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News Quirks 02.15.06


Published February 15, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Police didn't take long to identify Gary Belote, 30, as their bank robbery suspect in Colorado Springs, Colo. "He robbed a bank where people knew him," Sgt. Scott Whittington said. "Everybody was like, 'Oh, that's Gary.'" The Gazette newspaper reported that while fleeing, Belote almost ran into Officer Eric Apodaca and Sgt. Angelo Butierres, who found the stolen money in Belote's sock and declared, "It doesn't really get any easier than that."

-- Sheriff's deputies arrested Adam Ruiz, 29, on his first day working at a Burger King in Grand Island, N.Y., after a cashier told them she recognized him as the man who robbed the restaurant the week before.

Spot the Irony

Authorities charged two federal bureaucrats in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with taking kickbacks on the purchase of 100,000 rolls of red tape. The tape, stamped with the word "security," is affixed to prescription medicines mailed to veterans to deter tampering. U.S. Attorney Jim Vines said that Veterans Affairs workers Joseph Haymond and Natalie Coker bought the tape for $6.95 per roll, instead of the normal price of $2.50, and received kickbacks of $1 per roll.

-- A federal jury awarded $3.4 million to Christine L. Boone, 44, ruling that she was fired as the head of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services because she is blind.

Eager Beaver

After a federal grand jury indicted Sarasota, Fla., dermatologist Dr. Michael Rosin on charges that he defrauded Medicare by performing unnecessary skin cancer surgeries, former employees said that he once performed skin cancer surgery after reviewing a biopsy slide that contained a piece of chewing gum, which an employee placed there after losing the skin specimen.

Second-Amendment Follies

Police in Chillicothe, Ohio, reported that when Victoria Lundy, 41, was arrested and taken to the Ross County Jail, she apparently managed to smuggle a pistol into her holding cell by hiding it in her vagina. The weapon was discovered when she sat down to remove it, and it accidentally discharged. No one was injured.

Haberdashery Alert

Secondary school students won't be permitted to wear denim in Western Australia state, starting in 2007, because it is associated with having a good time. "It's just unacceptable at schools," a representative of state Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said, "and we are trying to lift the standards."

-- Sales of adult diapers in China rose as high as 50 percent in the two weeks leading up to the celebration of the lunar new year on Jan. 29. The newspaper China Daily explained that the increase was caused by holiday travelers taking long journeys on overcrowded trains. Trains typically sell twice as many tickets as there are seats, meaning that passengers without seats squeeze into overhead luggage racks, between cars and in the toilets. Just purchasing a ticket can mean standing in line for hours.

Hang Up and Drive

After an automobile accident in Clark County, Ky., in which Jacqueline Dotson veered into the median and over-corrected, rolling her truck over the guardrail and flipping several times before landing upside down, rescuers found her severed arm nearby, still clutching a cellphone.

Habeas Corpus Follies

Walter Mann Sr., 69, was held in a Dallas jail for a year and three months without seeing a lawyer while he waited for a repeatedly postponed hearing on a contempt-of-court charge. Mann, who gained his release only after his cellmate told his own lawyer about the case, wound up spending more than twice as long behind bars as he would have had to if he had been convicted.

Mensa Reject of the Week

Sheriff's deputies in Calhoun County, Mich., reported that a driver who became lost tried to turn around but got stuck backing into a muddy field. "After several attempts to free the car, the man placed his toolbox on the vehicle accelerator, exited the vehicle and attempted to push the vehicle free," Lt. James McDonagh told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "The man was successful in freeing the vehicle, although unsuccessful regaining control of the vehicle." The full-size Mercury sedan accelerated across a field, reaching an estimated speed of 100 mph, sometimes becoming airborne, before hitting a tree.

Spy Wars

In the wake of reports that British intelligence agents used a fake rock to spy on Russia, Russian scientist Alexei Burikov announced that he has created remote-controlled turtles for spying missions. The head of the biology department at Rostov-on-Don State Pedagogical University explained that he fixed a tiny camera to the turtle's shell that could relay reconnaissance pictures and even added a device to enable a human controller to direct the turtle's movements. Burikov said that turtles could also perform such dangerous missions as placing bombs and high-tech recording devices in enemy facilities.

NIMBY Follies

Fifty-four percent of the people who responded to a May 2005 Gallup poll said nuclear energy should be used to generate electricity. Sixty-three percent said that they don't want a nuclear plant built near their home.

Homeland Security

The New York City Transit Authority announced that its latest measure to combat terrorism is switching to see-through trashcans at subway stops.

Bad Samaritan of the Week

Rosetta Heffner, of Gary, Ind., reported that she was robbed at knifepoint while pumping gas into her church's van, but when she asked the station attendant to call police for help, he refused. "He told me to use my cell phone," Heffner told the Merrillville Post-Tribune. The station's manager said that he regretted the robbery but explained that clerks do not make emergency calls for fear of retaliation by criminals. "We are always helpful to the customer," the manager said, "but we have to protect ourselves."