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News Quirks


Published August 20, 2008 at 5:48 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again When a man wearing a wig and sunglasses tried to rob a pizza shop in Denton, Texas, employee Stephanie Martinez emptied the register, but co-worker Rudy Sandoval attacked the intruder, knocking off his disguise. "I dropped the money," Martinez told the Denton Record-Chronicle. "I said, 'Don't hit him again! That's my dad!'" Benjamin Ramirez, 41, ran out of the shop, where Martinez's mother and husband were waiting. Police quickly arrested the three. They cleared Stephanie, though. "Her husband told us she didn't know," police Sgt. James Brett said. "He knew they were going to rob someplace, but he thought it was going to be a convenience store."

* British police nabbed a man they dubbed the "Goldilocks" burglar after his victims returned to their Portsmouth home and found him asleep in one of their beds, surrounded by his loot. The Daily Mail reported the suspect told arresting officers he had taken 15 Valium tablets before the heist to calm his nerves.

Break Out the Tinfoil Hats A Nevada company announced plans to build a microwave ray gun able to beam sounds directly into people's heads. New Scientist magazine reported the Sierra Nevada Corporation has a Navy contract to develop the device, dubbed MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio), which uses short microwave pulses to rapidly heat tissue, causing a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. "The repel effect is a combination of loudness and the irritation factor," the company's Lev Sadovnik explained. "You can't block it out." The device is intended for military or crowd-control uses, but Sadovnik noted it might have other applications and that the company is seeking additional Defense Department funding.

* Websites are targeting children with digital drugs, which USA Today reported are downloadable audio files designed to induce drug-like effects. Often called "idozers" or "idosers," they rely on the concept of binaural beats to synchronize brain waves with sound to alter the listener's mental state. Some sites claim to help develop extrasensory powers; others promise help overcoming addiction or anxiety, losing weight or eliminating gray hair. Most, however, sell audio files, called "doses," that mimic the effects of alcohol, marijuana and hard drugs. Some doses, web columnist Kim Komando noted, are "of a sexual nature."

When Guns Are Outlawed Police in Fort Pierce, Fla., arrested Kimberlee Cole, 18, for hitting Joel Goldsmith, 24, over the head with a toilet seat after she found him smoking crack cocaine in their bathroom. Police said she bonked him because he refused to give up the drugs.

* A barbecue pit was the weapon Octavia Williams, 47, and Timothy Benjamin, 35, chose to bash each other over the head with during an argument in Alexandria, La. Police said she hit him first and, after he hit her back, threw the barbecue pit at the rear window of his car.

* Paul Edward Parrish II, 43, confessed to trying to rob a video store in Charleston, W.Va., by threatening the clerk with an empty Jell-O box, which he set on the counter and said contained a bomb. "I think he had just bought it at Kroger, and he ate it," police Sgt. Aaron James said, describing the box's contents as an already made cheesecake dessert. "Then he got the notion to go and rob the business." James added, "I don't know what he was thinking."

* Police charged Robyn Lee, 23, with aggravated assault for trying to cram a peanut in her neighbor's mouth. The neighbor, Shenna Ferguson, is allergic to peanuts and said Lee threw some at her when they went shopping in Springdale, Ohio. "I told her to stop," Ferguson said in her affidavit, adding that afterward she found her car's windshield wipers torn off, the car keyed and Lee stooping beside the vehicle "messing with my tires."

Only Third? A British airline voted third best in the world by a survey ranking 70 airlines has just one airplane. Palmair European, which trailed Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways and tied with Air New Zealand in the Which? magazine poll of 70,000 travelers, flies its 34-year-old Boeing 737 to 14 European destinations from Dorset's Bournemouth Airport, making two flights a day in summer and one in winter. The Daily Telegraph reported the airline does not operate night flights because its late founder, Peter Bath, believed they were "anti-social." Airline representative Teresia Rossello greets departing passengers and works out seating plans for all flights the night before at her kitchen table, using special notes she has made about each passenger. "Those who want more leg room get it, and families who want to sit together can," Palmair's managing director David Skillicorn said.

Polygamy Chic The wives of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), who drew media attention when Texas authorities temporarily removed 400 children from the church's Yearning for Zion ranch amid allegations of under-age marriage and institutionalized sexual abuse, have begun marketing their plain and simple attire. "We don't know what to expect on demand, but we have a flood of interest," sect member Maggie Jessop told the Salt Lake Tribune. The church-branded clothing is available through the church's website (, which assures shoppers that items for children and teenagers "meet the FLDS standards for modesty and neatness" and that "each piece is made with joy and care."

From Fame to Shame Kira Kashie Brooks, 22, admitted financing her quest to become the next Miss USA by billing the taxpayers of Coral Springs, Fla. According to court documents, her employer, the Coral Springs Police Department, gave Brooks a city credit card, which she used to charge nearly $5000 in personal expenses, including rental cars, cell phone use, a pink-sequined evening gown and $1500 to enter the Miss Pompano Beach USA pageant. Brooks didn't win and was fired a few months later for poor job performance.

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