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

Published May 6, 2009 at 8:21 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police in Arnold, Mo., reported that a woman heading for the exit of a grocery store with a shopping cart containing more than $1200 in stolen “groceries and other items” was thwarted by trying to leave through the wrong automatic door. Store security called police, St. Louis’s KSDK News reported, because the woman attracted so much attention when the door wouldn’t open.

• David Maksimik, 59, successfully robbed a bank in Darien, Conn., but while making his getaway, he rear-ended a car. He abandoned his car and caught a bus, then a taxi and finally a ride from his sister to get home to Stamford, where he found his 53-year-old roommate dead. He called police, who decided the death was a suicide. The Connecticut Post reported that during their investigation, officers became suspicious of Maksimik and discovered a bag on his bed containing the bank’s $3745. Maksimik confessed to the robbery.

Chutzpah Following the April 3 massacre of 14 people in Binghamton, N.Y., James Kauchis, an accounting clerk at the Broome County Department of Social Services, filed a grievance to be paid for the lunch hour he missed because the DSS building where he works was locked down for four hours during the incident. Kauchis declined to comment on his complaint, telling the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, “That’s a matter between me, the administration and the union.”

Economic Stimulus Andrew Krogh, 47, the owner of a glass company in Sacramento, Calif., was arrested after a stakeout at a martial arts store plagued repeatedly by broken windows identified him as the culprit. “I never thought it would be a window guy drumming up business,” the building’s landlord, Brian Seeley, told the Sacramento News, indicating he paid Krogh, who contacted him after the first incident, at least $12,000 to repair more than a dozen broken windows. Another business owner said she also paid Krogh to replace glass after he showed up at her store the day after one of her front doors was shattered and then hired him twice more after her storefront windows were shot out.

Heaven Can Wait Some 200 mosques in Mecca point the wrong way, according to the Arab newspaper al-Hayat. Muslims are supposed to pray facing the Kaaba, Islam’s most sacred site, located in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, and rely on niches in mosques to indicate the correct direction. The paper said people looking down from newly built high-rises in Mecca noticed the niches in many older mosques weren’t pointing directly toward the Kaaba. Tawfik al-Sudairy, Islamic affairs ministry deputy secretary in Saudi Arabia, said modern techniques had corrected the problem and assured the newspaper that all previous prayers were valid.

Do Society a Favor Smoking adds to the cost of health care, but nonsmokers cost society more by living longer, according to Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi. His study of the net costs of smoking-related spending and savings found that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents. The Associated Press reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that smokers die some 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, resulting in savings to Medicare, Social Security, private pensions and other programs.

Viscusi’s findings echo a Dutch study, published last year in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. It said smokers total about $326,000 in health care costs from age 20 on, compared with about $417,000 for longer-living thin and healthy people.

• Fat people are each responsible for about one ton more carbon-dioxide emissions a year than thin people, according to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “When it comes to food consumption, moving about in a heavy body is like driving around in a gas guzzler,” researchers Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts wrote, noting that food production is a major source of greenhouse gases.

Where’s the Gratitude?Two years ago, after Kathleen Slattery, 84, fell and lay on the floor of her Chicago apartment for 15 hours, a 9-year-old girl with a heart defect crawled through a window to rescue the woman, who was her landlady. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that in March, the girl, her sister and her mother, Deb Gordils, were evicted.

Less than five minutes after Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. called police Officer Kristopher Weston, 28, before the East St. Louis, Ill., City Council to recognize him for his work in arresting a suspect in a supermarket killing, the council voted to lay him off, citing budget cuts.

Big Surprise Few patrons of fast-food restaurants read nutritional information available in the outlets, according to researchers at Yale University. The study at McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Au Bon Pain outlets in urban and suburban settings watched 4800 patrons to see who read posters, pamphlets or computer screens containing nutritional information about menu items. Six people did.

Beating the Odds When a customer complained about the price of cigarettes to the clerk at a gas station in Hempfield, Pa., state police said the clerk took $60 from his pocket, placed it on the counter and bet the customer that he couldn’t find cigarettes cheaper at another store. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the customer grabbed the money and fled.

Hitting Them Where It Hurts A British neighborhood group is discouraging trouble-making teenage boys from hanging around underpasses and intimidating residents by aiming pink lights at them. Tony Gelsthorpe, who chairs the Layton Burroughs Residents’ Association in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, told the Daily Telegraph that the juveniles regard the pink light as “uncool,” but also flee in embarrassment because it highlights their acne.