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Curses, Foiled Again

Police arrested Steven Long, 23, in South Daytona, Fla., after he aroused their suspicion by riding past on a bicycle with a 59-inch television wedged between his lap and the handlebars. When spotted, Long ditched the bike and the TV, which was indeed stolen, but was caught while fleeing on foot. (Orlando Sentinel)

Big Brother Is Back

Russia’s largest retail bank has begun using automated teller machines with built-in lie detectors. Speech Technology Center developed the voice-analysis system for Sberbank to prevent consumer credit fraud by interrogating customers applying for credit at the ATMs. Software detects nervousness or emotional distress, possibly indicating the credit applicant is lying or has something to hide when asked questions like “Are you employed?” and “At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?” Speech Technology Center’s other big client is the Federal Security Service, the Russian domestic intelligence agency that evolved from the Soviet KGB. (New York Times)

Love Hurts

The Florida Highway Patrol reported that Joel Santos, 25, tried to stop his girlfriend from leaving after an argument in Orange County by lying on the ground in front of her car. She promptly ran over him, sending him to the hospital in critical condition, according to FHP Sgt Kim Montes. (Orlando Sentinel)

Not a Square to Spare

New York City’s Parks Department began rationing toilet paper in women’s restrooms along the Coney Island boardwalk. Despite assurances by department official Meghan Lalor that “our budget for these supplies is consistent” and “there’s no need to ration,” bathroom attendants insisted stocks were so low that they’ve stopped refilling toilet paper dispensers and started making beachgoers form “ration lines” in bathrooms to be issued single-ply toilet paper squares. Toilet paper isn’t being rationed in the men’s rooms because there isn’t any to ration. (New York Post)

Medical Plan Follies

When Virginia Graham, 85, complained that her new dentures were scraping her gums raw, Deltona, Fla., dentist Michael G. Hammonds, 57, began adjusting them. Graham screamed in pain, witnesses told Volusia County sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Haught, who reported, “She yanked them out and flung them at Hammonds, demanding a refund.” When Hammonds refused, Graham tried to grab the $900 partial plate, and the two got into a tug-of-war. It ended when Graham used the false teeth she was holding to bite Hammonds’ hand so he’d let go. When he did, she tried to run out the door, but he pushed it shut. Graham climbed on a receptionist’s desk hoping to escape through a window. At this point, two deputies arrived and arrested Hammonds on four felony charges, including false imprisonment. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Church of the Iniquity

Pope Benedict XVI shut down a famous monastery in Rome for its lack of liturgical, financial and moral discipline. The Santa Croce in Gerusalemme church had been run by former fashion designer Simone Fioraso, who renovated the church’s crumbling interior when he became abbot, and opened a hotel. Before he was removed two years ago, he held regular concerts and a televised Bible-reading marathon, and attracted celebrity visitors. One of the monastery’s nuns, former lap dancer Anna Nobili, performed with other dancing nuns during religious ceremonies. Noting that an inquiry by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life found evidence of “lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk,” Vatican official Father Ciro Benedettini said the monastery’s few remaining Cistercian monks would be reassigned to various Italian communities. (BBC News)

Enabling Architectural

A foyer of light and glass highlights Ohio’s new $105 million Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse, which turns out to have one design flaw: a long staircase that extends from the first floor to the second. Its thin, concrete panels form the steps, but glass panels cover the vertical gaps between them, allowing people below to see up skirts. “If you wear dresses, you’re on notice that you might want to take the elevator, as I will be doing,” Judge Julie M. Lynch said. While the county seeks a solution, director of public facilities management Jim Goodenow said security guards have been told to be alert for people on the busy walkway beneath the stairs craning their necks for a better view above. (Columbus Dispatch)

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Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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