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News Quirks


Curses, Foiled Again

Police arrested a 17-year-old boy in College Station, Tex., for trying to pass a counterfeit $5 bill. Officials said the bogus bill had an “overwhelming number of imperfections,” appearing to have been made by gluing two sheets of paper together with images of the front and back of a $5 bill printed on either side. Further evidence that the bill consisted of two pieces of paper cropped and glued together was the observation that the front of the bill was longer than the back. (The Eagle)

Homeland Insecurity

Secret Service computers work at only 60 percent capacity, according to a classified review that blamed the slow tempo on outdated systems and reliance on a computer mainframe dating to the 1980s. Although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the Secret Service, conceded the existing hardware “is prone to failures” and the service’s “data environment is fragile and cannot sustain the tempo of current and future operational missions,” the DHS ignored an unofficial cost estimate to update the system of $187 million, allocating only $33 million and requesting only another $69 million. (ABC News)

Department of Homeland Security officers lost 289 firearms — handguns, M-4 rifles and shotguns — from 2006 to 2008, according to the department’s inspector general. The report blamed officers entrusted with the weapons for failing to properly secure them. One was left unsecured in an idling vehicle at a convenience store where the gun and the vehicle were stolen while the officer was inside. Other officers left their firearms at fast-food restaurants, parking lots and a bowling alley. Local law enforcement organizations recovered 15 DHS firearms from felons, gang members, criminals, drug users and teenagers. (USA Today)

Puzzling Evidence

Police who raided the home of South African drug lord Fadwaan “Fat” Murphy, 37, reported that while they were searching him, his strap-on penis fell off. Charged with possessing stolen property, Murphy disclosed at a bail hearing in a Cape Town magistrate’s court that he was technically a hermaphrodite named Hilary. He explained he was born with both male and female sexual organs but had surgery to remove the female parts. “I stand firm as a man, as a husband and as a father,” Murphy declared under oath, calling his condition “God’s decision.” He noted that at least he hadn’t “been born with two heads.” After Murphy’s admission, his mother said she tried to raise him as a girl, but “he wanted to wear pants.” (UK’s The Times)

Electricity Running Wild

The Australian government warned that roofs fitted with the foil insulation it recommended for its energy-saving program are electrocuting people. Officials, who ordered a nationwide safety check of tens of thousands of roofs fitted with foil insulation it offered rebates for, blamed the deaths of four electricians on the metallic foil coming into contact with electrical cables and electrifying entire attics. A preliminary audit of 400 homes found that up to a dozen might pose a danger. (BBC News)

Arrest Resister of the Week

When two city police officers found Jack A. Seabright Jr., 23, passed out in his vehicle in Washington, Pa., they tried various ways to rouse him. When they did revive Seabright, he took a swing at one officer, who blocked the punch and ordered Seabright out of the vehicle. He refused and kicked and punched at the two officers until one Tasered him. As soon as they pulled him from the vehicle, Seabright ran off up a snow bank, only to be stopped when he slammed head first into a steel pole, fell over and was taken into custody. (Washington Observer-Reporter)

Second-Amendment Follies

Michael Phillips, 32, was teaching an NRA class in Orlando, Fla., to certify citizens to carry a concealed weapon when his gun accidentally went off, shooting student Robert Frauman Jr., 50, in the foot. NRA rules forbid bringing ammunition into safety classes. The class was taking place at Summit Church, but communications director Kristy-Lee Lawley said the class, the first of its kind at the church, wasn’t church sponsored and added, “We won’t be having anything like that in our church in the future.” (Orlando Sentinel)

Mensa Reject of the Week

John Yarrington, 23, agreed to act as a drug informant for police in Falmouth, Mass. After making a controlled drug purchase, Yarrington received $100 from the police and 10 minutes later was using the money to buy drugs — from the same dealer he helped set up, who was still under police surveillance. Officers arrested Yarrington and the dealer. “It’s a case of the dumb get dumber,” Detective Christopher Bartolomei said. (Cape Cod Times)