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

Published June 27, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again When sheriff's deputies stopped a man for speeding in Goliad, British Columbia, they pointed out that the name on his driver's license didn't match the name tattooed on his back. He produced another license with his real name: Omar Cruz Garza, 35. Observing a DVD, a safe, power tools and camera inside the pickup truck, the suspicious deputies found paperwork in the safe with the same name as the first driver's license. Before learning that the items had been taken in a home burglary, the deputies also found 4 grams of cocaine, which the man explained he was taking to his son as a graduation present. After arresting Garza, the deputies learned that the truck had been reported stolen.

* A man broke into a convenience store in Rome, Ga., stole some scratch-off lottery tickets, then tried to cover his tracks by burning the store. In doing so, he set himself on fire. Firefighters said the fire destroyed everything in the store except the surveillance video, which shows the suspect dousing the store with charcoal lighter fluid, then igniting it and accidentally burning his face and neck. While still on fire, the suspect grabbed the tickets and fled.

Spoilsports of the Week President Emomalii Rakhmon of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan urged legislation to limit the size and expense of weddings, birthday parties and funerals, pointing out that the ceremonies have become too expensive. He suggested guests at weddings be limited to 150, at funerals to 100 and at circumcision ceremonies to 60. Rakhmon previously banned schoolchildren from using cellphones and wearing Islamic or revealing Western clothing, called for an end to end-of-school-term parties and urged all Tajiks to drop Russian endings from surnames.

* The Bureau of Land Management proposed banning recreational shooting inside the Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona. The federal agency said it is tired of saguaros being riddled with bullets and shooters who leave behind discarded computers, TV sets, stoves and other items they use for target practice. "People are bringing their trash and shooting their trash, or they shoot someone else's trash," said Patrick Madigan, who oversees the 129,000-acre monument.

If a Cow Answers, Hang Up Forest officials in western India began trapping leopards that have wandered into human settlements by using cellphones with ringtones of cows mooing, goats bleating and roosters crowing. The forest officials download the ringtones, then attach their cellphones to speakers behind a cage and play them continuously for two hours until the curious leopard appears and moves into the cage looking for the prey. "This trick works," D. Vasani, a senior forest official in Gujarat state, said, explaining that the method is safer than using live bait. Vasani added that five leopards have been caught using the ringtones.

Lack of Foresight A Chinese court jailed two officials who let a blind contractor build a bridge that collapsed during construction, injuring 12 people. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Huang Wenge and Xia Jianzhong knew the bridge was being built by a blind contractor, who changed the blueprint without getting a sighted professional to check the design. After making the change, the contractor relied on a roughly drawn draft of the plan to carry out the work, leading to the collapse.

Litigation Nation CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast food chains, sued rival Jack in the Box Inc. to stop television commercials that it said suggests Carl's Jr. and Hardee's makes its Angus beef hamburgers from cow anus. CKE complained the ads create the misleading impression that Jack in the Box's new sirloin burgers use better quality meat.

First Things First After a BBC news documentary reported that wi-fi radiation levels in one school were up to three times the level of cellphone signal towers, Malcolm Sperrin of the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading dismissed the danger. "The educational benefits from using laptops and having access to information far outweigh any unproven fears over the safety of wi-fi," he said. "I am more concerned about the heat laptops generate and the impact that could have on sensitive parts of the body."

Headscratchers of the Week A news organization in Pasadena, Calif., has outsourced local news coverage to two reporters in India. James Macpherson, 51, editor and publisher of the website pasade, acknowledged that he hired two Indian reporters to each deliver 15 weekly articles, including investigative stories and coverage of city council meetings, which are carried on the Internet, for $20,800 a year for the pair. "I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications," said Macpherson, whose main help had consisted of his wife and an intern. "Whether you're at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you're still just a phone call or email away from the interview."

Although Macpherson appears to be the first to outsource community journalism, the British news agency Reuters staffs an office in the technology capital of Bangalore that turns out Wall Street stories based on press releases.

Jigging the Wig A baggage handler for the Australian airline Qantas pleaded guilty to stealing hair from women's luggage to satisfy a sexual fetish. Victorian County Court heard that Rodney Lyle Petersen, 30, would rummage through lost or delayed luggage that he was returning to passengers and collect the hair from brushes and clothing. He put the hair inside plastic slips and recorded the women's personal details. Police said he had catalogued the hair in more than 80 bags. The court also was told that Petersen suffered from a range of sexual deviances.