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News Quirks 

Published January 26, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

A security officer called police after noticing blood and two trays of empty razor-blade packages at a Walmart store in Venango County, Pa. Deducing that a shoplifter had cut himself while removing the blades, state troopers followed the trail of blood to Michael Barton, 29. (Erie Times-News)

Zannish Frazier, 28, called police in West Linn, Ore., to say she was stranded in a park and needed a ride to the transit station. Officers who showed up found the woman toting six duffel bags, two of which turned out to be filled with stolen laptops, clothes and jewelry. “It was almost like she went Christmas shopping,” police Sgt. Neil Hennelly said after arresting Frazier for burglary and theft. (Portland’s Oregonian)

Another Nail in the Post Office’s Coffin

As more Netflix customers switch from mail-order DVDs to Internet downloads, its streaming movie service is hogging North America’s bandwidth, threatening the Internet’s capacity to handle other uses, according to the network management company Sandvine. Its annual report on broadband usage said that just under 2 percent of Netflix subscribers account for 20 percent of all Internet traffic during peak home Internet usage hours in the United States and Canada. Sandvine forecasts Netflix will strain broadband capacity as more and more customers abandon the mail. (Slate)

Hard Times

Executions in the United States declined 12 percent in 2010, in part because of “the high costs of the death penalty at a time when budgets are being slashed,” according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report. Texas led the nation, carrying out 17 of the 46 U.S. executions. (Reuters)

Dupe of the Week

Joseph Jones, 73, told sheriff’s investigators he was awakened by a phone call to his motel room in Spartanburg, S.C., from someone claiming to be the manager. The caller explained that a prior guest had left behind some “highly sophisticated cameras” that were hidden and needed to be gotten rid of. Following the caller’s instructions, Jones smashed the television with the ceramic toilet tank cover, then threw the set outside and shattered all the mirrors in the room. Next, the caller said that a midget was trapped in an adjoining room, and Jones “needed to help police get to him.” Jones dutifully broke through the wallboard. By then, the real motel manager had received noise complaints from nearby guests and called the authorities, who concluded that Jones was the victim of an elaborate prank, which had targeted guests at other motels. No charges were filed, but the manager asked Jones to leave. (Spartanburg’s WXII-TV)

Overreaction of the Week

When his girlfriend turned down his marriage proposal at a Burger King in Pico Rivera, Calif., Francisco Hernandez, 22, went to his car, which still had “Stacy Will You Marry Me?” written on the back window. He drove onto the sidewalk, through some bushes and into the restaurant parking lot, where he reportedly tried to run the ex-girlfriend down. He narrowly missed, then tried to drive away with two flat tires. Hernandez abandoned the car and ran, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Hernandez, but “then our helicopter guys spotted him walking down the street carrying a bouquet of flowers.” (Los Angeles Times)

Little Things Mean a Lot

An unnamed man in Granby, Québec, appeared before a small-claims court demanding compensation for a penis enlarger he insisted didn’t work, although he spent 500 hours trying to make it function. The man said he paid $262 for the X4 Extender Deluxe Edition because an advertisement promised results. (Canadian Press)

Surgeons at Taiwan’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering said their experiments showed that electricity is a safer alternative to scalpels for performing penile surgery. Their report, “Determination of Human Penile Electrical Resistance and Implication on Safety for Electrosurgery of Penis,” noted that a highly concentrated electrical current performs a cleaner cut with much less blood. Because of the potential risk of determining how much electricity a penis could safely withstand, Dr. Vincent Tsai noted the researchers performed their experiments on themselves, attaching electrodes to both the head and the shaft of the organ, then applying voltage — but not anesthetic. Their conclusion, Tsai said, was to use less power for shorter durations. (Australia’s

Un-American Activity

Reporting on Iowa’s Treasure Hunt program to return unclaimed cash, stocks and property to residents, State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald said the person who stands to gain the most, an 85-year-old man in Storm Lake, refuses to file the necessary paperwork to claim what’s owed him: $1,632,427 in cash, and stocks valued at $446,874. “We have made overtures to him,” Fitzgerald said. “He knows the money is there. It appears to be a situation of him not wanting to be bothered.” (Des Moines Register)

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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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