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News Quirks (2/25/15)


Published February 25, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Police thought Luis Moreno Jr., 26, was driving solo in a carpool lane in Fort Lee. N.J., but when they stopped him, he showed he was legal by pointing out two men in the back of the SUV. The men said they were kidnap victims. Moreno tried to flee, but rush-hour traffic stalled his getaway and he was arrested. (New York Daily News)

Two thieves broke into a closed casino in Calgary, Alberta, and made off with an ATM. Security footage shows the two masked crooks loading the machine onto a dolly and wheeling it to their vehicle. On the way, it toppled onto one of the thieves, but they loaded it and made their escape. "There's no money in the machine," Staff Sgt. Travis Baker said, explaining that ATMs are unloaded several times daily and at the end of the business day. Noting that stealing ATMs requires heavy lifting and then "tools like grinders, axes and chisels" to break through to the cash box, Baker called it "a very ineffective way to make a living." (Canada's National Post)

Stand-Your-Ground State

When Joseph Carannante, 21, built a gun range in his yard in a St. Petersburg, Fla., community, neighbors complained that he was putting everyone, especially children, in danger. Police said it's legal. "I don't want to hurt anybody," Carannante explained. "I just want to use this as my enjoyment. I don't want to have to go to a gun range, when I can just go outside my door." He promised to alert neighbors whenever he intends on firing his 9 mm pistol. (Tampa's WFLA-TV)

Look Out Below

Investigators concluded that the crash of a single-engine aircraft near Watkins, Colo., was caused by the pilot photographing himself and his passenger and becoming disoriented by the camera flash. "It is likely that cellphone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control," the National Transportation Safety Board report said. Explaining the NTSB is seeing "more and more" distractions from personal devices in all forms of transportation, board official Keith Holloway said, "But the self-photographs in an airplane, that's something new for us." (New York Times)

Moving beyond social media, people are taking grievances to the skies by hiring airplanes to tow banners announcing their stance. Recent targets in New York City have been the mayor, including one calling for his resignation, and the general manager of the New York Jets ("Jets: Rebuilding Since 1969"). A banner costs $1,000 for a two-and-a-half-hour ride over the Hudson River. Ashley Chalmers, whose Jersey Shore Aerial Advertising flew the anti-mayor and anti-Jets banners, said he never takes sides: "I'm just the messenger." (New York Times)

When a small plane's engine failed over Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island, all 13 people on board were able to escape before the aircraft crashed into the lake because they were skydivers intending a tandem jump. Six crewmembers jumped with the six passengers strapped to them as planned, followed by the pilot. All landed safely. (BBC News)

Air traffic control officials received reports of 193 incidents of "drone misbehavior" in 2014, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Several were close calls involving aircraft with people on board, including one pilot who had to take evasive action above Oklahoma City when a 2-foot-wide drone came within 10 feet of his plane at 4,800 feet. Some incidents involved drones flying as high as 15,000 feet. (Mother Jones)

Holy Cow

Cleaning crews at Indian government buildings in New Delhi are switching to a new cleaning liquid derived from cow urine, which is in abundant supply and whose anti-microbial and antifungal properties make it possible to avoid using synthetic products. The product, named Gaunyle, also contains neem and pine scent and costs about the same as conventional cleaners. "It is a win-win situation for us," said Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, who came up with the idea. "No harm to janitors by way of daily exposure to chemicals, and cows will be valued more." Buoyed by the product's acceptance, Anuradha Modi, who heads the Holy Cow Foundation, which supplies Gaunyle, said her organization is looking for other ways to market the "piles of cow dung and cow urine" that go to waste in India. (India's Economic Times)