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News Quirks


Published July 29, 2009 at 6:04 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Liquor store clerk Joseph Wescott, 59, told police in Roswell, Ga., that a man entered the store and tried to stab him in the chest. The knife hit the cellphone in Wescott’s shirt pocket but did not injure Wescott, who pulled a gun and shot the would-be robber in the abdomen. He then used the cellphone to call police, who reported finding suspect Carlos Jean Pierre, 34, at a nearby hospital. Both the gun and the phone were gifts from Wescott’s son, a police officer.

• Police arrested Lisa Roshelle Myles, 40, at a Target store in Oklahoma City after employees said they saw her stuff Blu-ray discs in her pants and try to waddle away without paying. The Oklahoman reported that a search revealed Myles had 33 discs in her pants.

• British police nabbed three men who robbed a jewelry store in Guildford, Surrey, even though they fled the scene in a stolen high-speed Alfa Romeo, because getaway driver Neil Murray, 34, not only refused to break the speed limit, but at times was driving below the limit. The Daily Telegraph reported police caught up to the robbers within 30 minutes.

Vertical Seating China’s Spring Airlines announced it is considering selling standing-room tickets to allow it to handle the growing number of passengers. Airline official Zhang Wuan told CCTV that standees would actually be assigned bar stools equipped with safety belts. MSNBC reported the airline estimated the measure would increase plane capacity by 40 percent, trim costs by 20 percent and lower fares for all passengers.

• Following Spring’s example, Ireland’s low-cost airline Ryanair said it was considering ripping out the back five or six rows of seats on some flights so passengers could sit on bar stools or stand for flights of less than 90 minutes. “Why is this any different to what happens on trains where you see thousands of people who cannot get a seat standing in the aisles?” Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told Sky News. He indicated that passengers willing to stand could fly for free.

Hoping for a Bailout The economic downturn has accelerated the collapse of Ponzi schemes by making it harder for fraud artists to find new investors to keep their operations going, according to the FBI, which has almost 500 Ponzi investigations under way. “We have more open Ponzi scheme cases than at any time in FBI history,” Special Agent David G. Nanz told the Washington Post. “We anticipated a spike, but the numbers we are seeing are even greater than expected.” Nanz added: “There is an old saying, though: ‘When the tide goes out, you can see who isn’t wearing a bathing suit.’ And that definitely applies to Ponzi” operators.

Slightest Provocation Sheriff’s officials in Lee County, Fla., arrested Meredith Hart Mulcahy, 66, for shaking her 71-year-old common-law husband during an argument that began over undercooked potatoes and overcooked bread.

Second-Amendment Follies Roy Jenkins, 44, was arguing with his girlfriend on his cellphone while trying to conceal a shotgun by shoving it down his pants leg. The gun discharged. “He blew his little toe off,” Alameda, Calif., police Lt. Bill Scott told the Alameda Sun, “with additional collateral damage to his shin.”

• Debra Monce, 56, was in a restroom stall at a hotel in Tampa, Fla., when her small-caliber gun fell out of her waist holster. It fired when it hit the floor and wounded Janifer Bliss, 54, who was in the next stall.

Wedding-Day Blues An Italian couple, hoping to add a twist to the traditional throwing of the bride’s bouquet, hired an ultralight plane to fly over the reception in Suvereto and drop the bouquet to the line of eligible women waiting below. Corriere della Sera reported that as pilot Luciano Nannelli flew by, passenger Isidoro Pensieri, 44, tossed the bouquet, but the flowers were sucked into the engine, which caught fire and exploded, causing the craft to crash. Nannelli had only minor injuries, but Pensieri was badly hurt and taken to the hospital — in a helicopter.

Incendiary Devices Two inmates at the Chatham County, Ga., jail were treated for minor burns after they started a fire trying to light a handmade cigarette with a spark from an electrical socket. Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Robinson told the Associated Press the inmates probably stuck a pencil lead into a wall socket in their cell, creating a spark that ignited a piece of cloth they intended to use as a match. But the burning cloth set fire to a bed sheet on a nearby bunk. “Some of these guys have serious habits and craving,” Robinson said. “They try to smoke a lot of things: lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, whatever was served to them at lunch that day.”

Put on a Happy Face Hoping to improve the image of its staff, Japan’s Keihin Electric Express Railway Co. began using smile-measuring software to evaluate the grins of its 530 workers as they begin their workday. According to Mainichi Japan, the device uses a camera and computer to analyze the facial characteristics of a person, including eye movements, lip curves and wrinkles, and rate a smile on a scale from 0 to 100 percent. The computer screen tells those with low scores, “You still look too serious” or “Lift up your mouth corners,” while those who pass the test are supposed to print out and carry around an image of their best smile to help them remember it throughout the day.

Abuse by the Pint The Casa Pocho bar in the Spanish town of Cullera is encouraging its customers to insult its staff and is even offering free drinks for original or hilarious abuse. Polish-born bar owner Bernard Mariusz told Reuters he came up with the idea to help people release their frustrations at the economy. “That way,” he said, “they won’t have to let it out on their family.”

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