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News Quirks 01.17.07


Published January 17, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police in Edmonton, Alberta, reported that a man ordered a convenience-store clerk to open the cash register, then slammed it with a baseball bat before the clerk could open it, jamming the cash drawer shut. While the robber tried to open the register, the clerk escaped and enlisted help from others to block the front door. Since the back door was already locked, the suspect tried to climb out through the roof but crashed through the ceiling. "He seemed to be having some complications along the way," police official Lisa Lammi said.

When Botox Isn't Enough Eyelash transplants, using "plug-and-sew" techniques pioneered for balding men, are the latest cosmetic surgery for women, according to Dr. Alan Bauman, who predicted the procedure "is going to explode." It involves removing 30 to 40 hair follicles from the back of the scalp and sewing them, one by one, onto the patient's eyelids. The cost is around $3000 an eye. "Eyelash transplantation does for the eyes what breast augmentation does for the figure," declared Bauman, who last fall led what was billed as the world's first live eyelash surgery workshop in Los Angeles, attended by 40 surgeons from around the world.

Weapon of Mass Destruction Hundreds of Iranian-made cars unexpectedly caught fire last year, and authorities identified one particular model as the main culprit. "Around 300 people have been killed or wounded, and 40 percent of the fatalities were attributed to the Peugeot 405," traffic police Chief Mohammad Rooyanian told the newspaper Kayhan. It and other models from the French carmaker are manufactured under license by Iran's largest carmaker, Iran Khodro, which Rooyanian said made 70 percent of the 700 cars that caught fire just in Tehran between March and August last year. "Despite the reports," Iran Khodro's marketing director, Mehdi Ghasem, pointed out, "the car still ranks as the best-selling car among automobiles which are priced above $10,000."

Security Stinks Officials at Nebraska's Lincoln County Jail said that a fight between two inmates started because one inmate took exception to his cellmate's flatulence. Sheriff Jerome Kramer blamed overcrowding. "You just can't get a reprieve from one another," Kramer said. "When you've got a guy causing problems passing gas, there's no way to get away from the smell."

* An American Airlines flight from Washington to Dallas-Fort Worth diverted to Nashville when passengers reported smelling burning matches. After the plane was evacuated, a security sweep turned up safety matches in one seat. Airport official Lynne Lowrance said an unidentified woman passenger assigned to the seat told FBI agents, after "lengthy questioning," that she had been striking matches to disguise what the Washington Post described as "evidence of a troubled digestive system."

* Officials responding to a fire alarm at the Sea Life Centre in Dorset, England, said the cause was a flatulent turtle. The sea turtle broke wind after being fed a Christmas treat of Brussels sprouts, according to marine biologist Sarah Leaney, who said the "few large bubbles" it created were strong enough to set off an emergency sensor inside its tank.

Not-So-Funny Money Police arrested Leah R. Jarolimek, 21, after a clerk at a gas station in Sheboygan, Wis., reported that she tried to pay for chips and cigarettes with a $20 bill that was blank on one side.

* U.S. District Judge James Robertson decided that the Treasury Department discriminates against blind people by printing all paper bills the same size. Ruling on a suit by the American Council of the Blind accusing the department of violating the Rehabilitation Act, which aims to maximize disabled people's "inclusion and integration into society," Robertson wrote that a blind person who cannot accurately identify paper money without assistance lacks "meaningful access to currency." The Justice Department immediately appealed the ruling, pointing out that blind people have the option of using credit cards instead of currency.

* Kazakhstan's National Bank printed new banknotes that misspelled the word "bank." It decided to issue them anyway, despite objections by some politicians. A letter from members of parliament to President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared that the mistake, using a different form of the letter k, "is not just a spelling problem - it has political undertones."

Church Basement Follies Floyd Kinney Jr., 49, pleaded guilty in Northampton County, Pa., to molesting two girls but explained that he did it because his wife spent too much time away from home playing bingo. "She would be going to bingo three, four times a week," Kinney told Judge F.P. Kimberly McFadden. "I told her to stop going to bingo, and she said, 'If they had bingo every day, I'd go every day.'" McFadden accepted the plea but not the explanation, telling Kinney, "Some people, when their wives are not home, decide to do other things, like clean their living rooms."

* Leticia Villareal Garcia, 61, was convicted of drug running after police found 214 pounds of marijuana hidden in her car trunk when they stopped her outside Bisbee, Ariz. Prosecutor Doyle Johnstun blamed her bingo habit for driving her need for cash to supplement her $275 monthly welfare check. "People who play bingo almost every night of the week end up losing in the long run," Johnstun told jurors.

Blind Faith A British ambulance crew transferring a patient between hospitals 20 minutes apart wound up taking eight hours after their vehicle's satellite navigation system sent them 215 miles north of their destination before they realized their error and turned back. An official of the London Ambulance Service blamed a faulty navigation database but noted that the crew "was relatively new to the job."