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

Published August 4, 2010 at 9:08 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

When two men tried to rob a 69-year-old woman sitting in her car in South Daytona, Fla., one of them smashed a hole in her windshield with a semiautomatic handgun, but the weapon fell through the hole into the driver’s lap. Carol J. Costello grabbed the gun and pointed it at the suspect, who fled to his getaway vehicle. She copied down the license number before it pulled away. The gunman also dropped a cellphone, which had pictures of him that Costello identified, leading police to Raymond Lewis Shepard, 25. The second robber wasn’t named. (Orlando Sentinel)

Police identified Terrance Mitchell as one of two men who stole security cameras from a home-improvement store in Waterloo, Iowa, because the store’s security camera recorded the theft. (Associated Press)

Disaster Response

Initial cleanup of China National Petroleum Corp.’s oil spill in the Yellow Sea (400,000 gallons) was hampered by inadequate equipment, according to Chinese news media. “We don’t have proper oil cleanup materials,” an official with the Jinshitan Golden Beach Administration Committee told the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper, “so our workers are wearing rubber gloves and using chopsticks.” (Associated Press)

In the aftermath of British Petroleum’s oil spew in the Gulf of Mexico (94 million to 184 million gallons — so far), a worker on the oil rig that caught fire and exploded, sparking the disaster, told a government panel investigating the accident that the general safety alarm was routinely kept on silent mode to avoid waking the crew with late-night sirens and emergency lights. “They did not want people woke up at 3 a.m. from false alarms,” chief electronics technician Mike Williams said. (New York Times)

Face Jobs

Chinese companies are hiring white people to pose as employees or business partners to impress clients and officials. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and connections to do business abroad, according to Zhang Haihua, author of Think Like Chinese, who explains: “Because Western countries are so developed, people think they are more well off, so people think that if a company can hire foreigners, it must have a lot of money and have very important connections overseas. So when they really want to impress someone, they may roll out a foreigner.” Some companies hire Caucasians for a few hours a day to sit near a window where clients and customers can see them. The mostly male posers, typically out-of-work models and actors or English teachers, can earn as much as 2000 yuan (about $300) for a day’s work, which requires them to be white, smile and look good in a suit. (CNN)

Vaseline introduced an application for Facebook in India that lets users lighten their profile pictures. Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur is promoting the download, which is designed to promote Vaseline’s line of skin-lightening creams for men. Ads depict him with his face divided into dark and fair halves. (Fox News)

How Democracy Works

Ieshuh Griffin announced that she’s running for the Wisconsin Assembly as an independent candidate with the slogan “NOT the whiteman’s bitch” under her name on the ballot. The state allows candidates who aren’t Republicans or Democrats to add a five-word statement of purpose on the ballot to explain their candidacy. The state Government Accountability Board, which administers state election laws, rejected Griffin’s slogan, however, ruling that it was derogatory. Griffin vowed to sue the board, whose six members of the board are former judges and white, for infringing on her freedom of speech. “I’m not making a derogatory statement toward an ethnic group,” Griffin told the board. “I’m stating what I’m not.” Shane Falk, a staff attorney for the board, said Griffin, who describes herself as a “30ish” community activist, is free to use the phrase “NOT the whiteman’s bitch” in her campaign literature and ads. (Milwaukee’s Journal-Sentinel)

When Guns Are Outlawed

An Ontario court sentenced David Birch, 25, to four months in jail for assaulting his ex-wife with poutine. The court heard that after the two argued at a business in Timmins, Birch dumped the poutine —French fries, gravy and cheese curds — over the woman’s head, then snatched her purse and fled. (Toronto Sun)

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Two men put about four gallons of methanol in a 55-gallon barrel in the parking lot of a shop that builds and services race cars in Sedro-Woolley, Wash., then they sat on top and lit it. “Apparently, it was supposed to slide across the parking lot like a rocket,” Fire Chief Dean Klinger said. “Instead, it blew up.” Both men were hospitalized with severe burns. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Overexaggeration of the Week

When the Massachusetts Legislature released a list of the state’s 1000 greatest places, hoping to promote tourism, the Boston Herald pointed out that some of the sites don’t exist anymore, some are closed to the public, and some are listed in the wrong towns. What’s more, the list, which took a special commission 19 months to compile, actually has only 996 places. Tourism officials acknowledged mistakes were made but insisted they did their best. (Boston’s WFXT-TV)

Why They Call It Dope

When Vaughn Ray Jones Jr., 28, tried to enter the Cleveland County, Okla., courthouse, deputies staffing the security checkpoint said that among the belongings he put in a tray was a bag of marijuana. Deputies Steve Lucas and Jacob Wheeler tried to arrest Jones, but he ran away. The next day, Lucas and Wheeler observed Jones return to the checkpoint, this time wearing a hat, apparently to avoid being recognized. “It wasn’t a very good disguise,” Lucas said after he and Wheeler took Jones into custody. (Oklahoma City’s KOTV-TV)