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News Quirks 

Published January 8, 2014 at 12:38 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Troy Foster Mitchell, 47, was in the process of robbing a bank in Modesto, Calif., when another teller called out, “Hi, Troy.” The teller recognized Mitchell because he’d been in the bank a month earlier to apply for a car loan. After Mitchell made off with $5000, bank officials showed Mitchell’s application form to police, who arrested him at the address he’d given. “Most people make more of an effort to hide, wear a mask or have a getaway vehicle,” Lauren Horwood of the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, “but he had nothing.” (Stockton’s the Record)

Star Quality

An Indian merchant named Chandrashekhar posted a billboard in Tamil Nadu intending to honor the late Nelson Mandela. The sign showed a photo of actor Morgan Freeman instead of one of the South African leader. Freeman portrayed Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus. The merchant blamed the mistake on the billboard’s designer. (Agence France-Presse)

Flush with Wealth

Workers cleaning a Jet Airways aircraft at Kolkata, India, found 240 gold bars worth more than $840,000 that had been left in the lavatory. Regional authorities disclosed that cleaning crews have made “scores” of similar discoveries, which are connected to smuggling operations. A passenger carries the gold aboard an international flight bound for India, hides it in the lavatory and leaves it there when exiting the plane to clear customs. The aircraft itself continues as a domestic flight. A new passenger retrieves the gold and carries it off the plane because customs officers don’t check domestic flights. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Cage Rattlers of the Week

The Nonhuman Right Project filed four lawsuits asking a New York state court to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees and affirm their basic right not to be held captive for entertainment or research. Chimpanzees “possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they’re found in human beings,” Steven Wise, president of the nonprofit declared. “There’s no reason why they should not be protected when they’re found in chimpanzees.” (Reuters)

Anals of Medicine

Medical researchers have developed a robot butt. The device is designed to train student doctors to give prostate exams, according to its inventors, Drs. Benjamin Lok and Carla Pugh. The plastic posterior is hooked up to a video screen featuring a virtual male named “Patrick” who is bent over a desk. “The mannequin is instrumented with force sensors that can measure where the student is examining and with how much pressure,” Lok said, adding that Patrick even measures eye contact between the student and the virtual patient to help improve bedside manner. (The Huffington Post)

Litigation Nation

A citizens group is suing the city of La Jolla, Calif., demanding that it eradicate the “foul, noxious and sickening odors” left by birds and sea lions defecating on the rocks below restaurants overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove. Citizens for Odor-Nuisance Abatement blames the foul smell on city officials, who two years ago approved a fence to keep people away from the rocks. Since then, birds and marine mammals have flocked to the site. The lawsuit complains that sea lions particularly have made the problem “much worse” because they’re eating strong-smelling anchovies on the rocks. Removing the fence, the lawsuit contends, would let people clamber on the rocks and, by doing so, chase away the birds and mammals to defecate elsewhere. (Los Angeles Times)

Waste of Taste

The chief cause of food waste in the United Kingdom is fussy shoppers, according to the supermarket chain Tesco. Officials reported that in the first six months of 2013, its U.K. stores threw away 30,000 tons of edible food that customers rejected because they “always pick the cream of the crop” and turn down old or misshapen produce, regardless of whether taste is affected. “Customers will always make the choice of the one that cosmetically looks better,” Matt Simister, Tesco’s food sourcing director, told a House of Lords panel. “That’s a very difficult reality for us.” By contrast, Simister noted, Eastern European customers more willingly accept less than perfect-looking food. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Lest We Forget

After movie star Paul Walker died in a car crash, Scottish authorities reported that a car burst into flames during a gathering to honor Walker organized by a group of car enthusiasts. Police charged a 19-year-old man with causing the fire, which began “after revving the engine for 20 minutes in tribute.” (Scotland’s STV)

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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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