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News Quirks (7/30/14)


Curses, Foiled Again

Police investigating a burglary in Lakewood, Wash., found a plaque on the front lawn of the home naming Alfred J. Shropshire III, 49, as a local car dealer's "Salesperson of the Month." When questioned, Shropshire confirmed the award was his and was charged with the crime. (United Press International)

Police charged Perry Martin, 55, with burglarizing two cars in Delray Beach, Fla., after a surveillance video showed a man wearing a shirt that said "I Got Wood LLC" and gave a phone number. Police called the number and reached the I Got Wood flooring company, whose owner viewed the video and identified the man as Martin, an employee. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Dead or Alive

When the wife and son of one of India's wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders reported that he died from a heart attack, his followers refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they insist that he is still alive. According to the disciples of His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order, he is "in deep meditative state." They are storing his body in a deep freezer in a guarded room to preserve it until he decides to awaken. His son, Dilip Jha, 40, claims that his father's followers are keeping the body to retain control of his fortune, estimated at 100 million pounds. Local government officials in Punjab state called the dispute a spiritual matter and said that the guru's followers cannot be forced to believe he is dead. (Britain's Daily Telegraph)

Blowing Smoke

Conservatives are customizing their pickup trucks to spew black smoke into the air to protest environmentalists and Obama administration emissions regulations. The diesel trucks, called "coal rollers," are modified with chimney exhaust stacks and equipment that can force extra fuel into the engine, causing black smoke to pour out. Popular targets of the choking exhaust are drivers of hybrids and Japanese-made cars. "The feeling around here is that everyone who drives a small car is a liberal," a coal roller named Ryan told the online news website Vocativ, which reported that Facebook pages dedicated to rolling coal had 16,000 followers as of July 1. (Business Insider)

Slightest Provocation

Kenneth Chambers, 52, was charged with choking and, though toothless, biting his roommate in Lakewood, Wash., after she refused his request to clean his ear. (Seattle's KOMO-TV)

Instant Karma

After Joseph H. Carl, 48, drove his pickup truck into the rear of a vehicle stopped at a traffic light in Gainesville, Fla., police said Carl jumped out and began banging on the other driver's window. The frightened driver pulled away, and Carl's truck, which he had forgotten to shift into park, rolled forward and ran over Carl, who failed field sobriety tests and was arrested after being treated at the hospital for foot and hand fractures. (Gainesville Sun)

A worker installing signs limiting parking to 75 minutes on a downtown street in Santa Barbara, Calif., was ticketed for parking more than 75 minutes to do the job. "I was dumbfounded," Dan Greding explained. "I said, 'But I'm putting these signs up,' and he [the officer] says, "Then you should know you can't park here more than 75 minutes.'" (Santa Barbara's KEYT-TV)

Second-Amendment Follies

Mark Ramiro, 30, fatally shot his 28-year-old friend while testing a bulletproof vest in Baltimore, Md. A third person recorded the "Jackass"-style incident, during which the victim bragged that he is about to take a "deuce deuce in the chest." Ramiro then fired a .22-caliber pistol while standing in front of the victim, but the bullet hit above the vest. Noting that the incident "was a deliberate videotaped shooting of someone by point-blank range," Assistant State's Attorney David Chiu said after Ramiro was charged with murder that his "motivation was fame and glory on the web." (Baltimore Sun)

Saving (Type)Face

After a middle school student's science-fair project showed that his Pittsburgh-area school district could save $21,000 a year by switching to Garamond typeface for its printed documents, he took his experiment a step further and concluded that the U.S. government could save $136 million a year by using the thinner font. "Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume," Suvir Mirchandani, 14, said. Gary Somerset of the Government Printing Office called Mirchandani's research "remarkable" but wouldn't say whether the GPO might consider changing fonts. (CNN)