News Quirks | News Quirks | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published May 30, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Sheriff's deputies investigating an armed robbery at a gas station in Orlando, Fla., noticed that the robber had left a gun case against a display rack. Inside the case, deputies found a receipt for a new AK-47 assault rifle made out to Eric Cunningham, 18. They found Cunningham at his apartment, located a few miles from the gas station, with a loaded assault rifle and a shotgun. "Obviously," sheriff's official Susan Soto told the Orlando Sentinel, "he wasn't a member of the Mensa society."

* German police had no trouble identifying the 29-year-old burglar who broke into an apartment in Moenchengladbach because he used a credit card to open the door. The card broke in two, leaving the portion with the card number and the name of the burglar. He was a neighbor of the victim, who "called up and read us the details off the card," a police official said. "When we got round to the burglar's house, the other half of his credit card was sitting on his kitchen table."

Below-Minimum Security Officials mistakenly released a prisoner from the Kentucky Correctional & Psychiatric Center in La Grange after receiving a fax, purporting to be from the Kentucky Supreme Court, that "demanded" the release of Timothy Rouse, 19. The phony fax contained grammatical errors, was not typed on official letterhead and was sent from a local grocery store. Prison officials didn't realize the mistake for two weeks, according to the facility's director, Greg Taylor, because they aren't required to check the source of a faxed order, and misspellings on orders are common.

Problem Solved Yale University responded to the massacre at Virginia Tech by restricting the use of weapons in campus plays. At first, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg banned all stage weapons, but she later modified her position to permit only those that are obviously fake. The first production affected switched from metal swords to wooden ones.

* Efforts to save the Zugspitze, Germany's last glacier, from global warming consist of covering it with a giant tarpaulin in the summer to deflect the sun, keep the surface cool and shield it from corrosive warm rain. The tarp has been used for 14 years but this year was enlarged by 50 percent, to 96,875 square feet, which covers only a small area used for skiing.

* Unable to cap the flow from a devastating mud volcano in eastern Java Island, the Indonesian government proposed dropping clusters of concrete balls into the crater. Two towers are being built to launch the 375 chains of balls into a 165-foot-wide hole from which the hot liquid mud has been gushing for the past year, displacing more than 10,000 people in an industrial suburb on eastern Java Island. Each chained cluster consists of four balls, weighing 800 to 1000 pounds apiece. James Mori, a scientist at Japan's Kyoto University, warned that the balls may be too small to stop the flow.

* Officials in Auckland, New Zealand, announced plans to turn one of its extinct volcanoes into a regional park by filling it with human waste. The Dominion Post reported that the 30-year contract calls for a waste-treatment plant to dump 61 tons of biosolids - cleaned, treated and dried human feces - per week on a side of Puketutu Island that has been extensively quarried.

Mensa Rejects of the Week Damion M. Mosher, 18, shot himself in the abdomen while holding bullets in a vise, putting a screwdriver on the primer and hitting the screwdriver with a hammer. Mosher told authorities in Lake Luzerne, N.Y., he was trying to empty the .223-caliber rounds to collect the brass casings for scrap.

* Misty Ann Weaver, 34, a nurse who worked for a cosmetic surgeon in Houston, admitted to setting a four-alarm fire that killed three people and injured six others, explaining that she failed to complete paperwork for an important audit and "was fearful of being discharged by the doctor," arson investigator James Snowden told the Houston Chronicle. "She thought by starting a small fire, it would postpone the audit."

* A Dutch police station, intending to help Muslim detainees face Mecca for their prayers, painted arrows in the cells - only, instead of pointing east, they pointed west. "This is a really gigantic, stupid blunder," a police official at the Segbroek station in The Hague told De Telegraaf newspaper.

Read the Fine Print The first deaf retirement home in Northern California has more residents who aren't deaf than ones who are. Intended as a place where deaf seniors could grow old together when it opened in 2005, Fremont Oak Gardens is outfitted with flashing doorbells, strobe-light smoke alarms and special telephones in its rooms. But only 19 of its seniors are deaf; 27 aren't. The San Jose Mercury News reported the situation exists because organizers of the $12.8 million project accepted federal funds, meaning they couldn't discriminate against applicants. Instead of asking applicants if they were deaf, politically sensitive admissions personnel asked if they were "hard of hearing." Every applicant said yes.

Making the Most of Recess During a lunch break from her trial for bilking department stores of millions of dollars through shoplifting and merchandise-return schemes, Joan Hall, 65, was caught stealing food from the courthouse cafeteria in Richmond Heights, Ohio. Police Sgt. Chuck Duffy said he saw Hall load food into take-out containers and place them into a plastic bag. Her co-defendant, Roger Neff, 75, then whisked away the bags. Common Pleas Nancy Fuerst took no action against the pair but warned them to stay out of the cafeteria for the rest of the trial. From now on, she said, "bring your lunch."