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News Quirks 09.21.05


Published September 21, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again A suspected drug dealer being chased by sheriff's deputies in Alameda County, Calif., decided to throw away a bag containing 3 ounces of methamphetamine. When he was finally caught, however, he still had the drugs with him. The bag he threw away contained only trash. Sheriff's Deputy Steve Angela said that suspect Jason Coates, 35, "was visibly shaken when he was told he had tossed the wrong bag."

- British police obtained clear pictures of the thief who broke into a closed-circuit television store in Manchester and stole a laptop computer. Ignoring numerous warnings posted around the store that surveillance cameras were in operation, he was recorded by eight cameras from various angles. "Frame by frame, cameras filmed him around the shop," the store's owner, David Arathoon, 54, said. "The stupidity to think stealing from a CCTV shop is a good idea is astonishing."

Homeland Insecurity David Smith Sr. became the first person to enter the United States from Mexico by being fired from a cannon. Smith, who holds the world record for longest distance traveled by a human cannonball (185 feet, 10 inches), soared 150 feet from a beach in Tijuana over a line of metal poles 20 feet high spaced 6 inches apart and into a net at a state park in San Diego. Venezuelan artist Javier Tellez organized the event, dubbed "One Flew over the Void," as a therapeutic project for psychiatric patients at a mental health facility in Mexicali, Mexico. "David Smith is a metaphor for flying over human borders, flying over the law, flying over everything that is established," Tellez said.

Opportunity Knocks When the Louisiana legislature approved a measure giving $200,000 to a nonexistent corporation, Michael Bowler of River Ridge formed a corporation with the same name and demanded the money. "It just really kind of pissed me off that they're going to try to fund companies that don't exist," Bowler said, explaining that he created the nonprofit A Greater New Orleans Service Corporation "to bring public awareness to proper government funding methods." He added, "I'm not going to keep any of the money, but I don't know how to give it back."

It Is Written Kris Bryan, 22, returned to her apartment in Lawrence, Kan., and found strangers walking off with her stuff. When she confronted them, they showed her a legal notice for unclaimed property in the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper that listed her address and said items that weren't picked up would be thrown away. When Bryan told them the address was wrong, they returned what they had taken; however, people who had already come and gone made off with an estimated $3300 worth of possessions, among them a TV set, DVD player, video games and Bryan's 7-week-old kitten.

Ulterior Motive Authorities in Ocala, Fla., arrested Teddy Claire Akin, 28, after his wife reported that he told her he had killed a hitchhiker, buried the body in the woods and kept the victim's wallet. Marion County sheriff's deputies searched the area he described to her for seven hours but failed to find the body. Eventually, Akin admitted that he had found the wallet on top of a newspaper stand and made up the story about murdering the man because he was going through a divorce and hoped the murder story would encourage his wife to leave him.

Lost and Found Taiwanese surgeon Chen Chun-lei reported that a 45-year-old man came to his clinic complaining of shortness of breath and a high fever. Chen's diagnosis was a mild case of pneumonia, which cleared up after Chen discovered a foreign object in one of the man's bronchial tubes and removed a set of dentures. "He had been looking for the missing dentures for three years," Chen said, explaining that the breathing problems didn't occur earlier because the lower denture of eight teeth hadn't completely blocked the bronchial tube.

Out on a Limb Police in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that a man who came to Spectrum Prosthetics and Orthotics to pick up a custom-made artificial leg used it to walk away without paying the $17,000 bill. He "was allowed to take it for a couple of hours to ensure that the fit was proper," the police report said. Detective Robert Lewis attributed the five-day delay in reporting the crime to the store employees' belief that the man would return. As days went by, Lewis explained, that appeared less likely.

- Paul Harney, who owns the FDR Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Nashua, N.H., has developed the LISA (Lightweight Inconspicuous Shapely Active) leg for amputees who want to wear high heels but don't want unsightly lines on their backsides often caused by the prosthetic limb's edge. "What women want is a functional, pretty leg," said Harney, whose new leg is cut lower so no embarrassing lines show through pants and skirts. "Trying to hide those edges had been a problem." The device has a smaller knee and a button by the ankle that can be pushed to adjust the angle of the foot, enabling people to wear heels and flats or go barefoot. The custom-made legs cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

Virtual Death Korean police reported that a 28-year-old man died of an apparent heart attack after playing computer games nonstop for 49 hours at an Internet caf- in Taegu. Police said that the man collapsed after eating little and not sleeping while playing the battle-simulation game "Starcraft."

Christian Charity When Loretta Davis, 65, became ill and had open-heart surgery, she stopped paying her $60-a-month tithe to the Living Word Tabernacle of Waverly, Ohio, because she needed the money for her medical bills. Davis, who has congestive heart failure and uses a wheelchair, received a letter from the church revoking her membership because of her failure to tithe.