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News Quirks 

Published February 5, 2014 at 8:37 a.m.

Small Jobs

Scientists at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization announced plans to glue sensors, each 2.5 mm square and weighing 5 milligrams, onto 5,000 honeybees in Tasmania, hoping to track their movements and halt the spread of diseases. The bees are first refrigerated to make them docile, and younger bees, which are hairier than older bees, often need to be shaved before the microchips can be glued on. The scientists said they’re working on shrinking the sensors to 1 mm square so they can be glued to mosquitoes and other small insects. (Reuters)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Authorities charged Brad Lee Davis, 33, with killing his 58-year-old stepfather during an argument by giving him an “atomic wedgie.” Court papers filed in Pottawatomie County, Okla., state that Davis admitted pulling Denver Lee St. Clair’s underwear over his back and head, allowing the elastic waistband to wrap around the victim’s neck and suffocate him. “I’d never seen this before,” Sheriff Mike Booth said, believing it to be the first death by wedgie in the United States. (Oklahoma City’s Oklahoman)

Blame Game

Campaigning to reduce homicides in Venezuela, which the United Nations ranks fifth highest in the world, President Nicolas Maduro accused television soap operas of spreading “anti-values” to young people by glamorizing violence, guns and drugs. Last year, Maduro blamed violent video games and the movie Spider-Man. (Associated Press)

What Could Go Wrong?

During a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to address postal reform, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stated his eagerness to include a provision that would “remove a federal ban on guns in post offices” so that licensed gun owners could carry their weapons inside post office buildings instead of having to leave them in their vehicle. (MSNBC)

The Price of Idealism

Despite being packed almost every day, a restaurant in China’s Fujian province is losing money because it trusts diners to pay what they want. Many choose to pay nothing. In its first three months, Five Loaves and Two Fish lost 250,000 yuan ($41,100), according to majority investor Liu Pengfei, who said the news isn’t all bad. “We initially expected the restaurant to stay open for two months, and now it has lasted three,” he said. “The losses are not unbearable.” (China Daily)

Hazards of Toilet Paper

After someone rolled a house and trees in Dora, Ala., homeowner Cheryl Crausewell and her son cleaned up most of the mess, but some of the toilet paper remained stuck in a magnolia tree. Crausewell said they set fire to a piece of toilet paper to remove it, but the wind blew it into the front yard, setting the grass on fire. Within seconds, Crausewell said the fire spread to the backyard, where a propane gas tank from a grill fueled the blaze, which destroyed the house. (Birmingham’s WBRC-TV)

Health Care Follies

Intending to save Florida millions of dollars by privatizing health care for prison inmates, Department of Corrections head Michael D. Crews awarded a five-year, $1.2 billion contract to Tennessee-based Corizon to provide medical care for inmates at 41 state correctional facilities, even though the company was sued 660 times for malpractice in the past five years. A second contractor, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Services, signed a five-year, $240 million contract to provide medical services to nine state institutions, despite having 1,092 malpractice claims filed against it in five years. In 2006, Corizon, then known as Prison Health Services, backed out of a 10-year state prison health care contract months after being awarded the deal, insisting that it wasn’t making enough money. (Miami Herald)

Second-Amendment Follies

Lacking a laser pointer for a slideshow presentation to a foreign delegation at State Police headquarters in Albany, N.Y., Jerome M. Hauer, the state director of homeland security, took out his loaded 9-mm Glock pistol and used the laser-sighting device attached to the barrel as a pointer. One public official who attended the meeting said that three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun’s laser tracked across one of their heads while Hauer was trying to find a map of New York to point at. (Albany’s Times Union)

Do As I Do, Not Etc.

Eileen McArthur, 47, pleaded guilty in Forfar, Scotland, to driving drunk behind the wheel of her car twice in the space of three weeks, including once driving while almost five times the legal limit. McArthur is a former senior planning officer for Angus Council’s Focus on Alcohol, where she spearheaded initiatives against alcohol abuse. (BBC 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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