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News Quirks 05.25.05


Published May 25, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Battle Creek, Michigan, authorities quickly identified Genail Postley Jr., 21, as the man who killed one detective and wounded another after witnesses remembered his Ford Thunderbird and vanity plates, "FLYNFUN." Later, someone reported seeing the license plates in Dearborn. When police located Postley, he fled but crashed into a power substation, then carjacked a doughnut-delivery car. Officers arrested Postley after a brief chase.

- Jason Caldwell told police in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that Ashanti Black, 22, walked into the consumer-electronics store where he works, greeted him, draped his jacket over a 23-inch LCD television worth $1300 and tried to carry the set out the door. When Caldwell confronted him, the suspect insisted that taking the TV was a life-and-death matter. "He gave me some story about how someone was going to kill his mother," Caldwell told the Gazette, adding that Black then pulled out a pocketknife and threatened him but asked for "a 10-second delay before calling the cops." Caldwell didn't wait nearly that long, and police arrested Black at a McDonald's a block away.

Holy Moley!

John Brown, a born-again Christian and founder of Zion Oil & Gas of Dallas, Texas, said that he is relying on the Bible to show him where to drill for oil in Israel. Backed by money from evangelical Christians in the United States, Brown said Deuteronomy 33:24 ("Most blessed of sons be Asher. Let him be favored by his brothers and let him dip his foot in oil.") indicates that oil lies beneath the biblical territory of the Tribe of Asher in northern Israel, where his company has an exploration license covering 96,000 acres.

Score One for Ebonics

Singapore's prime minister declared that hip-hop and rap music can teach citizens how to speak English that the rest of the world can understand. Lee Hsien Loong warned that the city-state's dialect, called "Singlish," is becoming so mutated that it is practically "unintelligible to others." He encouraged teachers to use "pop songs, hip-hop and rap as mediums for teaching good English." The government's current campaign against Singlish blames popular TV character Phua Chu Kang for leading the rise of bad grammar. It also cites the current catch phrase, "Can or not? I think can!"

Second-Amendment Follies

After a sheriff's deputy in Anderson County, Alabama, told a middle-school class how hard it is to take a gun from an officer's holster, one of the students reached into the deputy's holster, grabbed his weapon and fired it into the floor beside the officer's foot. Investigators concluded that the student's finger happened to be small enough to fit inside the safety holster and pull the trigger. "The officer there today had a major lapse in judgment," Sheriff David Crenshaw told reporters.

Silver Lining Department

People fleeing Florida hurricanes last year boosted neighboring Alabama's tourist industry by $240 million. An economic-impact study by Auburn University Montgomery found that this revenue more than offset the $133 million that the state lost to Hurricane Ivan. AUM economic researcher Pam Smith said that the money from Florida evacuees accounted for one-fourth of Alabama's 8 percent rise in tourism spending.

Vehicular Follies

After Dorothy Byrum, 81, got behind the wheel of a new Honda Accord to take it for a test drive in Fort Myers, Florida, she hit her husband and a salesperson, then struck a parked car and a tree before running into a wall. The air bag deployed, but Byrum, who apparently stepped on the wrong pedal, was not injured.

Follow the Money

Automated teller machine and credit cards are coming to Iraq, the Trade Bank of Iraq announced. "We expect to have cash machines in 10 days in Baghdad," declared Hussein al-Uzri, who runs the consortium of banks headed by JP-Morgan Chase.

Stiff Upper Lip

A British team trying to set a speed record for an electric car on a desert highway in Utah failed in its attempt to top 300 mph. They couldn't start the car. After three days of trying, the team announced it was giving up.

Taking the Moral High Ground

Jim Stelling, the Republican Party chairman of Seminole County, Florida, sued a former county GOP executive committee member who he said defamed him by sending out a letter to state party officials accusing him of having been married six times. Calling the charge "unconscionable," Stelling stated that the correct number is five. He indicated at the trial that he isn't proud of his multiple marriages but declared, "I believe in family values."

When Scooters Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Scooters

Because so many crooks who rob tourists in Naples, Italy, rely on motor scooters for their getaways through the historic center's narrow alleys, city authorities banned the vehicles. Non-residents of the district risk a $45 fine if they don't leave their scooters outside the center or walk it through.

Sheer Determination

St. Louis authorities ruled that the death of a man who drowned in the Mississippi River after being shot five times was a suicide. Investigators concluded that Franklin E. Carver, 67, used a .22-caliber handgun to shoot himself three times in the head and twice in the chest. When that barrage failed to kill him, he drove 10 minutes to a bridge in Alton, where he jumped off. Madison County Coroner Stephen P. Nonn said, "Once you decide to die, I guess you're going to do it."

Homeland Insecurity

Authorities arrested three airmen at Moody Air Force Base on suspicion of taking $600 bulletproof vests from the base and selling them to drug dealers for $100 each. Sheriff Ashley Paulk of Lowndes County, Georgia, said that 18 of the vests were recovered, but others might still be on the street.

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