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News Quirks


Published June 29, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Police investigating a bank robbery in Houston, Texas, identified their suspects on Facebook. Following a tip, they discovered incriminating posts by teller Estefany Martinez, 19, (“IM RICH”), and her boyfriend, Ricky “Ricko Gee” Gonzalez, 18, (“WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDREDS” and another part of his anatomy with $50 bills). Authorities said Martinez enlisted fellow teller Anna Margarita Rivera, 19, and her brother, Arturo Solano, 22, as accomplices. “I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t post pictures of yourself on Facebook smoking pot or drinking because employers are now looking at Facebook pages,” said Martinez’s attorney, Richard Kuniansky. “But I never knew there should be a warning not to post about a bank robbery that’s been committed.” (Houston Chronicle)

A smartphone app led South Korean police to a murder suspect. The unidentified university professor had sent his mistress an incriminating message via the messaging service app “Kakao Talk” shortly before strangling his wife. He went to the head office of the “Kakao Talk” provider after the murder and asked that the message be deleted, but it was saved for a month and retrieved by police in Busan while checking his phone records. The professor confessed to the murder. (Reuters)

Cowgirl Up

An outbreak of equine herpes in Utah forced contestants for the title of Davis County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse Junior Queen to compete without horses. Instead, they trotted around the arena riding stick horses. Former queen Savanna Steed (sic) said before the pageant that the stick horses would test the riders’ knowledge of the show routine. “With a stick horse, it’s a lot different because you have to do all the work,” contestant Kylie Felter said, “and I think it’s going to be a lot more tiring than with a real horse.” (Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV)

Fruits of Research

Waste-watching Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a 73-page report identifying more than $3 billion in questionable studies funded with taxpayer dollars by the National Science Foundation. Among the projects Coburn blasted was a $559,681 study to test sick shrimps’ metabolism by having them exercise on a treadmill. The researchers found sick shrimp “did not perform as well and did not recover as well from exercise as healthy shrimp.” Other examples of what Coburn said constituted “waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement”: “$80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness; $315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop relationships; $1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names; $50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science; $581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist.”

NSF official Dana Topousis defended the agency’s “excellent record,” declaring, “We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment.” (Washington Times)

Winners and Losers

State officials in Michigan are working to stop Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn from receiving food stamps after he won a $2 million lottery prize. Because he took his winnings in a lump sum, he still meets the income threshold for food assistance. Fick further justified his use of food stamps by pointing out the government took more than half his winnings in taxes. “If you’re going to … try to make me feel bad, you aren’t going to do it,” he declared. “It ain’t going to happen.” (Detroit Free Press)

When Robert Stayton claimed $10,000 for a winning scratch ticket, Montana State Lottery officials failed to check his background. He has two Flathead County arrest warrants on felony drug charges and owes $65,000 in child support in Washington and Idaho. Lottery officials explained they’re supposed to check child-support records of winners only in Montana and are “not statutorily required to check criminal backgrounds.” (Butte’s KTVM-TV)

Fire Buggery

After receiving reports of a child walking on a highway carrying a blowtorch, police in Shenango Township, Pa., located the 3-year-old boy, who told them where he lived. Arriving at the address, they found the boy had burned a porch swing, a broom, a sliding door, a deck and a knob on a septic tank and singed an igniter on a gas grill. Police Chief Dave Rishel noted the propane-powered blowtorch has safety switches but said the boy “was able to manipulate them and turn the torch on.” He estimated the damages at $5000. (Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV)

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