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News Quirks 02.14.07


Published February 14, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Kyle Winkler returned to his apartment in Daytona Beach, Fla., to find two men who had broken in. Winkler said he confronted them, but they attacked and "tried to shove me over the rail of the second floor." Downstairs neighbor Miles Dellavecchia heard the struggle, raced upstairs with his shotgun and held the two suspects until police arrived. "We're from Tennessee," Dellavecchia said. "When we see someone we don't know, we get the shotgun."

* Burglary suspect Brian D. Valentino, 33, was being taken to a detention center in Syracuse, N.Y., when he kicked out the window and doorframe of the police cruiser and escaped through the opening. He eluded pursuing officers by ducking into a building, but it turned out to be the headquarters of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office. Retired deputy Dab Ptak spotted Valentino, noticed his handcuffs and apprehended him. "He was very compliant," Ptak told the Post-Standard. "I think he really didn't realize what building he ran into."

Memorable Moment Libya announced plans to erect a statue of Saddam Hussein that depicts the former Iraqi dictator standing on the gallows. The government press release said the statue would go up beside a similar monument to Libyan freedom fighter Omar Mukhtar, who was executed in 1931.

* Authorities in central Pakistan reported that 9-year-old Mubashar Ali hanged himself while re-enacting scenes from the execution video of Saddam Hussein, aided by his 10-year-old sister. "It was an accident which happened due to carelessness of parents," district police chief Sultan Ahmad said.

* In Webster, Texas, 10-year-old Sergio Pelico hanged himself after watching a news story about the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Investigators said the boy apparently went into his bedroom and began recreating the scene he had just seen on television. "Our gut reaction is that he was experimenting," Webster police Lt. Tom Claunch said.

Second-Amendment Follies Sheriff's investigators in Jefferson County, Wash., said that a 52-year-old man was cleaning his .45-caliber automatic pistol while watching the Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints playoff game. When the Saints scored a touchdown, he told Deputy Brian Tracer that "he stood up with excitement," causing the gun to fire. The bullet blew a hole in his left hand.

* Philadelphia police reported that a patron at a topless bar accidentally shot himself in the head, splattering a bare-chested dancer with his blood. Investigators said the weapon apparently discharged accidentally because the unidentified middle-aged victim was carrying it improperly.

* Robert Greenwood, 40, of Frankfort, Ind., called 911 to report having "fallen and shot myself" while walking in the woods. After being airlifted from the scene and a long recovery, Greenwood was charged with violating the state's hunting law because he had been in the woods wearing hunter orange and carrying a loaded gun the day before the beginning of firearm season for deer.

Slightest Provocation About 100 inmates staged a mass escape from Congo's Brazzaville prison, forcing open the doors of their cells and the main doors to the prison, despite warning shots fired by guards. The uprising and escape were sparked by anger over the poor quality of food.

Acts of Charity India's Himachal Pradesh announced an increase in cash rewards for people who agree to marry spouses with serious medical disabilities. Officials said that those who take life partners with 40 to 74 percent disability are entitled to receive $178, up from $111, and those whose new spouses have medical disabilities ranging beyond 75 percent will get more than $300.

* Guests with dwarfism or short stature (under 4 feet 10) may request in-room "assistive kits" at more than 500 hotels owned by Carlson Hotels, including the Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inns & Suites. The kits include a step stool, a reaching tool, a bar to lower the clothes rack and a device to put the latch-hook lock within reach.

* Four U.S. clinics that offer embryo screening responded to a survey that they have created babies with genetic defects for parents with disabilities such as deafness and dwarfism that want children like themselves. The survey, published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility, did not identify the clinics or indicate whether any deaf or dwarf babies have been born as a result of the procedure. But Cara Reynolds of Collingswood, N.J., who considered embryo screening but now plans to adopt a dwarf baby, told the Associated Press that she is outraged at critics of embryo screening, accusing them of "playing God." "You cannot tell me," she declared, "that I cannot have a child who's going to look like me."

Crime Wave of the Week Australian authorities charged Glenn McNeill, 29, with committing the first homicide in 150 years on remote Norfolk Island, which is populated by descendants of mutineers from HMS Bounty.

Shooting-Class Heroes Texas State Rep. Edmund Kuempel introduced a bill that would allow blind people to hunt. The measure would require blind hunters to have a sighted hunter with them and allow them to use laser sights and other devices currently not allowed. "This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great," Kuempel told Reuters news agency.

* Julie Upton, a Houston-area real-estate agent, began offering a free Glock pistol to any client in law enforcement that buys a home from her for at least $150,000. The guns cost about $500.

* Nevada State Sen. Bob Beers proposed letting teachers carry guns in classrooms, declaring that the measure would stem a rise in school violence. "I would expect enough teachers would be interested so it would serve as a deterrent," said Beers, who lost last year's Republican primary for governor.