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

Published November 24, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Los Angeles police reported that a holdup victim recognized the robber’s gun was a fake, so he grabbed it and beat the startled robber with it. Sgt. Jeff Collado said the bloodied suspect had to be hospitalized before being charged. (Associated Press)

Two masked men entered a restaurant outside Green, Ohio, demanded money, and then ordered the 17 people in the place into a storeroom while they stuffed a duffel bag with stolen cellphones, cash and wallets. A 20-year-old waitress slipped out the back door and called 911. Meanwhile, the robber who’d herded the people into the storeroom headed back to the dining room to help his partner. When the door closed behind him, it locked, separating him from the hostages. “We were all standing there crying when he started banging on the door saying, ‘Let me in,’” waitress Marla Sprinkle said, noting the room had a side door that led outside. “The cook said, ‘Everybody run out the door.’” The robbers, racing from the front door to the side door to recapture the hostages, were greeted by responding sheriff’s deputies, who arrested Joseph Cornelius, 18, and Jeramiah Haugen, 29. (Akron Beacon Journal)

A man wearing a transparent plastic bag over his head demanded money from a convenience-store clerk in Phoenix, Ariz. After threatening to shoot the clerk in the head, the robber stopped abruptly and ripped a hole in the bag, apparently to prevent suffocating. “It gives the impression, looking at the pictures, that he was using it kind of like a nylon to distort the appearance of his face,” police Sgt. Darren Burch said. “But he was having problems with his airflow.” Once he’d torn the plastic bag, surveillance cameras got a clear shot of his face. (Arizona Republic)

Significant Findings

Cancer patients being treated with radioactive iodine to shrink their tumors are contaminating innocent people, according to a congressional investigation headed by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. He blamed a change in Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements that let thyroid cancer patients leave hospitals only a few days after treatment. Investigators found these patients have contaminated hotel rooms; set off alarms on public transportation; and come into close contact with vulnerable people, including pregnant women and children; and their household trash has triggered radiation detectors at landfills. (Associated Press)

The government last year sent more than 89,000 stimulus payments, totaling $22.3 million, to people who were dead or in prison, according to an investigation by the Social Security Administration’s inspector general. Half the payments weren’t returned. The SSA defended its performance by noting that workers did accurately process more than 99.8 of the 52 million stimulus payments. (NPR)

Hairless Sex or Sexless Hair?

Researchers found that men using the baldness drug finasteride (brand name Propecia) may grow hair, but one in 80 also experience erectile dysfunction. Those who do, however, are unlikely to stop taking the drug. “It seems that most men taking the drug really prefer to have hair,” said Dr. Jose Manuel Mella of the Hospital Aleman in Buenos Aires, the author of the study reported in the Archives of Dermatology. (Reuters)

Loophole Capitalism

German entrepreneur Siegfried Rotthaeuser figured out how to overcome a European Union ban on light bulbs of more than 60 watts. After calculating that higher-watt bulbs produce more heat than light, the mechanical engineer from Essen began importing 75- and 100-watt light bulbs from China as “small heating devices” and reselling them as “heatballs.” Costing 1.69 euros each ($2.38), the first batch of 4000 sold out in three days. (Reuters)

Sacrificial Follies

Ten people were killed and 11 injured at a temple in India’s Bihar state during a stampede by more than 45,000 people waiting to sacrifice goats. “People were vying with each other to get their goats sacrificed first,” Banka district official Gupdeshwar Kumar explained. (India’s Bangalore Mirror)

Low-Mileage, Only One Owner

When British Prime Minister David Cameron decided the government couldn’t afford two new aircraft carriers that the previous government had ordered, a review found the contracts would cost more to cancel than to fulfill. The two carriers will be built, costing 3 billion pounds each ($4.8 billion), but the first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be retired once the other is finished, without ever carrying the jet aircraft it’s designed to. Government sources indicated the mothballed carrier won’t return to service and would probably be sold to another country to recoup some of its cost. (Britain’s Telegraph)

Irony of the Week

Police charged Faribah Maradiaga, 19, with stabbing another woman after the two argued during an anger-management class in Bellevue, Wash. According to charging documents, the class was watching a video on controlling anger when Maradiaga started complaining about the movie. When the victim told her to give it a chance, Maradiaga “blew up out of control,” then pulled out a knife with a 3-inch blade, stabbed the other woman in the arm and threatened to kill her family. (Seattle Times)