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News Quirks 

Published September 4, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Instead of pulling over when a police officer caught him running a stop sign in Palm Beach County, Fla., Alexander Webster, 29, led the officer on a high-speed chase. He lost control and crashed into a hedgerow, then fled on foot until the officer drew his pistol and ordered him to stop. Webster’s 6-year-old son was found unhurt in the backseat of the crashed car. Webster said he fled because he didn’t want to be charged with driving with a suspended license. Police checked and found his license was valid. (Palm Beach Post)

Police arrested Ashton Powers, 24, in Tempe, Ariz., for slashing a tire on a police car with the officer in it. “I don’t know what this guy was thinking,” police Sgt. Michael Pooley said. “It’s a fully marked car, the car was running, the officer was inside with the air conditioning on and you could hear the car running. It still didn’t stop him.” Powers admitted slashing the tire but said he didn’t notice anyone inside. (Phoenix’s KNXV-TV)

Sons of Beaches

Florida’s beaches are running out of sand. Even worse, communities that have replenished storm-eroded beaches by dredging up offshore sand are discovering that there’s little sand left offshore. As a result, beach communities are competing to find more sand. “You have counties starting wars with each other over sand,” Broward County mayor Kristin Jacobs said. “Everybody feels like these other counties are going to steal their sand.” Broward officials are considering a proposal to grind down recycled glass into substitute beach sand. Another option is trucking sand to beaches from sand mines in central Florida. (New York Times)

Hitting Below Rock Bottom

New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner reportedly hired a California firm to provide actors to pose as supporters at an August Dominican Day Parade. The actors, recruited by Crowds on Demand, were paid $15 an hour to seem “like either supporters or the people who met him and became supporters as a result of that encounter.” After the Weiner campaign denied using actors, it released a commercial using unpaid interns, including Joel Acevedo, 18, to pose as regular New Yorkers supporting the long-shot candidate. (New York Post)

Future Farmers

A Massachusetts enterprise, New Earth Robotics, announced it’s teaming up with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to develop self-powering robots to destroy weeds and harmful pests, rendering herbicides and pesticides obsolete. “The robot’s artificial intelligence will make them able to tell crops from weeds and good bugs from the bad,” the company’s Dean Cook explained, adding that the first step is to raise $65,000 to begin research. (

Country in Need of a First Amendment

Indonesian authorities detained Broderick Chin, a manager at a vegetable oil company in Riau province, after workers who couldn’t find a red-and-white Indonesian flag to fly on Independence Day complained that he told them, “Just use my underpants. I have red underpants, and my wife has white ones.” National police official Agus Rianto said Chin was charged with insulting a state symbol and faces five years in prison. (Malaysia Chronicle)

VIP Follies

Within months of offering visitors to the Denver Zoo exclusive access to pet and feed a rhinoceros for an extra $60, zoo officials had to suspend the program because the rhino bit the finger of a woman who fed it. After the woman was taken to the hospital, Brian Aucone, the zoo’s vice president for animal care, couldn’t explain the black rhino’s action but insisted it “is a gentle animal” that “has been hand fed safely thousands of times.” (Denver’s KMGH-TV)

What’s Your Emergency?

Authorities in Hooksett, N.H., charged Jeanie Dufresne with misuse of 911 after she made 10 non-emergency calls in one month, including one asking for a pen. Earlier this year, Hooksett resident Elizabeth Niemi was arrested for calling 911 to ask for help ordering Chinese food. Police chief Peter Bartlett said he hoped that holding Dufresne and Niemi accountable would send a warning that the emergency system is “not for something frivolous.” (Boston’s WBZ-TV)

Second-Amendment Follies

While demonstrating handgun safety at a class in Lancaster, Ohio, instructor Terry J. Dunlap Sr. fired a .38-caliber bullet that ricocheted off a desk and hit student Michael Piemonte, 26, in the arm. Noting that many students in the class were nurses, who helped stabilize him before he was taken to a Columbus hospital, Piemonte said Dunlap didn’t know the gun was loaded. (Columbus Dispatch)

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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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