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News Quirks 

Published June 1, 2011 at 7:17 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Dexter White, 41, called 911 in North Charleston, S.C., complaining that he paid $60 to a drug dealer for crack cocaine but received only $20 worth of drugs and that the dealer refused to give him his $40 change. White said he smoked his crack before calling the cops, who arrested him anyway, for disorderly conduct. (Charleston’s WCSC-TV)

No one spoke to the 911 operator who answered a call in Onondaga County, N.Y., but the operator overheard three men in a car planning break-ins. The men also mentioned their location. Realizing one of them had “pocket dialed” his cellphone’s emergency number, the operator alerted sheriff’s deputies. When one of the callers announced, “There go the cops now,” the passing deputy turned around, stopped the vehicle and found tools reported stolen from a local business. Arrested were brothers Ronald J. Euson, 30, and Thomas Euson Jr., 28, and their cousin, Allen Euson, 29. (Associated Press; Syracuse’s Post-Standard)

When Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton received a text message from a Helena, Mont., teenager asking to buy marijuana, Dutton realized the boy had misdialed his drug dealer’s number. He directed the texter to meet a detective posing as the dealer. When the texter arrived with a friend, the detective identified himself. One of the boys fainted. No citations were issued, but Dutton said they faced worse punishment from their parents. (Helena Independent Record)

Poetry PhDs Cheap

Ninety-three of 162 U.S. public research universities have adopted a “differential tuition” scale that charges students in potentially high-earning fields more than those with less earning potential. Business and engineering students typically pay more than English majors, for instance. Before 1988, only five institutions used the sliding scale, according to Glen Nelson, who researched the issue while at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the past three years, Nelson said, 18 institutions have adopted the practice, with business students paying 14 percent more tuition and engineering students paying 15 percent more. (Omaha World-Herald)

Define “Certain Goods”

FBI Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston decided to take a joyride in a 1995 Ferrari F50, which was being stored in Lexington, Ky., as evidence in a car-theft case. Within seconds of leaving the warehouse, Kingston lost control of the high-performance vehicle, which “fishtailed and slid sideways” and then crashed into a curb, bushes and a small tree, according to his passenger, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson. Declaring the rare automobile a total loss, Motors Insurance Co. sued the government for the $750,000 it had paid the stolen car’s owner five years before the FBI recovered it. The Justice Department refuses to pay the Michigan company, insisting it is immune to tort claims when “certain goods” are in the hands of law enforcement. (Detroit News)

First Link in a Chain

After spending three months embedded with NASA’s mission control, Andrew Kessler wrote his first novel: Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen and My 90 Days With the Phoenix Mars Mission. Next, he opened a bookstore in New York City’s high-rent West Village and stocked it with just one book: his own. The store, Ed’s Martian Book, is divided into sections, among them “staff favorite,” “best-seller” and “self help.” Reactions vary. “A lot of people are scared to come in,” Kessler noted. “Some people wonder if we’re Scientologists.” (CNN)

No Detours

A 24-year-old German man told authorities he became trapped in a women’s prison in Hildesheim after he noticed its open gate and mistook it for a shortcut to a nearby park. By the time he realized his blunder, the gate had been locked. Mayor Henning Blum happened to be passing the prison when he heard the man’s cries for help and notified police, who freed the man and began investigating why the prison gate wasn’t closed. (Reuters)

Guilt Ridden

When police pulled over a car in Rensselaer, N.Y., a 21-year-old male passenger bolted from the car. He jumped into the Hudson River, whose current carried him 250 feet downstream before he could grab a branch and hold on until police rescued him. The unidentified man explained he fled because he thought officers had a warrant for his arrest. No warrants were outstanding. (Associated Press)

Counterrevolutionary Spirit

Although 41 percent of adults in England and Wales support independence for Scotland, according to a poll by the market research firm YouGov, only 29 percent of Scottish adults favor breaking away from the United Kingdom. (Reuters)

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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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