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News Quirks 07.12.06


Published July 12, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again After Dana Buckman pulled a gun at an auto parts store in Rochester, N.Y., the two clerks handed over the money but chased him when he fled. They caught him, took away his gun, beat him with a pipe and retrieved the money, according to Buckman himself, who followed his guilty plea with a lawsuit, charging that the clerks overreacted to the armed robbery. Their defense lawyer, Patrick R. Hurwitz, pointed out that Buckman brought the beating on himself. "He had forced them to the back door," Hurwitz said, "and he went out the front door and came around the corner to where they were."

Neatness Counts Washington State lawmakers have banned doctors from writing prescriptions in cursive script. The measure to reduce drug mix-ups requires that prescriptions be hand-printed, typewritten or computer-generated.

Exercising the Imagination After receiving a patent for his cordless jump rope, Lester Clancy, 52, of Mansfield, Ohio, said that his invention consists of two handles, which the user holds while jumping over the pretend rope. Clancy said that it's perfect for clumsy people and for mental institutions and prisons where rope is a suicide risk. All Clancy needs is backers, noting that so far he has only been able to make one of the handles.

Homeland Insecurity Federal air marshals complained to a congressional committee that they're carrying too much firepower. Their bullets are capable of firing through more than one passenger, as well as metal doors and thick glass, endangering the aircraft's flight crew, systems and operations. Some marshals that testified to the House Judiciary Committee investigation advocated switching to frangible bullets, which break into smaller pieces on impact and expand in the body. "That would reduce penetration by a few inches and widen the wound, which brings about a faster cessation of the action," ballistics authority Massad Ayoob, director of the Lethal Force Institute, told the Washington Times, adding that using frangible bullets "would minimize the likelihood of an exit."

First & Second Amendment Follies Police responding to a call about a man firing a gun in Clarksville, Tenn., found Jonifer Jerome Jackson, 20, with a Bible in one hand and a 9mm pistol in the other. He told the officers that he believed shooting the pistol was his only way of getting people to listen to his preaching. They added that Jackson stripped to his boxer shorts after they arrived for no apparent reason.

Nostalgia Coming for Vietnam Vets For the second time this year, the U.S. Army has upped the maximum age for recruits. After going from 35 to 40 in January, Army officials announced in June that people could now volunteer until their 42nd birthday. Julia Bobick of the Army Recruiting Command insisted that raising the enlistment age "is not an act of desperation."

Losing Streak of the Week Hoping to persuade his girlfriend to marry him, a 28-year-old man in Ann Arbor, Mich., told her that taking risks is an important part of life. To prove his point, police said, the boyfriend hopped out of the window of his first-floor apartment and streaked naked across the street. Before he could return, he noticed a couple walking down the sidewalk, so he hid in some bushes. A 28-year-old man who was walking his friend home noticed the man, pulled a gun and ordered him out. According to the police report, the naked man ran, and the man with the gun chased him, yelling that he was an Army drill sergeant and threatening to shoot. He fired one round, whereupon the naked man hit the ground, causing minor injuries. About that time, police arrived, responding to a call of a naked man being chased by a man with a gun, and arrested the gunman. "Just when you thought you had heard everything," Detective Sgt. Jim Stephenson said.

Prudent Jurisprudence A state appeals court set aside the conviction of a man who tricked three men into stripping by pretending to be a radio disc jockey. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the state's criminal confinement law is too vague to allow Richard C. Brown's 2005 conviction. Brown, who was under house arrest at the time, phoned victims to take part in a contest for a prize of $50,000 or a new car. Three men showed up. Two undressed, but the third noticed Brown's home-detention ankle bracelet, left and alerted authorities. The appeals court accepted Brown's contention that he didn't violate the law, as it is written, because he used no force. Judge Terry Crone said that the law's vague language might conceivably make it a crime to trick someone into going to a surprise birthday party.

How Many Inmates Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb? Doctors at a prison in Multan, Pakistan, needed an hour and a half to remove a glass light bulb from inmate Fateh Mohammad's anus. "We had to take it out intact," Dr. Farrukh Aftab of Nishtar Hospital said. "Had it been broken inside, it would be a very, very complicated situation." Insisting that he had no idea how the light bulb got there, Mohammad told Reuters news agency that he woke up and felt a pain in his lower abdomen. "Thanks Allah," he said from his hospital bed, "now I feel comfort."

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Governor? One proposal by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine to ease the state's financial woes is selling 800 used vehicles from the state motor pool. The vehicles were issued to state employees but taken back when Corzine took office. Selling the vehicles would bring in $1 million, Corzine said, plus save another $1 million in fuel and maintenance costs.