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News Quirks 03.23.05


Published March 23, 2005 at 5:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again After police arrested Darrell Jenkins in Springfield, Massachusetts, for destruction of property, assault and resisting arrest, his bail was set at $500. Police arrested Jenkins again when he tried to pay his bail with counterfeit money. Bail was set at $5000.

Take My Wife...Please! Beijing police arrested a husband and wife for running a bogus matchmaking agency. According to newspaper accounts, the agency ran ads claiming to have lots of rich and beautiful women, then charged men who responded a consulting fee, a directory fee, a membership fee and a separate fee for each date with "Miss Right." All the dates turned out to be with the wife.

Apres Low Carb Two further fat fighters are brushing your teeth and fidgeting. Dr. Takashi Wada of Tokyo's Jikei University reviewed everyday habits of 14,000 adults. Those who stayed slim, he said, usually brush after every meal. Overweight men, on the other hand, sometimes go more than a day without brushing their teeth. Wada explained that people who brush regularly tend to be more health-conscious, stressing that the findings don't suggest that the activity of brushing burns fat.

- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, however, concluded that any activity, no matter how slight, contributes toward weight loss. Studying volunteer subjects who identified themselves as couch potatoes, the scientists found that lean idle people were unable to sit still and burned 350 more calories than obese idle people, who tended to sit still more. "Sitting is a lost opportunity to get up," lead researcher James A. Levine declared. He indicated that fidgeting might be genetic and cited previously discovered brain chemicals that "drive rats into their armchairs and other chemicals that make them rush around the cage."

Mensa Reject of the Week David F. Bradford, a Princeton University economics professor and recognized scholar, who served on President George H.W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors in the early 1990s, was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering third-degree burns to half his body when he tried to carry a burning Christmas tree out of his home shortly before 1 o'clock in the morning. Police in Princeton Borough, New Jersey, said that the blaze was caused by one of 10 lit candles that had been placed on the tree, which was still on display six weeks after Christmas.

Banks in Other Lands The Sparebanken Moere bank in Aaroed-dalen, Norway, hired Arild Tofte and Kaare Heggdal, who run a recycling company, to remove an outdated automatic teller machine from a gas station. The bank assured the men that the ATM was empty. It wasn't, as a security guard alerted them after they had driven off with it. "The guy was apparently a bit agitated," Tofte said. "He was very eager to empty the cash from the machine."

- West Virginia scrap-yard owner Wade Peer sued Canada's fourth-largest bank for clogging his fax machine for three years with confidential information about hundreds of clients. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said that the fund transfer requests Peer received were intended for internal distribution only.

- A month later, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce admitted that one of its cash machines was issuing fake money. Instead of distributing $20 bills, the ATM, located in New Brunswick, dispensed bill-sized incentive coupons for Canadian Tire. Bank official Rob McLeod said that the coupons, ranging in denominations from 10 cents to $2, "must have come in from maybe some of our business customers who package up their own cash."

Cows & Effect Cows become excited by intellectual challenges, according to researchers at Britain's Cambridge University, who measured the animals' brainwaves after challenging them to figure out how to open a door to get food. "The brainwaves showed their excitement," Cambridge animal welfare professor Donald Bloom said. "Their heartbeat went up, and some even jumped into the air. We called it their Eureka moment."

Separate research at Bristol University found that cows also develop friendships and hold grudges. "Remarkable cognitive abilities and cultural innovations have been revealed," Bristol animal welfare professor Christine Nicol said. "Our challenge is to teach others that every animal we intend to eat or use is a complex individual."

No More Soup du Jour A French labor tribunal awarded Phillippe Pitiot, 42, five years' back pay after he complained that he had cooked for his former employers for no pay and no vacation for 17 years. "At first, I was willing to make some concessions because she and her husband had big money problems," Pitiot said, explaining that the couple did pay him for the first five months after hiring him to cook in their hotel restaurant in Lalouvesc. He filed a lawsuit against his boss, Genevieve Arnaud, after she and her husband sold the hotel and the new owner put Pitiot in touch with a lawyer. Dominique Chambron declared that his client "had been basted like a turkey."

Mounting Woes Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro, 60, resigned in response to allegations that she promised to help a pizza shop owner avoid deportation in exchange for free pizza and garlic bread. Harjit Singh, who owns a pizza shop in Brampton, Ontario, said that Sgro also pressed him to supply "15 or 16" volunteers for her campaign office. Sgro said she resigned so she would "be free to defend myself vigorously" against the allegations. "It's so stupid," she said, dismissing Singh's claim that she asked for free pizza. "We had loads of food."

At the time she stepped down, Sgro was also under attack for giving a special residency permit to a Romanian stripper who had worked on her re-election campaign. Subsequently, the minister's chief of staff was found to have visited several strip clubs while researching a program aimed at importing strippers to fill Canada's stripper shortage.

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