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

Published June 16, 2010 at 5:27 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Authorities investigating a bank robbery in St. Cloud, Minn., nabbed their suspect after officials at Mystic Lake Casino observed him depositing cash into slot machines in exchange for credit slips. “In effect, he was laundering his money through the casino,” police Sgt. Martin Sayre said. Casino officials became suspicious because Salamo Nam Rakotojoelinandrasana, 23, was exchanging bills covered with red dye, which the bank used to mark the stolen money. (Minneapolis’s Star Tribune)

When Kenneth Parkerson, 28, sneaked into the screened patio of a home in Coral Springs, Fla., carrying a video camera, he was confronted by home owner Ireneusz Fajkis, a firefighter who also happens to be a mixed martial arts fighter. Fajkis chased the intruder, tackled him to the ground and beat him up before calling the police. “I picked the wrong house,” Parkerson reportedly told the hospital nurse who treated his wounds. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

When Catastrophic Oil Spills Aren’t Enough

A Pentagon report warned that trash in space might bring a halt to commerce and communications on Earth. Noting that space is “increasingly congested and contested,” the Defense Department’s interim U.S. Space Posture Review explained that potential crashes between satellites and debris — such as refuse from old rockets, abandoned satellites and missile shrapnel — are threatening the $250 billion space-services market that provides financial communication, global-positioning navigation, international phone connections, Google Earth pictures, television signals and weather forecasts. Scientists said that space collisions could set off an uncontrolled chain reaction that might make some orbits unusable because they are too littered with debris. (Bloomberg News)

Give and Take

Georgia’s Gwinnett County has asked some 180 county workers to return more than $39,000 they received in bonuses 16 years ago. Authorities blamed the overpayments on a payroll anomaly that occurred when the county adjusted employees’ payroll cycles. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A Pennsylvania man who won a $2001 slot machine jackpot at Erie’s Presque Isle Downs & Casino not only must give back the money, but also faces criminal trespass charges. The 55-year-old Waterford Township resident had previously banned himself from casinos under a state program for problem gamblers. (Erie Times-News)

Reasonable Explanations

After a North Carolina jury convicted Michael Ryan of first-degree murder, he told a Gaston County judge that he wants to be sentenced to death but without actually being executed. He explained that being on death row would gain him the respect of his fellow inmates. (The Gaston Gazette)

After inspectors condemned a 3-year-old, five-story condominium building in Norristown, Pa., because its load-bearing cinderblock walls weren’t filled with concrete and steel rods, as required by code, builder R. Bruce Fazio insisted the hollow walls came “as a surprise to me.” He blamed the masonry contractor, although he couldn’t recall the person’s name. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Practical Plane Geometry

Secret Service agents questioned Alabama high school geometry teacher Gregory Harrison, whose lesson in parallel lines and angles used the example of assassinating the president. Joseph Brown, a senior in the geometry class at Jefferson County’s Corner High School, said Harrison “was talking about angles and said, ‘If you’re in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president.’” Special agent Roy Sexton decided the teacher’s remarks didn’t constitute a credible threat, but school Superintendent Phil Hammonds said, “We are going to have a long conversation with him about what’s appropriate.” Afterwards, Harrison publicly apologized as part of a negotiated settlement that lets him keep his job. (The Birmingham News)

Lemming See, Lemming Do

The same day Apple toppled Microsoft as the world’s leading technology company, it announced it is investigating the apparent suicides of 11 workers at the Chinese factory that makes Apple’s iPhones. While denying that working conditions at the Foxconn Technology plant in Shenzhen prompted the deaths, Foxconn officials said they have begun putting safety nets on buildings to discourage suicide attempts by the company’s 800,000 Chinese employees. (The New York Times)


The Toronto police department has added a new hate-crime victim category: “non-Jewish Shiksa.” The term “Shiksa” is a slur for non-Jewish woman, making the category not only redundant, but also baffling to the Canadian Jewish Congress, which accused the Toronto Police Service of pushing the anti-hate law “to its most absurd level.” Noting that the police also investigated hate crimes against teachers, feminists, infidels, police, Nazis and pedophiles, CJC CEO Bernie Farber said, “You just can’t apply it to literally everything.” (Canada’s National Post)