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News Quirks 03.21.07


Published March 21, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again A 23-year-old man broke into a business in Edmonton, Alberta, that was right next door to a police canine unit. "There was a marked police car parked outside, and they were inside the building doing training, which is normal for us," police official Karen Carlson said. When officers heard the alarm and came to investigate, a car smashed through a garage door and started to flee. "He didn't get very far," Carlson explained after the suspect was nabbed with the stolen cash box, "because he got stuck in a snow bank."

Slow Going Federal investigators concluded that an airplane being flown by South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer crashed because it lacked sufficient speed to take off and climb above trees and power lines. One reason it didn't go fast enough, the report by the National Transportation Safety Board suggested, is that Bauer left the parking brake either partially or fully engaged on the runway.

Pissed Off Kevin Oliver, 36, was convicted of luring women to his home in Omaha, Neb., by telling them he was interviewing them for jobs with the cellphone company T-Mobile and requesting urine samples. Prosecutors said there never were any jobs and that Oliver just wanted their urine. After three searches of Oliver's home, however, authorities came up with no other signs of criminal activity. "To this day, we don't know what his ultimate goal was, but whatever it was, it was deceptive, it was damaging and it was protracted," prosecutor Marty Conboy said. "This went on for 18 months that we know of."

Way to Go After campaigning for three years to have authorities remove a massive tree stump from Ontario's Lake St. Clair, insisting that it posed a hazard to snowmobilers, Robert Case, 47, died when his snowmobile struck the stump.

Tangled Web A Chinese businessman advertised on the Internet for a surrogate mistress to be beaten up by his wife to vent her anger and to protect his real mistress. "When the woman found out her husband had a mistress, she insisted on beating her up," the Beijing Youth Daily reported, citing the advertisement posted on a popular online jobs forum on More than 10 people applied for the job, the newspaper said, adding that the ad stipulated the "successful" candidate would be 35 and originally from northeastern China and would be paid 3000 yuan ($400) per 10 minutes.

Calling-Plan Follies The Navy, which spends about $4 billion a year on phone calls, is being overcharged as much as 30 percent by local phone companies, according to Vice Adm. Mark J. Edwards, deputy chief of naval operations for communications networks. He pointed out at a news conference that by recouping just one-third of the Navy's phone bill, "we could build another carrier."

Trash Talking Mel Sembler, the former U.S. ambassador to Italy and Australia, dropped parts of a lawsuit against a Florida man who rummaged through his trash for two decades. In exchange, an attorney for Richard Bradbury acknowledged that his client did, in fact, search through Sembler's garbage to retrieve a discarded penile pump that had belonged to Sembler and put it up for sale on eBay for $300,000.

Just Following Orders A German housing authority notified more than 100 apartment tenants living on welfare in Loebau that new rules limit them to smaller apartments. Because smaller apartments aren't available, however, the tenants are being permitted to stay where they are, but only if they agree not to use space they are not eligible for. "The people involved seem to be quite happy with the new setup," said Matthias Urbansky, head of the local housing authority, who pointed out that inspectors make regular patrols to ensure that tenants aren't using the empty rooms.

Water Hazards New York state police and firefighters pulled Wayne Kingwell, 40, from the Niagara River after he tried to cross from Canada to the United States in a rubber raft in the middle of the night. Kingwell, of Fort Erie, Ontario, told authorities he was heading for Buffalo so he could pay his credit card bill in person and avoid an $85 fee if he mailed the payment from Canada. Kingwell added that he couldn't drive across the border because of a past legal dispute with the Canadian government.

Spelling Counts The city of Hagerstown, Md., corrected a spelling error on a traffic sign that it posted 20 years ago after the Hagerstown Herald-Mail told city officials a reader had complained. The sign directed drivers to "Municpal Stadium."

* The Arkansas House unanimously approved a resolution declaring the official possessive form of the state's name to be "Arkansas's." It had lacked the apostrophe "s" since an 1881 resolution. Noting that the final "s" gives the state a "possessive sound," Rep. Steve Harrelson, who introduced the measure, apologized to the House for giving the public the impression that the legislature has nothing better to worry about than punctuation.

* The Japanese government signaled a change in military policy by replacing a single character in the name of the Japan Defense Agency to rename it the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Analysts said the change from "agency" to "ministry" reflects a new assertiveness in its dealings with North Korea and China.

* Michael Duplessis, 40, paid $250 to have "CHI-TOWN" tattooed on his chest, but sued the tattoo parlor and tattoo artist after it came out "CHI-TONW." According to his suit, which claims "emotional distress from public ridicule," Duplessis signed a release, but after the error occurred, the defendants wrote "chi-tonw" on it so it would look like that's what Duplessis ordered.