Cathy Zoi, an assistant energy secretary, said that if the report could motivate officials to start using the thermostats, “then it’s fantastic.”

Monkey See, Monkey Do Russell Gortzig, 13, was hospitalized with multiple burns in Deltona, Fla., after imitating a YouTube posting of a man in a banana suit lighting himself on fire. reported that a friend siphoned gasoline from a riding lawnmower and poured it on Gortzig, who held a lighter away from him, but a combination of the spark and fumes caught his shorts on fire. Linda McCrea said YouTube is at least partially to blame for her son’s pain, although a representative of the video-sharing website said it takes in 20 hours of video every minute and is unable to screen postings in advance.

Odd Ending Ken Kitamura, 19, a student at Japan’s Osaka Institute of Technology, drowned in the Yodogawa River when the concrete canoe he was testing for a school project capsized. Mainichi Japan reported Kitamura wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

Tumbling Tubbies Bigger butts reduce hip fractures, according to Canadian researchers, who found added weight provides more cushioning when overeaters fall. Since 1985, hip fractures among women have declined 32 percent, 25 percent for men, Bill Leslie, a professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba, told the Toronto Star. The researchers stressed that obesity should not be regarded as a hip-protection strategy.

Second-Amendment Follies Larry Tenbrink, 61, was watching TV at home in Mount Vernon, Wash., when he heard his chickens “carrying on,” he told the Skagit Valley Herald. He grabbed his .22 caliber pistol, headed outside and spotted an opossum the size of a large cat. Tenbrink said he went to shoot the animal but pulled the trigger too soon and shot himself in the right thigh.

• A 38-year-old man told sheriff’s deputies in Carvers Bay, Ga., he and another man were practicing with a rifle at a hunting club when he tried to shoot some dragonflies. Just then, the other man walked in front of him and was shot in the head. The Georgetown Times said the victim insisted the shooting was accidental.

Slippery Solution Rather than spend $8800 to repair their broken surveillance system, managers of a residential property in Xi’an, China, smeared 220 pounds of butter on the gas pipelines that run outside the buildings, making them too slippery for burglars to climb to sneak into apartments.

Slightest Provocations Violence broke out among spectators at a basketball game in Guangdong, China, after supporters of one team accused the other team of using a player who was too tall. The Guangzhou Daily reported that Huizhou Qiaoxing of the Dream Basketball League, which was set up for players of shorter stature, with a height limit 1.88 meters (6 feet 2 inches), signed three-time national slam-dunk champion Hu Guang, whose height is listed as 1.95 meters. The coach of the opposing Shenzen Kuruite demanded officials verify Hu’s height, but he wouldn’t stand up straight and measured 1.87 meters. Shenzen forfeited in protest, sending Hu’s team to the finals. Shenzen fans disrupted that game, causing officials to stop it at halftime. Other spectators, upset the game had been stopped, then smashed up five cars with Shenzhen license plates outside the arena.

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ Authorities arrested a 22-year-old man in Silverdale, Wash., who started a fight with five people by throwing rocks at them. Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies said the suspect explained he was training for the Ultimate Fighting Championship but had never been in a fight before and told the men, ages 15 to 50, he “needed practice getting knocked out so he could prepare.”

Parent-Teacher Conference Arizona’s Maricopa Unified School District suspended middle school principal Stephanie Sharp, whom it accused of engaging in “unprofessional and immoral conduct” by routinely leaving school to carry on with the father of a student. The Arizona Republic reported one incident when a woman called the school to say her husband would be picking up their children at school and had a gun. Officials locked down the school but couldn’t find Sharp. When she finally answered her phone, she reportedly told staffers she was in a hotel room with the woman’s husband.

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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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