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News Quirks 

Published January 9, 2013 at 7:53 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

When a homeowner confronted a burglar who kicked in the door of his home in Arleta, Calif., around noon, the thief begged the resident not to call police and dashed to his car, which he’d parked in the driveway. It wouldn’t start. Police records stated the burglar returned to the house to repeat his request not to call the police, but when he turned his back, the homeowner knocked him unconscious with a hoe. The suspect recovered and ran off before police arrived, but detectives found fingerprints, a clear footprint where he’d kicked open the door, blood on the hoe and the car, which contained other stolen goods, as well as a traffic citation with the name and address of suspect Miguel Luna, 25. “The crime scene was really a study in how to get caught,” Lt. Paul Vernon observed. (Los Angeles Daily News)

What Could Go Wrong?

Among the attractions that Randy Stears, president and head trainer of Florida’s Dade City Wild Things, announced he’s planning for his 22-acre zoo is a zip line over the tiger habitat. (The Tampa Tribune)

Slightest Provocation

When Randall White, 49, complained about the slow service while waiting for his pizza at a Little Caesars outlet in St. Petersburg, Fla., another customer in line, Michael Jock, 52, admonished him. That “prompted them to exchange words,” police official Mike Puetz said, “and it became a shoving match.” White raised a fist, and Jock pulled out a .38 Taurus Ultralight Special Revolver and shot White in the lower torso twice. Puetz said that when police arrived, Jock insisted the shooting was justified under Florida’s “stand your ground” law because he feared for his life. (Tampa Bay Times)

Feats of Science

Among the winners of the 2012 Ig Nobel awards, sponsored by the journal Annals of Improbable Research:

Dutch researchers Anita Eerland, Rolf Zwaan and Tulio Guadalupe were awarded the psychology prize for their study “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.”

The acoustics prize went to Japanese scientists Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada for creating the SpeechJammer, a machine that repeats public speakers’ words with a slight delay to alert them if they are speaking too quickly or have taken more than their allotted time.

Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny won the anatomy prize for discovering that chimpanzees can identify each other by looking at pictures of their rear ends. (BBC News)

Business Directory

Cofounders of Generation Investment Management, who stand to reap a sizable share of the $500 million that al-Jazeera agreed to pay for Current TV: David Blood and Al Gore. (Bloomberg News)

Contractors to Avoid

Hoping to restore an 18th-century French chateau in Yvrac to its former glory, Russian businessman Dmitry Stroskin hired a construction company to renovate the baroque manor and raze a small building nearby while he was out of town. He returned to find the outbuilding still standing but the 140,000-square-foot manor reduced to rubble. “The Chateau de Bellevue was Yvrac’s pride and joy,” former owner Juliette Marmie said. “The whole village is in shock. How can this construction firm make such a mistake?” Explaining that he was “in shock,” Stroskin said he plans to build an exact replica of the chateau. (Associated Press)

After Wells Fargo Home Mortgage foreclosed on a property in Woodland Hills, Calif., it hired a contractor to clear it out. Instead, the contractor emptied a nearby house belonging to retired bricklayer Alvin Tjosaas, 77, who was out of town at his granddaughter’s wedding. Alerted that their contractor had gone to the wrong house, Wells Fargo hired a different contractor, who also showed up at Tjosaas’s house. “Alvin was left to sit among the ruins of the house,” Pat Tjosaas said of her husband, noting that the contractors had used a satellite photo and an address that Wells Fargo gave them. Wells Fargo issued a statement that it was “deeply sorry” for the home “being mistakenly secured and entered.” (ABC News)

Polygamy Follies

When Nigerian businessman Uroko Onoja returned from drinking at a bar in Ogbadibo, he had sex with the youngest of his six wives, Odachi Onoja. The other five wives entered the bedroom armed with knives and sticks, and demanded he have sex with them, too. He had sex with four of them before he stopped breathing. “I tried to resuscitate him,” Odachi Onoja said, “but when the other wives saw what had happened, they all ran off laughing into the forest, leaving me with the corpse.” Okpe Odoh, the village head, confirmed the incident had been reported to police. (New York’s Daily News)

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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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