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News Quirks 

Published November 13, 2013 at 9:40 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Police charged Ethan Gettier, 16, with drug and weapons offenses after he aroused their suspicions by posting “over 600 photos on Instagram showing parties he was having in the house with ample amounts of suspected marijuana and alcohol,” according to the police report, which accused him of selling marijuana from the residence in Gaithersburg, Md. The SWAT team that raided the home also found 45 guns, including an M16 assault rifle. (Washington Post)

Opportunity Knocks

Hours after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a Transportation Security Administration screener, Jeff Soto, the public relations director of a marketing nonprofit called Visit Newport Beach, sent a tweet to nearly 13,000 followers urging travelers to make alternate arrangements: “Heading out of town on a weekend getaway via LAX? Avoid the chaos and make it a beach vacation here in Newport Beach.” The tweet was deleted an hour later, but Soto was promptly fired. (Orange County Register)


The Children Development Center at Florida’s Hillsborough Community College notified parents that the center “will no longer be partaking in the celebration of tradition holidays.” When some parents objected, staffer Gwendolyn Parson referred them to an article arguing that children have difficulty understanding holidays and that “many holidays are overdone anyway.” The article suggests celebrating other milestones instead, such as a first tooth, tying shoelaces, worms, the color red or the first snowflake. (Tampa Bay’s WTSP-TV)

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council issued new guidelines for childcare agencies that include a ban on candles on birthday cakes. To avoid spreading germs by blowing out the candles, the council requested that parents instead send individual cupcakes with candles on them. (Social Reader)

Better Off Taking the Bus

The Washington, D.C., Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Service had to pay private ambulance companies $111,400 to provide coverage at two sporting facilities in July after the department pulled 67 of its 94 ambulances out of service for repairs because their air conditioning units failed during a heat wave. Several of the ambulances were repaired by jamming street signs into engine compartments as makeshift heat shields. (Washington Times)

In August, three D.C. ambulances caught fire, including two on the same day, as a result of electrical malfunctions and a fuel leak. (Washington Post)

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Sheriff’s officials said Daniel R. Ricketts, 50, died while driving an all-terrain vehicle in the backyard of his property in Albany County, N.Y., when he ran into a nearly invisible wire he had set up as a booby trap around four large marijuana plants. (Albany’s Times Union)

Vic Bryant successfully contested a $100 parking ticket in New Westminster, British Columbia, after paying a lawyer $1500 to argue his case. (United Press International)

Things That Go Kaboom

When Michael Pierre, 58, flushed a toilet to check the water pressure in his New York City apartment, it exploded in his face. Thirty stitches were required to close shrapnel wounds from flying shards of porcelain, according to his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, who explained that his client is so afraid since the incident that he uses a rope to flush the toilet from a safe distance behind the bathroom door. “Clearly,” Rubenstein said, “toilets are supposed to flush, not explode.” (Agence France-Presse)

Reverse Discrimination

A housing complex designed specifically to accommodate deaf, deaf-blind and hearing-impaired senior citizens in Tempe, Ariz., isn’t doing enough to attract non-hearing-impaired residents, according to federal officials. Eighty-five percent of residents of the 75-unit Apache ASL Trails, which received $2.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, have hearing disabilities. Federal officials contend the complex violates federal housing discrimination rules and want 75 percent of the residents to be seniors who aren’t deaf or hearing impaired. (Phoenix’s Arizona Republic)

See No Evil

Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, boarded a packed commuter train in San Francisco and began waving a loaded .45-caliber pistol, according to authorities, who said surveillance cameras showed passengers ignoring him because they were too busy looking at their phones and tablet computers until Thephakaysone finally opened fire, killing a 20-year-old college student. “These weren’t concealed movements. The gun is very clear,” District Attorney George Gascon said.  “These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of their surroundings.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Out on a High Note

After becoming the oldest woman to compete in the New York marathon, Joy Johnson, 86, returned to her hotel, lay down to rest and never woke up. (Agence France-Presse)

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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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