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News Quirks 05.10.06


Published May 10, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again A 61-year-old man entered Milwaukee's Uihlein Soccer Park shortly after noon, armed with what police said appeared to be a gun, and tried to hold up a woman in an office. When she told him that she had no money, he tried to mug a man whose wallet turned out to be empty. According to Capt. Darlene Jenkins, the frustrated suspect tried to flee but got lost looking for the exit. Witnesses eventually realized the man's gun was a fake and held him for police.

--Police in Baldwin Park, Calif., said that Mark King, 36, met a bank employee preparing to open for the day and forced her inside. She told him that she had to deactivate the alarm or police would arrive, but instead she set it to notify police. When she explained that she couldn't open the vault without help from a second employee, who was due in about five minutes, Capt. Michael Taylor said that the suspect told her "to go outside and to look around and to act as though everything was normal." Once outside, she locked the bank door and ran to arriving police. The trapped suspect holed up in the bank for four hours before surrendering.

Fruits of Research Men are often scared by attractive women, according to a study by University of Arizona psychologist Mark J. Landau and his colleagues, because such women remind men that they are "an impulsive, animalistic, material and finite piece of biological protoplasm."

--In a study by University of Missouri psychologist Gary L. Brase, women indicated that they would be more likely to have sex with a man pictured giving a cookie to a baby than with a man shown taking a cookie from a baby.

Hopped-Up Oil Addicts Some California drivers are deliberately running out of gas on the state's freeways and waiting for free gas from motorist-assistance patrols. As part of a publicly funded program, tow trucks assist cars that have broken down or give a free gallon of gas to drivers whose vehicles are empty. "You say to some of them, 'Hey, you've run out of gas,'" said Andy Lujan, owner of California Coach Towing in Orange County, "and they say, 'Yeah, it's too expensive.'" Moshe Ben Dayan, whose Tip Top Tow company performs a similar service in Los Angeles' affluent west side, told Reuters, "There was one guy a while back who was stopping every morning and trying to get his one free gallon.

Contraband Alert Corrections officials banned large jars of peanut butter at Tennessee's 15 state prisons because inmates were hiding guns and drugs in some of the containers. The ban came after investigators determined that George Hyatte, a prisoner in Knoxville, had concealed a smuggled cellphone in a jar of peanut butter and used it to coordinate a deadly breakout while being taken to court. Prison officials said they planned to return the department's inventory of 4600 18-ounce jars to the vendor and replace them with 1-ounce condiment packets.

--Shaun Tuley, serving a life sentence at England's Frankland Prison in County Durham, told the prison newspaper Inside Time that authorities had denied him permission to read books about magic on the grounds of "operational security problems." The titles Tuley had requested "were not thought appropriate," an official of the Prison Service told the BBC News. "I can't understand the Prison Service's attitude," David Beckley of the magicians' organization Magic Circle said, "unless this man has asked for books on escapology."

Homeland Insecurity Officials at the Guam airport reported finding unauthorized surveillance cameras and listening devices hidden in security-sensitive areas of the airport's arrival area. Some of the cameras were concealed in square "EXIT" sign boxes. The airport and customs agencies were unaware the devices had been installed, according to Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency Director Rick Blas, who told Pacific Daily News that the confidentiality of individuals being inspected and interviewed by customs officers may have been breached.

When a Home Equity Loan Isn't Enough Police in Grand Chute, Wis., accused Danny Vu, 37, of trying to sell his 18-month-old daughter for $7000 so he could fix up his house. "He was having difficulties raising the child alone and wanted to use the money for some home remodeling," Police Chief Ed Kopp said after Vu was charged with unauthorized adoption placement.

Slip of the Tongue Police in Yokohama, Japan, arrested a man who they said licked the tongues of more than 30 young girls after making them open their mouths by telling them he was checking for tooth decay. The man, Masafumi Natsukawa, 39, reportedly attracted the girls' attention by showing them hamsters and beetles. "I did it because the children followed me without any resistance," he told investigators.

--To determine when members of a classic car club in Brookfield, Wis., can safely take their cars out on the roads, founding member Jim Werych performs a ceremony where he gets down on all fours and licks one of the main roads to make sure it's free of road salt. He first tried road-licking three years ago, on a dare from his daughter. "I lose 150,000 taste buds every time I do this," he told the Brookfield News. "It takes me two days to get my taste buds back."

Dutch Treat People planning to immigrate to the Netherlands are required to watch a film to prepare them to join the liberal Dutch culture. Scenes include two gay men kissing in a park and a topless woman emerging from the sea and walking onto a crowded beach. Prospective immigrants can view the compulsory film at 138 Dutch embassies. "The film is meant for people not yet in Holland to take note that this is normal here," said Ayaan Hirsi, a member of the Dutch parliament.

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