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News Quirks 06.21.06


Published June 21, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

A bank-robbery attempt in Kumagaya, Japan, ended when the 58-year-old would-be robber asked a teller how to go about it. The teller alerted another employee, who escorted the man from the bank. "He left quietly when asked to," a police official said, adding that the escort called police after noticing a knife sticking out of the man's pocket and a bloodstain on his trousers. "He didn't brandish the knife at anyone," the police official told Reuters news agency, "but he injured himself in the leg."

--Police named Christopher J. Runnion, 26, as their chief suspect after receiving a report of a rape at a building in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. The desk clerk told police that when he entered the building, he saw a man leaving with panties on his head. Awhile later, a bartender called police to report that a man had walked into the bar wearing panties on his head. The building clerk identified Runnion, who had the woman's purse and jacket on him.

Brainstorm of the Week

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has come up with a way to shoot troops, police officers and firefighters onto the roofs of tall buildings in a matter of seconds. New Scientist magazine said that, according to the plan, a ramp with side rails is placed on the ground at an 80-degree angle to the building. A person then sits in a chair, like a pilot's ejection seat, attached to the ramp. Compressed air from a cylinder underneath propels the chair up the ramp's guide rails. At the top, the chair stops instantly, and the person continues in an upward trajectory to land safely on top of the building. The DARPA patent suggests that a computer could calculate the correct angle and speed of the launch.

Things That Go Bang

Authorities in Orange County, Fla., arrested Marjorie Thompson, 44, after she ran outside her house with a bottle rocket launcher and began shooting fireworks at a sheriff's helicopter flying overhead. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the helicopter, which was searching for a car-theft suspect, was annoying the woman.

--Authorities at El Salvador's La Esperanza prison near San Salvador arrested visitor Lidia Alvarado, 44, for trying to smuggle marijuana and an M-67 military grenade to two inmates by stuffing them inside her vagina. The cylinder was about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide and in working condition.

Bust Trusters

During a Washington, D.C., press conference at which Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) proclaimed June 7 as "National Women's Confidence Day," actress Queen Latifah appeared on behalf of a "self-esteem" effort that the YWCA is launching with the support of Curvation, makers of plus-size lingerie. "You'd be surprised," Latifah told the Washington Post, "how simply wearing the right bra can affect confidence."

--Actress-dancer Alice Alyce, 29, filed a $100 million lawsuit against the owners and managers of the touring company of the Billy Joel musical Movin' Out in Coral Gables, Fla., claiming that they fired her because they thought her breasts had grown too large for her role. Even though the suit did not name Billy Joel, Alyce said she was disappointed that the entertainer hadn't contacted her in person about it, adding, "I do hope he calls me."

Live Free or Puff Away

New Hampshire joined four other states by requiring that all cigarettes sold in the state be self-extinguishing. The smokes' special paper won't burn unless the smoker keeps drawing in air. After the law takes effect in October 2007, retailers who sell ordinary cigarettes face fines up to $1000 per sale.

Less Sex, More Chat

Prostitutes in the Brazilian city of Salvador obtained government permission to start their own radio station, not to talk dirty and attract customers but to discuss human rights, social, health and sexual-abuse issues. Some programs will be about the trade, according to Sandro Correia, project coordinator at the Association of Prostitutes of Bahia state, who told Reuters, "We are not going to apologize for prostitution." Working girls and media professionals, such as Correia, will staff the station, Radio Zona, so prostitutes can learn an alternative job.

World's Laziest Flasher

Police arrested Franklin J. Arroues, 45, in Boise, Idaho, after he reportedly threw naked photos of himself out his car window to children.

Adding Insult to Injury

A German court in Munich ordered a 47-year-old man who tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a train to pay for the damage that he caused. A court official said that the man leapt too late to land under the train and instead crashed through the side window of the driver's compartment. He suffered head wounds. The driver of the train, meanwhile, suffered shock and was unable to work for several weeks. The court ordered the man to pay half the cost of repairing the train and the driver's lost wages.

Get the Message?

Mary Wohlford, 80, of Decorah, Iowa, had the words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" tattooed on her chest to make her medical wishes clear, but at least one doctor thinks that isn't enough to stop medical personnel. Dr. Mark Purtle of the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines told the Des Moines Register that state law defines when caregivers are permitted to end life-sustaining measures, and a tattoo isn't enough. Wohlford noted that she also has a living will hanging on the side of her refrigerator.

Basic Needs

Authorities arrested Troy Anderson, 72, the mayor of Waldron, Ark., on charges that he sought sex from two women who were late paying their water bills. One of the women told investigators she had been having sex with Anderson for eight to 10 years, explaining that he paid her $25 per encounter and $60 for a late water deposit. Anderson offered a second woman with a late water bill $100, according to an affidavit, then grabbed her and exposed himself.

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